5 Popular Miyuki Blue Hues that Won’t Get You Down

In our recent blog on the 10 Most Popular Bead Colors Today, Lindsay explored the top colors PotomacBeads.com customers use.  It was no surprise that these were mostly neutral and metallic since these colors can be paired with almost anything else and give beaded jewelry the metal-look that we see in fine jewelry.  These colors were also all Czech Glass coatings.  Although I love a good Czech coating, there is a whole other world of colors standard among Japanese Seed Beads.  I set out to identify the most sought-after original Miyuki colors.

As it turns out, we love blue!  As a young art student I was told that if I wanted to make pieces that were guaranteed to sell, “make it big, or make it blue.”  Apparently that was very good advice.  Most popular among the blue hues were these:

Miyuki Blues
Each color is available in a variety of Miyuki products
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Worked in Peyote

There is a blue here for everyone, no matter your style.  The warmth of the Matte Metallic Patina Iris (image 1) (a blue-green variegation) pairs well with warm colors such as Golden Touch Tangerine and Bronze.  I love using this color with vintage inspired pieces such as this Garden printed resin Cabochon.

Beads that have a lot of shine pair well with crystals, pearls, rhinestones, and other brightly colored pieces.  The Duracoat Galvanized Sea Foam and Montana Blue Gold Luster (image 2) will hold their own next to these iridescent Czech Glass beetles.  Using silver accents will keep the blues feeling cool and crisp.

 

 

Any Picasso color will always add a sense of rustic nature to your work.  I like to use Picasso Montana (image 3) alongside natural materials such as leather.  Earthy browns and golds will highlight the Picasso coating while providing a warm contrast to the cool blue.

Duracoat Opaque Eucalyptus (image 4) is a charming muted blue-green color.  Because it is a solid opaque color with no additional coatings, the bead has a clean, pure color, making it ideal to use alongside more complex colors such as a Green Iris, Green Luster, or Lila Gold Luster.

If you need more color inspiration, here are some of my favorite color pairings using these blue hues.

  1. Duracoat Galvanized Sea Foam & Crystal Copper Rainbow
  2. Picasso Montana & White Dark Travertine
  3. Montana Blue Gold Luster & White Teal Luster
  4. Matte Metallic Patina Iris & Vintage Copper
  5. Duracoat Opaque Eucalyptus & Metallic Dark Bronze
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(1)                           (2)                           (3)                           (4)                           (5)

 

Blue hues are very popular among jewelry makers.  It could be that they remind us of the crispness of a cool ocean or the calm that a blue sky inspires.  Whatever it is about Blue, we love it and can’t seem to get enough of it.  For more information about how to use blue and other colors, read Ashley’s blog on 6 Color Theory Tips to Enhance Your Beading Designs.   These are amazing fool-proof tips to make anyone an expert.

Share photos of your creations featuring blue in the Beading & Jewelry Making Facebook group.  Share your thoughts on how to use this popular color and be inspired by the work of other talented jewelry-makers!

I look forward to seeing your latest creations on Facebook and Instagram.  I’ll keep posting and I hope you do, too!

Until next time, Happy Beading!

 

-Anna Taylor

PotomacBeads.com

PotomacBeads.eu

 

 

 

How to Build a Collection and Make Your Jewelry More Marketable

Many jewelry-makers have a desire to share their work with others by selling their pieces online, at shows, or in shops.  This is the logical next step for many beaders, but getting started is more than half the battle.  For those of you who are interested in taking this leap, developing your design personality and building collections will make you more marketable and make your displays more appealing to potential buyers.

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With no underlying theme, there is nothing to establish a collection.

If you are a beginner who has just started your jewelry-making journey, trying a bit of this and that by watching tutorials is the best way to find out where you are naturally gifted.  After making a few of these and a few of those, your jewelry collection starts to look a bit disorderly.  No piece relates to another.  Anyone looking at your current collection may not even be able to tell that it was all made by the same person.  To the right are some of my own pieces from the past couple years.  Although they may be pieces of which I am proud, they don’t have much in common.

