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Bead TypesBeads have been made in many types and sizes in many different materials, including glass beads, wooden beads, clay beads, plastic beads, shamballa style beads, shell beads, metal beads, pearl beads, semi-precious stone beads and pendants. We list below the most common types of beads;
Bugle beads are a type of bead which is tubular in shape and cut to various different lengths. Available in different colours, finishes and twists. They are sized in length by using the numbers 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3 and 5 with 0.5 being the shortest. The diameter of a size 2 and 3 is equivalent to a size 11 seed beads.
To buy bugle beads click here
Charlottes are Czech seed beads with one or two small flat facets ground onto their surfaces.
Chatons are crystal beads which have been set in metal with loops underneath so that you can sew them on.
To buy chatons click here
Cloisonné beads are made of enamel fired on a background, usually metal, to produce a mosaic or stained-glass effect. These beads are highly decorative and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Crow beads are large beads shaped like seed beads. Sometimes mistakenly called pony beads, they are commonly made of glass, plastic or wood and are larger than pony beads.
Crystals are crystal beads made out of leaded glass and have a high shine. They are usually faceted for additional shine. The most commonly known crystals are Swarovski but there are Czech crystals too which are of good quality at a cheaper price. Often used for wedding dresses and tiaras, crystal beads are often used for special pieces of jewellery. Clear crystals are often known as rhinestones and can be purchased in a setting (chatons).
To buy crystals click here
Delica beads are perfectly cylindrical modern Japanese glass beads with thin walls and large holes. They come in 2 sizes; a size 11 and a size 8 (often known as a double delica). Delicas are the best choice for bead weaving (on or off loom) and beadwork patterns such as peyote, brick stitch and square stitch as they lie beautifully flat. Our Beadworkers Guild books are a good source of further information on this type of beadwork.
To buy size 11 delica beads click here
Donuts are just that, flat circles with generous centre holes. They are available in many finishes but are often made from semi-precious stones
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Faceted beads are beads that are cut to produce multiple flat faces that create a sparkling effect. Often seen as glass beads e.g. fire-polished or semi-precious e.g. garnets.
To buy faceted beads click here
Flatbacks are crystals set on one flat side so they can be glued on. You can also obtain iron-on flatbacks for garments.
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Gem beads can include natural gemstone, enhanced gemstone or manmade reconstructed materials. Available in various shapes and sizes.
Gemstone chips are polished chips of semi-precious stones (e.g. amethyst, jade) that are irregular in shape. They often come in 36” strands; they have holes for beading and are good value.
To buy semi-preciou gem beads and chips click here
Hex-cut beads are Japanese glass beads cut from a six –sided cane. They come in sizes 8, 11 and 12.
To buy hex-cut beads click here
Lampworked beads are handmade one at a time by melting slender glass rods with a flame torch. The hot glass is carefully wrapped around a coated wire, which, when removed, forms the hole of the bead. These beads can be made with many different colours and layers of glass and may be highly decorated.
Liquid beads (silver/ gold) are very fine tubes of silver they look “liquid” when strung. Available in lengths similar to bugle beads; great for covering stranded wires.
Pearls can be saltwater or freshwater cultured pearls which are made into beads. Natural pearls are usually pink peach or mauve in colour whilst white pearls are usually an off white or creamy colour.
To buy pearls click here
Pony beads are shaped like seed beads but are larger and most commonly made of wood or plastic, but can be made of glass. Pressed glass beads are formed into special shapes made by passing thick molten rods of glass by hand through an automatic pressing machine.
Rondelles are more compressed than a round bead so are great as spacers. They come in all finishes and sizes. We even sell a rondelle set with crystals.
To buy rondelles click here
Rocailles are round seed beads. They are commonly sold in size 15 (smallest) to size 3 (largest). When working out how many beads you need for a project is is useful to know how many beads you will roughly get per gram so you can times this by the number of grams in a tube or pack. Please see the tabel below
|Bead Size||No of beads per gram|
To buy rocailles click here
Seed beads are very short pieces of chopped glass cane that are heated until they form smooth shapes, usually round. The most commonly available are Chinese, Czech or Japanese. Japanese are top quality and very consistent, Czech middle quality and Chinese are cheap irregular beads. Round seed beads are often known as rocailles. Also in the seed bead family are Delica beads, square beads, triangle beads, bugle beads, hex beads.
Shamballa style beads have a clay base with many Czech crystals set closely together over the surface to create a really sparkly, eye-catching bead. These beads are commonly used to create shamballa style bracelets using the macrame technique of square knotting between each bead. Click to buy shamballa style beads.
To buy square seed beads click here
To buy triangle seed beads click here
To buy bugle beads click here
To buy hex beads click here
Shell heishe beads are small discs or short tubes cut from natural shell material.
To buy shell beads click here
Three-cuts are Czech beads with irregular facets all over their surface.