As beaders know, there is an endless variety of beads available for sale today. Craft stores sell every type you can imagine in every size and shape possible. Those made of wood, gemstones, metal and glass are easy to find and transform into beautiful pieces of jewelry.
Wooden beads may be plain, patterned or textured. They can be very light colored or very dark colored wood be glazed with a shiny coating or left uncoated and more rustic looking. Many are round or oval, but square and other shapes are also available. The sizes of wood beads range from tiny spacers to big round or oval ones the size of a plum.
Gemstones of all kinds are made into beads. Amber is a warm brown gemstone with swirls of neutral colors and is popular for pendants and other jewelry. Hemalite is an iron ore mineral that can have a magnetic as well as a nonmagnetic quality depending on the type of hemalite. Hemalite beads are available in many different colors and are often used in making magnetic bracelets.
Carved jade in intricate labyrinth-type patterns are available for pendants for making necklaces. You can also find smaller carved jade beads as well. The natural colors of jade range from light whitish-green to dark brownish-red in color.
Sterling silver is not only used for chains, but also for beads. These may be smooth and shiny or have a corrugated or other texture to them. Tiny spacers, tube or "macaroni" style, and sterling silver beads shaped like moons or stars are all available. Some have cubic zirconia (CZ) inserted into them for extra sparkle.
Glass beads are made in a wide range of colors and styles. Swirled patterned ones can have the appearance of polished stones. Some glass beads have flowers painted on them. They may be in any shape including tube, square and heart-shaped. Animal-shaped beads such as tiny glass cats, birds, dogs and fish can be great accents when used with plainer ones.
Porcelain beads are often round and may be white with dainty Victorian floral designs or they made be in primary colors with more graphic patterns on them. Cloisonne varieties are shiny and elaborately painted with floral patterns in rich, bright jewel toned colors. This type is usually sold in the form of larger circular pendants in order to let the detailed patterns show.