Beads are the new bling. Unlike precious jewels, beads give off a naive and crafty vibe — wholly appropriate for these frugal times.

Seed beads, those tiny ones the size of a pinhead, have had a long career in the world of craft.

They’ve always been a hit with kids at summer camp who created colourful string jewellery. They were also popular with hippies in the ’70s.

This summer, the bead is making an unexpected return to fashion. Entire handbags are covered in a dazzling display of beads in every imaginable colour. Simple necklaces are fashioned out of colourful strands of them. Even shoes get the beaded treatment, embellished with these tiny dots of colour.

“They are a reminder of the peace-loving, innocent times of the hippie era. It’s an embellishment but not over the top,” says Cyndy Calder, owner of The Bead Goes On, a store that specializes in vintage beaded accessories. “These beads are not expensive.”

And beads’ reappearance seems perfectly timed — in this economy, no one wants to be seen as extravagant.

Everyone is aware that people are struggling and it would be pretty inconsiderate to be flashy now, says Calder, whose store is on Soudan Ave. at Mount Pleasant Rd.

Beads can be “cheap and cheerful,” she notes.

Words to live by this summer.

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