The Mala starts as a string of 108 beads and can be further embellished depending on your goals for the design. Whether you design Mala pieces for religious or spiritual reasons, or to be a constant reminder of your goals, or just because you love the style — they can be a lot of fun. The possibilities are endless, but there are a few simple rules to follow if you want your design to be a “proper” Mala piece. Read below to learn all about designing and making Mala necklaces and bracelets and shop all of the Mala components you’ll need!
A basic mala is composed of:
Some designs don't use marker beads, and find creative alternatives to a traditional guru bead. Make your mala yours!
From guru gemstones to cord and marker beads, find all the pieces you need to make your mala:
Pick up a few tips & techniques for making your mala without any surprises along the way...
String a Guru Bead
Using Tassel Caps
If you're curious about the meaning behind particular elements of the mala necklace, look no further...
Guru Bead: Used in all lengths of mala necklace and bracelets, the guru bead, also known as the SuMeru bead, is a decorative placeholder that marks the end of the 108 prayer mantra and also acts as a clasp. It is the only bead on the necklace to feature three holes, bringing together the necklace ends and channeling them into an end focal piece, most commonly a tassel or a talisman. Interestingly, this unique Guru bead is also referred to as the Divine Teacher, as it is never used to count, and therefore represents all that one wishes to attain...
108 Beads: The number “108” - the number of beads of the Mala necklace - occurs in various forms of nature, giving the number its spiritual significance. Whether to count prayers, mantras, breathes, or the names of deities, these 108 beads are the most traditional number of beads used in mala necklaces due to their mysterious occurrence in nature and in buddhist script.
Marker or Spacer Beads: Spacer beads are placed evenly throughout the 108 beads to bring the user’s awareness back to the present while chanting. Choose beads of a different size or even a different texture to accent the necklace and alert you instantly as your hand passes over the marker bead, bringing you back to the present.
21-33-21-33 Beads: The Mantra style of mala neckwear features all 108 beads divided into sections of beads that follow this pattern: 21-33-21-33. Each section is marked with a marker bead.
7-14-66 Beads: The Zen style of Mala neckwear features all 108 beads divided into the the following format from one side of the guru bead to the next: 7-14-66-14-7. Marker beads are placed in between each section.
27-27-27-27 Beads: The traditional Tibetan Buddhism method of arranging prayer beads and spacer beads is to divide the 108 beads by a factor of four gives you four equally split lengths of 27 prayer beads, and placing marker beads between them.
Mantra vs 108 Bead vs Tibetan Style vs Zen Style Mala Necklace: Different practices of Buddhism have varying forms and uses of mala beads. Mantra beads are used specifically for to keep track of the chanting of mantras, or prayers; these are commonly used by those practicing Tibetan buddhism. Others may use the 108 beads to count breathes as they quietly contemplate enlightenment. Zen style mala necklaces tend to feature marker beads placed at specific intervals, to promote a rhythm to one’s prayers or breathes. Regardless of which style of necklace you choose to make or wear, it is all about the style that suits your preference and level, and that proves the most effective for your needs.
Lotus Flower: The Lotus Flower has ever been a symbol of growth and power, itself being a flower that pushes up through muddy waters to emerge beautifully above the surface. Include Lotus Flowers in your creations to symbolize a sense of inner strength and the ability to withstand everything life throws at you.
Buddha: The Buddha is the embodiment of enlightenment, and thus representations of the Buddha symbol promote inner contemplation and focus on the release of earthly desires and needs.
Eye: Eyes feature in a few different areas in buddhism, the two most commonly known being the “Evil Eye”, and the “Third Eye”. The Evil Eye is a representative of evil spirits and negative energies. The Third Eye, however, is one of seven chakras throughout the body, is located on the forehead and represents spiritual guidance, consciousness, and intuition.
Heart: Hearts are most often associated with the Heart chakra, one of seven chakras throughout the body, and represents the capacity and contemplation of love, complex emotions, wellbeing, and compassion. The heart is the symbol for caring and acceptance of yourself and others, and is crucial in buddhist prayer and contemplation.
Ohm: The “Ohm” symbol, or “Aum / Om” as it’s sometimes written, is the symbol for the vibrations of the consciousness of the universe. Thought to be the sound at the origin of the universe, this symbol has come to represent 3 states of daily life: awake, asleep, and in between.
