Bead Terms Definted

Thread Heaven

Thread Heaven Thread Conditioner is a wonderful product for all beading threads. It binds the fibers and prevents fraying, as well as straightening and strengthening the thread. Prevents tangling and fraying, and reduces hand fatigue during beading work. 



Acrylic is a thermoplastic. It is lightweight and comes in a wide range of colors. The beads to the left are Vintage German acylic beads. 


American Wire Gauge(AWG)

AWG refers to the United States standard for measuring wire. We carry sterling silver, copper, brass, and vintage wire on our web site. The wire to the left is 24 guage copper wire. 



Antique refers to an item that is valued because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. These items represent a past era. At AGOS we use this term to describe items that are at least 100 years old. To the left are antique glass nailheads made in Czechoslovikia. They are from the early 1900’s. What a find! Glass nailhead beads were used in the days of the flapper to embellish garments before sequins were developed. We have them in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors! 


Aurora Borealis Finish

Aurora borealis, or AB, is a type of finish that is applied to a crystal or glass bead to enhance its brilliance or change its color. This very thin rainbow metallic coating is usually applied to just one side of the bead. You can see this in the picture to the left of our Vintage Swarovski Article #5000-Chalkwhite AB beads. 



Bakelite, also known as catalin, is an early form of moldable plastic that was invented by Leo Bakeland in 1909. It was used extensively to make jewelry during the Great Depression. It comes in a variety of colors and often one color has been inlaid into another forming polka dots.Today, vintage bakelite is highly collectable.To the left is a sterling silver clasp that we had made using a vintage bakelite disk. 


Bali Silver

Handmade in Bali, Indonesia, Bali silver is comprised of no less than 92.5% sterling silver. Bali silver components are usually very ornate with a distinctive design. The bali silver toggle to the left is a good example of Bali silver. 


Base Metal

The term base metal refers to any non precious metal. Examples would be: nickle, bronze, brass, and copper. The base metal clasp to the left is actually made of nickle. 



Often round, a bead has a hole drilled through it for stringing. A bead can be made from a variety of materials including, but not limited to: glass, plastic, metal, bone and stone. The beads to the left were made in Japan for the Coro Company. The swirls are actually gold stone dust embedded into the wonderful expresso colored glass. 


Bead Crimping Tool

Used on crimp tube beads, a bead crimper helps finish off your project by crimping crimp beads at the end of the strand to prevent your beads from sliding off. 


Bead Reamer

A thin piece of metal with a very thin pointed tip that has diamond dust embedded all over the surface. It is used to create wider holes at the end of a bead or to help a hole go all the way through a bead. It can also help smooth out rough edges. 


Bead Stopper

Use a bead stopper to clip the end of your strand while working to avoid spilling beads. It is also very useful for multiple strand projects. 


Beading Awl

Used to help slide a knot into place when knotting between your beads. It can also help knotting down into the cup of a bead tip. 


Beading Needles

These needles are thinner than regular sewing needles so that they can fit through small holes in beads. 


Brass Wire

Brass wire is composed of copper and zinc. It is harder than copper and inexpensive as well which also makes it good to practice with. Some polishing and lacquer can be used to help maintain the brass’ shine. 



A bezel setting has a metal rim that encircles the sides of the stone, crystal, cabochon, or other item that is to be set. The rim can totally encircle the item or just partially encircle it. The purpose of the bezel is to provide a secure setting for the piece. To the left is a cameo that has been bezel set in a sterling silver box clasp. 


Bugle Bead

A bugle bead is a tubular shaped bead. Its sides can be round, hexagonal or twisted hexagonal. The bugle beads in this photo are vintage with a twisted foil lining. 


Cane Glass Beads

Cane glass beads, also known as furnace glass beads, are made by fusing small canes of colored glass into a larger glass rod. The glass rod is then encased in clear glass and fired in a kiln or furnace. After firing the glass is cut into the desired size beads. To the left are vintage Italian cane glass beads. 


Chain Nose Pliers

These pliers have flat jaws that taper to a point and help when gripping and bending wire. 



Charlotte cut seed beads are typically size 13/0. Each bead has one facet so that the bead can reflect light and have a little sparkle. On the left are some beautiful old Aqua charlottes with a pearl finish. 