Narrow your focus onto one theme or technique and explore it fully.  A theme can be anything that gives your work continuity.  Here are some examples of themes I consider when working on a collection:

  1. Technique or Process 
  2. Materials used
  3. Colors, textures, or patterns
  4. Telling a story

Consider how you can narrow your focus in one or several of these themes to create 10-20 pieces.  The photo below represents this particular set of themes:

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Pattern, Texture, and Technique tie these pieces together to form a collection.
  1. Technique: Bead embroidery
  2. Materials: Seed beads, metal bangle, and UltraSuede
  3. Colors/Textures/Patterns: I developed a pattern that I named “Origami” and used it for all three bangles.  I changed the colors, but drew from a narrow selection of colors for continuity within the collection.

 

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Technique and Materials are the main themes in this collection.

Another collection I’ve been working on is focused on the use of Czech Daggers and Rizos.  If you find a particular bead shape you love working with, explore all the ways to use it.  The collection I have developed around Daggers is shown above.  This collection exhibits my love of bead weaving and my current interest in the exploration of the drop shape, like Daggers and Rizos.

When you are ready to zero in on what will be the theme or trademark of your collection, you must first decide what will be the limiting factors.  These are the themes that will be represented in each piece, hence making the collection.  Then, acquire the materials you need in sufficient quantities to make 10-20 pieces.  Anything less than 10 pieces may not be enough to display as a collection.

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Add or subtract elements to a basic design for variation in a collection . Here I’ve used the same earring bezel but added a tassel to the pair on the left and swapped out the 11/0 seed beads for 2mm Czech Glass on the right pair.

Collections don’t need to stifle your creativity .  Although you are setting boundaries, explore all your options within those boundaries.  For example, take the same themes and apply them to earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.  You also don’t need to create all 10-20 pieces one after the other.  You may want to bounce back and forth between a couple collections so that you don’t get bored.

Set a goal for completing the collection.  Decide on a number of pieces that will be in your collection, or at least how many pieces you need before you can consider it ready to present to your audience, and then set a date by which you’d like to have them complete.  It could be the date of a craft fair, the launch of your new site, or just a date in the future you feel will give you enough time to complete your pieces.  Telling a friend, especially a fellow jewelry-maker or artisan, about your goal will hold you accountable.  Offer to work together with a friend on their goals, too.  Join a beading group or find a mentor.  The best advice and encouragement comes from people who are tackling the same goals as yourself or have more experience in an area where you want to grow.

Seeing your collection grow is very rewarding!  You’ll become more proficient in your area of focus, have a homogenous display that is easy for customers to shop, and give each individual piece elevated importance.  All these things translate to more sales. 🙂

As you develop your own collections, share your work on Beading & Jewelry Making (hosted by PotomacBeads.com).  I look forward to seeing what you create!

 

-Anna Taylor

PotomacBeads.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Most Popular Bead Colors Today

Learn about which colors of beads are the most popular today across a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Many have asked us, “what are the most popular bead colors?”  That questions can change with the season, with the specific type of bead, and over time, but each day at the Potomac Bead Company our number one task and top priority is to fulfill orders and ship them out to our customers as soon as possible.

It is always fun to see the color combinations that our customers choose as we are picking orders. Some stick to earth tones, others to pastels, and some order a mixture of all different shades.  Regardless of the wide array of colors of beads we ship out each day, there are always a few popular bead colors in 2018 that we see as a theme throughout orders.

I thought it would be fun to highlight for you our top 10 most sold colors (across all bead shapes) for you.  Unsurprisingly, these popular colors are almost ALL metallics and are great accents to any color palette. If you’re stumped when choosing colors and having trouble finding a good accent color to go with your palette, try out one of these.  You can’t go wrong with having any of these colors in your personal bead stash! The good news is, they are available in almost any bead shape you’d like, from seed beads, to czech glass beads and more!

