For centuries, all across the continent of Africa, beads have been prized both for ornament and as a medium of exchange. A person's wealth and status is often read by the size and number of the beads he or she wears. In some tribes, beads make up the bridal dowry, in others they are used as currency, while still others believe them to have magical powers. Throughout history, trading caravans have crisscrossed Africa, exchanging beads for gold, ivory, rare wood and spices. During the Renaissance, when Europeans first began to trade with Africa, they introduced their own brilliantly colored beads as well. These unusual examples are native to Africa itself, being made from coconut shells. The person who wears this necklace is certain to feel elegant, rich, and very much the center of attention.