Glossary of Beads and Jewellery making Techniques



Welcome to our Glossary of Beads and Jewellery Making Techniques

Whilst this list of beads, terms used in beading, the names of tools and techniques is very long it is likely to be missing one or two pieces of information that you may need. If you cannot find the information you need then please email us here and we will get the information for you and add it to this page.



Aurora Borealis - an iridescent coating given to beads and pendants. The AB coating refracts the light that passes through or reflects from the bead or pendant making it sparkle that little bit more....


A metal finding used to hang a pendant so that the pendant faces forward (also see Jump Ring)....


A bead is a small, decorative object that is formed from many materials in different shapes and sizes have a small hole drilled, usually through the centre of the bead for threading or stringing. Beads were once used as a form of currency and then became the components of jewellery to be worn to give the impression of wealth and power. Today beads have a wide range of uses primarily as decoration to enhance a persons appearence but you will also find such uses as home decor, model making, fly-fishing, games and educational tools.

Bead Looms

The beadloom is a tool that enables weaving a pattern of beads between warp threads held under tension across the looms frame....

Bead Spinner

A tool that looks like a bowl with a central spindle that is spun around at speed. When spinning a curved needle is dipped into the beads, which then thread themselves on to and up the needle very quickly....

Bead Weaving

Process of sewing beads, commonly seed beads, together using a variety of beadweaving stitches. Also known as off loom weaving. The most popular stitches are Peyote, Brickstitch, Ladder Stitch and the Herringbone Stitch....


Beadalon is an American manufacturer of a popular beading wire and a multitude of jewellery making tools. Also the owner of Artistic Wire.

Bench Block

A small solid block usually made of steel but also available in a hard rubber used for hammering wire and metal against


The name given to a shape of bead that looks like two cones stuck together at their wide bases, the most well known being Swarovski who have re-branded the bi-cone by adding more faceted, whilst keeping the same shape, now called XILION

Brick stitch

A type of beadweaving where beads are stitched together forming a brick pattern


A cabochon is a bulbous or rounded natural stone or can be mademade such as glass, acrylic or resin item with a flat back. The most common shaped cabochon is round/circular. Faceted cabochons are availble as well as the smooth rounded ones.

Chain Nose Pliers

Pliers with a flat inside edge and tapered nose. We have 2 types, the professional pair and the hobby pair. Used for gripping, flattening and crimping in jewellery making.


A Charm is usually a small object that is hung from a necklace or bracelet. Charms usually act as a reminder or memory and can have sentimental value to the wearer. Charm bracelets are a collection of charms that the wearer tends to collect over a period of time and these can make great personalised gifts. In jewellery terms charms are commonly cast metal and can represent icons, animals, plants and pretty much anything! Any object can be made into a charm by pacing a loop to hang it from by using a glue on bail, headpin or wrapped in jewellery wire.

Chasing Hammer

A small metal headed hammer with one flat and one ball end used to texture or flatten wire.


A jewellery clasp is an object that joins the two threads of a bracelet or necklace together. It makes it easy for the wearer to put on and take off a piece of jewellery. There are many types of clasps available for jewellery making such as trigger clasps, bolt rings, toggle clasps and magnetic clasps.

Coiling Gizmo

A tool that creates different sized, neat coils using plated jewellery wire.


The basic component in making a necklace or bracelet. Cords are also referred to as wire, beading wire and threads. Different beading techniques require different types of thread. Beadweaving uses thin threads such as Nymo, KO thread, Wildfire and Fireline. Kumihimo, Macrame and Friendship Bracelets uses either Satin Cords, S-LON and Embroidery Thread. Along with these threads there are thick and thin threads for straight stringing of beads, depending on the size of the holes in the beads you are using. Beading wire such as, Soft Flex & Soft Touch


