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
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.
2. 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 beads with a crackle effect. The light reflecting from the internal cracks create a very interesting effect.
4. 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
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
7. Ceramic Beads
These are beads made of clay.
8. Wood beads
9. 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
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 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.
14. Perler beads (fuse beads)
These are heat activated beads usually used for fun craft bead projects for kids.
15. 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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 .
29. 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.
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 different ways to stitch sequins on to your clothes.
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
34. Donut beads (Ring beads) O-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
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
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
These are beads with two holes.
42. Briolette beads
All beads with top drilled holes are called briolette beads – usually they are drop beads.
43. Rocaille seed bead
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
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.
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
These beads are made of glass with beautiful colourful patterns ingrained on them. (Millefiori beads)
49. 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
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
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
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
Updated on November 12, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
What is a drizzle bead? I didn’t see definition
The cost of beads and thread wouldnot come to much – you can make a lot of small things with some beads.
I want to learn the basics of making bead work how much will it cost
Hopefully you are doing very well and thank s and my name is BENNIECENA UASEUAPO NDIAOMBE and I’m looking for beads to buy
Thanks so much I really learn,but I want to learn how bead .
I want to get more enlightenment on beed sewing and embroidery
Thanks for the much I got here too
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.
Lampwork beads their size and quantity and price
That was very interesting thank You
Adeniran, what you want to achieve with the beads will determine the type of bead to purchase.
Thanks so much, have really learn alot
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.
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
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.
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 ?
Depends on your purpose and the budget
which one is the best out of all the types of beads listed?
Who knew there were so many different types of beads that are made and that you can make jewelry from amazing too know .
were to find those beads in Nigeria please
I want to know every thing about sewing and beads embroidery and beads