Helpful Bead Info
Have or need a bead and can't figure out a bead size? Use our handy bead conversion chart.
Metric to US Scale: 25.4mm = 1 inch.
Convert mm to inches, divide by 25.4 or multiply by 0.0394
Mm (Fractional Inch)
18mm (23/32”) Dime: 17.91mm wide, 1.35mm deep
19mm (3/4") Penny: 19.05mm wide, 1.52mm deep
21mm (27/32”) Nickel: 21.21mm wide, 1.95mm deep
24mm (15/16”) Quarter; 24.26mm wide, 1.975mm deep
26mm (1-1/32”) Presidential $1: 26.49mm wide, 2.00mm deep
31mm (1-7/32”) Half Dollar: 30.61mm wide, 2.15mm deep
You can purchase small drill bits from local craft, hardware, or rock shops. Begin with a 1mm bit. A Dremmel tool will do great! If you don't have a Dremmel tool, a regular drill will work, but you will need a "collete" to hold smaller bits.
Holding your bead with sturdy pliers, use a 1mm drill bit, while simultaneously holding your bead under water. If this size is too small, then move up one drill bit size.
- AB or Aurora Borealis is a specific type of liquid finish applied to beads. It is sometimes known as an iridescent or rainbow finish where the finish is applied while the beads are warm.
- Cat’s eye. These beads have manufactured effect resembling the iris of a cat’s eye.
- Faceted - These are many many cuts on bead surfaces. With these cuts or facets, the sharp angles capture the light thus creating a brilliance and sparkle.
- Filigre - These beads have either gold or silver foil particals embedded within them. These foil particals are mixed in with these beads before they are molded.
- Lampwork glass beads are made on a metal rod or copper wire. The molten glass is wound on a rod and later designs are added to enhance the bead.
- Opaque beads made acrylic or lucite. Before molding, liquid dyes are pre-mixed with the raw acrylic material.
- Translucent beads are made from clear lucite where light can partially pass through (but not completely). Think of a cloudy bead. After the beads are molded, a liquid color coating is added while beads are still warm.
- Transparent beads made from colored or colorless lucite. These beads are "see-through" or transparent.
- Resin is a natural or synthetic compound which begins in a gummy state and then later hardens with specific treatment. Some resin can be soluble in alcohol but not in water.
- Tibetan we use this term for our pewter metal spacer beads. These metal beads contain no gold or silver. They are made of metals consisting of pewter (containing lead) OR zinc alloy (lead free metals fused together). The beads metals are then electroplated with tiny amounts of gold or silver to cover the base metal. After this process, it then becomes Tibetan Gold or Tibetan Silver.
- Memory wire, mainly used for bracelets, is specifically designed to hold its round shape regardless of how often the piece of jewelry is worn. It should adapt (within reasonable limits) to the wearer of the piece of jewelry. Our memory wire is sold in loops of one continuous piece where it can be cut into the number of loops needed.
How Are Acrylic Beads Made?
When manufacturing plastic or acrylic beads, a compound of polypropylene, high density polyethylene, or high impact polystyrene is used. This plastic compound arrives at the bead factory in naturally transparent pellets in 20 pound bags.
The first step of the manufacturing process is to color the pellets. These pellets go into a mixer along with other pigment colorant pellets made of a special powder. This pigment only makes up about 2% of the actual weight of the compound.
The mixture is then fed into a plastic injection machine that heats the pellet mixture to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes a matter of seconds to melt the mixture. The machine then injects the melted plastic into pre-sized bead molds. A system of hoses cools the bead molds with cold water and instantly hardening the plastic beads. Holes are then drilled and when the mold opens, ejectors thrust the beads to a conveyor belt below.
For most beads, the entire process from start to finish only takes about 10 seconds. Larger and more intricate beads have a longer cycle time.