Pliers with a blade on one edge to cut through soft wires

Delica Bead

The Delica bead was introduced into the world in 1982 and became a trade mark name of Miyuki, the delica is a small cylindrical precision made glass bead which makes each bead indentical to the next, which makes it popular for beading weaving. Available in three sizes, Size 8 or Double Delicas, the largest size of Delica, Size 11, the more popular size will over 800 colous and effects and Size 15, the smallest size. As the Delica is a global trade marked name another Japanese company have similar beads but these are named Treasure beads

Dichroic Glass

Dichroic glass in beading usually means that layers of glass are laid on top of each other and fused in a kiln. The results is a piece of glass with unique colours and patterns that are later used to create unique pieces of jewellery or art. The dichroic glass itself is made up of several microscopic layers of different metals, usually gold or silver mixed together with oxides like aluminium, titanium or magnesium to give the glass that metallic 3D effect.


Faceted beads are beads with many cuts across it's surface.


The collective term for all the small metal items used in finishing jewellery

Flexible beading wire

There are many brands of beading wire available on the market these days but they are essentially all the same. Made up of many fine strands and coated in nylon making it flexible and ideal for stringing you will find brands such as Beadalon who produce 7 strand, 19 strand and 49 strand beading wire. The more strands a beading wire is made from gives it more flexibility but not necessarily a thicker diameter. The more strands your beading wire is made from the more it is likely to cost. Soft Flex and Soft Touch beading wires are made up from either 7, 21 or 49 strands and produced by an American company called The Softflex Company. Other makes on the market are Tigertail, which tends to be a 7 strand cable and from The Beadsmith we have their own branded Flexright. The beading wire you use is really down to personal preference.

French Wire

Also known as Gimp. A fine coil of wire used to protect thread from wear at the end of a necklace or bracelet. The jewellery's thread goes through the centre of the French Wire and it's the french wire that sits inside the clasp's connecting loop.

Fresh Water Pearls

Freshwater pearls are farmed in China using mussels. Each mussel can produce up to 24 pearls which are then treated to harden them and graded in size.

Glass Fusing

The act of layering pieces of glass and fusing them togeher in an electric kiln to temperatures of up to 800 degrees. There is a simplier way to fuse glass by using a microwave kiln, read our blog post where Hana puts a microwave kiln to the test.


Gutermann, founded and based in Germany, produce fabric and threads for sewing by hand and sewing machines from the hobbyist to the big industrial fabric producers. Part of their extensive range of products are beads, mostly manufactured in the czech republic. Their bead range covers seed beads, faceted glass beads, glass pearl beads, bugle beads and Sequins.

Herringbone An off loom weaving technique creating a herringbone effect pattern worked in pairs of beads

Pearl Knotting

Knotted pearls are a traditional look/style when wearing freshwater pearls as an item of jewellery. As the name suggests each pearl is separated by a knot using a single or double thread. Single threads use just a left over right knot or some call them overhand knots. To get the knot tight up against the bead you need to insert a point into the centre of the knot and slide the knot up against the bead. Useful tools like the knotter tool will cut down the time involved in knotting pearls. To finish the knotted pearl classic look the thread is passed through French Wire when attaching the clasp, which will protect the thread from wearing out.


This fascinating type of beading is a form of Japanese braiding, with Kumihimo meaning 'union of threads', which allows you to create beautiful braids in your choice of colours. Different threads & beads can be incorporated to stunning effect. A spiral pattern braid can simply be created by using just 8 strands of thread in two colours with a round kumihimo disc whilst using a square kumihimo disc produces a flat braid.

Lucite Transpartent light weight plastic 

Macrame in jewellery making terms is a knotting technique comprising of at least three strands/cords, sometimes only 2 cords but 1 is doubled over to make the third. The square knot of reef knot are most commonly used but there are many more knots that can be used. The friendship bracelet is the first thing most people will think of when considering Macrame but there are many applications that macrame can be used for like netting (nautical), plant holders, linen, shawls and lanyards. T-pins are used to hold braids down when working on a macrame board

Memory Wire

A coil of stainless steel wire, also known as rememberance wire because it always tries to return to it's original shape and size after being expanded to fit around a neck, wrist or finger. Available in different sizes and platings, dull grey in appearance if it hasn't been plated and very similar to the 'slinky' - if you remember those! As this coil always tries to return to it's original shape you can use just one singl coil as this will still grip the wrist! This is a very strong wire and cannot be cut with standard jewellery pliers. You would need heavy duty cutters like the memory wire cutters.