Most Popular Bead Color #1 – Black & Matte Black/Jet/Jet Hematite

As you know, black goes WITH everything and is AVAILABLE in almost everything!  It’s no surprise that this color takes the number one spot on our list. Colors-Jet-2

Most Popular Bead Color #2 – Crystal Labrador Full
This beautiful silver color bead flies off the shelves.  As one of the most pure silver colors on the market, it adds a beautiful sparkle to any design.1-MiyukiCrystalLabradorFull2

Most Popular Bead Color #3 – Aztec Gold
Aztec Gold has always been my personal favorite.  It’s a trendy, subtle gold, not too yellow or bright and makes beautiful jewelry.Colors-AztecGold-2

Most Popular Bead Color #4 – Aluminum Silver
If you want a silver shade but don’t want the high shine of the crystal labrador full, aluminum silver should be your go-to color.
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Most Popular Bead Color #5 – Bronze
Bronze is another favorite of mine.  The deep chocolate brown is beautiful and especially popular during the fall.
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Most Popular Bead Color #6 – Ancient Gold/Metallic Mix
This color/mix on our list is possibly the most versatile.  Ancient Gold contains various soft metallic shades that all blend well together.  There are several Czech coatings that are a very similar blended coating, including Ancient Gold, Metallic Mix, & Purple Iris Gold.
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Most Popular Bead Color #7 – Copper/Vintage Copper
The copper and vintage copper colors are gorgeous rust-like colors that are very on-trend right now.
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Most Popular Bead Color #8 – Jet AB (Full, Matte)
This high-shine bead has a handful of shades.. From blue to green to yellow and sometimes a little bit if purple.  

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Most Popular Bead Color #9 – Crystal Vitrail
You can spot so many different colors in our crystal vitrail beads.  You’ll notice pink, purple, yellow, gold, and more!Colors-CrystalVitrail-2

Most Popular Bead Color #10 – Lava Red
Last but certainly not least is this lovely color.  If you’re looking for a red shade but don’t want the bright fire-engine look of an opaque red, try out the lava red.Colors-LavaRed-2

Well there you have our top 10 most popular bead colors and not surprisingly, these colors tend to sell quickly!  We arrived at these colors by comparing 30 of the most popular styles of beads, and ranking the colors of each across a 1-year period.  Note, that this list does NOT include crystal colors, because crystals tend to have very different types of colors.  The popularity for those also tends to be more in favor of transparent and AB (aurora borealis) styles.  Look for an upcoming blog focused specifically on crystals :).

Do you ever struggle picking colors?  This list of most popular bead colors can give you a great place to start when making your decisions about colors and colorways.  Best of all, most colors on this top 10 list will match nearly anything you add to it!

Be sure double check each item’s detail page on our website to make sure the color you want is currently in stock. If it’s not, stay tuned, more will be back in stock soon! Lastly, if you’re in need of some inspiration or what to see how some of these colors are used in designs, check out our extensive list of patterns and tutorials.

What are your favorite colors?  Let us know in the comments and happy beading!

-Lindsay
PotomacBeads.com
PotomacBeads.eu

Introduction to Soutache

Are you a fan of beadweaving? Do you like bead embroidery as well? Then we got something else for you that might catch your eye: Soutache Embroidery.

A little bit of history…

From the historical point of view, soutache is nothing new. Some sources say that the word itself comes from a Hungarian word sujtás which describes the artistic decorations on sleeves and trousers of Hungarian national folk costumes. The history of soutache is tightly connected to European history where the trends and fashion, among other things, were influenced by the ruling country or house, in this case by the Habsburgs. From there, the “French fashion effect” spread through the whole empire, reaching Turkey, Hungary, and even Russia.

