There are so many different types of beads, but it seems there are always going to be some types that are more popular than others.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a type of plastic, but acrylic beads are far more superior than plastic. Acrylic beads are lightweight and last much longer than plastic beads.
Bone: Bone beads are another type of natural bead. Bone beads are often carved into animal or feather shapes or long tubes. Bone beads are often left a natural color, but they are sometimes died.
Cat’s Eye: Cat’s eye beads come in a variety of grades, which is determined by the visibility of the “cat eye affect” on the bead. Cat’s eye beads are made from glass fiber optic strands.
Cloisonne: Cloisonne beads are generally handmade with a metal bead that is fused with metal filaments. Enamel is often used to fill in the bead. Cloisonne beads date back 500 years.
Glass: Glass beads are probably the most popular type of bead. They come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. Glass beads can come with swirls, sparkles or a crackle design.
Lampwork: Lampwork beads are a type of glass bead that can be formed into various shapes and colors. Glass is softened over a small flame so that it can be worked into a design.
Magnetic: Magnetic beads are often called hemalyke, which is a version of hematite. Hematite is a natural stone, where as hemalyke is man-made.
Paper: Paper beads can be made out of stationary, magazines, newspaper or any type of paper that you can roll or ball up into a bead. Paper beads are usually coated with a type of glaze or finish to make them stronger and more durable.
Pearls: Pearls are a by-product of an animal. You will find saltwater pearl and freshwater pearl beads that may be natural or cultured. Basically pearls form when foreign matter enter a mussel or oyster; the mussel or oyster secrete a substance to surround the matter to reduce irritation since it cannot expel the matter. The secretion is the same substance that create shell, and eventually the substance gets thick enough to form a pearl. Freshwater pearls are often irregularly shaped, whereas saltwater pearls are more uniform in shape. Pearl beads come in a variety of colors, and are often dyed. The color of cultured pearls can be altered by the water quality, lighting and temperature.
Plastic: Plastic beads are inexpensive and lightweight, which makes them quite popular. Plastic beads show signs of wear sooner than glass.
Semi-Precious Stones: Semi-precious stones are cut, shaped or tumbled and then polished to perfection. Semi-precious stone beads come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Chips and nuggets have a natural look, but they may be faceted or smoothed for a more “refined” look.
Wood: Wood beads are a very natural type of bead that come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Some wood beads are left with a natural finish, some may be stained and others may be dyed or painted.