Basic Bead Definitions Tips

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What are Donut beads?

Donut Beads

Donut beads are usually circular, flat beads with a large center hole - they look very much like the kind of donut that you eat. Most donuts used for jewelry are made of semi-precious gemstone, although you also can find Czech-made glass donuts, fiber optic donuts (a synthetic material), and donuts made from materials such as bone or wood. Round donuts are sometimes also called 'pi' donuts. Round gemstone donuts are excellent in jewelry making.

Donuts are a popular jewelry making item - especially when used as a pendant at the center of a necklace - or using two small matching ones for earring pendants.

Donuts are made with a "side drilled" hole - a hole drilled across the flat dimension of the bead. The are called Side-Drilled Gemstone Donuts. This extra hole makes it easier to attach donuts as a pendant.

Recently, donuts have become available in other shapes than round. There are Half Donuts & Triangle Donuts, axe- donuts, "A Go Go" donuts, oval donuts, and some fancier shapes such as figure-8 and heart.

I'd like more variety in my beading projects. What can I do?

The Need to Bead

There are so many combinations of beads, gems, and stringing techniques, that the designs available to beaders are countless. Still, sometimes it just seems like the creative juices stop flowing. Maybe you need to add a little variety to your next project with a few coin pearl beads. These lovely textured beauties can be round, oval, or teardrop, and they will always add new interest to your jewelry designs. They're small enough that they won't take away from your other beads, but they can command a design if you use them in numbers. With a variety of colors to choose from including peacock, pink, baby blue, coin pearl beads are simply divine to bead with!

What are opaque beads?

Opaque Beads

Opaque Beads are solid-colored. No light passes through these beads. With all the other finishes available, these might seem like “plain Jane” beads, but they can be very useful. Combine them with some of the fancier finishes for an elegant look.

What are silver-lined beads?

Silver-Lined Beads

Silver-lined beads have a silver coating on the inside that looks like foil. They are usually very sparkly and come in just about every color of the rainbow.

What are donut beads?

Bead Shapes

As you begin making bead jewelry you will realize that the choices of shapes are endless. Beads can be flat, square, elongated or cut like gemstones. Donuts are a great example of a specialty bead that can be turned into striking jewelry. Often used as pendants, donuts can be perfectly round beads, irregularly shaped or even shaped like "Figure 8s". A donut bead has a hole in the middle through which you attach a cord, turning it into a necklace. Donut beads are most commonly made from a semi-precious gemstone.

What are ceylon beads?

Ceylon Beads

Ceylon beads look like satin on glass. They have a lighter core with an opaque pearl-like finish.

What is a two-cut bead?

Two-Cut Beads

Two-Cut beads look like very small bugle beads. They are cut at the top and bottom, and have a cylindrical body.

What are iridescent or AB beads?

Iridescent or AB Beads

Iridescent or AB (Aurora Borealis) can be clear, metallic or opaque, but they have a rainbow-like coating.

What are delica beads?

Delica Beads

Delicas are cylinder shaped beads and tile together perfectly. They are made in Japan and are a favorite with beaders because of their uniformity and versatility.

What are transparent beads?

Transparent Beads

Transparent Beads are clear. They come in all colors. Beads that are lined with silver or other colors begin their life as a transparent bead.

What are color-lined beads

Color-Lined Beads

Color-lined beads have a solid-color core with a transparent overlay. The core color is added to a transparent bead. The core and overlay can be in the same color family, such as a dark blue core with a light blue overlay, or two different colors, like a dark green core and beige overlay.

What is a charlotte cut bead?

Charlotte Cuts

Charlotte Cuts are rounded, like regular seed beads, but are cut, or faceted, on one side, only Most are available in size 13/0 and the holes tend to be smaller than other seed beads, which makes them a little harder to work with. However, they are gorgeous and are well worth the effort.

What are the smallest and largest seed beads

Bugle Bead Sizes

Bugle beads range in size from 2mm, which is about the size of a larger seed bead, to 35mm.

What are galvanized beads?

Galvanized Beads

Galvanized beads are very beautiful and are often found in very bright, metallic colors. Be very careful with them because the metallic coating rubs off very easily.

What are hex cut beads?

Hex or Three-Cut Beads

Hex or three-cut beads are faceted on all sides and look somewhat like a gemstone. They are very beautiful and can add sparkle and depth to your beadwork.

What are beads made of?

Bead Variety

Beads can be made of anything: gem stones, wood, metal, glass. The most widely used beads are semi-precious gemstone or glass. Glass beads are currently popular for their affordability and the wide variety of colors and styles that are available. You can buy beads in one color or in an assortment of colors on the same strand. Some glass beads even come with a silver-lined or a gold-lined or copper-lined core, covered with transparent glass for extra sparkle.

What are matte beads?

Matte Beads

Matte beads are beads that have been dipped in an etching compound. The colors are usually muted and remind me of clay.

What is the most commonly used size of seed bead?

Seed Bead Sizes

Seed beads come in sizes ranging from 5/0 to 28/0. The smaller the number, the larger the bead…28/0 would be VERY small and very hard to bead with! 11/0 are the most commonly used size. In an 11/0 size, you need to string about 16 or 17 beads to make an inch.

Seed beads in the 6/0 size (about 4mm wide) are also called "E beads".

What is a bead mix?

Bead Mixes

Looking for a fun and creative challenge? Or maybe you want to create a matched set of jewelry with a similar color palette but with unique beads? Consider buying a bead mix. You will usually get about 50 or 60 beads and they can be thematically related by decoration or by color. They are often fancy lampwork beads or Indian beads and can make a beautiful addition to your beading supplies and make lovely bead jewelry.

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Sherril Steele-Carlin