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Bead Mecca Jewelry Glossary
The Bead Mecca Jewelry Glossary is a reference to the definitions and terminology used in the bead world. We will continue to add to and update this information. Please feel free to use any portion of the glossary for your own use, just give credit to BeadMecca.com as your source.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Acid Wash
A Matte or frosted finish achieved by dipping glass beads into an acid bath.
Acrylic
A type of plastic that is used to make beads.
African Beads
Beads that were brought to the US from Africa. Many were traded as currency.
Alloy
Metals that are fused together
Antique Beads
These are newly made beads that are similar to delicas. They are cylindrical and precise. They are manufactured in Japan by Toho who has recently changed the name to
Aught
A unit of measure. Aught refers to the number of beads lined up side by side in a given space. A 6/0 bead means that you will get 6 beads in the space. 11/0 will be eleven beads in the same amount of space. So the smaller the number the bigger the bead, as it takes fewer beads to fill the space.
Aurora Borealis (AB)
A rainbow finish that is often applied to one side of glass beads.
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Bail
A decorative finding that attaches a pendant to a chain or cord.
Bakelite
A plastic that was popular in jewelry in the 1930's and is now collectible.
Bali Silver
Handmade sterling silver beads and from Bali, Indonesia. Bali silver is best known for the detail and granulation achieved.
Baroque
An irregular shaped pearl.
Barrel Clasp
A clasp that screws together. These are a favorite clasp with teenagers and works well in necklaces. They are not suitable in bracelets, as you need both hands to operate.
Base metal
Any non-precious metal, such as nickel, zinc, copper or brass.
Bead Tip
A metal finding used to hide the knots when working with silk or nylon cord. AKA Callottes, Clamshells and End Tips.
Bell Cap
Similar to a bead cap, but with a solid top that has a ring on the top. These are used to glue a stone or pendant without a hole into.
Bezel
A setting for a stone or glass cabochon.
Bicone
Has a conical shape on both sides of the bead.
Briolette
A teardrop shape with a hole across the tip, usually faceted.
Brittania
A white metal with a low lead content used in place of pewter.
Brooch
A decorative pin
Bugle bead
A very thin glass tube.
Bullion
A very fine coiled wire that is used to protect the thread where it attaches to the clasp. AKA French Wire, Gimp
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Cabochon
a flat back stone used for setting or beading around.
Caliper
A tool used to measure millimeters.
Callotte
A metal finding used to hide the knots when working with silk or nylon cord. AKA Bead Tip.
Cameo
A method of carving or an item of jewelry featuring a raised relief image.
Cane
A long rod of glass or polymer clay that is sliced to reveal patterns for applying to beads.
Cap
A bead cap is a decorative finding that fits onto a bead to add interest.
Cats eye
A man-made fiber optic material that refracts light and resembles the eye of a cat.
Ceylon
Greasy luster finish over a transparent bead.
Chandelier Earrings
Dangling earrings with several small drops that can move freely
Charlotte
Charlotte cuts are also called true cut seed beads, and have a single facet per bead to add sparkle and brilliance.
Charm
A small amulet that is used as a pendant or decoration.
Chevron
A glass bead that is made by layering colors and slicing away the glass on the ends revealing a pattern.
Choker
A short, close fitting necklace.
Christmas Beads
African Christmas beads are bright, multi colored glass seed beads often with stripes that were traded in Ghana.
Cinnabar
A wood bead that is coated with lacquer and carved. Much of the cinnabar on the market today is a resin that looks like the original cinnabar beads.
Cloissone
Enamelwork in which metal filaments are fused to the surface of an object to create a design
Clutch
A Backing for an earring or pin.
Coco
A wood bead made from coconut shell.
Cone
A finding used to bring multiple strands together. It can also be used as a bead cap.
Crimp
Small metal beads that are used to attach a clasp when using flexible beading wire.
Crow
A glass bead, often used in Native American beadwork, with a large hole that fits over leather.
Crystal
Crystal beads sparkle and refract light in a way that glass beads can't. The lead content allows clarity and precision machine cutting gives the bead it's brilliance.
Cut
A bead that has a facet on it.
CZ
Cubic Zirconia, A synthetic diamond like stone.
Czech glass
Glass beads made in the Czech Republic, formerly Bohemia .
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Delica
A favorite among beadweavers, Delicas are a cylindrical seed bead that has a large hole and is very uniform in size. Made in Japan by Miyuki.
Dentalium
A tusk shaped shell with a hole on each end that for thousands of years has been strung as beads and was one of the first known forms of currency.
Dichroic
Dichroic Glass is a beautiful iridescent finish with thin layers of vaporized metal oxides that reflects and transmits light in a variety of colors depending on the angle of viewing.
Drawn Beads
Molten glass that is drawn to create a long hollow tube called a cane. After annealing the cane is hand cut, tumbled to smooth the edges and then fire polished in a kiln or with a torch to create a shiny finish. AKA Furnace glass, cane glass, blown glass, tube or pulled glass beads.