Tree of Life: The Tree of life represents a connection between our earthy existence and the skies and heavens. With its universal appeal as a symbol of the life force that connects us all, this symbol has been embraced by many world religions and cultures.
Sun: The moon features into the mystical origins of the 108 beads on a traditional mala necklace. It is said that the Sun’s diameter is 108 times that of Earth’s diameter.
Stars: Stars feature into the mystic original of the 108 beads on a traditional mala necklace. The Chinese buddhists believe that according to Chinese astrology there are 108 sacred stars. Lotus seeds, commonly used in mala pieces, are rattan seeds, their name also meaning “moon and stars"
Moon: The moon features into the mystical originals of the 108 beads on a traditional mala necklace. The distance from the moon to earth is said to be 108 times that of the diameter of the Moon. Lotus seeds, commonly used in mala pieces, are rattan seeds, their name also meaning “moon and stars"
Hamsa: The symmetrical open palm symbol known as Hamsa is seen as a protective and caring symbol against negative energy. Hamsa symbols are seen in many decorative pieces, whether jewelry or even home decor, as a symbol of protection.
Wood: Wood mala beads come in beautiful finishes, and come from many sources. Traditional beads are made from the wood of the Bodhi tree, sandalwood, and even trees such as elm, rosewood, and peach. Sandalwood beads are frequently used for their aromatic properties, promoting a soothing calm that helps focus the mind for prayer and meditation.
Rudraksha: Rudraksha beads are the pits of the fruit harvested from the rudraksha tree. The bead name is a combination of the Hindu words for “Shiva” and “Eye”, making these beads “The Tears of Shiva”. Traditionally with 5 distinct ‘faces’, these cocoon-like beads are used to protect one’s energy. Use these beads when you travel or face adverse situations, and to ward of negative energy.
Lotus Seed: Similar to the Lotus Flower’s symbolism of growth in spirituality, the Lotus Seed is a staple in mala necklaces, lending growth and inner strength to your mala necklaces. These beads are often referred to as “moon and stars” as well.
White Shell: White Shell, often conch shell, represents the speech of Buddha in his authority. It is also sometimes used as a symbol of power and sovereignty, a talisman against evil spirits and natural disasters. Even the sound of the wind in the conch shell is thought to mimic the sound of the world’s origins: Om.
Mother of Pearl: Mother of Pearl has many associated properties and uses. It is known as a stone of Children, related to imagination and the intuitive mind. The inner child is stimulated by stirring unconscious thoughts within and dispelling negative energy coming from ones environment.
Pearl: Pearls are the symbol for purity of the soul, perfect for contemplation of enlightenment and inner peace. White fresh water pearls, are most commonly used, as their color reflects purity and openness.
African Brown Rhyolite: self realization, self awareness
African Green Jasper: balance, harmony, fertility
African Jade: healing, calming, uplifting, patience
African Turquoise: growth and developement
Agate (natural): balancing energy, stabilizing, strengthening, courage, protection
Amazonite: harmony, balance,
Amazonite w/ Black Tourmaline: amazonite + protection against negative energy, spiritually grounding
Amethyst: tranquility, calmness, peace of mind
Apatite: focus, inspiration, clarity, balancing
Lavender Amethyst: associated with royalty
Ametrine: mental and spiritual harmony, self awareness, balance
Antique Soocho Jade: promotes self compassion and forgiveness, attracts abundance
Apple Jasper: grounding, creativity, joy, focus, determination
Aquamarine: bravery, confidence, courage
Aventurine: attracts luck, abundance and success
Fluorite (rainbow): clarity, focus, order
Artistic Jasper: grounding, insightful, dream recollection, cleanses aura
Black Sardonyx: protection, happiness, motivation, willpower, discipline, confidence
Black Onyx: absorbs and transforms negative energy, concentration, heighten intuition, emotional balance
Green Onyx: balance, renewal, endurance, abundance
Black Water Jasper: highly protective, healing
Bloodstone: protection, mental clarity, motivation, heightens intuition
Brecciated Jasper: grounding, emotional stability, rejuvenation, self confidence
Bronzite: stone of focused action and courtesy, harmony, sends away ill way and back to the sender