Soutache braids were, and still are, used in the French art of passementerie where delicate and elaborate trimmings and edgings from braids, beads, precious metals and silk are applied to clothing or furnishing. This kind of art is very old. Let’s take for example the Czech Republic where our European warehouse is and which is also a country which produces soutache of excellent quality The first guilds that worked with braids, lace and other similar materials formed already during 12th and 13th century. Nevertheless, true passementerie (or in Czech pozament) was first produced by the guilds in the 16th century. These guilds survived here until today, in the city of Krnov, where the factory producing soutache (among other passementerie supplies) still operates. The origin of soutache itself is also dated to 16th century.

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Clematis – a headpiece made by me in 2016

What is soutache

Soutache braid, sometimes refered to as “Russian braid”, is a decorative braid, a type of galloon, made from both natural and synthetic fabrics. Among natural and semi-natural materials used for soutache are silk, cotton, mixture of silk and wool, and the nowadays most popular rayon. You can also find soutache made from metallic bullion thread, acetate, nylon or polyester.

Soutache braids were used in trimming of clothing, drapery, furnishings, and also bookbinding. The most popular use was of course for purposes of passementerie which because of the high prices were reserved for the social elite of that time – royalty and aristocracy, high-ranking military officers or religious figures. Nowadays, soutache is popular in haute couture or you can see it used on historical costumes in movies or TV shows.

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Circinate Vernation – a piece inspired by nature, water and plant (fern), 2014

Get ready, it takes time

I started with soutache embroidery in 2012, which is now almost exactly six years ago. My friends were nagging me to try it out, sending pictures of other authors’ works, challenging me to start already. I was afraid that I will fail. And I hate failures. There were very little tutorials, nothing in Czech (not that I would care), so all that was left for me was the method of trial and error. I gathered my courage… And I did it. I don’t know who was more surprised that I actually made something – me, or my friends 🙂

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One of the first pair of earrings I’ve ever made, 2012

Time issue #1

If you are lucky, you might be one of those people who master this technique faster than the others. It’s not a technique that you will learn in your first session, it takes a lot of practice and time, but with enough devotion and effort I am sure everyone can do it. The problem is not many people are willing to invest so much of their time to learn one technique. I understand that, I am just giving you a fair warning 🙂

Time issue #2

You don’t need many materials for this: soutache, thread and a needle will become your closest friends. But what you will need the most is time and patience. High prices of garments with these kinds of embellishments and trimmings were dictated not only by the expensive materials, but also by the fact that it took ages to finish something. And it still does. Even when you master the technique itself, the actual jewellery making is time-consuming. Which, of course, raises the price of the finished piece.

It is not necessarily a bad thing. It teaches you more than you would think. To consider carefully the quality of materials you are using. To think twice about the design. To work efficiently. And last, but not least, it teaches you to value your work.

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Baroque – a soutache brooch with satin ribbon, 2017

Important soutache trivia

I hope I didn’t repel you from trying soutache because it has one amazing feature – it’s light. It’s a textile braid, so most projects made with soutache are incredibly light. If you are a huge fan of huge earrings like me, this is your must-learn technique. Combined with stainless steel or silver/gold findings, the earrings do not harm your ear lobes at all, not even when worn all day. The same goes for necklaces, bracelets or headwear. Everything is super-light and very pleasant to wear.

Working with textile braids brings one danger though: things can get dirty. For example, if you wear make-up, the edges of your earrings or necklaces can get stained. That can be easily solved by adding beads on the edge or using some waterproofing treatment. Remember, you can’t wash the jewellery. Water is a no-no for soutache. When wet, it swells up and stretches all your stitches thus ruining your work. Don’t worry too much, though. During my six-year-long soutache career I only managed to dip my soutache work once. Luckily nothing got destroyed except my cucumber salad.

