Can somebody remind me - why is it we count the mantras?
Well, I guess the flippant answer is because we trust our teacher and they asked us to.
Accumulating specific numbers may come from tradition but it seems rather suited to our goal oriented societies. If you know where you are going you are more likely to get there. Even while accumulating though I find it's better to focus on the practice and not on the accumulation.
I have a simple mala made of small smooth bodhi seeds. It did have counters attached (for 100s and 1000s) but I found them distracting so I took them off and use them separately. I am allergy prone but I haven't any problems with this mala.
Here's a video about how to use one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMIraYL ... ata_player
although based on advice I still count with my thumb and index finger. I prefer a mala to other methods of counting mantras. It just seems easier.