Seed beads come in an endless variety of colors and finishes, so it can be daunting to pick out the perfect beads for the jewelry you want to make. The unique look and feel of each seed bead comes not only from color, but also from the perfect combination of finishes that are applied to the seed bead. Here is a glossary of seed bead finishes that will help you pick out the exact beads you need for each project you make!
- Color-lined: clear or colored transparent beads with an opaque color lining the inside. These beads can achieve a fantastic depth of colors.
- Metal-lined: clear or colored transparent beads with real metal or metal color lining the inside. The beads lined with real metal are often less likely to wear than the colored lining.
- Silver-lined: clear or colored transparent beads with a silver color lining the inside, a popular variation of metal-lined. This finish reflects light to achieve a very sparkly finish.
- AB or Aurora Borealis: an iridescent finish applied to the surface that creates a rainbow effect. Iris, Rainbow and Rainbow-lined are effects that achieve a variety of iridescent finishes similar to the AB finish.
- Luster: a shiny glaze applied to the surface that creates a pearly effect. This finish is at risk of wearing away or fading.
- Gold Luster: a variation of the luster finish that creates a metallic gold pearly effect. This finish is at risk of wearing away or fading.
- Ceylon: a finish applied to the surface to achieve a milky, pearly effect. This finish is at risk of wearing away or fading.
- Opaque: colored glass beads that are not transparent. Most opaque seed beads are very stable and resilient to rubbing or fading.
- Transparent: clear, colored glass that can be seen through. It is important to keep mind of the color of thread you use with transparent beads as it will show through.
- Matte: frosted effect etched onto the surface of the bead. Matte finishes combine beautifully with metallic, AB, transparent and opaque finishes. Matte finishes are very stable and usually resilient to rubbing or fading.
- Galvanized: Zinc plating coats the surface of the bead to create a shiny metallic look. This coating is at risk of wearing away or fading.
- Permanent Galvanized: similar to the galvanized finish, however the coating is permanent and often shinier. This is a great alternative to galvanized seed beads when used on a piece that will have a lot of friction with skin or fabric.
- Metal-plated: metal-plating over glass beads.
- Metal: seed beads made of metal. These beads have sharper edges than most seed beads, so use of Fireline thread is recommended. Metal seed beads have larger holes and function well as an inexpensive alternative to spacer beads.
- Satin: fiber-optic tubular seed bead with slight striations. Made from a different type of glass than other seed beads, satin seed beads have sharper edges, so use of Fireline thread is recommended.
- Opal: semi-transluscent finish that is often achieved with a dye on the surface. This finish is at risk of wearing away or fading.
- Dyed: seed beads are coated with a dye that is often impermanent. Dyed seed beads in bright pinks, purples and reds are less stable and more likely to wear and fade.
While most seed bead finishes are very permanent, you have probably found a few beads with color that rubs away against your skin or fades in the sunlight. When you shop the seed beads on FusionBeads.com, you will find the phrase “Warning: Color may rub off” for those seed beads that are more prone to wearing and fading. Some of my favorite seed beads have this warning on the label, so I make sure to find the best ways to use them! One trick that I learned from Tina in Customer Service is to spray a clear Krylon finishing seal onto my seed beads before I use them. This will help prolong the life of seed bead colors that are prone to rubbing. Another solution is to use beads on the parts of your jewelry that come in contact with skin the least. Use these seed beads on earrings, the fronts of pendants, or anywhere that generally doesn’t touch your skin and isn’t near to the clasp. Make sure to never use seed bead colors that rub off with fabrics, as the color can bleed onto the fabric and will come off in the washing machine. The seed bead colors that are more prone to fading in sunlight should be kept in storage that isn’t exposed to sunlight, so as to prolong their life.
While you must be careful to use the different seed bead finishes properly, you’ll find that your biggest problem is choosing a color out of the hundreds of options! You may think that eighteen finishes doesn’t sound like too many, but the combination of these finishes are endless! You can find a matte opaque AB seed bead, a color-lined transparent seed bead or even a silver-lined opal seed bead…I think it’s time for me to go shopping! Don’t forget to check out our Seed Bead FAQ for any other seed bead questions you want answered!
Have Fun Seed Beading! – Sara