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Prepare your soutache stash

For soutache embroidery, you will need 3 mm soutache braids, braided in the herringbone pattern (most of them are) with a line in the centre. At Potomac Beads, we already offer soutache braids, either manufactured in the Czech Republic (from rayon) or in the USA (from polyester). You will also need a beading needle, usually size 10 or 12, and some kind of beading thread. It doesn’t matter much if it’s Nymo, S-lon, KO thread, Hana or Illusion cord. For beginners I would not recommend Illusion cord since you can barely see it. This is the reason why advanced beaders use it, though. 🙂

Depending on the design of your project, you will need various beads. From seed beads, to pressed rounds, fire-polished beads, glass pearls, crystals, cabochons and other Czech glass beads. You might also need some beading foundation: Ultrasuede, Alcantara or leather, and some findings to finish your work. And glue.

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Shahrazad – mixing soutache and tassels, 2017

Glue? No, thank you

Glue is a big topic in soutache. I don’t like it. I use it in necessary cases: gluing a cabochon to secure it in its place before I bezel it, applying glue to the soutache ends to prevent them from fraying, or using glue to attach backing material before it can be sewn down properly. Those are ALL the cases where I use glue. Everything else is pure needlework. I have seen a lot of projects where glue is used to replace the needle. The purpose of this is, naturally, to save time. I get it. It’s also ugly and disgusting. It is cheating. I am not sure the French aristocracy would wear dresses covered with glue-soaked braids to show off  their superiority. Not to mention they wouldn’t pay for it.

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Lavender Snakeskin – soutache bracelet finished with a beadwoven clasp, 2016

One more thing

A lot of time passed since my first soutache earrings. I created various projects, blogged about it, began to teach soutache and make patterns, and during that time it became my most favourite beading technique. Before I say goodbye though, I have a message for you.
Hear my plea, don’t use glue to glue together the soutache braids. Soutache is a gentle material, it deserves proper handling and storing, love and kind work. Let’s not butcher it with glue 😉

See you next time,
-Tereza
Potomac Beads Europe

A CLOSER LOOK AT CZECH BEAD COATINGS

giveaway_previewSometimes, walking into a bead store or shopping for beads online can be totally overwhelming.  Even for the seasoned beader. The selection is often enormous, with many options, styles, shapes and types to choose from.  Aside from the questions we receive about choosing colors that compliment each other well, we often get questions about the coatings of those beads.  There are many types of coatings, with varying durabilities, textures, looks, and benefits. The most widely popular are the Czech finishes and I figured it would be helpful for our customers to shed some light on these finishes and unpack all the details here for you.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Before any type of coating is applied, the glass beads need to be thoroughly washed, dried and then heated to a temperature of around 120 degrees.  This initial process helps to ensure the integrity of the coating and allows the beads to take a better and more even application of the coating.

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Some Czech finishes require a single coating process, while others may need a few extra steps to achieve a certain look.  For instance, the magic finishes on czech beads such as crystal magic wine, or crystal magic blue are first put through vacuum coating and then are sent for another layer of coating.  To keep things simple I’m going to go over the 4 main types of Czech finishes.

VACUUM COATING

Vacuum coated beads are some of the most popular among beaders.  Some examples of vacuum coatings are crystal labrador, AB, sliperit, crystal amber full, jet hematite, crystal capri gold, etc.  By definition, vacuum coating is the deposition of a film or a coating in a vacuum environment. It can also be referred to Physical Vapor Deposition and this technique is used for many consumer products, not just beads.  I’ll stop there with the extreme scientific terminology before all of our heads explode. To put it in Lehman’s terms, after the beads are heated they are placed in the vacuum coating machine which operates well below normal atmospheric pressure.  A fine metal powder is deposited into the vacuum which serves as the coating to the beads. The vacuum creates a very clean environment, with minimal air and water pollution, where materials can be deposited on the beads in a consistent, even, thin layer.  Vacuum deposition is also very reproducible, allowing for more consistency in coatings from one batch of beads to the next. The vacuum coating of beads can only be done on one side at a time and therefore after the first side is complete, the beads need to be flipped and the process is repeated again on the other side.

