A to Z's of Beads, Tools & Wire

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  • Acrylic ~ A thermoplastic, lightweight bead.

  • Almond ~ A flat or puffed-flat elliptical shape with pointed ends. This shape is also known as a horse-eye football, or marquise.

  • American Wire Gauge (AWG) ~ The United States standards for measuring wire.

  • Angel Wing ~ A circle with either a triangular piece removed (like a Pac-Man) or a smaller circular piece removed or obscured (like a crescent moon). This shape is also known as a crescent, half-moon or a moon.

  • Animal Shaped ~Beads shaped like animals. Also called fetish beads.

  • Antique ~ Generally beads that are at least 100 years old.

  • Austrian Crystal ~ Cut lead-crystal beads (Swarovski beads are Austrian crystal).

  • Ax (Axe) ~A bead that resembles the blade or head of an ax.

     

  • Bakelite ~Highly collectible. Also known as catalin. An early form of moldable plastic that was invented by Leo Bakeland in 1909. 

  • Bali Silver ~ Handmade in Bali, Indonesia.  Made of no less than 92.5% sterling silver. Bali silver components are usually very ornate with distinctive designs.

  • Bamboo ~ Tubes that are narrower in the middle and curve outward at both ends. This shape is also known as a dog bone.

  • Barbell ~ Two round shapes joined together. This shape is also known as a figure 8, infinity, dog bone or bow tie bead.

  • Baroque ~Irregularly-shaped bead characterized by extravagance, complexity or flamboyance. Related shape names include nuggets, cosmic, graphic and polygon.

  • Barrel ~ A short, thick tube bead with slightly rounded edges. This shape is also known as a drum.

  • Base Metal ~Non-precious metals, i.e., nickel, bronze, brass, and copper.

  • Bean ~ a mix between a barrel and an oval. A plump, roundish tube. This shape is also known as egg, oval or rice bead.

  • Bezel ~ A bezel setting has a metal rim that encircles the sides of the stone, crystal, cabochon, or other item that is to be set. The rim can totally encircle the item or just partially encircle it. The purpose of the bezel is to provide secure setting for the piece.

  • Bib ~ A group of long, top-drilled beads that are graduated in length, with the longest bead in the center. Bibs are also known as a collars or fans.

  • Bicone ~ A shape resembling two cones (smooth or faceted) joined at the base. The center can be rounded or have flat sides. 

  • Branch ~ A narrow, irregular shape that twists and curves like a tree branch or a branch of coral. Branches are also known as sticks.

  • Brick ~ A rectangle bead.

  • Briolette ~A top-drilled teardrop or pear-shaped bead. Also known as a teardrop or pear.

  • Bugle ~ A bugle bead is a tubular shaped bead. Its sides can be round, hexagonal or twisted hexagonal.

  • Button ~ Usually puffed on one side and slightly indented on the other.

     

  • Cane/Furnace Glass ~ Colored glass core encased in a transparent exterior layer which is then annealed in a furnace.

  • Center Drilled ~ Beads drilled through the middle. Most basic bead shapes are center drilled.

  • Charlottes ~ Each bead has one hand-cut so that the bead can reflect light. The single cut makes these tiny beads slightly faceted, creating a sparkle.

  • Chaton ~ A chaton is a stone with a faceted point on the backside. Most have a color foil backing.

  • Chevron ~ Chevron beads are drawn beads, made from glass canes, which are shaped using specifically constructed star molds. Chevron beads can be composed of a varied number of consecutive layers of colored glasses. The initial core is formed from a molten ball of glass (called a "gather") that was melted in a furnace. An air bubble is blown into the center of the gather via a blowpipe, thus creating the bead hole opening.

  • Chicklet ~A small tile bead (rectangle tube). Also known as a baby pillow, nibblette or puffy pillow.

  • Chip ~ A small irregularly-shaped bead.

  • Cog ~ A cog is a tooth on a mechanical gear, but often people use the word to mean the entire gear or sprocket. Beads shaped like mechanical gears and sprockets are typically circular and flat with teeth along their edges.

  • Coiled ~ A bead that is formed by a material being wound into spirals. A coil is often made of wire.

  • Coin ~ A flat or puffed circle, drilled lengthwise. This shape is also known as a lentil bead

  • Collar 
    [1] ~A group of long, top-drilled beads that are graduated in length, with the longest bead in the center. Also known as bibs or fans.
    [2] ~A small, raised surface around the bead hole. Usually made of metal.

  • Column ~ A tube bead with architectural decoration.

  • Concave ~Inward curve, like the inside surface of a bowl or sphere. The opposite of convex.

  • Cone 
    [1] ~A bead with a wide base that tapers to a pointed end. 
    [2] ~ A finding that is used as an end piece for multi-strand designs.

  • Convex ~Outward curve, like the outside surface of a bowl or sphere.

  • Corn ~ Corn pearls are slightly irregular, organic shape which somewhat resembles kernels of corn and are usually slightly puffed on one side and slightly indented on the other.

  • Cornerless Cube ~ A cube with faceted (cut-off) corners, making it a cross between a round (sphere) and a cube. This shape is also referred to as a corner-cut cube and is more angular than a square ball.

  • Corner Drilled ~Beads drilled diagonally. This effect is also known as diagonally drilled.

  • Corrugated ~ A molded surface of parallel grooves and ridges. A lengthwise groove bead is also known as a fluted bead.

  • Cosmic ~ A type of baroque shape.

  • Crescent ~A circle with either a triangular piece removed (like a Pac-Man) or a smaller circular piece removed or obscured (like a crescent moon). This shape is also known as an angel wing, half-moon or moon.

  • Crimp Beads ~Bendable round or tube beads used to finish off your jewelry. A crimped crimp beads keeps your beads from falling off your beading wire.

  • Crow ~ A circular, large-hole bead similar to much like a drum. Also known as an E bead, pony bead, or roller bead.

  • Cube ~ A bead with six equal square sides. Also known as a die (singular) or as dice (plural).

  • Cupolini ~A short branch bead.

  • Czech (CB) ~ Beads made in the Czech Republic

     

  • Dagger ~ A straight or curved slim petal (think of a daisy petal), blade-shaped with a pointed end.

  • Delica ~ A Delica is a cylinder glass seed bead with thin walls made by Miyuki. They are somewhat uniform in shape thus allowing nicely fit patterns.

  • Diagonally Drilled ~ Beads drilled diagonally. This effect is also known as corner drilled.

  • Diamond ~ A square or rhomboid rotated 90°, shaped like two triangles joined at the base. Also known as a corner-drilled square.

  • Dichroic ~Glass beads with a semi-transparent micro-layer of metal between two or more layers.

  • Dice/Die ~A cube bead. 

  • Dog Bone ~Tubes that are narrower in the middle and curve outward at both ends. This shape is also known as a bamboo, barbell or bow-tie bead.

  • Double Drilled ~Beads with two holes.

  • Drum ~ A short, thick tube bead with slightly rounded edges. This shape is also known as a barrel bead.

     

  • E Bead ~ A circular, large-hole bead similar to much like a drum. Also known as a crow bead, E bead or a roller bead.

  • Egg ~An elongated round bead. Also known as a bean, melon, oval or rice bead.

     

  • Facet(ed) ~ A bead that has flat surface cuts in geometric patterns to increase the reflection of light and sparkle.

  • Fan ~A group of long, top-drilled beads that are graduated in length, with the longest bead in the center. Also known as bibs or collars.

  • Faux Pearl ~ Often made of glass, acrylic, or plastic with a pearlescent coating.

  • Fetish Beads ~Beads shaped like animals and are considered to have spiritual importance.

  • Filigree ~ A metal or wire Filigree to look like lace. the appearance is usually ornate and intricate.

  • Fluted ~A lengthwise grooved bead. Also known as a corrugated bead.

  • Football ~ A flat or puffed-flat elliptical shape with pointed ends. This shape is also known as an almond, horse-eye or marquise.

  • Fray Check ~ Used for dipping the ends of threads to keep them from fraying. Can be used on some beads in the place of a beading needle

  • Furnace/Cane Glass ~ Colored glass core encased in a transparent exterior layer which is then annealed in a furnace.

     

  • Gold Filled ~ A process by which 10-karat or higher gold is heat-bonded and pressed in a thin layer onto base metal.

     

  • Half Drilled ~ Beads that are drilled only part-way through. Used to mount on pegs or wire hangers.

  • Half-Moon ~A circle with either a triangular piece removed (like a Pac-Man) or a smaller circular piece removed or obscured (like a crescent moon). This shape is also known as an angel wing, crescent or moon.

  • Hand-Blown (HB)

  • Hand-Cut (HC)

  • Hair Pipe ~Originally elk rib bones were the material used for the long, tubular beads. Today these beads are commonly made of bison and water buffalo bones and are popular for breastplates and chokers among Plains Indians. Black variations of these beads are made from the animals' horns.

  • Heishi (hee-shee) ~ Usually flat edged circles; sometimes slightly puffed. Also known as a spacer, wafer, or wheel.

  • Helix ~ Facets that creates spiral around the bead. 

  • Hex Cut ~ Six sided to create more sparkle. Ends can be sharp.

  • Hexagon/Hexagonal ~ A six sided bead

  • Hogan ~ A metal bicone with a corrugated surface pattern. Can also come in other material besides metal.

  • Horse-Eye ~ A flat or puffed-flat elliptical shape with pointed ends. Also known as an almond, football or marquise.

     

  • Keishi ~ Keishi is the Japanese word for poppy seed. A true Keishi are small irregular pearls.

  • Knucklebone ~ An irregularly-shaped bead that resembles finger bones.

     

  • Ladder ~ Same as trapezoid/trapezoidal beads and pendants.

  • Lampwork(ed) (LW)

  • Large Hole ~ A bead which the hole’s diameter is 2mm or more. Large hole beads work great with leather cord, hemp cord, and chain.

  • Leaf ~Shapes that resemble the leaf of a tree or other plant.

  • Lentil ~ Like a thinner coin bead with edges that come to a point. 

  • Lucite ~ A seamless polymer that is more dense than plastic.

     

  • Margarita/Marguerita ~ A flat flower with a slightly raised center (Swarovski)

  • Marquise ~ A flat or puffed-flat elliptical shape with pointed ends. This shape is also known as an almond, horse-eye or football.

  • Melon ~An oval bead.

  • Memory Wire ~ Made of non-tarnish, permanently coiled steel that will snap back into its original shape when stretched and released. Memory wire will damage regular jewelry wire cutters so heavy duty cutters are needed.

  • Millefiori ~ Glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and "fiori" (flowers). The millefiori technique involves the production of glass canes or rods, known as murrine, with multicolored patterns which are viewable only from the cut ends of the cane. A murrine rod is heated in a furnace then pulled until thin while still maintaining the cross section’s design. It is then cut into beads when cooled.

  • Montees ~ Flat back stones that are mounted in a metal setting to weave into a jewelry design or to sew onto fabric.

  • Moon ~ A circle with either a triangular piece removed (like a Pac-Man) or a smaller circular piece removed or obscured (like a crescent moon). This shape is also known as a crescent, half-moon or angel wing bead.

     

  • Nibblet/Nibblette ~ A small tile bead (rectangle tube).Also known as a chicklet, baby pillow or puffy pillow. 

  • Noodle ~ A curved tube bead. 

  • Nugget ~ An irregular bead with no definite shape; a lump. Usually larger than a chip, this shape is also known as a knucklebone or macadam. Cornerless cube beads and faceted cubes are also sometimes called nuggets.

     

  • Octagon/Octagonal ~ A bead with eight sides. 

  • Onion ~ A round bead with a short tube around each opening of the hole.

  • Oval ~ An elongated round bead. Also known as a bean, egg or rice bead.

  • Oval Tube ~ A tube bead that’s much wider in the center than at the ends; an elongated oval.

     

  • Patina ~ Natural oxidation on the surface of metal over time. There are products available to speed up or enhance the process.

  • Pear ~ Same as a teardrop.

  • Pentagon ~ any five-sided shape.

  • Pinch Bead ~An oval bead with three equal sides. Also known as a tri-oval bead.

  • Polygon ~ Geometric shape meaning "many sides".

  • Pony Bead ~A circular, large-hole bead similar to much like a drum. Also known as an E bead, crow bead, or a roller bead.

  • Post ~ A tube that is side-drilled and not hollow. Also known as a stick.

  • Potato ~An irregular round pearl bead.

  • Pressed (PR)

  • Prong Setting ~ Small metal prongs are bent over the top of a jewel, stone or bead to hold it in place.

  • Puffed ~ A bead that is "puffed up" instead of flat.

  • Puffy Pillow ~A small tile bead (rectangle tube). Also known as a chicklet, baby pillow or nibblet.

  • Pyramid ~ A 3-dimensional triangle.

     

  • Rectangle ~A flat or bead with adjacent sides of unequal length, parallel sides of equal length and all right angles. An elongated square. Also known as a brick.

  • Rice ~ A mix between a barrel and an oval. A plump, roundish tube. Also known as a bean, egg or oval bead.

  • Ring ~Any shape of a large-hole disk with a large hole. Some have side-drilled holes for stringing.

  • Rocaille ~ A square-hole seed bead or E bead that is metal-lined.

  • Roller Bead ~A circular, large-hole bead similar to much like a drum. Also known as an E bead, crow bead, or a pony bead.

  • Rondelle ~A round, flattened bead. Some call this a squished round.

  • Rope Edge ~The edges of the bead has a rope-effect. Also called a twisted edge.

  • Rotund ~ A shape that is not quite round. Somewhere between a round and a rondelle.

     

  • Saucer ~ Similar to a disk or rondelle but with narrow edges. Think of a flying saucer.

  • Seed Bead ~A generic term for any small bead. Most commonly used for loom and off-loom bead weaving. However, they may be used for simple stringing or as spacers between other beads in jewelry. The larger the number, the smaller the bead.

  • Sequin ~ Sequins are small plastic sew-ons to embellish a designs.

  • Shell ~ either a bead that is made from an actual shell or a bead shaped like a shell.  