Burma Jade: good luck, tranquility, harmony, protection
Carnelian: courage, compassion, creativity, protection
Cherry Quartz: attracts love
Chrysocolla: wisdom, communication
Chrysoprase: optimism, joy and contentment
Chrome Diopside: increase creative visualization, love and commitment, healing emotional trauma
Citrine: imagination, clarity, manifestation
Coral: stimulating intuition, imagination, and visualization, peace, tranquility, dispels fear & depression
Crazy Lace Agate: encouragement, promotes optimism, stimulates mind and attitude, focus
Beryl Morganite: peace, joy, inner strength, confidence, connection to divine love
Dalmation Jasper: healing, fortifies the spirit, discourages negative thoughts
Howlite Turquoise: awarness, calming, heighten creativity
Dogtooth Amethyst: 3rd eye stimulator, intuition, repels negativity,
Dragon Blood Jade: enhances life force, healing, balance
Dumortierite: promotes positive attitude, organization, self discipline, quells panic & fear
Fancy Jasper: feeling of well-being, helping one to lighten up
Fossil Jasper: protection for travelers, wholeness, serenity, mental clarity
Fossil Coral: calming, soothing, balancing
Garnet: manifesting, self-worth, healing, sensuality
Goldstone: deflects unwanted energies
Blue Goldstone: deflector of unwanted energy, helps attain goals and manifest dreams
Green Goldstone: emotional & physical healing, associated with abundance
Green Aventurine: stone of opportunity, luckiest of all crystals, attracts opportunity, creativity, motivation
Hematite: balancing, grounding, calming
Iolite: intuition, vision, integration
Imperial Jasper: tranquilty, wholeness, actualization
Impression Jasper (dyed colors): tranquilty, wholeness, actualization
Iron Zebra Jasper: promotes courage, motivation, calmness, absorbs negative energy
Kashgar Garnet: extracts negative energies, enhances internal fire & commitment
Kunzite: removing emotional blockages, calmness, help relieve heartache
Kyanite: tranquility, calmness, enhance communication, psychic awarness
Labradorite: intuition, psychic abilities, clarity
Laguna Lace Agate: promotes togetherness, inner stability, composure, and maturity
Lapis: intellect, wisdom, clarity, thought stimulator, intuition
Lava Rock: grounding, calming, rebirth, healing,
Leopardskin Jasper: tranquility, spiritual discovery, helps to connect you with spirit animal
Lodolite: manifest desires, spirituality, healing
Mexican Red Snowflake Jasper: powerful protection against negativity and ease emotional stress
Mexican Zebra Jasper: self awareness, strengthen connection to divine energy and love, mood lifting, energizing
Mookaite: self esteem, alleviates fear & depression, communication, calm, balance, protection, openness
Moonstone: intuition, balance, woman's stone, said to grant wishes
Obsidian: shields against negativity, protection, stimulates emotional & spiritual growth, self control, realization of true self
Ocean Jasper: joy, happiness, aids in releasing negative energy and feelings, lifted spirits
Larimar: peace, clarity, healing, and love, opens one's heart and mind
Parral Dendrite: promotes inner stability, composure, and maturity
Picasso Jasper: transformation, renewal, clearing,
Picture Jasper: harmony, creativity, promotes release of feelings, comfort, alleviates fear
Pietersite: discharges negative energies, calming, grounding, intuition
Pink Opal: emotional healing & balance, matters of the heart, peaceful energy
Polychrome Jasper: exuberance, physical energy, vitality, and vibrance
Poppy Jasper: cleansing, energizing, aids in organising & redirecting scattered energies
Prehnite: enhances visualization and spirituality, lucid dreaming, peace, calm, rememberance
Red Aventurine: enhances creativity, prosperity, diffuses negativity, and balances the male-female energies, grounding,
Red Creek Jasper: balance and relaxation, grounding, protection
Red Jasper: grounding, insight, calming
Rhodonite: confidence, calm, well being, forgiveness, unconditional love
Rose Quartz: inner peace, harmony, love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness
Tiger Eye: said to attract luck & money, enhance strength, courage, vitality, & passion, centering & balancing
Red Tiger Eye: motivation, self esteem, confidence, balance
Blue Tiger Eye: reduces stress, calming, clarity, confidence
Smoky Quartz: relieves negative emotions & feelings, transforms negative emotions into positive energy
Sodalite: harmony, balance, truth, increasing intelligent, strengthen communication