Beading and Jewelry Glossary

Heishi and lampwork and rounds, oh my: a mini-dictionary for the confused beader.

Bail - A metal loop that is used to attach a chain or cord to a pendant.

Bicone - A type of bead that looks like two pyramids or cones stuck together at their bases.

Cone - Necklace terminator or beading finding used to bring multiple strands together at one point to attach a clasp or be part of the design.

Crimping Pliers - Specialized pliers for smashing and then forming crimp beads into a bead shape while securing the beading wire. Recommended for those who plan to use crimp beads often. 

Crimp Bead - A metal bead used to attach the ends of wire to the clasp.

Crimp Cover - A hollow round bead that has an opening that allows you to cover a crimp beads so that it gives the effect of a round bead at the end of each.

Faceted – Cut stone or glass that has a few or many faces cut into it that reflects light. Most common in gemstone jewelry but there are many different beads that are available faceted.

Heishi - (pronounced Hee-Shee) Most commonly used to describe shell disks cut to  consistent size created and popularized by Pueblo Indians, the term can also refer to other materials cut into that shape.

Nuggets & Chunks – Irregular shaped beads usually listed as nuggets when they are smaller and chunks when larger.

Rondelle or Roundelle - Disk shape that can vary in size

Rounds - Spherical in shape

Spacer Bar - Jewelry finding used to hold multiple strands of beads in alignment and prevent tangling, are inserted at intervals while stringing the beads.

Drop Drilled – Beads that are drilled at the top portion of a drop shaped bead (or the thinnest portion of an irregular but similarly shaped bead)

Bead Cap - A metal bell or cap-shaped bead that goes next to a round bead, partly covering it. Often used on both sides of a bead to "frame" it.

Briolette - Describes  a shape and a style of faceting (gemstone cutting) Briolettes are usually an oval or pear shape drop bead (top drilled or side drilled) with its entire surface cut in angular facets for a beautiful sparkle. Briolette cuts are found in almost all gemstones. Briolette refers to the faceted cut, not a color or size.

Cabachon - Different Mm Highly polished with a convex (outwardly rounded) surface, gemstone cabochons have been mounted into jewelry settings for millennia.

Earring Post - The straight part of the earring that is passed through the ear. "Post-back" earrings require a backing to hold the earring in place and can come with a flat pad to glue beads or solder bezels onto, or with a metal bead with a loop under it to attach beads to (similar to hook earwires).

Earwires - The classic earwire has a coil, a metal ball, and a loop that can be opened to attach to an earring. Earwires are available in different compositions and finishes, like gold filled, silver plated, brass, or steel.

Leverbacks - "U" shaped ear wire that that has hinge and closes completely when worn. These help prevent the loss of an earring.

Findings - A broad term for materials that are used to used as the backbone and finishing components in beading. This includes clasps, headpins, jump rings, bead tips, crimp beads, and more. Usually these are metal, but they can also be made of wood, stone, or other materials.

Half-drilled bead - Beads with a hole that goes only half-way through, instead of all the way through like a normal bead. There are many findings that are made to take a half-drilled beads, like ring settings and earring posts. You can also use them to finish memory wire bracelets--an end cap. They are affixed with bead glue.

Jump Ring - Used to connect jewelry parts, like attaching a clasp to a necklace. Jump rings are a simple wire loop. To open them, push one end forward and one end back. If you enlarge the circle by prying the ends farther apart you will weaken the metal.

Lampwork - Lampwork beads are made by melting narrow rods of glass by hand over an open flame (usually a torch). The glass is wrapped around a thin metal rod (a mandrel), which later becomes the hole through the bead. Many effects can be achieved through using various colors of glass and various techniques. Lampwork beads can also be created into small figurines such as faces or animals.

Mala beads - Traditionally strung on a necklace and used for meditation or prayer, they are used to count the meditations (or prayers) in a mantra-like, rhythmic fashion. They are made of many materials, including rosewood, sandalwood, ebony, crystal and more, and often have a specific number of beads attached that represents a particular meaning for the user.

Memory Wire - Memory wire holds its circular shape. Cut a length of it, string on some beads, and bend the ends in a loop. It should stay on your neck or wrist without a clasp. Comes in sizes to fit your neck, wrist, or even finger. This is a good option for people who have trouble with clasps or who have arthritis.

Needle Nose Pliers - Also known as long nose or pinched nose pliers because of their appearance, they often have wire cutters built into them. They're usually made of steel and have rubber handles you can easily grip. When shopping for plier make sure that the inside face is nice and smooth so as not to mar your metal. You can also find jewelry tools in ergonomic shapes to help prevent repetitive stress injuries.

Rattail - A thick and satiny decorative cord, best used in a piece without sharp edges as it tend to fray. Available in many colors.

Split Ring - Double wire rings (like a keychain), used to connect different parts of a piece of jewelry. A split ring is more secure than a jump ring but also bulkier.

Toggle Clasps – Bar and Loop closure in many different forms. When purchasing this type of clasp make sure that the bar will not slip out easily from the loop when worn. 

Hook and Eye - One side is a hook and the other side is a loop. There are many different styles and shapes. This type of clasp is not as secure for bracelets, but are fine for necklaces.

Lobster Clasp - Common clasp that is very secure and helps prevent loss. It has a spring lever that you open to attach to a jump ring or closed ring. These come in many sizes and can be a design element themselves.

Multi-strand clasp - has multiple loops to attach several strands of beading wire for wide bracelets.

Magnetic clasps – good for light strands or for people who have trouble with other types of clasps. These are *not* to be used by people with pacemakers.

Sterling - An alloy of  92.5 percent silver with copper or another metal. Most will be marked but some beads and other clasps are not.

Gold-fill (also called gold overlay) - made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a base of less costly metal. This produces a surface with karat gold. The minimum layer of karat gold must equal at least 1/20 of the total weight of the item.

Vermeil - (pronounced Ver-May)  It is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals. It is commonly used as a component in jewelry. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 14 carat (58%) gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must be at least 10 carat (42%) and be at least 2.5 micrometres thick. In the US, sterling silver covered with a base metal (such as nickel) and plated with gold cannot be sold as vermeil without disclosing that it contains base metal.


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