The durability of different vacuum coatings tend to vary.  Most are very durable and stand up to extensive wear and environmental factors but a few others aren’t quite as durable.  Crystal capri gold and crystal amber tend to be some of the least durable and rub off more easily than others.

MATTE METALLIC COATING

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The matte metallic beads are some of the most popular.  Aztec gold tends to be a top seller along with aluminum silver, vintage copper, ancient gold and many others, especially during the fall, when those shades are most popular.  At the base, these are glass beads that are covered in a thick, metallic, even lacquer coating, that in the end, proves to be extremely durable. To achieve the soft, matted appearance, the beads are then tumbled for a precise amount of time.  The longer beads are tumbled, the more polished they become, so matte finished beads require a shorter tumbling time. In some cases, the matte effect is achieved via immersion in an acid solution, although tumbling tends to be more popular.

ENT COATING

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ENT coating, also known as Estrella Nano Technology is a new technology for bead finishing.  This process is used for the production of metallic and pastel coatings. An extremely thin lacquer is applied to the beads in multiple layers through a spray process.  The coating is absent of heavy metals, has high chemical resistance, stable in alkaline and acidic environments and adheres extremely well to the glass beads to which they are applied.  As far as durability goes, they have a great resistance to scratching and ultraviolet radiation, leaving you with a fade resistant color.

LUSTER COATING

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Not unlike the above three types of Czech finishes, the luster coated beads are also a very popular finish among beaders and tend to fly off shelves as well.  Some specific examples of these beads include the baby blue luster, lila luster, lila vega luster, teal luster, etc. The luster coating is a glossy, transparent coating, heated and applied to beads like a thin glaze.  The coating is poured into a large pot over the base glass beads and stirred and spun to ensure an even coat. The beads are then placed in trays to dry and then heated in a kiln for up to 2 hours. The final step of the kiln brings out the true color of the final product.   A luster coating is typically applied to an opaque white or jet bead but they can be applied to crystal beads and many other colors to achieve different looks.

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Here is a video from our 2013 trip to the Czech Republic that focuses on luster coating.  Check it out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IcMLDgKtP8&w=560&h=315

Well there you have it, the four main types of czech glass coatings.  As you can see, so much science goes into making the colors and finishes of czech glass beads just perfect.

 Thanks for reading and happy beading!

-Lindsay

Review of Popular Bead Coatings and their Durability

 

We have all been there.  You find a gorgeous new beading pattern or video and can’t wait to start it.  Then, after selecting the colors, spending over an hour hunched over your bead mat, and sharing your accomplishment on your favorite online beading group, the finish on your beads starts wearing off!  You want to scream!

This is an experience far too many of us have had.  While it is impossible to predict exactly how each particular coating will wear over time, there are some finishes that have a better track record than others.  I recently conducted an experiment of my own to test the durability of some of the popular coatings in both Czech Glass and Miyuki Seed Beads.

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Galvanized Smoky Mauve & Duracoat Galvanized Champagne Miyuki Seed Beads

THE EXPERIMENT

I began by selecting a number of colors of DiscDuo bead.  I selected this bead for it’s flat surface.  This allows for more of the bead to have contact with my skin allowing for maximum wear.  I also selected Duracoat Galvanized Champagne and Galvanized Dusty Mauve to test the durability of Galvanized compared to Duracoat Galvanized.

I used peyote stitch to create my project.  Using 4 of each color DiscDuo, I worked my pattern keeping each set of 4 together.  This allowed the color blocks to be compared easily from week to

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week.  The Miyuki seed beads were alternated in stripes at the beginning and end of my project and throughout the peyote stitch.  The length of the experiment ran for 30 days, wearing the bracelet about 5 days per week (and occasionally in the shower).

THE RESULTS : CZECH COATINGS

After the 30 days were up, I documented the bracelet for the last time.  I compiled the photos that best showed the progress over time.

