As a handmade jewelry maker, I am always interested in learning more about the many components of handmade jewelry. Some of the most used of these components are glass beads. You can find many different types of glass beads to use in handmade jewelry designs, but I want to concentrate on four of the most common types in this article. They are: Murano glass beads, Czech glass beads, lampwork glass beads, and dichroic glass beads.
Murano Glass Beads
Murano glass beads are very high quality blown glass beads that are made on the island of Murano in Italy. The techniques used by glass blowers in Murano go back as far as the 9th century. Glass makers on the mainland of Italy in Venice were forced to Murano Bad move onto the island of Murano in order to prevent the fires used to create their glass masterpieces from accidentally burning down the coastal towns. Murano glass beads today can be found online and come in many different styles and shapes. Millefiori,artist-inspired,and disc-shaped styles are common. Some Murano glass beads can be expensive, costing $10 or more per bead, but a finished bracelet or necklace made with them will be stunning. Murano glass beads are a very prominent part of the very famous Pandora bracelets bead collection.
Czech Glass Beads
Czech glass beads are synonymous with Bohemian crystal beads. Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic, has been one of the premier areas for producing beautiful glass products for centuries. Czech glass beads come in many shapes and styles. Fire polished Czech glass beads are especially known for their vivid colors and beautiful finishes, like fire polished beads. Fire polished Czech glass beads are “fired” after they are cut, and the result is a no-lead bead that seems to have an inner glow coming from within the bead. This type of bead is very economical. They are priced at only several dollars or less for a 16-inch strand of them.
Lampwork beads are beads made on a metal rod, using very high heat to melt the glass so it becomes soft and can be formed into many shapes. The name “lampworked” comes from the fact that women used their lamps for the heat needed to make these beads long ago. Many artists who produce this type of bead now call them “flameworked,” because gas torches are now used to heat the glass. Murano glass beads are a type of lampwork beads. Most lampwork beads today are somewhat pricey because of the amount of time it takes to create just one bead. You can expect to pay $5 and up for them.
Dichroic Glass Beads
Dichroic glass beads are made from glass that has had a thin film of metal and quartz fused to the surface of the glass. The metal shows different colors from different angles due to the crystalline facets of the materials used. These beads can be lampworked, or they can be pressed. It takes a very good artist to produce these beads, since leaving them in the fire too long can cause the metal to burn off and the bead to be ruined. Most of the time, these beads will also be pricey. One Paula Radke round 5mm dichroic bead can cost as much as $1 each. Many designers will create a piece around one larger dichroic focal bead and use less costly beads to round out the piece.
Many different types of glass beads are available for the jewelry designer today, as you can see. There are many good online sources of these beads so even if you don’t live close to a bead store, you will be able to find a wonderful selection of them for all of your one of a kind jewelry designs.