Beads, beadwork, and personal ornaments are made of diverse materials such as shell, bone, stones, minerals, and composite materials. Their exploration from geographical and chronological settings around the world offers a glimpse at some of the cutting edge research within the fast growing field of personal ornaments in humanities' past. Recent studies are based on a variety of analytical procedures that highlight humankind's technological advances, exchange networks, mortuary practices, and symbol-laden beliefs. Papers discuss the social narratives behind bead and beadwork manufacture, use and disposal; the way beads work visually, audibly and even tactilely to cue wearers and audience to their social message(s). Understanding the entangled social and technical aspects of beads require a broad spectrum of technical and methodological approaches including the identification of the sources for the raw material of beads. These scientific approaches are also combined in some instances with experimentation to clarify the manner in which beads were produced and used in past societies.