Mast Cell Beads

With the buzz created about a new International Mast Cell Disorders organization, and a launch of the first Mast Cell Disorders awareness day last weekend, I thought I’d bring my own particular flavour to it. I’m currently into beading and jewelry, and it was fun to find beads that might work, and to make several others. If there’s enough interest, we may even choose to pick an ‘official’ bead. 

Which Beads say ‘Mast Cell’ to you? 

This is a small selection that I’ve actually bought, there are a bunch more options, too many options, really; I need a direction to go in. I could use your help by sharing your thoughts on the following topics:


Mast cells in real life are translucent white, just like all other white blood cells. In order to be analyzed, there is a purple dye that’s used, so many people feel an affinity towards purple. So what colour should it be? If purple, which purple feels the best? 

Single or multiple? 

Should the bead represent a single mast cell, or a cluster of mast cells like we see so often in slides? How literal do you want it? 

Single bead, or a beaded ball?

The beaded balls give a lot more flexibility, and they’re vastly less expensive. But they are very fiddly to make. The most expensive single bead is about $7 cdn ($5 usd) each. Is cost or ease more important to you? 


These beads are all from Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Japan and the US. I have not purchased any beads from China or India. Most beads are made in family micro-factories, each one making a particular bead based on a recipe, dyes and coatings from the distributor. Red colored glass can be produced without the heavy metals, but it’s MUCH cheaper if lead or cadmium is used. Enforcing regulations isn’t a priority in China or India, and those making the beads aren’t educated about heavy metals, and many beads from those areas contain toxins. I assume that this is a concern for a lot of other Mastie’s, am I right? Maybe the risk is low enough for folks to be ok with it. 

Would you want one? 

Would you use a bead or kit to make something, or is there any interest in purchasing jewelry, key chains, etc that are already made? Could it be used for fundraising efforts? 

Are you still here? Start a discussion!