Beads for Making Jewelry | Disclosures About Beads for Jewelry

Get important facts about beads for making jewelry before you buy. Learn about types of bead materials available, shapes, surfaces and common gemstone enhancements for jewelry making beads and more...

Beads for Jewelry Making

The selection of beads for jewelry is pretty much limitless. There are good and not so good beads.

Know what to look out for before you buy.

Get the facts and be a savvy bead buyer!

Types of Beads for Making Jewelry: Materials

Bead Materials

Today's hottest jewelry making beads are made from almost any material...

  • Shells from creatures that once lived
  • Metals such as silver, copper, brass and pewter
  • Gemstones such as malachite, black onyx and peridot
  • Glass to make crystals and seed beads
  • Pearls in many colors, shapes and sizes
  • Plastics, resin, paper, nuts and bolts, and found objects
  • Wood, nuts, bone and much more!

With such a plethora of materials to choose from you will surely find a favorite or two.

Type of Beads for Jewelry Making: Bead Shapes

Bead Shapes

Beads for making jewelry come in a variety of different shapes. Shown above are typical shapes (from right to left): briolette, round, oval, coin, chip, cube, rectangle, tube and donut.

Plentiful, but not as common, are animals, plants, flowers and freeform shapes of almost anything.

For names and pictures of a lot more bead shapes, take a look at this bead shapes glossary.

Type of Beads for Making Jewelry: Surface Finish

Bead Surfaces

The surfaces of beads are cut to produce different effects. Pictured above from left to right are a few common surface effects...

  • (A) Cabochon
    Bead's surface has a smooth domed top and flat bottom
    (A cabochon bead has no hole.)
  • (B) Faceted
    Bead's surface has numerous tiny facets or cuts
  • (C) Rough
    Bead's surface has minimal smoothing for a more natural, rough effect

Type of Beads for Jewelry Making: Gemstone Enhancement

A gemstone enhancement, or gemstone treatment, refers to the way a gem or bead is treated to improve its appearance, durability or color.

Common Gemstone Treatments...

  • Dyeing: Adds color to or improves the color of beads for making jewelry.
  • Bleaching: Lightens and whitens beads.
  • Heating: Lightens, darkens, or changes the color of some beads.
  • Stabilization: The impregnation of gemstones with colorless oils, wax, or resins. Makes imperfections less visible for an improved appearance.

A Few Commonly Treated Beads for Jewelry...

  • Dyed: Bamboo Coral, Black Onyx, Howlite, Pearls, Rose Quartz
  • Bleaching: Bone, Mother of Pearl
  • Heating: Amber, Amethyst, Carnelian, Smoky Quartz
  • Stabilization: Sponge Coral, Turquoise

With the exception of cutting and polishing, sellers of beads for jewelry are required to reveal gemstone enhancements.

Gemstone Treatment Regulation

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes a guide titled "All That Glitters, How to Buy Jewelry" that contains more information for consumers.

A leading industry force in the ethical promotion of natural colored gemstones and cultured pearls is the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).

Gemstone Treatment Disclosure

The AGTA requires its members to abide by stringent gemstone enhancement disclosure requirements. These are more stringent than the FTC minimal requirements. Their members are bound by and must disclose gemstone treatments in line with the AGTA Code of Ethics.

For further reading, the AGTA publishes a Gemstone Information Manual that lists more gemstone enhancements.

Take a look at the FTC publication if you're just buying beads for making jewelry for yourself. If you plan to sell your jewelry take a look at the AGTA publication. Both a very informative.

This information arms you with the knowledge to make informed purchases about jewelry making beads.

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Visitor Comments

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Columbia, MD

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Merishka B.
Ladysmith, South Africa