55 Different types of BEADS for bead embroidery and jewelry making

Learn about the different kinds of beads available for you to decorate your fabric as well as to make beautiful jewelry.

Do you know that beads have been found in graves of men who died a long time ago – like thousands of years ago. Check out a recent report here in Huffingtonpost.com – Researchers have discovered three glass beads from a Fifth Century burial site in Japan. In Africa glass beads have been found which date back to 300 BC. Beads are always in fashion.

Even today one way or the other designers try to incorporate the incandescence of beads into their creations. Bead embellishments are done on Bags, jackets, tops, brooches, pendants, purses belts, hats and even shoes – you name a clothing / accessory and you will find beads decorating it, making it look special.

It is not only the top couture designers who are fascinated by beads. Ordinary men and women like you and me have been attempting to make beautiful creations – jewelry and embellishments as per their imagination and creativity, on their own. 

Beads come in different types, sizes and materials. They are made of wood, shell, plastic, ceramics, metal and even bone.

Beads can be categorized according to their shape, surface finish as well as the type of materials they are made of.

Check out the different types of beads we popularly use.

Types of Beads

Bead types according to the material they are made of.

1. Seed Beads

Seed beads

These are small round shaped beads which are made of glass. They come in a wide variety of colours, clear, iridescent or silver lined. They are regularly used for making jewelry, bead weaving and also for needle work. 

different kinds of beads in a variety of colors

2. Lampwork Beads

Lampwork Beads

Lampwork beads are handcrafted glass beads which are exquisitely beautiful. They are made by melting glass with a torch. The process of making the lampwork beads is very labourious; different colours of glass are melted together to form the patterns visible on the surface of the beads.

3. Glass crackle Beads

Glass crackle Beads for beading

Glass beads with a crackle effect. The light reflecting from the internal cracks create a very interesting effect. 

4. Pony Beads

Pony Beads

Pony beads are inexpensive slightly oval shaped beads mostly made of plastic. They are generally used in craft projects and for kids to make jewellery. These beads are available as a single colour or in a mixed set. These beads are sometimes called an “E” bead; Most are sized about 3-1/2 to 4mm.

5. Sugar beads

sugar beads

Very small, sugar granule sized beads.

6. Acrylic fancy beads

These are plastic beads available in many shapes and colours -round, flat, oval, tube. They are lightweight. These beads also come electroplated metallic silver, copper or gunmetal colors

Acrylic fancy beads

7. Ceramic Beads

Ceramic Beads

These are beads made of clay.

8. Wood beads

Wood beads

9. Semi precious beads /Precious Gemstones

Semi precious beads /Precious Gemstones

Precious stones are rare and costly gems like diamonds, rubies etc. Semi precious stones are not as expensive or rare as precious stones.

Beads can be made of organic materials (Amber, Pearls). If you want beige and white stones you have Picture Jasper, Leopardskin Jasper, Howlite; If you want red and brown stones you have Tiger Eye, Poppy Jasper,Garnet, Goldstone; If you want blue and green stones you have Sodalite, Blue Howlite, Lilac Howlite, Grape Fossilbead, Malachite, Unakite, Labradorite; If you want black stones you can get Hematite, Black onyx, Snowflake and obsidian.

10. Cultured  pearls

These are fine quality pearls harvested from farmed mussels. Cultured pearls may be bred freshwater or saltwater; The term covers all pearls on the market today like  Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian,and freshwater pearls. Pearls cultured in saltwater are more valued than freshwater pearls. But freshwater pearls are moderately priced and hence much in demand

Cultured  pearls

11. Costume pearls

Also known as faux pearls or plastic pearls or imitation. They can be made of glass, plastic or fish-scales which are coated with a material which makes them look like pearl. They lack the depth of colour and beauty of the original pearl. These pearls are inexpensive, lightweight and hence used in beading on fabric.

plastic pearls

Plastic pearls can be of many shapes. Round shaped pearls are the most common. Oat pearls are oblong in shape; then there are teardrop-shaped pearls and pear-shaped pearls, which are tapered on one end.

12. Faux beads

These are imitation beads that look exactly like real gemstones/ivory.

