Beads: Art, Glass & Other Beading Supplies



Fire polished beads are defined as faceted, cut glass beads that are polished by heating.  This is a more expensive process for polishing than making a pressed glass bead, but it is a less expensive process than the polishing done on the finest quality Austrian glass bead and on all gemstones. 

Seed beads are smaller, less expensive beads made of glass.  They are generally shaped like a very small donut and can be as small as 1/16" thick to as large as about 1/6" thick. 

Bugle Beads are smaller beads made of cylindrical tubes of glass.  A bugle bead is are about 2mm in diameter with a 1 mm hole in the center of the bead.  Bugle beads can be as short as 4mm long, or it can be 7mm long or even longer.  Bugle beads are frequently used a spacers, between larger beads. 

Pressed glass beads are made in the same manner as a milk bottle.  Hot glass is forced into a mold to make the these glass beads.  This is a less expensive manufacturing process and pressed glass beads are normally rather inexpensive.

Lampwork glass beads are hand made beads, normally made on a rod or mandrel,  For this reason, lampwork glass beads tend to have larger holes.  Since they are hand made, each lampwork glass bead is unique, although they may be made commercially to look very similar.  Making lampwork glass beads involves melting, shaping and combining colored glass into the shape of the beads. 

Swarovski Austrian Crystal Beads are made by the premier manufacturer of cut glass crystal beads.  Their beads are know for their uniformity in color and shape, for the crisp edges of the faceted beads, and for the vibrant colors. 

Pony Beads are made of glass or plastic with larger holes in them, originally intended to be worn in the hair.

Stick-on glass beads are small spheres of glass, without holes and are made to be glued or fixed on objects using double sided tape or glue.

Pearls are made by marine mollusks like clams and oysters.  There are also many commercially manufactured pearl beads, made by applying a pearl like coating to glass beads.

Gemstone beads are made from naturally occurring minerals or gemstones like onyx, amethyst, and many, many other naturally occurring gemstones and minerals. 

Metal beads are made out of metal.  Generally, silver, silver-plated, gold, gold-filled, gold-plated and silver-tone metals are used.

Bali Beads are generally a form of partially tarnished, partially polished sterling silver bead initially made on the Indonesian Island of Bali.  Bali Beads may represent an everyday item like a snake, a drum, and a coil of rope.  Because of the expense of sterling silver, many Bali-style beads are now made out of a silver-one metal.  These beads are now made in many countries in addition to Indonesia including South Korea and India.

Dichroic glass beads are made with two or more colors of glass.  The colors are highly reflective making these beads very dramatic in appearance. 

Stringing beads was initially done on silk thread because in ancient times silk was the strongest material by weight.  Because glass and gemstone art beads are relatively hard by comparison with silk, the silk thread was knotted between each bead.  The reason for the knots was that over time, even softer materials like pearls, will saw through silk thread causing the thread to break.  When the silk thread was knotted and broke, only one of the art beads would fall off the necklace because the remaining knots held all the other art beads in place.  There are now many natural and artificial materials used to thread art beads into necklaces and bracelets.  The fabric materials like nylon, cotton, silk, and other beading threads are all still vulnerable to being broken by prolonged wear.  The newest technology in beading thread is the stranded stainless steel metal wire used for beading.  Our favorite beading supplies vendor for this flexible wire is the Soft Flex Company, but there are several other beading supplies vendors who make similar stranded beading wire.  The advantage to the stranded beading wire is that it is much less likely to break due to wear.  A secondary advantage is that because the wire won't break, the user won't need to tie a knot between each bead in the necklace.  This saves a lot of time in making a necklace.  Please select here to view our free instructions in how to make a necklace using beadstringing wire.

Please click here to view our selection of beads.


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