Chasing Hammer

The chasing hammer is used for striking chasing tools or flattening without missing. The ball side of the hammer can be used for riveting and metal design. Use with the steel bench block. 



A chaton is a stone with a faceted point on the backside. Most chatons also have a foil backing. The foil, or the stone, may be colored. Some chatons are designed to be set and used in chain work, they do not have the foil backing. These chatons are faceted the same on both sides.To the left is a vintage green crystal chaton with gold foil lining. We have glued the chaton into one of our vintage brass setings. 


Copper Wire

Copper wire is the softest wire, as well as the cheapest which makes it the perfect wire to practice with. It produces a patina effect with age which makes it darker. A little polishing will renew its shine and help reduce oxidation. 



Corrugated describes a surface that has been molded into alternating parallel grooves and ridges. To the left is one of our vintage corrugated beads. 



Compared to seed beads, that have a rounder shape and thick walls, delica beads have a cylinder shape and very thin walls. They have large holes compared to their diameter. They are a specific beads made by the Miyuki Company in Japan. To the left are some violet delicas. 


Diamond Triplet Loupe

With its 10x magnification, this is the perfect tool to use when you want get up close and personal with your beads, stones and diamonds. 



A faceted bead has flat surface cuts in a geometric pattern to increase the reflection of light, and therefore increase the brilliance of the beads appearence. To the left are Swarovski Crystal Article 5040 Copper Crystal Rondels. 


Faux Pearl

A faux pearl is a manufactured pearl. These pearls are often made of glass, acrylic, or plastic that has a pearlescent coating. The pearls to the left are vintage glass Japanese faux pearls. 



Filigree is a type of jewelry work which is very ornate and intricate, it often looks like lace. Filigree is usually designed with metal or metal wire. To the left is an example of filigree beads. 


Fine Silver

Fine silver, also known as white silver, is a silver alloy that is 99.9% silver or better. Fine silver is softer than sterling silver and is more brittle. We carry white silver spacer beads like the daisy spacers to the left. 


Fray Check

Fray check is used to prevent fabric from fraying. We love this stuff for dipping the ends of C-lon to keep threads from fraying. Makes beading a snap without having to use a needle. It’s a simple and wonderful thing! 


Full Flush Cutters

This cutter will cut soft wire up to 14 gauge in diameter. The shear action blades barely pass as they cut so not to dull while achieving a full flush cut. 



Used to measure the size of your bead. 


Gold Filled

Gold filled refers to a process by which a layer of at least 10-karat gold is mechanically bonded by heat and pressure to a base metal. The toggle on the left is gold filled. 


Hard Wire Side Cutters

Great for cutting copper, raw brass, white gold, platinum, and other hard metal wire as well as prong mountings. 


Hex Cut

Hex cut seed beads have six sides and are faceted to give off a lot of sparkle. Be careful because their ends can sometimes be sharp. We have a rainbow of colors in vintage hex seed beads! 



Intaglio is a process by which a glass cabochon or a stone is reverse carved so that the image is recessed. Itaglio is the oposite of cameo. The clasp to the left is an example of a glass cabochon that was reverse carved and then the image was hand painted into the carving. 



Beads with an iridescent finish produce displays of lustrous, rainbow like colors. The color of the bead can vary when seen from different angles or under different lights. To the left are vintage lucite rodells with an iridescent finish. 



Great for working with wire. A jig is a base plate with many holes that you can put pegs into to create a pattern. You then wrap the wire around and between the pegs the create earrings, pendants or spacers. Wrapping the wire around the pegs will also help strengthen it. 



Lucite is a polymer that is heavier and denser than plastic. Its composition allows for it to be formed into beads with no visible signs of a seam. Lucite beads are very smooth to the touch and have a very nice weight to them.To the left is one of our vintage lucite beads. 



Luster is the shiny finish on the surface of a bead that helps give it a glossy appearance. It can be used on transparent, translucent or opaque beads. Just look at the beautiful luster in the vintage faux pearls to the left! 



A mandrel is any round rod or bar around which you can wrap a material such as metal or glass, to shape it. A mandrel can be used to make jump rings of any size. It can also be useful in shaping earwires. 


Matte Finish

A matte finish is non-glossy, sometimes refered to as a flat finish. The beads to the left are powder blue Czech beads from the vintage section of our website. 


