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What are Loose Beads?

By Nicole Long
Updated: Feb 15, 2024

Loose beads are used to make jewelry and add decorative touches to a variety of objects. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Loose beads also come in a variety of materials, such as glass, quartz, and sterling silver.

Commonly used for jewelry, loose beads can also be used for other craft projects. Bracelets, necklaces, and earrings are the traditional jewelry items made out of loose beads. Wire, leather, and string are some of the materials used to string the beads together to accomplish this task. Crafters also use loose beads to adorn picture frames, candle holders, and mirrors.

Beads come in shapes and sizes appropriate for all types of craft projects. Round, square, and rectangular shapes are common for jewelry crafts. Other projects may utilize heart-shaped, star-shaped, or flat beads to help portray a specific image or help them adhere to a flat surface. Unique shapes, such as crosses, horseshoes, and animals, can also be found.

Available colors are as numerous as the shapes and sizes. Beads come in popular colors, such as red, blue, and purple, and also come in natural colors, such as browns and tans. Some beads, especially glass beads, feature a design or image with multiple colors.

Glass beads can offer an exciting way to add dimension to jewelry or other craft project. These beads are often created by glass artisans who use multiple colors to shape and design individual and unique beads. Often referred to as lampwork glass beads, the beads can also have added texture and designs on the outside of the bead.

Quartz is another type of loose bead available for jewelry and crafts. The types and colors of this mineral range from clear to colored quartz. Colors available include rose, amethyst, citrine, and smoky.

Sterling silver beads also find their way into jewelry and other art projects. These beads often have sayings and symbols carved into them. Silver beads may also feature colored stones or crystals to help coordinate with other beads chosen for a specific jewelry or craft project.

Loose beads can also come in a variety of other materials. Wood beads can add a natural touch to leather strung jewelry and can feature carvings, such as initials and symbols. Birthstone beads, such as turquoise, garnet, emerald, or sapphire, are another popular bead for jewelry and crafts. Other types of beads include those made from jade, marble, and pearl.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By andee — On Jan 03, 2012

My daughter was recently in a friends wedding and all the females in the wedding party received a matching necklace, bracelet and earrings.

These were made with some beautiful crystal beads that were elegant and perfectly matched their dresses.

I thought this was a nice gift for the girls and even though they were made by the bride and her mom, they looked very expensive and professional.

Making your own jewelry can be an inexpensive way to have some very nice looking jewelry without spending a lot of money.

There are so many choices of loose beads to choose from that it can almost be overwhelming.

By honeybees — On Jan 02, 2012

A few years ago I took a class at a local craft store to learn how to make my own jewelry. This is all it took, and I was hooked.

I like to order wholesale loose beads online for the best selection and bang for my buck. One thing I have found that works best for me is to make sure the findings I use are sterling silver.

If I use a cheap clasp, it doesn't take long for the piece of jewelry to look cheap. If I spend a little bit more money for quality material, my pieces last a long time.

I always get a lot of compliments on my unique jewelry. About the only beads I don't like working with are the seed beads. They are too small for me and even though I love their bright colors, I like working with bigger beads better.

By John57 — On Jan 01, 2012

I am involved with an after school program with some junior high girls. There have been a lot of beading supplies donated to us and we have spent hours making different kinds of jewelry with these beads.

I am always amazed at the creativity these girls come up with when working with the beads. I have some books there with different jewelry examples in them, but the best ones are those they have created themselves.

One thing I have found very interesting is that I like to use the wooden beads and those that are more neutral in color.

Every one of these girls loves to use the gemstone beads that are bright in color. Pink, orange, purple and blue seem to be the most popular color of beads they like to use.

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