13. Crystal Beads

These are cut glass beads made with approximately 30% lead, giving it a highly refractive quality.(Crystal Bicone beads)

Swarovski crystal beads are the finest cut (precision cut) crystal beads you can get for beads work. They were originally made in Austria and are renowned for their brilliance and quality. They come in a variety of sizes shapes and colors ( more than 50 colors and 15 effects) ; They can be made into fine jewelry as well as sewn into fabric as an embellishment

Rhinestones which are made of crystals / glass but are not Swarovski are generally called Austrian crystals.

crystal beads

14. Perler beads (fuse beads)

Perler beads (fuse beads)

These are heat activated beads usually used for fun craft bead projects for kids.

15. Metal Beads

metal beads

Out of all metal beads, silver is very popular. If you want pure silver beads you will have to look for beads marked as Sterling silver – the purity of silver can be tested with an ammonia test. Usually metal beads are used along with glass beads as spacer beads.

16. Paper Beads/Fabric beads

These beads are made by rolling small pieces of paper or fabric.

17. Pebble beads

pebble beads

Flat shaped beads with holes on either sides. It could also be pebbles which are hand cut and drilled to make holes. 

18. Beaded bead

beaded beads

A beaded bead is made by weaving small beads onto a single bigger bead. Check out this tutorial to make your own beaded beads.

19. Lava beads

Lava beads

These natural beads are made of lava stone.

20. Beads made of natural materials

Beads can be crafted out of animal horn, turtle shell, and deer hooves ; sea shells make beautiful beads. Hard seeds are sometimes used as beads

Bead types according to the shape of the beads.

21. Cylinder bead 

cylinder beads

This is a tube-shaped bead with a large hole; Also goes by names Toho bead, Delica bead

22. Pinch Beads

These are 3 sided oval shaped beads with a single hole – the 3 sides are flattened.

23. Pellet beads

These are single hole cylinder shaped beads with an indent in the middle that makes them look somewhat like hourglass.

24. Bugle Beads

These are long glass beads which are shaped like a tube. They are either smooth or with 6 sides. The sizes of bugle beads range from 2mm to 40mm.

Bugle beads

25. Roundel beads

Roundel beads are flat donut shaped beads usually used as a spacer bead. Glass Roundel (also called roundelle) usually come with many faces but some are available smooth too.

Roundel beads

26. Triangular bead

This is a bead shaped like a triangle. It usually has two holes along one side. 

27. Drop Beads (Fringe beads)

Drop beads are shaped like a pear or raindrop; they have a hole through the bead or at times at the narrow end of the bead

Drop beads

Drop duo is a drop shaped bead with two holes on the sides.

28. Faceted Beads

They are faceted on all sides and because of this catch light on all sides which makes them luminous. Hex beads are faceted seed beads with 6 faces . 

faceted beads

29. True cut seed beads 

True cut seed beads

True cut seed beads are seed beads with one or 2 facets cut into them resulting in a shimmery appearance. 3X (3 cuts) Beads are seed beads that are multi-faceted; they have an extra sparkle glitter and shine due to the cut of the bead and also due to the silver lining on the holes.

30. Charlotte seed bead

Charlotte is a  faceted size 13 seed bead, with one hand-cut side on each bead. Cut of this bead is distinctive.

31. E bead 

E beads are size 6 seed beads.

32. Sequins

Sequins are disk shaped beads; they are available in any number of shapes, sizes and colours. They are mostly round in shape with a bowl like center with a hole. Some are flat.

Paillets are very big sequins which have holes near the edge rather than the center. These sequins are used to embellish fabric edges; they are frequently used in dance costumes. Checkout the DIY sequin sewing tips.


33. Flatback beads

You get all kinds of flat back beads. They can be sewn-in or adhered with the help of glue.

Rhinestones are flat back crystal beads with holes, through which you can sew to attach them to fabric. There are rhinestones which can be glued onto fabric as well. They have many facets and the light reflected on them makes them look like diamonds. Checkout this post on many ways to fix rhinestones on your fabric

flat back beads

34. Donut beads (Ring beads) O-beads

Donut beads

Beads shaped like donuts /rings ofcourse.

35. Piggy beads 

These beads look like a curved button with two holes. When you look at it might seem like a pig’s nose; hence the name

36. Tila beads 

These are flat, square or rectangular tile-shaped 2-hole seed beads.

37. Bead stud 

This is a bead shaped like a pyramid – it is used as a center piece in pendants

38. Rulla beads 

rulla bead

These are cylinder shaped beads with holes on either side. Can be used as spacer beads for finishing rows of bead weaving

39. Oblong shaped beads 

oblong bead

There are many types of oblong shaped beads. Dagger beads are long beads. Rizo beads are rice sized and shaped. Spike is another long bead. Magatama beads are beautifull oblong shaped beads.