Bead Coatings
Colors listed in the left column show the most wear at that specific stage

 

TOP OFFENDERS

1. Capri Gold Full: This finish, on a jet color bead in this case, wore off the fastest of all the colors tested.  After only 2 days of wear, it was obvious that is was coming off quickly.  After the 30 day mark, almost all of the coating was off on the side of the bracelet that had been worn facing my skin.

2. Amber:  Amber’s change was less noticeable since it was over a crystal bead and the contrast was less striking.  The wear was slightly less than the Capri Gold, but still showing signs of wear at day 2.

3. Sunset: Crystal Sunset was the third color to start showing signs of wear.  Similar to the Capri Gold and Amber, it was almost completely gone from some beads at the end of 30 days.

4. Crystal Sliperit Matted: It was a surprise to me that this color wore off as much as it did.  The other matte color I used, Vitrail Matte, did not show any signs of wear.  At the end of 30 days, the color seemed to have rubbed off the surface, but some had remained in the crevices of the textured (matted) surface.

5. Aztec Gold: The previous colors mentioned seemed to gently rub off over time, however the Aztec Gold was more susceptible to getting scratches.  At the end of my experiment, there was some noticeable wear from rubbing against my skin, but very little in comparison to Capri Gold, Amber, or Sunset.

 

THE RESULTS: MIYUKI GALVANIZED COATINGS

As I expected, the Miyuki Duracoat Galvanized coatings showed much less wear than the Galvanized.  On the Galvanized seed beads, the color at the end of 30 days was either

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The Galvanized seed beads have almost completely lost their color.

flaking off or completely off all the beads.  The color did hold up better in areas where there was less chance for beads to rub against each other or my skin.

The area of most wear was the loop I created for the button closure.  The Galvanized Smoky Mauve is much lighter, or gone, on the beads of this color used in the loop.  This is most clearly seen on the bead at the very bottom of the picture to the right.

LESSONS LEARNED

While there are many factors that play into how well the finish of a bead will hold up over time, you don’t have to feel completely helpless when you select the colors for your next project.  My experiment showed that some colors were very resistant to wear.  Coatings that appear thicker and slightly matted tend to hold up well, like the Pastel Light Green, Aztec Gold, and Metallic Violet.  The Azuro, Marea, and Hematite coatings also held up very well.  Lusters, represented by Teal and Lila Vega, did fairly well, too.

Keep in mind that it isn’t only the coating itself that is the cause of discoloration or wear.  Other factors may include:

  1. The amount of moisture to which the beads are exposed
  2. Your skins pH balance
  3. Conditions in which the jewelry is stored when not worn
  4. Exposure to sharp edges (like keys in your purse)
  5. Topical skin creams and make up you use
  6. Exposure to cleaning chemicals

Every person is different, just as every coating is different.  The chemical ingredients in each coating react in their own way to all these outside influences.  No one can predict how well a coating will wear over time, but you can learn from your own experience and reduce the wear to which your jewelry is exposed.

For those of you who want to reduce the risk of wear and discoloration to 0%, plain

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Right to Left: Red, Op Turquoise, Amber, Op Blue, Violet, Op Jade

opaque or transparent colors are the way to go.  The color in these beads is not on the surface, but in the glass used to make the bead.  If the bead is cracked in two, the color will be the same all the way through.  All beads start out as a transparent or opaque color, but some have coatings applied to the outside.

In an upcoming blog, you’ll learn more about the Czech coatings from a scientific point of view.  There are a few different processes that are used as well as an array of chemicals used.  Don’t worry – there wont be a test later 🙂  Understanding the meticulous, lengthy process each bead has to go through will give you a better appreciation of the final product.

Happy Beading!

-Anna Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rivoli, Chaton, Montee Oh MY!

Crystals are frequently used in the vast world of jewelry making. They can be stunning without carrying the hefty price tag of real gemstones. Whether set in a metal bezel, embedded in surrounding beads or hung by a bail, there are an infinite number of ways to incorporate them into a piece.

