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What do all those bead finishes mean?

Here is a glossary of bead terms used throughout our site. Please note that some beads may have several finishes, like "Semi Frosted Color Lined". You will have to look at the individual finishes like "Semi Frosted" and "Color Lined". This is a very comprehensive list, but it's always possible that we missed something, so if you're looking for a bead finish definition that isn't here, you can contact us.

Tip: If you like the sound of any of the finishes below, try searching our site for a finish instead of a specific color.

2X

2X is when a coating that is normally on half a bead is applied to the entire bead. It is an unusual finish, most often seen with AB beads, and is generally Swarovski. It is a very powerful effect, and one of my favorites.

Alabaster

Well, this one depends on the type of bead you are looking for. In Swarovski, Alabaster is a dense, opaque finish, similar to milk glass. In seed beads, it is a milky, opal finish, often paired with a Silver Lined center.

Aurora Borealis (AB)

Like the effect of oil on water, these beads have a soft, transparent, multicolored, reflective finish on part of the bead.

Ceylon

A pearly, lustrous coating.

Color Lined (CL)

Color Lined Beads start out as a transparent bead. Then their hole is given a lining of a second color. This gives them a really unique look. When you look at the names of our color lined beads, the first color is the transparent bead, and the second color is the lining. For example: Amethyst/Cranberry Color Lined is an Amethyst bead with a Cranberry core.

Copper Lined

A transparent bead, with a core of metallic copper, giving it a warm hue.

Duracoat Galvanized

The long awaited durable finish to those pesky galvanized beads! This is a metallic finish and is a much more permanent coating then the traditional galvanized beads.

Fancy

If we call a finish Fancy, it just doesn't fit into any other standard finish. We do are best to give you accurate pictures, but if you have any questions on these beads, feel free to contact us.

Galvanized

These beads are glass, with a layer of paint which gives them a shiny, metallic look. They are pretty, but the finish rubs off very easily. For a more permanent finish, look for a Metallic or the new Duracoat Galvanized finishes. Please Note: We do not carry any galvanized beads, but since many bead stores do, I wanted to include a definition as a warning to the unsuspecting beader!

Gold Filled

Gold Filled, or gold overlay is made by heat and pressure bonding a thin layer of gold to a brass core. Gold Filled Findings are more valuable than gold plated because they have an actual layer of gold, not just a microscopic film.

Gold Lined (GL)

A transparent bead, with a core of metallic gold, which gives it an vintage look.

Half Copper

This is a metallic copper finish, that is only on half the bead.

Half Silver

A metallic silver finish, on half the bead.

Iris

Similar to an AB finish, this is an iridescent coating with multiple hues, usually on a metallic bead. This finish generally covers the whole bead.

Luster

These beads have a shiny sheen.

Marble

A blending of two or more colors of glass in one bead.

Matte

Matte beads have a frosted, velvety surface that does not reflect light.

Metallic

A sturdy finish that has the look of metal. While they often look the same, this is not the same as galvanized!

Metallic Matte

This is a matte bead, but with an underlying metallic or iridescent look. They have a very rich and unique appearance.

Milky

A milky, translucent bead, that usually refers to Czech beads. Also see Opal below.

Opal

A milky, translucent bead, that usually refers to Swarovski or seed beads. Also see Milky above.

Opaque (OP)

This is a plain bead which no light passes through.

Pearl

A bead that has been given a pearlized coating...these are not natural pearls.

Picasso

Picasso beads have a somewhat spotted finish that has the look of stone. This is usually found on Window Beads, and often only on the edges or uncut areas. This is one of our most popular finishes!

Satin

This is a soft finish, with a muted shine.

Semi Frosted (SF)

These beads have a slightly matted finish, but still have some shine.

Silver Lined (SL)

A transparent bead, with a core of metallic silver, which gives it lots of sparkle.

Sparkling (SPARK)

Usually referring to a Color Lined bead, Sparkling beads have a metallic paint as their inside color (think metallic nail polish). This gives them a wonderful sparkle and shine.

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver must contain 92.5% pure silver. The other 7.5% is another metal, often copper. While many sterling silver pieces are stamped with either the word "Sterling" or "925", this is not always the case. With many findings, they are simply too small to accommodate the stamp, or they are not stamped because it will spoil the look of the piece.

Transparent (T, TRANSP)

This is a bead which light passes through. Sometimes, particularly on lighter colors, you can see your stringing material, so it's usually best to string with a color that is either complimentary or neutral.

Vitrail

Similar to a Half Silver finish, however the silver of vitrail has other colors in it as well, like pinks and green. A very vintage looking finish.