The fun part for any bead enthusiast is going to be picking the shapes and colors of the beads you use. When picking bead shapes for your jewelry design projects there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind. “What kind of effect or style do I want my jewelry to have?”, “Will I need a smooth or faceted cut?”, and “How do I want the beads to lay against the body?” are three big questions when picking beads for a design.
MOST COMMON BEAD SHAPES
- Round: A staple in any bead enthusiasts inventory, smooth round beads are loved for various everyday styles. Whether you are using them to create a delicious arm stack of elastic bracelets, or for a mala necklace to use in meditation practices, smooth rounds are great. Their smooth touch is nice against the skin and makes them a bit more kid friendly as well (especially in larger sizes such as 8mm and up).
- Rondelle /Roundel: A bead with a flattened round silhouette. Commonly used for dainty necklaces and bracelets and a great selection for multilayer projects.
- Barrel: The name says it all – barrel shaped beads have a long and round shape with circular flat ends. This chunky and fun shaped bead is great paired with rondelles and donuts alike.
- Rice: Synonymous to the popular grain, rice shaped beads are small and slender accents that are great in layered projects. They are very close to the barrel shaped bead.
- Flat Oval: Great as focal beads, flat ovals are great for contrast in your jewelry designs. These beads compliment smaller round beads and look especially great in necklaces and bracelets.
- Bicone: Astonishing in clothing and jewelry designs alike, bicones have an elevated faceted saucer shape. Because of the smaller ends of the bicone, these beads are great as spacers.
- Briolette: This almost pear shaped bead is known for it’s tricky drill at the point of the bead. Briolettes are an elegant touch for earring and pendant projects.
- Chip: Not to be confused with the shape of your favorite snack, chip cut beads are fragments of larger portions of gemstones. They are commonly small and come in irregular shapes. Chip cut beads are great for a more collectic look in your designs.
- Cube: Cube shaped beads are considerably bold being that they have straight edges. When styling cube shaped beads it’s recommended to pair them with beads that have more smooth and rounded shapes.
- Pear: These beads have a pointed top with a rounded bottom and a drill that usually goes through the center or the lengthy side of the bead. Pear shaped beads are another elegant option like the Briolette but the main difference would be the placement of where the hole is drilled.
TIPS FOR TRYING NEW BEADS
It’s pretty rare that new shapes of beads come out. When you come across a bead you haven’t used before, think about whether it’s a statement bead, base bead, or contrasting bead. Common shapes like round, rondelle, bicone, and donut beads are great base beads and are recommended to be the first bead shapes you try to match with new beads. Play around using your new beads in different articles of jewelry and see which stylign it fits best for. Be patient, get creative, and play around until the beads do the work!