40. Magatama beads 

These are curved comma shaped beads with two holes – they are shaped like the ethnic Japanese Magatama beads.

Bead types According to the position of the holes.

41.Twin beads /Superduo beads

Twin beads

These are beads with two holes.

42. Briolette beads

Briolette beads

All beads with top drilled holes are called briolette beads – usually they are drop beads.

43. Rocaille seed bead

Rocaille beads

Rocaille is a silver or gold lined seed bead with a square hole.

44. Guru beads

These beads have 3 holes and they are used as pendants for prayer necklaces.

Bead types according to patterns

45. Eye beads

eye beads

These beads will have a circle or many circles in the middle with the look of an eye. Also called evil eye beads – they are blue in color.

evil eye beads

46. Chevron beads

These are large barrel shaped beads made of opaque glass, with a chevron pattern made of different colors.

47. Dichroic beads

These are lampworked glass beads in iridescent metallic colors in two tones (the bead will seem like that of two colors when looked at from different directions).

48. Mosaic beads

mosaic beads

These beads are made of glass with beautiful colourful patterns ingrained on them. (Millefiori beads)

mosaic beads

49. Foil Beads

foil beads

These are transparent or translucent beads with metallic foil inside the bead.

50. Cloisonne beads

These are beautiful metal beads with intricate designs on the surface. It has an enameled surface with metal wires embedded to create the delicate looking designs

51. Givre beads

givre beads

These beads are clear or translucent but their middle portion will have a cloud of color.

Bead types according to ethnicity

These beads are native to certain places in the world. Bali beads, Indian Rudraksha beads are examples.

52. Bali Beads

bali beads

Bail beads are hand made, sterling silver made originally in Bali, Indonesia. They are often used as spacers when making jewelry. These beads are intricately worked in silver and are beautiful

53. Rudraksha Bead

rudraksha beads

This is a bead made of dried berries, used in the Indian subcontinent as a prayer bead. It is used to make prayer necklaces and is considered holy.

54. African Trade Beads

These are chunky and colorful beads that were once used as currency in the African continent

55. Findings turned into Beads

You can turn many things into beads – coconut shells. sea shells including, whelks, conch shells, wood carvings, metal nuts, rubber and plastic tube.

Bead types according to the different finishes of the beads are.

Transparent beads – clear or colored glass beads that allow light to pass through the surface

Opaque beads – Beads that do not allow light to pass through

Lustre finish – This is a high gloss finish on a transparent bead

Matte finish – This is a non-shiny texture. It has a smooth velvety finish

Satin finish – A shimmery finish

Silver lined – Beads with a mirror-like lining inside

Supra finish – frosted looking finish

Firepolish finish – Heat treated beads with a glossy finish

Galvanised finish – A metallic finish that can get a worn-off look after sometime

Iris finish – This finish gives beads an iridescent coating. Called Aurora Borealis finish when one side has this finish

Ghost finish – A matt finish with a rainbow effect

Colour lined beads – Two-toned beads with one color on the outside and another on the inside

Ceylon finish – A pearly finish mostly in a soft pastel color, usually on an opaque bead.

Related posts : Make beaded cord ; Beading tools and supplies needed to start beadwork; How to make earrings with beads

flower motifs with bead embroidery

border designs with bead embroidery  make beaded tassels

how do do bead work  how to sew bead buttons

Subscribe to get weekly notifications of posts in your email

Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

27 thoughts on “55 Different types of BEADS for bead embroidery and jewelry making”

  1. I am trying to find the name of a bead that is the size of a 4mm bicone but the shape of a sead bead but has that is some times square and some times round and twice the size of a sead bead hole. They are a 4/0 bead , glass, and any color. Please help I am going broke trying to find them.

  2. I wish to purchase the Playful kitten bead embroidery kit but why is there no thread included and what thread should I use. I am a novice and would like to get some advise. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for all the glossary beads. It helped me label all my beads. Would you be able to send me a photo of all the glossary beads. Thanks again

  4. Im looking for a bead, Oval faceted stone drilled 3 times through the side so 3 strings can go through and make a festoon necklace. What is this bead called and the best place to find some ?

    • Hi Edward
      As I know it, Briolettes are faceted tear shaped drop beads with two holes at the top. Guru beads have three holes. Other than these, I am afraid I do not know.

Your opinion is important. Leave a comment