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Glass beads are available in various sizes, from very large to very small. Small glass beads used to make complex structures with needle and thread are often called "seed beads," however, not all small beads are seed beads. Seed beads were the main bead shape made in the past and all small beads were labeled as seed beads. Seed beads usually have the appearance of a round bead that has been squashed slightly at the top and bottom. Cut beads are the approximate same size as seed beads，however, the ends are squared off creating a more tubular appearance. There are many other small beads with hexagon, oval square and other shapes. More diversity of shaped beads are on the market now due to the growing popularity of beads.
The larger the bead, the smaller the bead size number and the smaller the bead, the larger the bead size number. For example: size 6/0 beads are about 4 times larger than size 11/0 beads and about 2 times larger than size 8/0 beads. The size was used to indicate the number of beads per inch. This is no longer the case, but will still give you a fair approximation of the bead size. For example, if you set 11/0 beads down next to a ruler with the holes facing up, you will have 11 to 12 beads to the inch. If you set 6/0 beads along a ruler, you will have 6 to 7 beads to the inch and for 8/0 beads, you will have 8 to 9 beads to the inch. In the past beads were more irregular in shape and there were approximately 11 beads to the inch when using 11/0 beads. Due to the Industrial Revolution, advancements in mechanization made it possible for mass bead production and more uniform bead shapes. The uniformity of bead size meant approximately one more bead to the inch than before.
Size 6/0 and 8/0 are often used for embellishment and at the end of dangle earrings and jewelry that are primarily composed of size 11/0 or smaller beads. Size 8/0 beads are often used in Broadway and Las Vegas costumes because they are fast to apply for area coverage, however, still look dainty and do not become too heavy. The 8/0 beads are also great for making amulet purses and then adding size 11/0 beads as dangles and embellishments. The 6/0 beads become quite heavy if used in quantity to make items such as small bags and jewelry. A small bag would require being lined and additional thread worked through the whole piece for strength. The 6/0 beads are perfect for the base of bracelets with 11/0 beads as embellishment. The 6/0 beads work well in combination with 8/0 and 11/0 beads for sculptures and jewelry. The 8/0 beads are very popular for those who have eye problems and want to create a delicate item without eye strain.
All these small beads come in many types of finishes. The bead finishes are listed below along with names, abbreviations(see page 6)explanations:
Alabaster - Beads that have a unique finish much like the old milk glass of the past, a dense translucent white or tinted finish.
Aurora Borealis - Beads that are also known as Rainbow and Iris and Fancy. The bead has a finish that appears to either have several shades of the same color highlighted or various highlights in more than one color on the bead surface. Example; a pink bead that twinkles with pink, gold and blue highlights, or there may be beads in more than one color, having 3 or more bead colors grouped together. Example; a black diamond bead may have black, blue, bronze and brown as the bead colors or there may not even be a black bead as one of the colors. These beads are also called rainbow.
Black-Lined - The bead hole is lined with black and gives depth to the bead color.
Brass-Lined - The bead hole is lined with brass and radiates a brass tone throughout the bead.
Ceylon - beads are sometimes identified as pearlized because of the pearly appearance of the finish. Ceylon beads can have a color line in the bead hole which will change or enhance the bead appearance. This bead is a favorite for making beadwork that appears to be composed of pearls.
Color-Lined - The bead hole is lined with a color.
Color-Lined Transparent - Clear glass beads with color added inside the bead hole after the bead is made. Colored transparent beads are also lined sometimes, for example, a green transparent bead with a brown color-lined in the bead hole or a lavender transparent bead with a rose-lined center. If you put color-lined beads up to the light, you will see the transparent bead rim and the color within the bead hole. Most color-lined beads will keep their color unless they are laundered, such as beadwork on clothing or if you wear jewelry that includes color-lined beads out in the bright sunlight for several hours at a time.
Copper-Lined - The bead hole is lined with copper and radiates a copper tone throughout the bead.
Dark - Beads that are extremely dark in hue (color).