Memory Wire

Available in ring, bracelet, and ring widths, memory wire is made of permanently coiled steel. Heavy duty cutters are required to cut it, or bending it back and forth with pliers many times will also break it. It doesn’t tarnish, and it will snap back into its original shape when stretched and released. 


Memory Wire Cutters

Also referred to as a hard wire shear cutter, memory wire cutters can also be used for cutting chain and ring shanks of 2.5mm or less. The curved jaw conforms to the diameter of the wire for a nice smooth cut. 



A nailhead is a type of sew on bead. They are made of glass, and are flat on one side so that they will lay close to fabric. Glass nailhead beads were used in the days of the flapper to embellish garments before sequins were developed.They are made in many different shapes, and sizes with faceting and different finishes. On the left is a picture of some of our vintage Czechoslovakian nailheads that were made in the early 1900’s. 



A bead with an opaque finish does not allow light to pass through it. The bead is a solid color and usually has no luster. To the left are opaque red vintage Japanese beads. 



Patina refers to a sheen that developes, through oxidation, on the surface of metal over a long period of time. To the left is a picture of a vintage brass leaf stamping that has a very nice patina. Patina can cause brass to have a very coppery look. 


Prong Set

Prong setting is a technique which uses small metal prongs to hold a jewel, stone, bead, or any piece that you would like to set in place. The prongs are bent over the top of the piece to hold it in place. This type setting shows off the piece more than a bezel setting would. 



Rhodium is metal plating from the same family as plantinum. Rhodium plating was very popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s as a less expensive alternative to platinum. The beautiful vintage chatons in this picture are set in rhodium. 



A bead that is rondelle shaped is round with flattened or faceted ends. The rondelles on the left are Swarovski crystals article #5040-Mocca. 


Rose Gold

Rose gold is an alloy of copper and gold. This combination gives the resulting metal a pinkish or reddish tint. To the left is some of our rose gold chain. 


Rose Montees

Rose montees are flat back stones that are mounted in a metal setting that allows you to sew the stone to fabric or wire them into a jewelry design. The rose montees to the left are vintage Swarovski Sun crystals prong set in sterling silver. 


Round Nose Pliers

These pliers have long smooth pointed tips that help make small, neat loops at the end of wire. 


Russian Gold

Russian gold refers to a type of metal finish that gives the piece an antique matte finish look. This finish was used extensively by Miriam Haskell in her vintage jewelry designs. The stamping to the left is one of our vintage russian gold plated pieces. 


Seed Bead

Seed Bead is a term used to describe a type of small round or cylindrical bead. When sizing seed beads it is important to know that the larger the number, the smaller the bead. A 26/0 is about the size of a grain of sand whereas a 6/0 is about 1/4" in diameter. 



Sequins are small plastic sew ons. They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be used as an embellishment to a jewelry design, clothing, purse, shoes and household decorations such as pillows and curtains. To the left is a picture of our vintage shell sequins. 


Steel Bench Block

A steel bench block is useful when flattening, chasing or texturing your metal. It can also be used for metal stamping. This steel block is hardened and then carefully drawn for stress relief. 


Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that is 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% another metal, usually copper. These percentages are dictated by law. The 7.5% of other metal strengthens the silver and makes it suitable for jewelry making. We have a huge selection of sterling silver clasps! 


Tapestry Needles

Tapestry needles have a blunt tip and a large, oval shaped eye. The blunt tip helps push aside fabric threads when stitching. They are larger than a regular sewing needle. 


Thai Silver

Thai silver beads are made by the Karen Hill Tribe.These beads are hand made of 99% pure silver so they will not tarnish as quickly as sterling silver. Since these beads are all hand made, there are some slight variations in shape. 


Troy Weight

Developed in the medievil trading town of Troyes, France, Troy Weight remains the prefered method of weight for selling precious metals such as fine silver and gold. In Troy Weight 1 pound is 12 ounces. A Troy ounce is eqaul to 31.103477 grams. 



Vermeil is gold plated sterling silver. We have a nice selection of vermeil clasps and beads. 



Vintage refers to an item that is valued because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. These items represent a past era. At AGOS we use this term to describe items that are at least 30 years old. We had the sterling silver clasp to the left made from an old vintage cameo cabachon. 



A whiteheart bead is a glass bead that has an opaque white glass core. The Vintage Czech seed beads to the left are whitehearts.