Please note that we are now focussing solely on our jewellery repairs service. Thank you for your custom over the years.
Please visit our eBay shop for bargain clearance items

There are so many bead types that the terminology can sometimes flummox even the most experienced beader! Here we've summarised the most common types of beads and put links in to our product categories for more in-depth descriptions and specifications.

Acrylic Beads is the umbrella term for any bead that is made of plastic or polymerised materials such as Fimo Polymer Clay, resin and other plastics. They are usually light, inexpensive and suitable for a wide range of applications, and some rival glass and wooden beads in their quality.

Bugle Beads are often grouped with seed beads; they are small tubular beads that typically range from 3mm up to 12mm in length. They are most commonly used in bead weaving projects, and can either be Japanese precision cut beads or chinese beads that offer good value for money. 

Charms are often die-cast metal beads that come in a huge range of designs, shapes, sizes and colour finishes. They are named from the good old traditional "charm bracelet" you'll remember from childhood. They usually have a loop built in to them for easy attachment to jewellery, and can even have clips such as lobster clasps attached to them so that they can be quickly and easily changed by the end user. Although charms are often pre-made, you can make your own using beads slotted onto headpins! 

Crystal Beads are high quality glass beads that have facets cut into their surface. Crystals can be cut into many different shapes such as bicones, rivolis, rounds and rondelles to name but a few. 

Czech Glass Beads are often deemed the best quality pressed glass beads in the world. The dominant brand is Preciosa (formerly Jablonex), and pressed glass comes in a huge range of shapes, colours and finishes. We stock czech glass leaves, flowers and hearts as well as glass shape mixes from Preciosa.

Fire Polished Beads are also Czech glass beads, but they have a faceted surface, so are often called crystals. The beads are formed and facets are cut into the surface, then the entire bead is passed back through a raw flame to partially melt the surface. This leads to hugely increased shine and quality to the bead, making fire polished beads some of the most desirable faceted crystals you can buy. 


Glass beads are one of the commonest materials for beads to be made of; they range from cheap all-purpose round, square or shaped beads, right up to top quality cut crystal such as Swarovski Crystals and Preciosa Pressed Glass Beads. Glass beads often evoke a more expensive look and feel due to their weight and finish so are more often than not the most logical choice for professional and amateur jewellery makers alike. Glass beads can also be made to look like other types of beads at a fraction of the price, such as Glass Pearls and Semi Precious beads. 

Pandora style beads are beads that are designed to fit the classic Pandora Bracelet. They are usually around 10mm - 20mm in size with roughly a 6mm hole to be able to cope with the threaded sections of the genuine Pandora bracelets. They vary greatly in their design and materials, and range from very inexpensive acrylic, glass and plated metal right up to exact replicas in sterling silver.

Pearl Beads come in either genuine freshwater pearls or coated glass pearls. Either type have varying degrees of quality associated with them, but generally freshwater pearls are more expensive, and therefore often more sought after than glass pearls. Freshwater pearls are often dyed to different shades to make them more marketable and versatile, whereas glass pearls are a generic glass bead beneath a pearlescent high-resistance coating.

Pendants are (generally) large focal charms that are placed in the centre of a necklace. We carry a range of metal pendants, but you can also buy pendants in semi-precious stones, acrylic and glass.You can even make your own pendants by threading beads onto headpins or pendant builders (click here to see how). Sometimes, you'll find people call "charms"  pendants. This is generally due to the way they have a loop attached for easy attachment, and the only thing that divides a charm from a pendant is size and use; the definition of a charm or a pendant is in the eye of the beholder!

Rivoli beads are beads with a pointed back and, usually, no hole running through them. This can often make them seem quite limiting in terms of design, but we have come up with some great ways of how to use rivolis in your jewellery making. Our Rivoli Workshops teach you new ways of using rivoli beads in your jewellery and get you thinking outside the box with your designs.

Seed beads come in a huge range of styles:

 - Rocailles are "round" seed beads and range from very tiny size 15 (or 15/0) up to relatively large size 3 (or 3/0 - you get the idea!). They can (generally) be one of three types; Japanese seed beads are considered to be the best quality of the three, and can be used in high precision beadweaving projects such as peyote, brickstitch and other weaves. The best manufacturers are Toho and Miyuki, and a lesser manufacturer is Matsuno; Chinese seed beads are still good quality beads, but variation between beads is greater, resulting in them generally not being suitable for accurate beadweaving projects; Czech seed beads are generally considered to be the lowest quality seed beads you can buy. They have irregular shapes and sizes and should only ever be used in stringing and wirework that calls for random design - for this type of work they are great value for money!

- Hexagons or hex seed beads are, as the name suggests, hexagonal seed beads with the hole running through the centre of the hexagon, like a candy cane. Size 8 hex seed beads are the most common sizes, but others are also available.

- Cube or square seed beads are cuboid seed beads and often come in 4mm, 1.8mm and 1.5mm but others are available. Toho and Miyuki both manufacture 4mm cubes, but Toho cubes are actually slightly bigger in size than Miyuki, and have a larger hole. The larger hole means you "get more beads for your money" as Toho say, as most seed beads are sold by weight.

- Drop beads are, again as the name suggests, beads that have an off-centered hole to allow them to hang to one side of a thread. Examples of these are Long Magatamas, Miyuki Drops and dagger beads.

- Twin beads made by Preciosa, and are an oval shaped bead with holes at either end of the bead, allowing two threads to run through them. This enables highly complex beadweaving patterns to be created, or used simply to tie two single threads together in an interesting way!

- Czechmates tiles are pressed glass squares that have two holes running through them in parallel. This, again as with twin beads, means that complex and interesting designs can be accomplished at relatively lost cost. They add a very different look to most beadweaving patterns that use Japanese seed beads, as Czech pressed glass has a much more organic shaping and colouring to it, so adds a wonderful contract to your work.

Semi precious beads are made using semi precious stones. This is a huge genre and includes almost any naturally occurring mineral that can be made into a bead, such as agate, haematite, turquoise etc. Freshwater pearls and shell beads are also often categorised with semi precious beads.

Spacer Beads is the term most often applied to metal beads as they are frequently used between other types of beads to make them stand out more. Metal beads can be plain plated metal, die-cast into shapes or even made of wrapped wire.

Wooden beads often have a reputation as "cheap" looking and not very desirable. However, wooden beads come in a huge variety of shapes, colours, sizes and designs, as well as quality. Wood is very versatile material to use during manufacture as it can be turned, sanded, drilled, painted, dyed and coated with ease, so keep an eye out for interesting ones. 


Newsletter signup

Save 15% off your first order!

* E-Mail:

First Name:

Last Name:

Newsletter signup

Save 15% off your first order!

* E-Mail:

First Name:

Last Name: