Jewelry designers and crafters naturally want unique beads for jewelry making. While there is always space for the classics, there’s no reason not to try other types of materials. You can even try combining different unique beads for jewelry making to get better results. Xinar has been selling the best quality jewelry-making supplies for crafters and DIY designers for 20+ years. Find the best wholesale beads here and the widest (and wildest) array of sterling silver charms for friendship bracelets, charm bracelets, and more.
What are Unique Beads for Jewelry Making?
Since a bead is technically anything with a hole in it, it can sometimes be confusing to zero in on the different popular bead types. Not to fear – we’ve rounded up the most popular unique beads for jewelry making here.
Bone and Horn
Jewelry made from bone, teeth, and horns has an earthy, primordial feel. Early people adorned their bodies with animal carcasses and created beautiful objects for sale. Most of the horn or bone beads are hand crafted and sourced organically. Lightweight, organic beads made from yaks, cows, buffalo, and reptiles can be used to make bohemian-style jewelry.
Malas or Mala Beads
Yak bone is used to make malas, or Buddhist prayer beads, in the country of Tibet, which is now part of China. Making jewelry from yak bone (which should definitely be part of your unique beads for jewelry making) comes easily to the region’s inhabitants since no part of the animal is wasted. In addition, yak bone is lightweight, easy to cut, and durable.
Kompoloi or Greek Worry Beads
Worry beads, also known as Kompoloi, are Greek jewelry with no religious meaning. They, like malas, can be constructed of bone, horn, wood, or natural gemstone beads. Worry beads are a type of functional jewelry that may be worn to pass the time, as an amulet, or for good luck.
Ceramic beads manufactured from fired clay such as stoneware or porcelain can be made in various colors, sizes, and forms. For example, Raku porcelain beads were made in Japan using a particular firing method. The glaze on most ceramic beads might be matte or lustrous, hand painted, or have a metallic outer coating. Ceramic beads are affordable and great for making bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Cylinder or tube beads can be created of hand-painted ceramic, hand-carved bone, glass, or metal. Tube or cylinder beads have straight edges and wide holes, making them ideal for jewelry that has to be smooth and even. Unlike square- or hexagonal-shaped tube beads, cylinder beads are often characterized as a form of seed beads and are rounded.
These unique beads for jewelry making have a tube or spherical form and are typically adorned in vivid designs. These glass beads were often used for commercial and financial activities between the 16th and 20th centuries. Make boho-style bracelets, dazzling earrings, or eye-catching needlework using African trade beads.
Heishi are unique beads for jewelry making may be used to make a beautiful stretch or stacking bracelets. These beads are manufactured by the Kewa Pueblo people of New Mexico and are made of semi-precious gemstones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, or natural shells. Heishi is Japanese for “shell,” These short, disc- or tube-shaped beads are typically used to build necklaces.
Wear lightweight, dazzling crystal beads as earrings, bracelets, or a drop charm on a wire. Crystal beads are made of glass, but due to lead oxide, they have a dazzling brilliance. Although crystal beads have been popular since the 1200s, the manufacture of crystal beads and jewelry flourished in the Czech Republic in the 1500s.
Swarovski is a well-known crystal manufacturer. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski debuted a crystal-cutting machine that produced affordable crystal pieces. Swarovski crystal beads may now be used to manufacture jewelry, collector figures, and chandeliers.
A drop bead has a distinct appearance. A hole is threaded through the uppermost section of the teardrop-shaped bead, leaving the rest to hang freely. Toho and Miyuki are two popular drop seed beads. Drop beads can be made of Czech glass, natural gemstones, or plastic, or they can be faceted.
Crafters can use faceted beads manufactured of plastic or glass as a less expensive alternative to Swarovski crystal beads. Faceted beads are attractive because they have numerous sides that resemble a cut gem. These flexible beads are available in various hues and can be opaque or transparent.
Glass jewelry designers have loved acquiring glass beads for their designs, including Venetian, lampwork, and bugle beads. Glass beads are affordable and flexible in color, size, and design. Beads composed of burned glass, recycled glass, and crystal with an opaque appearance or a captivating sheen are available.
Venetian Glass Beads
Venetian beads are often tubular or cylindrical. However, they can also be round or teardrop in shape. Murano was the hub of Venetian glass manufacturing for over 1,500 years. Venetian glass comes in various colors and sizes, and it frequently has elaborate patterns. Venetian beads are frequently used in lightweight jewelry pieces such as necklaces and bracelets.
Pewter, copper, bronze, and silver are ordinary metal beads. Metal beads are available in a variety of forms and sizes. Specific metal beads, such as Bali beads, are used as spacers or ornamental embellishments in jewelry. Gold-filled beads, copper beads, and sterling silver beads have all experienced a revival in recent years thanks to the wide acceptance of mixed metal jewelry and the promotion of big-name like Rihanna and Beyonce.
Millefiori beads are easily identified by their lovely, multicolored repeating patterns. The name explains the aesthetic of Millefiori beads:’mille’ is Italian for ‘thousand,’ and ‘Fiori’ means ‘flowers.’ The process for making this one-of-a-kind bead dates back to the time of the ancient Romans and Phoenicians. Millefiori beads were traditionally made of glass; however, current millefiori beads are manufactured of polymer.
Paper beads can be made at home using DIY, found paper, or purchased from a merchant. Paper beads often have a DIY look and are made by wrapping a long strip of paper around a rod. In addition, paper beads are environmentally friendly since they are made from recycled paper and are used to form lightweight bracelets, earrings, and statement jewelry.
Plastic beads, frequently produced from acrylic, are among the cheapest jewelry beads on the market. These beads are available in teardrop, faceted, round, tubular, and other forms. Pony beads are one of the most frequent forms of plastic beads. Pony beads are bigger seed beads with a large hole for easier threading. They are available in a variety of colors and are opaque. Pony beads are commonly used to create essential friendship bracelets, key chains, necklaces, and other craft items.
Seed beads are tiny and brightly colored beads. Some seed beads are referred to as Baroque or Charlotte and are commonly used in Indigenous American jewelry and needlework. Seed beads are delicate, tiny glass beads that resemble seeds, thus their name. Make elaborate earrings, colorful bracelets, armbands, or collar-style necklaces using seed beads.
Natural & Semi-Precious Gem Beads
These beads come in various forms, including round, cylindrical, chipped, tear-dropped, and square. In addition, natural gemstones of quartz, jasper, tiger-eye, lapis lazuli, and citrine are prevalent. The price varies according to the quality and kind of stone, cut, and size.
Some precious gemstone beads may also be synthetic or manufactured. For example, waterways are frequently used to collect cowrie shells and freshwater pearls. Some pearls and gemstones from the sea and soil, on the other hand, may be manufactured in a lab, lowering the price.
The role of spacer beads is reflected in their name. They can be fashioned of silver, such as Bali beads, or plastic, glass, ceramic, wood, or bone, as Rondelle beads. Spacer beads are used to separate designs and add visual appeal.
Wooden Jewelry Beads
Wooden beads are inexpensive and produce lovely jewelry. Unlike more expensive metal or gemstone beads, wooden beads may be used to make lightweight and colorful jewelry. Ebony, palmwood, redwood, rosewood, Bayong, and jackfruit are ordinary wood beads. Wood beads can be colored or left in natural gold, rosy, brown, grey, or black colors.
Toho is a well-known Japanese bead producer. These eye-catching glass seed beads feature extra-large holes that make threading, loom work, and stitching a breeze. In addition, Toho beads are of outstanding quality, regularity, and color and do not require augmentation.
Acrylic beads come in various brilliant colors, shapes, and sizes and are an exceptionally lightweight material that is ideal for any arts and crafts creations.
Aurora Borealis Beads
Aurora Borealis is a trading name for a rainbow iridescent finish applied to crystals and crystal beads. It is sometimes shortened as AB. Swarovski has used this method on a variety of its crystals.
Baroque beads are uneven in form. It is often used to pearls, although it may be applied to any bead type, whether semi-precious stone or acrylic glass bead.
Barrel beads are formed in the shape of a barrel and can be fashioned from various materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and glass.
Bicone beads are a popular bead form that is frequently used with crystals. A bicone is a three-dimensional structure describing two cone shapes linked base to base.
Birthstones are semi-precious and precious stones attributed to each month of the year or zodiac sign.
Black Line Beads
Black-lined beads are most typically associated with bugle beads and seed beads. This is when the bead hole has been lined with a black coating to give the bead coloring more depth.
Briolettes are tear/pear-shaped beads that can be worn as pendants, drop earrings, or charms. They can be drilled from the top or the bottom. They are ideal for wire wrapping and were prominent in Victorian jewelry.
Bugle beads are short, thin glass tubes often less than 2mm in diameter. The beads come in a variety of lengths and colors. They give glitz and glam to beaded jewelry designs. Click here to purchase bugle beads.
Cat’s Eye Beads
Cats’ eye beads are primarily constructed of glass, while some semi-precious gemstones, such as tiger’s eye, exhibit the same characteristics. The name comes from the bead’s iridescent white stripe, which sparkles and mimics a light-reflecting cat’s eye.
Cathedral beads are a kind of glass bead made in the Czech Republic. They were named after the gorgeous metallic-edged stained-glass windows found in antique cathedrals.