  • Slice ~ a slightly irregular bead with flat ends and rounded sides. Also known as a tire. 

  • Sphere ~ A round bead.

  • Square ~ A flat or puffed bead with four straight sides of equal length and right angles. A flattened cube.

  • Square Ball ~ A round bead with four flat (faceted) sides. This shape is rounder than a cornerless cube. Also known as a four-facet ball.

  • Star ~ Can be flat or puffed with five or more points.

  • Sterling Silver ~ A 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal (usually copper) alloy. These percentages are dictated by law. The7.5% of other metal strengthens the silver. Usually referred to 925 silver.

  • Stick
    [1] ~ A narrow, irregular shape that twists and curves like a tree branch or a branch of coral. Also known as a branch.
    [2] ~ A tube that is side-drilled and not hollow. Also known as a post.

     

  • Table-Cut (TC)

  • Tapered ~ A shape that decreases in radius/width at one or more ends.

  • Teardrop ~one wide rounded end and one narrow end bead that resembles a falling drop of liquid. Teardrops can be flat, puffed or 3-dimensional. We consider teardrops to be center-drilled, smooth or faceted where briolette’s are top-drilled.

  • Tibetan Dzi ~Tibetan Dzi beads and Rudraksha beads are used to make Buddhist and Hindurosaries (malas).

  • Tile ~ Short, flat, rectangular.

  • Top Drilled ~Beads that hang down like a pendant when strung horizontally. The hole is drilled near the top of the bead.

  • Trapezoid ~ Four-sided, quadrilateral bead with no right angles. Also known as a ladder. 

  • Tri-Oval ~An oval bead with three equal sides. Also known as a pinch bead.

  • Triangle ~A three sided bead.

  • Trillion ~Puffed triangle donut; three-sided donut with bowed sides and rounded points.

  • Troy Weight ~ A system of units of mass customarily used for precious metals and gemstones. There are12 troy ounces per troy pound, (373.24 grams) rather than the 16 ounces per pound (453.59 grams) found in the more common avoirdupois system.

  • Tube ~ Long, narrow, usually cylindrical, rectangular or pentagon shaped.

  • Twisted ~ Any shape that is partially wound around itself, but not as tightly wound as a spiral or coil. (Think of a shape that's being wrung out.)

  • Twisted Edge ~The edges of the bead has a rope-effect. Also called a rope edge.

     

  • Vintage ~ Beads that are at least 20-25 years old.

     

  • Wing ~ A shape resembling a wing from an angel, bird, or insect.

 

Tools

 

  • Bead Reamer ~ Thin piece of metal with a very thin pointed tip that has diamond dust embedded all over the surface. It is used to create wider holes at the end of a bead or to help a hole go all the way through a bead. It can also help smooth out rough edges.

  • Bead Stopper ~ A bead stopper is used to clip the end of your strand while working to avoid spilling beads. It is very useful for multiple strand projects. 

  • Beading Awl ~ Used to help slide a knot into place when knotting between your beads. 

  • Beading Needles ~ Beading needles are thinner than regular sewing needles so that they can fit through small holes in beads.

  • Bench Block ~ A block of hardened steel to use when flattening, chasing, stamping or texturing metal.

     

  • Chain Nose Pliers ~ These pliers have flat jaws that taper to a point to use for bending wire. Chain nose pliers for jewelry making generally do not have grooves that will scrape or gouge your metal.

  • Chasing Hammer ~The chasing hammer is used for striking chasing tools or flattening without missing. The ball side of the hammer can be used for riveting and metal design. Use with the steel bench block. 

  • Crimping Tool ~A bead crimper helps finish off your project by crimping crimp beads at the end of the strand to prevent your beads from sliding off.

     

  • Flush Cutter ~ Used to cut soft wire.

     

  • Jig ~ Abase plate with many holes that you insert pegs into to create a pattern to wrap wire around and between.

     

  • Loupe ~A magnification tool to use to view beads, stones, diamonds, etc. up close.

     

  • Micrometer ~ Used to measure the size of your bead.

  • Mandrel ~ Any round rod or bar which you wrap a material to shape it. 

     

  • Ring Mandrel ~  

  • Round Nose Pliers ~ Pliers with long smooth pointed tips to make small loops at the end of wire.


     

  • Side Cutters ~Use for prong settings and cutting hard metal wire.

Wire

 

  • Brass ~ Brass wire is composed of copper and zinc. It is harder than copper and inexpensive as well which also makes it good to practice with. Some polishing and lacquer can be used to help maintain the brass’ shine.
     

  • Copper ~ Copper wire is the softest, lowest cost wire which makes it an excellent wire to practice with. It will patina (darken) with age. Polishing will renew its shine and assist in reducing oxidation. 
     

  • Rose Gold ~An alloy of copper and gold resulting in a pinkish or reddish tint.