Learning to Speak the Language – Part 2: Bead Styles & Shapes

In our last post, we covered the different terms associated with findings — the various metal components one needs to complete a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings. Today we will cover the most common bead shapes and cuts that exist. We know this doesn’t cover ALL of the possible bead styles — folks within the industry are constantly coming up with new shapes! The ones we have listed are simply our favorites, customer favorites, or ones that we found particularly intriguing!

Round
This shape doesn’t need much of an explanation. Simple, classic, and versatile, round beads can work with any type of jewelry project.

Malachite rounds. Photo courtesy of healingcrystals.com.

Malachite rounds. Photo courtesy of healingcrystals.com.

Coin
Also pretty self-explanatory, the other thing worth noting is that coin-shaped beads typically come with one of two types of holes: one through the center, or one through the top.

Faceted carnelian coins. Photo courtesy of DeStash Bead on Etsy.

Faceted carnelian coins, with holes drilled through the center. Photo courtesy of DeStash Bead on Etsy.

Briolette
This term refers to all top-drilled beads, not just those that are shaped like teardrops. Briolettes can come in a wide range of shapes, and although there are subcategories of briolettes (pyramid-cut, onion-cut, etc.) instead of listing them all, we’ll simply show you a few samples of different styles:

Flat Swarovski briolettes.

Flat Swarovski briolettes.

Oblong Swarovski briolettes.

Oblong Swarovski briolettes.

Onion-cut pyrite briolettes. Photo courtesy of jewelsexports.com

Onion-cut pyrite briolettes. Photo courtesy of jewelsexports.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faceted oval briolettes. Photo courtesy of jinxybeads on eBay.

Faceted citrine oval briolettes. Photo courtesy of jinxybeads on eBay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star-shaped briolettes. Super cute! Photo courtesy of jinxybeads on eBay.

Star-shaped moonstone briolettes. Super cute! Photo courtesy of jinxybeads on eBay.

Marquis-cut labradorite briolettes from Raregemstone on Etsy.

Marquis-cut labradorite briolettes from Raregemstone on Etsy.

Dagger
A style of top-drilled bead that is — you guessed it — shaped like a dagger. Much less deadly than their real-life inspiration, daggers make great leaves and petals for floral-themed jewelry pieces, but also work really well as dragonfly wings!

Bead-embroidery dragonfly courtesy of Lorraine Stobie, photo courtesy of needlework.craftgossip.com

Bead-embroidery dragonfly courtesy of Lorraine Stobie, photo courtesy of needlework.craftgossip.com

Bicone
Somewhat diamond-shaped, one of the most popular manufacturers of bicone beads is Swarovski. Swarovski’s bicones are precision-cut and work beautifully in woven projects, as well as just on their own!

Swarovski bicone crystals in a variety of colors. Photo courtesy of fusionbeads.com

Swarovski bicone crystals in a variety of colors. Photo courtesy of fusionbeads.com

Rondelle
Also commonly called a “donut,” these beads resemble round beads that have been squashed. A true donut-shaped bead has a larger hole, but rondelles can often have smaller holes, especially in gemstone form.

Tanzanite gemstone rondelles. Photo courtesy of ski-jewelry.com

Tanzanite gemstone rondelles. Photo courtesy of ski-jewelry.com

3-hole Bead
Also referred to as a “guru bead,” this tricky little guy is most commonly used when creating a mala, or a string of prayer beads. The largest of the three holes typically bumps up next to a carved tubular bead, ending in a tassel and/or the end of the cord.

To find out more about how to work with similar beads, click here.

Turquoise guru beads. Photo courtesy of efordiy on Etsy.

Turquoise guru beads. Photo courtesy of efordiy on Etsy.

Micro-facet
These teeny, tiny beads are most commonly found in gemstone form, and they look great either by themselves or as spacers between other beads. A little flash goes a long way, and if we had to pick some of our favorite types of beads, Blue Door Beads staff would tell you — we just can’t get enough of these little sparklers!

Micro-faceted garnet beads. Photo courtesy of GEMSDEAL on Etsy.

Micro-faceted garnet beads. Photo courtesy of GEMSDEAL on Etsy.

Seed Beads

“Seed Bead” is a generic term for any small bead. There are various styles and sizes of seed beads, including round, cylinder (also known as “delica”), bugle, and dozens more! Although we carry a full range of standard seed beads in sizes 6/0 to 11/0, we love our unusual and unique seed beads even more. Just like grains of sand, seed beads may not look like much individually, but when you combine them together, you can create some incredible designs! Here are a few cool seed bead shapes we love:

Long Magatama
Like its name, this shape is kind of funky, but the slightly oblong teardrop shape creates an amazing clustering effect when the beads are clumped together!

Long magatamas were used in these earrings, "Dragon Wings," which were featured on www.beadsforever2.blogspot.com.

Long magatamas were used in these earrings, “Dragon Wings,” which were featured on http://www.beadsforever2.blogspot.com.

Rizo
Similar to Long Magatamas, Rizo beads (which is a play on the word “riso,” meaning “rice in Italian), are oblong and actually do resemble grains of rice. They add great texture to woven pieces, and are a little more rounded than Long Magatamas.

This intricately woven bracelet features rizo beads. Photo courtesy of anouabeaddesign.blogspot.com

This intricately woven bracelet features turquoise-colored rizo beads. Photo courtesy of anouabeaddesign.blogspot.com

Tila
These are one of the coolest seed beads on the market! Tila beads have two holes, and since they are square, they add a striking geometric look to a jewelry design. They lay flat when woven together, and feel luxuriously smooth on your skin!

Tila beads add a smooth, sleek look to jewelry designs. Photo courtesy of labellajoya.blogspot.com

Tila beads add a smooth, sleek look to jewelry designs. Photo courtesy of labellajoya.blogspot.com

Twin & Super Duo
Like Tila beads, twin seed beads have two holes, but their slightly rounded shape create a completely different look when woven together with other beads. We like the fact that they have a similar look to standard seed beads, but their extra hole makes weaving back and forth much easier than trying to thread 2, 3 or even 4 cords through a standard seed bead. Super Duo beads are similar to twin beads, with one major difference: they have a slight ridge to them, helping the beads fit snugly next to one another when woven together.

Super duo seed beads. Photo courtesy of bellomodo.com

Super duo seed beads. Photo courtesy of bellomodo.com

Peanut  (a.k.a. Berry, but don’t ask us why. We think peanut makes more sense.) Also an ideal bead for creating a clustered look, these little guys nestle together perfectly! They don’t have the teardrop length of the magatamas, but they do add just the right amount of texture.

Peanut beads nestle together quite nicely! Photo courtesy of humblbeads.blogspot.com

We feel in love with the pale blue peanut beads used in this bracelet! Photo courtesy of humblebeads.blogspot.com

Delica
OK, we figured we could throw in at least ONE “classic” seed bead. The even, cylindrical shape of delicas are ideal for tightly woven pieces and look amazing in flat stitches, such as peyote.

We love the rainbow of delicas in this woven bracelet! Photo courtesy of JoannGirls on Etsy.

We love the rainbow of delicas in this woven bracelet! Photo courtesy of JoannGirls on Etsy.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for Part 3: Beading Tool Lingo!

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