Obviously, there are crystal beads — those that contain a hole for stringing wire or thread.  But what about the crystals without holes?  How do you know what you are looking for and what shape crystal to get for a specific project? A few months ago this was the topic of one of my Facebook Live session.  There are so many sizes, shapes and cuts that the crystal varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.

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Crystal Sizes
Let’s first tackle the sizing issue.  Unlike beads, that are only measured in millimeter sizes, crystals without holes are often measured with an “SS” number.  “SS”, or Stone Size.  These SS sizes refer to the hole-less crystals often refereed to as rhinestones.  To help convert the SS sizing to millimeters I have created the chart below:

Rhinestone Crystal SS to Millimeter Conversation Chart

Size in Millimeters Stone Size Size in Millimeters Stone Size
1.5-1.7mm 4 SS 5.9-6.1mm 28 SS
2.3-2.5mm 8 SS 6.3-6.5mm 30 SS
3.0-3.2mm 12 SS 7.1-7.3mm 34 SS
3.4-3.6mm 14 SS 8.4-8.7mm 40 SS
4.2-4.4mm 18 SS 8.9-9.2mm 42 SS
4.6-4.8mm 20 SS 9.5-9.9mm 44 SS
5.3-5.4mm 24 SS 10.9-11.3mm 48SS

The Potomac Bead Company carries a variety of crystals without holes such as pointed back, rivolis and chatons, as well as flat backs.  These come in a plethora of sizes and colors and are produced by Swarovski, Preciosa and PotomacBeadss.  In some beading patterns, these shapes are referred to specifically by name and SS size.  However, other patterns will simply state a millimeter size and general shape description such as “round”. Knowing the difference between the most popular crystal shapes and the SS description (in chart above) will make it easier for you to search for your supplies.  Here are some of the basic crystal shapes we carry at The Potomac Bead Company:

  • RIVOLI: Their key characteristic is the faceting, like a tradition round brilliant diamond, that comes to a center point in both the front and back of the stone… faceting is completely balanced on both sides.   The sparkle is often enhanced by a silver coating on the back. The most common sizes of the Rivoli shape is in millimeter sizes 10-18mm.  At The Potomac Bead Company, our most commonly ordered size of Rivoli is 14mm which also, the size we most commonly use in our YouTube video designs.

Rivoli Peacock Bracelet or Necklace Tutorial      Rivoli Oasis Pendant Tutorial

  • CHATON: Like the rivoli this shape comes to a center point at the back of the stone, but features a partially flat front.  The chaton is generally smaller and measured in SS sizes ranging from ss20-ss47.  There are also smaller sizes that are commonly used for clothing an other decorations.  You will also want to note that the back of the chaton comes to a more drastic cone shaped point (a steeper angle) than the rivoli.

Northern Lights Necklace Tutorial            North Star Pendant Tutorial

  • FLAT BACK: As the name suggests, these crystals are flat on the back and often plateau on the top.  They are traditionally the smallest in size and style of crystals starting at 4SS.  These are used often in the fashion industry and are glued to the desired surface. As you  can see below with our flat back Chessboard Crystals.

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Flat Back Rhinestone Sizes

  • ROSE MONTEE: The Rose Montee is actually a setting that contains a flat back crystal.  Again, this is commonly referred to as both the size of the crystal it contains, in an SS measurement as well as a millimeter measurement for the entire piece, including the metal setting.  Often, the rose montee will have a cross section setting in which the back of the metal looks like an X with two holes for the stringing material to pass through.

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While the rivoli and the chaton shapes are round, there are also other crystal shapes in both pointed and flat back.  These include oval, navette, square and rectangular shapes.  When they are a non rounded shape, the crystals are most often measured in millimeters.

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Potomac Exclusive Crystal Shapes

-Kimrie Merrill, Allie Buchman, & Ashley Krzanowski