Druk
A Round glass bead from the Czech republic.
Dzi
(Pronounced Zee) Highly collectible Tibetan agate beads with natural banding that were believed to ward off evil and bring the wearer good luck.
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Enamel
A process of fusing glass to metal.
End Tip
A metal finding used to hide the knots when working with silk or nylon cord. AKA Bead Tip.
English Cut
A molded glass bead that resembled a faceted or cot bead.
Eye
A banding on stones, particularly agates, that occurs in nature.
Eyepin
A metal pin with a loop on the end to add a charm or dangle. Used for earrings or linking.
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Faceted
Cut multiple times to add a sparkle and refract light.
Fiber optic
A man
made material that refracts light and resembles the eye of a cat.
Filigree
An intricate lacey pattern made from scrolled wire. New filigree are stamped out of sheet metal.
Findings
The metal hardware used in jewelry; clasps, earwires, etc.
Firepolish
Faceted glass beads are made from glass that is cut and then the sharp edges are softened or polished with fire.
Fish hook
A type of clasp, named from the safety hook inside, commonly used on pearl necklaces.
Foiled
Beads containing foil inside to give a reflective or mirrored look. Also refers to the backing on rhinestones.
French Hook
A classic earring wire.
French Wire
A very fine wire coil that is used to protect the thread where it attaches to the clasp. AKA Bullion, Gimp.
Freshwater Pearls
Pearls produced in freshwater mussels. Most pearls on the market today are farmed in China.
Furnace Glass
Molten glass that is drawn to create a long hollow tube called a cane. After annealing the cane is hand cut, tumbled to smooth the edges and then firepolished in a kiln or with a torch to create a shiny finish. AKA Drawn glass, cane glass, blown glass, tube or pulled glass beads.
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Galvanized
A metallic coating over a glass seed bead. Not durable.
Gauge
The way wire and sheet metal are measured. The higher the number the finer the wire.
Gemstone
A natural stone, semi
precious or precious, that is cut, polished and used in jewelry.
Ghost
A company's trademarked name for a matte AB finish.
Gimp
A very fine coiled wire that is used to protect the thread where it attaches to the clasp. AKA Bullion, French Wire
Gold-filled
A piece of jewelry with a layer of gold mechanically applied to the surface of a base metal.
Greasy
Are translucent glass; some light is transmitted but you cannot see through them. The finish is duller than in other beads.
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Hamilton Gold
A brassy gold finish that is widely used to plate jewelry findings.
Hank
A unit of measure for seed beads, usually 12 strands bundled together.
Headpin
A straight wire used for making earrings with a head at the bottom to keep the beads from falling off.
Heishe
Originally made from shell, the term now defines and small flat bead that nests into each other when strung. AKA Heishi.
Hematite
A shiny gray stone containing iron. The hematite on the market today is synthetic.
Hex
A cut bead with 5 sides.
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Inclusion
A particle of foreign matter contained within a mineral.
Iris
A metallic rainbow on an opaque bead; iridescent, looks like an oil slick.
Irradiated
Stones that are exposed to radiation to enhance their color.
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Jet
Faceted coal. Also used to describe French jet, which is glass.
Jig
A tool used to bend wire.
Jump ring
A loop that opens to attach a charm or join pieces together.
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Karat
The purity of gold.
Kevlar
A light strong fiber created by Dupont. Best known for bulletproof vests, but the thread is popular with beaders.
Kidney wire
The earring findings bent from one piece of wire that hook in the back.
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Lampwork
The process of making beads with glass rods and a torch.
Lanyard Clasp
Remember summer camp? This is a simple flat wire clasp often used as a zipper pull.
Lariat
A long necklace that has no clasp, but is tied in the front.
Leverback
A European earwire that has a hinge and safety to stay on.
Lined
A bead that is painted with a contrasting color, often silver, inside the hole.
Liquid Silver/Gold
A fine tubular metal bead that has a smooth liquid look when strung.
Lobster
A clasp that has a claw type opening.
Luster
A pearlescent finish applied to a glass bead.
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Machine cut
Beads that are cut by a machine rather than by hand for precision.
Mandrel
A form that is used to form metal around to make rings and bracelets.
Matrix
The natural veining that occurs in stones such as turquoise.
Matte
A frosted finish achieved by sandblasting or an acid bath.
Memory Wire
A hard spring steel wire that retains a coiled shape and is available for bracelets, necklaces or rings.
Metallic
A metallic coating over a glass bead.
Millefiori
One thousand flowers; A type of bead made in Italy from glass cane that looks like flowers.
Miracle beads
Japanese beads that have a Lucite core with a silver mirror plate finish and are coated with several layers of colored lacquer. The "miraculous" effect is the result of light passing through the lacquer, reflecting the mirror core and back through the layers resulting in an illusion of depth.
