TYPES OF BEADS

Beads are the most important part of beaded jewelry. You can create a different look just by changing the types of beads of a jewelry piece. The secret of making stunning beaded jewelry lies in using the right type of beads for your projects. Knowing your beads will give you an advantage not only in choosing the right beads but also in the designing process. Choose bead combinations to create unity and harmony in your jewelry pieces. There are literally 1000’s of Types of Beads available today, therefore I will only list the most popular beads used by jewelry makers.

bali beads

BALI BEADS


Bali Beads are handcrafted sterling silver beads from Bali in Indonesia. Some people use the term Bali Beads to refer to beads made in the style of silver beads from Bali. When buying Bali Beads, make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller that doesn't sell cheap imitations which are cast from molds. Bali Beads can add a bit of texture to your design. 

GOLD-FILLED BEADS

gold filled beads
These beads have a thin layer of karat-gold over a brass, copper or metal base, unlike gold plated beads. The layers of gold placed over Gold-Filled Beads varies in thickness, therefore some might wear off more quickly than others. Gold plated beads wear off much faster than Gold-Filled Beads which are much more durable. Gold-filled Beads give you the choice to work with gold in your design at a fraction of the cost.
mixed hilltribe beads

HILL TRIBE SILVER BEADS

Hill Tribe Silver Beads are handcrafted and 95 to 99% pure silver, higher than sterling silver. They originate from the Karen tribe in Northern Thailand.

Although there are tribes in Thailand that do make beads and components out of 100% fine silver, most of the hand-crafted Hill Tribe Silver Beads are 95% – 99% pure silver. Like fine silver, the higher silver content (compared to sterling silver, which is 92.5%) makes the pieces softer and easier to shape. Oxidation, hammer marks, and slight design variances are part of the appeal of Hill Tribe Silver Beads. If you’re looking for unique and extraordinary beads then this is for you.
mixed 925 sterling silver beads

STERLING SILVER BEADS

Sterling Silver Beads are 92.5% pure silver. Sterling Silver Beads are extremely popular with jewelry makers and the perfect complement to any jewelry design.

PEWTER BEADS

mixed pewter beads
Pewter is a malleable metal, which means that it is able to bend easily and can be shaped as desired but is strong enough to resist breakage. Pewter is an alloy, mostly consisting of 95% tin with traces of copper and even silver sometimes present.
Most Pewter Beads today are lead free. 
cloisonne beads

CLOISONNE BEADS

Cloisonné Beads are enameled metal beads with flowery patterns. It makes me think of a stained glass window. 
mixed plated beads and charms

PLATED BEADS

Plated Beads are cheaper and good for practicing and first projects. You can choose from a range of silver, copper, gold, and brass. 

GEMSTONE BEADS

raw gemstones
Go to any store that sells quality beaded jewelry and you will find gemstone earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Gemstone Beads can add a natural element to your design. Because these beads tend to be more expensive, they are best strung on sturdy threads to prevent the beads from being lost if the thread breaks. Try mixing a variety of stones with good color combinations to create interesting designs.  
polymer clay beads

POLYMER CLAY BEADS

Polymer Clay Beads are made of polymer clay, which can be blend together to make different colors like paint. You can either make your own beads and bake them in an oven or buy them. Most hobby stores sell Polymer Clay Beads. There are different types of Polymer Clay Beads on the market. The most well known brands are Sculpey and Fimo.  
natural wooden and seed beads

NATURAL BEADS

Natural Beads from natural materials such as wood, bone, mother of pearl, shell, bamboo, seeds and clay, offers you the opportunity to create traditional pieces or jewelry with an ethnic feel. 

PEARLS

pearl in oyster shell
Pearls are one of my favorite beads due to its beauty and sophistication. Natural Pearls are extremely rare and still one of the most desirable items of jewelry. Most Pearls that are grown and marketed today are considered cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are formed by inserting a small object into the tissue of an oyster or mollusk. 

Cultured Pearls can be categorized into four types:
Akoya (Japanese) Pearls 5 mm-11 mm
Black Tahitian Pearls 9 mm-16 mm
South Sea Pearls 10 mm-20 mm
Freshwater Pearls 2 mm-16 mm
  
South Sea Pearls are the most expensive while Freshwater Pearls are the most diverse and affordable. Pearls are graded in four categories:
AAA+ highest quality, virtually flawless, high luster, clean surface, perfectly round.
AAA high luster, clean surface.
AA medium luster, slight surface imperfections
A lowest quality, low luster, heavy blemishes

You can buy Pearls from online stores, retail shops, bead shows and auctions. Buying Pearls can be a major decision because many people sell faux or imitation Pearls. Make sure you buy from a reputable seller. There are a few things you can do to test if Pearls are real. Run a Pearl over the edge of your teeth. A real Pearl will feel sandy and gritty, where Faux Pearls will have a smooth texture. Another way is to try rubbing two Pearls against each other. The layers of nacre from real Pearls will leave a powdery residue.

14kt gold filled beads

14 Kt GOLD BEADS

If you’re daring enough, then go for 14 Kt Gold Beads
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