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Guide to beads

Beads are small decorative objectives with a hole through them, that allows it to be strung together with a string.

Beads have existed for thousands of years and have been independently invented in almost every culture.

Due to the long history and popularity of beads, there are several hundred thousand different types of beads that are currently being made. One of the challenges for beaders is finding the precise bead type that matches their requirements.

Beads uses are wide and include:

Jewellery making

For example beads can be used to make bracelets, necklaces, earrings

Model making

Beads are assembled into models such as animals, people

Bead weaving

For example, beads are stitched onto cloth to make a picture. Seed beads and bugle beads are typically used.
Beads are made from a wide range of materials:

Seed beads are small beads of a few millimeters in size. They are usually cylindrical / spherical in shape. Seed beads are most commonly used for bead embroidery and jewellery making.

Acrylic beads are made out of acrylic which is a synthetic material.

Acrylic beads are special, they are able to imitate nearly all natural materials. In addition there are some shapes and designs of acrylic beads that is currently impossible to make from natural materials.

Glass beads are versatile with many different types, suitable for a variety of jewellery making projects. Glass can be made using a wide range of techniques, which gives rise to huge variety of glass beads.

Crystal beads is made from glass that has lead oxide added to normal glass to make the beads more brilliant. Lead oxide added to the molten glass makes the beads refract light more efficiently. This gives crystal beads a higher index of refraction than normal glass beads, and consequently much greater lustre and sparkle.

Porcelain beads are made from porcelain, porcelain is a form of ceramic.

Like porcelain vases, bowls and cups, much of the decorative effect comes from the design patterns on the porcelain. Porcelain beads are similar. Porcelain beads comes in a wide range of different patterns.

Gemstone beads are beads made from precious and semi-precious gemstones.

A gemstone is a mineral which when cut and polished is used to make jewellery. There are hundreds of different types of minerals used to make gemstone jewellery. Each type of mineral gives the resulting gemstone a unique quality in terms of colour, luster, translucence and feel.

Metal beads are beads made from metals. Popular metals used include: copper, brass, silver, gold.

Metal is relatively easy to mould once heated, this allows metal beads to have a vast range of different shapes and finishes. In terms of different shapes, metal beads are only surpassed by acrylic beads.

Shell beads and pearls are one of the oldest types of beads, they have been used for decorative purposes since the dawn of humanity.

Shell beads & pearls come from a range of sea/freshwater shells and pearls.

To enhance the attractiveness some shell beads are dyed to give them colour.

Rhinestone beads are typically metal beads decorated with Rhinestones.

Rhinestones are made from glass, quartz or acrylic and are designed to look like gemstones.

Wooden beads are made from a variety of different wood. They can be cut into a range of different shapes and sometimes they are dyed to give them a particular colour.

Wooden beads are relatively light, so they can be useful for larger Jewellery pieces.

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