Beads Glossary

Swarovski Elements Crystal

Swarovski Elements Crystal beads are made of very high quality crystal, a synthetic, glass-like product created by combining and processing a variety of minerals (the exact formula is manufacturer-dependent). After the crystal is created, Swarovski uses their state of the art techniques to cut the crystal and form impeccable facets, giving it its incredible sparkle and reflective qualities. These beads are known for their superior brilliance, fire and durability. They come in a huge variety of colors, coatings, shapes and sizes.

Preciosa Czech Crystal

Preciosa Czech Crystal beads are made of very high quality crystal, a synthetic, glass-like product made through a process of melting quartz sand, soda, potash, minium and other ingredients at very high temperatures. It is then processed and machine-cut to ensure incredibly clean lines and precise faceting. This gives the crystal an extraordinary brilliance and fire not found in basic glass or lower-grade crystal. Preciosa Czech Crystal beads are free of the bubbles, inclusions, and impurities sometimes found in standard Czech glass beads.

Semi-Precious Stones (Or Gemstones)

Semi-precious refers to gemstones that occur naturally in the earth but are not considered precious. All Gemstone beads have been treated in some way, usually with heat to enhance the stone’s natural color and harden it. Gemstones are more plentiful than precious stones and are therefore less expensive. Some examples of popular gemstones are amethyst, peridot, aquamarine, carnelian and garnet.

Precious Stones

Precious stones occur naturally in the earth and are rarer than semi-precious stones. Precious stones are found frequently in fine jewelry. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires are all precious stones.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls have been grown in pearl mussels that naturally live in freshwater. Pearls come in many shapes and sizes – rice, round, potato, button and stick are just a few. In nature, pearls come in a range of colors from white, cream or pale pink to natural tints of yellow, green, blue and black. The darker colors are more rare. Using an electroplating process, freshwater pearls can be treated to create gorgeous fashion colors – fuchsia, purple, blue, yellow and green. Unlike dyeing, electroplating results in a permanent color on the pearl.

Seed Beads

The term "seed bead" refers to several shapes and styles of small, usually glass beads. They are used for a wide variety of purposes but bead weaving is the most common. Delica seed beads are generally considered the most consistent, followed by Japanese and then Czech. (Fusion Beads does not carry round Czech seed beads at this time.) Fusion Beads offers seed beads in sizes between 15° and 2°, depending on shape and availability. It is important to note that actual bead size runs reverse to the size numbers: the smaller the number, the larger the bead. When buying seed beads, it is advisable to buy all that you need for a particular project at the same time because manufacturer dye lots can vary slightly.

Delica Seed Beads

Delica seed beads are considered the premium seed bead available on the market today. With a cylindrical form, rather than round, these narrow-walled beads have large holes that allow several passes of thread. Their shape and size are beautifully consistent and they are suitable for all types of bead weaving. Because of their immaculate shape, Delicas work especially well for loomwork, dense, flat stitches like peyote and brick, or for patterns with extra-fine detail. Delicas are also known for their very wide variety of colors and finishes.

Round Japanese Seed Beads

Round Japanese seed beads are the bread and butter of many bead weavers. These small glass beads are made in Japan, usually through a method involving creation of a long glass tube which is then cross-cut to form tiny beads. This method means that consistency of size and shape can vary depending on the exact techniques of the manufacturer. Round Japanese seed beads are known for maintaining good consistency, with few "culls" or misshapen beads. They work very well in loom-work, all off-loom bead weaving stitches, and can also be used as spacers or accent beads.

Japanese Bugle Beads

Japanese bugle beads are seed beads which are cut into long cylindrical tubes. They come in straight, hex and twisted styles. Bugle beads can be great for use as spacers, in simple stringing, and in bead weaving. Netting and right angle weave can be modified to work well for bugle beads and they are frequently featured in fringe designs. Bugle beads sometimes have sharp edges which make it advisable to use an extra-durable thread like FireLine or Power Pro. If this isn’t an option, you can also place short seed beads at the end of each bugle bead to help protect your thread.

Cube Japanese Seed Beads

Cube Japanese seed beads are just that: small glass beads shaped like a cube. They are available in many colors and finishes. Cube seed beads have a slightly triangular or square-shaped hole which allows several passes of thread. This makes them great additions to bead weaving projects, especially those with geometric effects or unique textures. Their consistent, stable form works particularly well with dense, stacked stitches, like brick stitch, square stitch, or peyote. They also add excellent texture to simple stringing projects.

Drop and Magatama Japanese Seed Beads

Drop and Magatama are two names that refer to the same type of seed bead. While there is some variation across manufacturers, all of these beads feature an off-set, almost top-drilled, hole with a smooth drop shape. Some have a very round drop, while others are slightly more angular, almost resembling flower petals. Both styles are perfect for delicate stringing pieces, ending fringe, or for adding interesting textures to kumihimo, bead crochet, or other bead weaving projects.

