Second up in my jewelry lessons series is all about the beads I use most often! (Miss the first lesson? Essential Jewelry Tools and Supplies can be found here). A bead is often defined as a small object with a hole through the middle. Beads are made out of TONS of different materials and come in any color, size and shape imaginable!
One of my favorite types of beads are Czech Glass beads, specifically the fire polished kind. These beads are faceted so they have a little sparkle but are pretty affordable. They come in rounds, roundels, ovals, teardrops, and more. They are often sold on a string, which I like more than buying by the bead (those prices can add up!!)
Faux pearls are fun to bead with. You can get glass pearls or plastic pearls which are often painted a specific color. The plastic are normally cheaper, but are normally worse quality. You can tell in the picture above that some of the paint peeled off the front bead when I took it off it's string! I like to use these in necklaces, you can get them in practically any color and there are many different sizes available
Freshwater pearls are made with the help of man: pearl divers will create a small opening in an oyster's shell and insert tissue from another oyster that will cause irritation and eventually a pearl will form. These kinds of pearls are much more affordable than real pearls. Freshwater pearls are often given a hole and sometimes dyed (like the purple ones above) to be used in jewelry making. The holes in these beads are smaller than most beads though, so you have to be aware of that when choosing what type of wire or string you want to use with them!
I like to keep a variety of metal round beads around because I like to use them to break up all the color of regular beads in a design. I can never get enough of these!
Metal spacer beads are skinny metal beads that also help to break up all the color of regular beads. They come in silver, gold, pewter, copper, etc.
Seed beads are itty bitty tiny little beads. These take a lot of patience to bead with! They come in various sizes- one of the smallest is called size 15 round, and the larger ones are size 2 or 3 round. There are also various shapes such as triangular, rectangles, etc.
During the summer I love to bead with shells! The ones above are charms, but they also come in regular bead types as well, and are dyed to pretty much any color.
They're not plastic, they're not glass.....they're acrylic! I love buying these beads. There are so many different shapes and colors to choose from and they are pretty affordable as well.
Oh crystals. How I love and hate you. I love how much you sparkle and how classy you look, but I hate paying ten cents and up per bead for you. The most popular type of crystals are made by Swarovski, whom I am sure you have all heard of before! I love using crystals in my designs but typically only buy them when I have a specific project idea in mind for them, they are not normally an "impulse bead buy" for me.
Stone beads are some of the most classic kinds of beads there are, at least in my opinion! Semi-precious stones add a lot of class to a jewelry design and an outfit, but not a lot of happiness to your wallet. I use semi-precious every once and awhile, but my college girl budget leads me to use dyed stone beads a lot as well, such as the faux turquoise beads above!
Last but not least...wood beads! These come in all different shapes and sizes and colors as well, and they tend to be larger. They work well for chunky bracelets or also can be covered in fabric for cool looks.
And that's not even all! There are also plastic beads, beads made out of bone, glass, lampwork beads, lucite beads...and more! The ones above are the most common ones I work with though. Hopefully next time your browsing around a bead store or Michaels you will know their names or what to look for now!
Up next week: Learn How to Crimp!