Mirror backed
A painted coating that is applied to rhinestones to give a reflective quality.
Molded
Pressed into a mold to shape.
Monofiliment
Fishing Line.
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Neihua
Chinese glass bead painted from the inside.
Nickel
A metal that contains tin and is the cause of many allergies.
Nymo
A brand of nylon beading thread used for beadweaving.
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Opaque
No light shines through.
Oxidized
aged with a black patina.
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Padre
A wound glass trade bead said to have been brought by Missionaries from the 16th to the 18th Centuries.
Patina
A term to describe the rich color achieved as metal ages.
Picasso
Picasso beads originated in Italy in the 1940's and have a mottled finish.
Peking
Made in the Imperial Glass Workshop in Peking, China these beads were originally a substitute for jade and were said to be worn by concubines.
Pewter
An inexpensive metal containing lead that has a low melting temperature. There are now lead
free options.
Peyote
An off-loom beadweaving stitch that is done flat or tubular.
Pony
A true pony bead is a 6/0 seed bead, but many people refer to a pony bead as the plastic craft bead with a large hole.
Post
An earring finding that fits through the ear and is secured by a clutch.
Pumtek
Opalized palm wood beads made in Burma, sometimes called buried thunder.
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Quartz
A popular and inexpensive stone.
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Rattail
A satin cord.
Repousse
A metalworking technique in which a metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side.
Resin
A type of plastic that occurs naturally, such as Amber. But in most cases is manmade, resembling real amber. The brightly colored resin beads from Java are handmade and resemble frosted glass.
Rhinestone
A flat or pointed back crystal with a mirrored backing.
Rocaille
This is another name for seed beads.
Rolled Gold
The material has a sandwich structure comprised of a base of copper or nickel alloy topped by one or more gold alloy layers. The adhesion of the individual layers is achieved by pressure and heat, and the subsequent material is rolled in a mill.
Rondelle
A rondelle is a flat round spacer bead. It can be smooth, faceted or encrusted with crystals, as in the rhinestone rondelles.
Rose Montee
A rhinestone set in a sew-on mounting.
Rudraksha
A bumpy seed from the rudraksha tree that is believed to have spiritual properties when worn.
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Scarabee
An old Swarovski term for a jet bead with a heavy AB finish on it, some people call an Iris finish by this term.
Scrimshaw
A design or picture that is scratched or etched into a natural material such as Ivory.
Seed Bead
Tiny glass beads created by slicing tubes into tiny evenly spaced pieces
Semi-precious
A non-precious, affordable gemstone such as agate, quartz or jasper.
Sharps
Short stiff needles designed to work with fabric and bead embroidery.
Sherpa Coral
Chinese beads that imitate coral but are actually glass beads.
Silver Lined
A paint applied to the hole of a seed bead to give it a shimmery look. The seed bead will often have a square hole that makes the lining have more sparkle.
Spacer
A small bead used between larger focal beads.
Split Ring
A miniature keyring often used as a clasp end and for charm bracelets.
Spring Ring
A round clasp with a spring mechanism to secure.
Stamped
A process of striking sheet metal with a die to create a design.
Sterling Silver
A composition of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, usually stamped 925.
Stick pin
A straight pin often used on a coat or a hat.
Striated
A striped or streaked marking.
Surgical Steel
A metal that is used for earring findings due to its hypoallergenic quality.
Swarovski
A brand name for high quality leaded crystal glass that is precision faceted with a machine developed and produced by the Swarovski company of Austria.
Synthetic
Man made to appear as though it is genuine.
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Tagua
A nut from the Amazon rainforest that is often called vegetable ivory due to its resemblance to ivory.
Temper
Measures the amount of spring in the wire.
Tiger Tail
A flexible beading cable that has a tendency to kink.
Toggle
A bar and ring clasp.
Trade Bead
Beads that were traded as currency for goods. Best known are the African trade beads and the Native American trades.
Translucent
A semi-transparent bead; some light shines through, but you can't see through it.
Transparent
A bead where light shines through clearly.
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Venetian
A bead made in Murano, Italy.
Vermeil
(pronounced vehr-MAY) Gold plating over sterling silver, aka Gilt.
Vintage
A term used to describe beads that are at least 40 years old.
Vitrail
A metallic coating applied to part of a bead to give an oil slick effect. Crystal Vitrail medium or light are Swarovski effects that reflect light beautifully.
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Watermelon
A type of African trade bead that is an oval shaped chevron that is often green layered with white stripes and a red chevron edge, but comes in other colors as well.
White Heart
A bead with a white hole. The old red white hearts were made using real gold and the white became a filler to use less gold. The old Hudson Bay White Hearts were traded to Native Americans for fur and are the most popular and are collectible.
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Zodiac
Twelve signs associated with a yearly cycle and with constellations of stars that lie along the apparent path of the Sun across the heavens.

 
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