Bead Speak


Terms you might be curious about.

Sometimes it's not always clear what all the abbreviations and descriptions mean with beads.

AB = Aurora Borealis. The name for the faint rainbow finish on some beads. This can change the color of the bead in subtle ways so it is something to pay attention to. For example, Silver Lined Ruby is a rich brilliant red, Silver Lined Ruby AB has a definite rosy cast.

Ceylon = pearl-like. Obviously these beads are not pearl; they are manufactured of glass but those labeled Ceylon definitely have a pearl-ish look, an opalescent tone to them.

Silver Lined = the lining is silver under a colored bead. This allows the bead color to stand out brilliantly against just about anything, even if the yarn is the same overall color. The abbreviation for this is S/L. The S/L Crystal beads have a silver lining in a crystal bead and the end look is silver. I've been asked if the silver lining will tarnish. Not with the high quality Japanese beads from Miyuki and Toho and those are the only ones we carry.

Matte = a rougher finish which allows for a matte look instead of shiny.

Galvanized = a process which makes the end bead look metallic, very shiny indeed. This finish had a tendency to flake off with use until Miyuki came up with their Duracoat Galvanized finish. These last and last and last (Toho now has a similar finish as well for their galvanized beads).

Magatamas = You'll see them on our website also written as Megatamas. That was my error early on but it kind of stuck and we've been using them interchangeably.

Miyuki 4mm Magatama beads are similar to drop beads because of their water droplet shape. They aren't as rounded as drops and have an earthy natural feel as well as a slightly flatter area at the top of the bead. Larger than the 3.4mm drops, they are perfectly-imperfect looking and are great for fringe or adding texture to a design. They measure 4mm x 4mm with a hole size of 1mm.

Miyuki Long Magatama beads are cut at a slight angle from back to front. The hole is near the top of the bead, and the angled cut gives them a leaf-like shape. Long Magatamas measure 4mm x 7mm with a hole size of 1mm.

4x4mm Cube beads measure 4mm x 4mm x 4mm with a hole size of 1.3mm. They work nicely in jewelry pieces as as their flat sides allow them to sit comfortably next to each other in patterns.

We can give you a rough estimate of how many beads make up a gram in the Miyuki beads. Toho would be similar though to my eye their 6/0s seem to be just a tad smaller.

  • For size 6/0, about 12 beads per gram

  • For size 8/0, figure there are about 40 beads per gram.

  • For 5/0 round beads, about 7 beads per gram

  • For 5/0 Triangles, about 11 beads per gram

  • For 4mm Magatamas (or Megatamas), about 12 beads per gram

  • For Long 4x7mm Magatamas, about 8 beads per gram

  • For 4x4 Cubes, about 10 beads per gram.

1 Comment

Ellen hi!!
I always save looking at your site for my "spare time", you have such great ideas. My yarn diet prohibits yarn purchases for a while, but you give me great ideas for using up my stash!!
The article about beads was informative. I would also be interested in seeing have which size bead you would recommend for specific wool weights and perhaps type (eg. is it a myth not to use metallic beads with yarn that has nylon)?
Good luck with your new site!!
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars! [4 of 5 Stars!]
by Ricki Isralowitz
Date Added: Tuesday 16 February, 2016