I once bid on an authentic and rare 9 eyed Dzi bead offered on eBay - fortunately I did not win. After the bidding war was over, the seller contacted me to offer an identical bead for the winning price. How rare do you think that bead was - or rather, how authentic? After politely explaining the situation to the seller, I never heard from her again.
Buyer beware? Absolutely. Dzi beads are beautiful (pronounced "Z") and abundant on the market. An authentic Dzi bead is a very rare find, worth thousands of dollars, and are usually well looked after in museum and private collections. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't enjoy these beautiful beads. There are many, many replicas to choose from on the market and as with all beads, purchase the ones that are most attractive to you but before paying a big price, be sure you know what they are made of.
I've included a few photos of some Dzi beads I own. The first, at the top right, are glass. These were brought back from China by a friend and given to me. They are lovely little beads and as you can see, the quality is variable in the "etching" of the bead - they aren't really etched, that's just colored glass.
The second photo on the left is of a pair of Dzi beads I purchased a few years ago at an exhibit at the Bower's Museum. They are large, heavy, and made of agate. The pattern is indeed etched into the stone. They are replicas, were reasonably priced, and are beautiful beads. Note that they are in perfect condition.
The last photo is a comparison of size and as you can see the size varies in these beads as well. If you're interested in learning more about Dzi beads, click on the title above to take you to a brief look at the 'etching' of beads and scroll down to see some examples of fake and authentic Dzi's. For more information on the significance of Dzi beads in the far east, see:
beadwork, dzi, beads, Tibet