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Beads


Being made from a range of materials and boasting different qualities, beads can be used not just to make jewelry but also to customize items of clothing and all sorts of objects for home decoration.
Beads... are forever From the earliest times, jewelry has been made from shells, and later on, natural horn. At the time of Ancient Greece and Rome, shellfish mother-of-pearl was put to use to incrust items with, before being skillfully worked into objects to adorn jewelry and rings in Renaissance times (the famous cameos). Glass-working appeared around AD 1000 in Italy! Beads can therefore be made from different materials, and you can also make your own beads, thanks to polymer clay (beads in Fimo clay).
  • Swarovski crystal beads
Swarovski crystal beads
Machine-worked and boasting a high lead content, the crystal from the famous Austrian firm has the most sparkling finish of all. There are very few irregularities in the beads it manufactures, meaning that they can be used in making top quality pieces of jewelery. The beads can be told apart by their shape and size in mm: hundreds of different combinations are possible since Swarovski crystal is available in a constantly growing range of colors...
  • Glass beads
These are made of Czech glass or Bohemian crystal, depending on where they are manufactured. They are more affected by irregularities in their form than Austrian crystal but are available in a huge range of colors and different effects (surface varnishes). They are also less expensive and are used in the less visible parts of jewelry pieces or around the neck, as they are more gentle on the skin.
  • Blown glass beads, also called Venetian beads, are made by hand through a process in which molten glass is wound around a rod with the help of a gas torch.
Murano glass beads
  • Murano glass beads
A thousand year-old tradition of glass-making and all the manufacturing secrets that make for the finest product quality are passed on from generation to generation, making the Italian island of Murano the glass capital of the world. The most-sought after Murano beads at the moment are gold or silver-leaf beads.
  • Semi-precious beads
Semi-precious Mookaite beads in ring form
semi-precious beadsThey are chosen for their colors, the gray-blue of hematite, marbled black obsidian, the violet sparkle of amethyst, or for the way their different shades match each other (the earthy tones of Mookaite).
They come in glass, with a luster finish, or in iridescent form; in metal, bronze or brass. Seed beads have been used in embroidering for many years (the very small seed beads (micro beads) in 24/0 size are now usually replaced by 15/0 beads (approx 1 mm).There are different types of seed beads Japanese seed beads (uniform in size and shape, usually supplied in size 15/0 ), charlotte-cut beads (size 13/0) which are faceted for an extra sparkling effect, Delica, cylindrical Japanese beads that are perfectly uniform in shape and which are ideal for woven seed bead designs (Delica was the name of the best-known brand). A range of surface finishes are available (iridescent, matte, satin finish, AB or lined...).
  • Cloisonnée beads are made from copper and are coated in baked-on enamel, stained-glass window style. Most cloisonnée beads are made in China.
When working with beads, you will need:
  • a tray with very low edges: the tray will prevent any beads from being mislaid and the low edges will not hamper your movements.
  • a pair of fine-tipped scissors for working with the nylon thread (which must be cleanly cut) or else wire cutters if you are using bead stringing wire (for making necklaces or bracelets with heavier beads)
  • flat gripping pliers for crimp beads, which are indispensable accessories for holding a necklace or bracelet clasp firmly in place
  • round nose/snub-nosed pliers are not recommended, except to fold or bend silver wire or metal eyepins.
Credits: gallery « Jewelry and beads »