Deep - The bead has more depth and color saturation compared to a "dark" bead of the same color. Silver-lined (SL) The bead hole is lined with silver color. Transparent, crystal and opal beads are some of those with a silver-lined finish. S/L beads have been made for at least 200 years. In the past a silver foil lined the bead instead of a silver color lined in the crystal glass beads.
Ghost - beads are lined with copper, silver, brass, gold or other metal. a rainbow or silver-lined bead with a matte finish. These beads are matted, bringing a depth to the overall bead. Ghost beads look mysterious, sometimes as if part of the bead is hidden, giving it a ghost-like appearance. Foil beads are sometimes identified as ghost beads. The bead is usually copper, silver or brass-lined with or without a full or partial rainbow finish.
Hex - Size 11/0 and 8/0 Hex beads have 6 distinct sides. They are glitzy because light hits the various 6 sides of each bead, creating a shiny reflection. The top and bottom of each bead is flat, not rounded off. Hex beads are used for many of the same techniques as seed beads. They will have a different texture appearance. The 11/0 hex beads are more uniform than the 8/0 hex beads. The Hex beads are also known as 2-cuts.
Light - The bead overall appearance is a light saturation in comparison to other beads in the same color family. The beads are extremely light in hue (color).
Luster - The bead finish is a soft reflected light, sometimes having a radiant sheen. Gold luster beads includes real gold in the luster finish, creating breath-taking finishes with a richness not seen in other beads.
Matte - Beads that have been submerged in an etch compound or tumbled, removing part or all of the top layer of the bead surface, leaving the bead smooth. Matte beads have a unique feel to them; when you hold a bunch of these beads together or beadwork piece with these beads included, you will hear a soothing crinkly sound as you rub them together. Beads can appear very matted or semi-matted, depending on how long the beads were left in the etching compound. Most matte beads do not have a shiny appearance. However, if the bead is color-lined with brass, silver, or copper, the surface will be matted with a shiny surface showing through from the color-lining, making the bead look frosty in appearance. Frosted beads are usually shiny color-lined beads with a matte finish. Many of the shiny beads you use today are the same type beads that are matted using the etch dip. The beads that are rainbow should retain their finish after the bead has had the etch treatment.
Matte Rainbow - These beads have a matte finish over the rainbow colored beads.
Medium - The bead overall appearance is a medium saturation in comparison to other beads in the same color family. Beads that are between light and dark in color saturation.
Metallic Rainbow - Beads that appear to be made of metallic colors. Purple, Blue, Brown and Green. These beads have permanent colors. Each color includes more than the basic color, such as purple metallic rainbow will have primarily purple with dashes of bronze, green and blue metallic beads. Not all beads known as metallic rainbow are permanent.
Opaque - These beads have no transparency; you can not see through the bead. The finish is flat and there is minimal shine to the surface. Opaque beads can have a rainbow finish. Opaque beads are good contrast next to shiny, matte and beads with other finishes.
Opaque Rain- The beads have no transparency and the surface has a rainbow appearance. If you had a black opaque bead and it had a rainbow finish, the rainbow could include blue and green rainbow highlights, or even a purple highlight.
Rain- These beads are also known as Aurora Borealis (AB), Iris and Fancy. The beads have finishes that appear either as several shades of the same color highlighted or various highlights in more than one color on the bead surface. Examples: brown with a rainbow of plum, burgundy, brown and blue; pink beads may have pink, gold and blue highlights, or it may have various shades of pink plus deeper shades that are more than one color bead, both dark and light.
Round Hole - These beads have a round hole in the center. They are not as shiny as the square hole beads and usually have a more sedate surface and an elegance to the finish. The holes are a little smaller than the square hole beads. These beads are sometimes mistaken for cut beads. Silver-lined, brass-lined and copper-lined beads that have round bead holes; making the bead surfaces more understated in shin than square hole beads.
Square Hole - These beads have a square hole in the center and traditionally the hole is larger than round hole beads. These beads are sometimes mistaken for the cut beads. Silver-lined, brass-lined and copper-lined beads that have a square bead hole; making the bead surface very glitzy and shiny.
Transparent - Light passes throught it, but quite as clear as transparent.The name describes this bead; you can see right through it. Transparent beads can be light, dark, medium or deep in color saturation.