When you’re making jewelry, the type of beads you use can make a big difference in the finished piece. Be sure you’re using the right beads for the right project.
There is a mind-boggling variety of beads out on the market these days. How do you choose the right one for your project? It can be as simple as just picking the beads that speak to your creative side, but sometimes you might need a little help choosing the right beads for your piece.
If you’re making jewelry or accessories for kids, it’s usually best to go with acrylic or wood beads since they’re more durable and safer than glass or metal. Go for bigger beads in bright colors that will appeal to a child’s senses. There are lots of fun beads available in shapes like stars, fish, teddy bears and other cute creatures. Use beads that will hold up to the wear and tear of play, and consider using monofilament or elastic when you string them, to give added durability.
If you’re looking to make jewelry for everyday wear, try to choose beads in basic colors that will coordinate to a variety of outfits without being too limited. Silver, gold, black, white and clear are all great base colors, and can be used alone or in combination with colored accent beads. Try not to mix too many colors in one piece. You can use any type of beads for everyday wear, but be careful with the use of metallic and crystal beads, so your piece isn’t too flashy.
If you’re going for club or evening wear, the sky’s the limit. Feel free to use lots of glass, metallics, crystals or anything you like. You’ll probably want to avoid neon colors or really big beads in evening wear pieces, but club and party styles can be as wild as you want them to be. You can even experiment with styles like Goth and Steampunk, where the more unusual the beads are, the better people will like it.
I tend to favor glass and real metal beads in a lot of my work, because they have good weight, shine and conformity. There was once a time when I avoided acrylic beads like the plague, but manufacturers have really raised the bar when it comes to the quality of acrylic beads. You can actually get some really nice beads made out of plastic. If you’re going for a crystal look though, I suggest spending the extra money to buy the real thing, since the acrylic ones often have a very cheap, foggy look.
Experiment with using different types of beads in your work. Sometimes you may want very uniform beads to make woven chokers, or you may want natural gem chip beads to lend a rougher, earthier feel to a bracelet. You can also combine various types of beads. Dangle earrings are a great vehicle for testing out combinations of beads to see how they work together. Experiment a bit and you’ll quickly get a feel for what types, colors and shapes of beads will best create the look you’re going for.