Hex Japanese Seed Beads

Hex Japanese seed beads (sometimes called "hex cut") have a six-sided shape which catches the light and acts like faceting to create extra sparkle and shine. This shape is found in standard seed bead sizes and in long, cylindrical bugle beads. Hex seed beads are very consistent in shape and size and have large holes which allow multiple passes of thread. They work up especially well in dense, detailed bead weaving stitches like peyote, brick, and square stitch where you want just a hint of sparkle.

Cut Japanese Seed Beads

Cut seed beads (sometimes called "Charlottes" or "True Cuts") are round glass seed beads which feature a single cut or facet on one side. This facet causes the beads to shimmer and sparkle in the light. They are found in fewer sizes than standard round beads, but work perfectly in all the same stitches and patterns.

Peanut Japanese Seed Beads

Peanut seed beads, also known as Farfalle (Italian for "butterflies"), get their interesting names from their singular shape. Measuring 2x4mm, with two rounded ends and a narrower center, these delightfully shaped beads have a lot of potential. Their consistent size and shape mean they fit together and with other seed beads very nicely. Peanut seed beads create unique textures in spiral rope and right angle weave and they make a lovely, organic statement simply strung by themselves.

Berry Japanese Seed Beads

Berry seed beads are another unique shape available in Japanese glass seed beads. Shaped like two glass drops fused together at a slightly narrower center, these beads measure 2.5x4.5mm, slightly larger than Peanut seed beads. They have a consistent size and shape that combines well with other seed beads. The unique berry shape creates fun textures and effects in a variety of bead weaving stitches, including herringbone and right angle weave.

Tila Japanese Seed Beads

Tila Japanese seed beads are square, tile-shaped beads with two holes, made by the maker of Delica beads. Like Delicas, Tilas are immaculately formed and very consistent, but their crisp edges are delicate and can chip if spilled onto hard surfaces. One of several styles of two-holed seed beads available today, they add great structure and stability to bead weaving. Stitches like brick, square, and right angle weave work very well with Tilas, though some patterns will need to be adjusted to accommodate the two holes.

Triangle Japanese Seed Beads

Japanese triangle seed beads are a great option for achieving a geometric look. With three smooth sides, three corners, and a large triangular hole, they add an unexpected twist to classic bead weaving stitches. Take advantage of their unique qualities in brick, square stitch, and right angle weave, or just enjoy their funky texture through simple stringing. Fusion Beads offers triangle seed beads in three sizes: 11°, 10°, and 8°.

Rizo Czech Glass Seed Beads

Rizo seed beads are a style of Czech pressed glass beads that come in a very unique shape. Slightly larger than a drop but smaller than a dagger, they measure 2.5x6mm in size and strongly resemble a grain of rice in shape. They come in a variety of colors and coatings to choose from. They have the same size hole as size 11 round seed beads and blend well with them in right-angle weave, herringbone, and peyote stitches. Because they are made of pressed glass, they have smooth edges that are comfortable to wear and won't damage stringing materials.

Rulla Czech Glass Seed Beads

Rulla Czech seed beads are made of Czech pressed glass. Rullas measure 3x5mm and their cylindrical shape features two side-drilled holes placed about 1.6mm apart. These beads can be combined with other seed beads in elaborate bead weaving projects or strung together with larger beads to achieve very interesting effects and textures. Because of their extra hole they are well-suited for structural work which needs to be very stable and secure and they can be great for basic stringing and right-angle weave.

Twin Czech Glass Seed Beads

Twin seed beads are Czech pressed glass beads made by Preciosa Ornela. These beads measure 2.5x5mm in size and offer about 2.5mm between their two side-drilled holes. When seen from the side, they have a slightly irregular oval shape, but their profile is fairly consistent, though they are less uniform than the similarly shaped SuperDuos. The Twins' two holes make them incredibly useful in structural bead weaving where stability is key. They give a great texture to peyote or herringbone patterns and their smooth, pressed edges are comfortable and won't damage weaving materials.

SuperDuo Czech Glass Seed Beads

SuperDuo seed beads are made of Czech pressed glass and have a similar form to the Twin seed beads. SuperDuos are slightly larger, measuring 2.5x5.5mm and feature a more consistently rectangular shape when viewed from the side. Their side-drilled holes are placed at slightly tapered ends around a wider middle, making the profile of the bead appear similar to an inverted figure-eight. This unique shapes make them ideal for filling gaps, weaving with round seed beads or for use in off-set bead weaving stitches like herringbone. Like all pressed glass, SuperDuos have very clean and smooth edges which won't irritate skin or damage weaving materials.

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