Miyuki is the name of a Japanese manufacturer of glass beads and they are extremely well known around the world for Delicas, Seed Beads and TILA beads. The company started in the 1930's where they began producing seed beads. The more famous of their bead ranges, the delica bead was created in 1982. Miyuki now produce many types of beads including Bugles, Magatama Beads, Twist Beads, Square Beads, Triangle Beads and half tilas to name a few!

Murano Glass

When speaking of murano glass beads you will instantly know that these beads have been handmade and made within the seven islands that make up the Murano provence in Italy just outside of Venice. The seven islands are separated by eight water channels, which would stop the spread of fire and this is believed to be why the glassmakers settled here to produce glass. Murano glass beads cannot be described as anything but beautiful as the time and skill that goes into producing these beads is unrivelled. Whilst a more expensive product of the beading world Murano glass is well worth it.


As the name suggests this is a bead weaving technique that creates a net of beads. This is done by creating layers or rows by passing through anchor beads spaced out at regular intervals throughout the string of beads in each row. In each proceeding row the anchor beads are off set from the former row by a small number of beads. Each row should start and finish with an anchor bead. As a beadweavng technique the beads used for this stitch are usually seed beads and bugles.

Pendant An item with a hole through the top part to enable hanging 
Peyote Stitch An off loom weaving technique done in odd or even count
Polymer clay A maluable plastic based clay once baked is hard, can be used to create intricate bead designs


Preciosa is a group of companies which produce a diverse range of czech crystal components, glass beads, bugle beads, banding, rondelles, stones in settings and chatons for the jewellery and fashion markets. Preciosa-ornela is the beading component part of the company where seed beads, faceted glass beads, round and various shaped glass beads, cut glass crystal beads and wooden beads are manufactured.

Resin A versatile material mixed in liquid form once cured forms a solid plastic 
Right angle weave A popular beadweaving technique that form right angles in the pattern
Round Nose Pliers Pliers with tapered cone shaped nose used for making loops
Roving The treated and dyed fleece from a sheep used for needle felting
Seed Beads Small glass beads cut from rods of glass tubing available in  many sizes ideal for bead weaving
Shrink Plastic Plastic sheet that can be drawn or printed on, once heated shrink to create solid plastic pieces
Silver Art Clay A specialist material made of silver and mouldable like clay, once fired you're left with silver
Silver smithing The art of turning sheet silver into precious items like rings and pendants
Soutache A specialist  braid designed to incorporate in bead embroidery
Stampbord A small hard board with clay finsih ideal of stamping and collaging to turn into jewellery 
Stretch Magic A popular types of elastic which can be knotted or crimped
Stringing The process of threading beads into stringing material such as cord
Swarovski High quality crystal bead manufacturer  
Tierracast An American brand know for making high quality charms and findings
Tila Beads Trade mark name of Miyuki for their range of flat two hole beads
Viking Knit Knitting wire together
Wig Jig Tools to enable you to create neat and consistent wire componants and designs
Wire Fine strands of metal 
Wire gauges The sizes given to the diameter of different wires
Wire Guardian To protect stringing materials for wear when attaching a clasp
Wirework Using wire to create jewellery by wrapping and weaving
XILION Trade make name of Swarovski for a multi-facted beads upgraded from a bicone
Bead Reamer A fine abrasive tool used for the enlargement of holes in beads
Ring Mandrel Used to measure ring size and hold rinsg when hammering teh outside
Crimping The act of squashing a small crimp bead with crimpers or pliers to secure something
Tiger tail A generic name for flexible beading wire