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Bead Glossary


African Trade - African Trade beads are usually large, cylindrical, and colorful.  Trade beads were old glass beads mostly made in Venice 200-400 years ago, used for trade in Africa and the Orient.  African Trade Beads are among the hottest collectibles in the world today. They have become very popular and form the basis for a fast growing number of bead collections.

Aventurine - Golden glitter due to copper crystals suspended in or pressed into the surface of other materials.

Cane Glass - Solid lengths of glass formed by drawing, then cut into the desired length particularly for decorative purposes. They can be different colors and patterns, displayed either on the side or in cross section.

Chevron - Chevrons are made of multiple layers of different colored glass in corrugated layers so as to form a starburst pattern when viewed on end.  Chevrons are created by building up layers of different colors, often successively molded in the process.  They are next ground at the ends to display the patterns.

Eye - Eye beads have a circle/dot mimicking an eye and intended to avert the evil eye.  Perhaps the most common of amulets.

Foil - Transparent or translucent beads in which silver or gold foil has been trapped within the body or on the surface of the bead.

Lampwork - Lampwork beads are handmade by manipulating slender glass rods in front of a gas burner.

Luster - Colorless transparent coatings that give a very high gloss to the underlying surface of the bead.

Matte - Beads with a very low-luster, velvety, smooth surface. Also referred to as " frosted ".

Millefiori - Millefiori is Italian for "1000 flowers."  Decoration consisting of slices of multicolored glass rods (canes), usually pressed smooth while hot into the surface of a core piece of glass. 

Pony - Beads made of glass or plastic, typically slightly oval in shape, the shorter dimension being through the hole.  Pony beads are larger than seed beads and smaller than crows.

Pressed - Pressed beads have a molded pattern which is consistent from bead to bead. Surface quality can range from very smooth and uniform with well-defined edges, to edges that are very rounded, and surfaces that have dips, flow marks, and other irregularities.

Seed Beads - Tiny type of bead most often used in weaving and embroidery.  Seed beads are made of segments of drawn tubes of glass of various thicknesses, typically slightly oval in shape due to tumbling and polishing, the shorter dimension being through the hole.  Smaller than Pony beads.

Striated - Striated beads have an opaque, translucent, or transparent body with threads and swirls of other tones or colors on the surface or throughout.

White Heart - White Hearts have a white center under a translucent color. The light bouncing off the white center makes the bead look brighter and seems to sparkle.