The Top 18 Beads of 2018

Potomac Bead Company discusses which brands and shapes of beads were most popular at the end of 2017, and beginning of 2018.

Each year we are asked at “what are the most popular new products?”  Fortunately, we have a lot of data that helps to answer this question.

While these products are going to be based on sales volume, keep in mind that customer preferences still vary significantly.  What one person likes and uses might be completely different from what another individual might prefer.  Still, this information is drawn from the meta data from the past 12 months.  Some of these shapes might become even more popular in 2018, while others may dwindle… we will take a look again in 2019 at how things have changed!

1) AVA Beads
First produced by Potomac Bead Company in December 2016, this totally new bead shape has revolutionized creative shapes.  Each bead is hand pressed to create the thin and delicate profile.  Each AVA bead has 3 holes, size 10mm, and available in packs of 20.  Even in 2018, popularity for this fun AVA shape is still growing, and we expect AVA Beads to stay at #1 or 2 through 2019.  Browse here for projects using the AVA Bead.

2) ZoliDuo Beads
The paisley shaped ZoliDuo bead began making waves in the beading market in early 2018.  With both a left and a right version, this 2-hole bead offers some fun varieties of projects that you will love to make.  Each bead has a flat side and a puffed side.  5x8mm ZoliDuo right and left beads are sold in tubes of approximately 50 beads.ZoliDuo Beads

3) IrisDuo Beads
IrisDuo beads were first produced by Potomac Bead Company in July 2017.  This fun marquise 2-hole shape plays well with an incredible variety of other two hole beads, including each of Potomac’s other exclusive shapes.  One side is flat, and the other side is puffed.  Each bead is size 7x4mm, and contains approximately 50 beads per tube.  Need IrisDuo inspiration?
Slider - IrisDuo Launch

4) RounDuo® Beads
RounDuo® beads are one of Potomac Bead Company’s original shapes, released in 2014.  The RounDuo® is among the most useful 2-hole beads on the market, because it can be used with almost ANYTHING.  Each pack of RounDuo® contain 75 beads, and you can also get factory packs of 600.  You can find many dozens of patterns and tutorials with 5mm RounDuo® beads here.Slider-RounDuo4

5) DiscDuo® Beads
Potomac Bead Company’s 2-hole 6mm DiscDuo bead offers a puffed coin/disc shape that also makes a great replacement for any other 2-hole 6mm bead design (honeycomb, 2H Cab, etc.).  This popular bead has been produced by Potomac Bead Company since 2015, and is available in tubes of 50, or factory packs of 600. Get DiscDuo jewelry patterns here.Slider - DiscDuo

6) SuperDuo Beads
SuperDuo beads are among the original 2-hole beads that re-launched multi-hole bead weaving in 2011/2012.  This fun oval shape is pinched at both ends, allowing for a wide variety of flexibility in any design.  You can find thousands of patterns and tutorials using SuperDuo… particularly given how easy it is to use them with a wide variety of other bead shapes.  Each tube of SuperDuo beads contain approximately 175 beads.
Slider - SuperDuo

7) RounTrio® Beads
RounTrio® beads are another Potomac brand.  The RounTrio can serve like a larger RounDuo® bead, but also offers a third center hole should that be required for designs.  The RounTrio® also features both a smooth and a faceted RounTrio® (fire polished) version, making it the only fire polished multi-hole Czech bead.  RounTrio® beads are available in both packs of 50 & 300, and offer a wide variety of patterns.
Slider - RounTrio Beads
8) O Beads
Czech O beads make the perfect spacer for nearly any type of projects, whether you are stringing or beadweaving.  These beads have been available since 2013, but continue to be a favorite each and every year.  Each tube of O beads contains approximately 285 2x4mm beads.
Slider - O beads
9) DiamonDuo® Beads
The DiamonDuo ® bead has been very popular in recent years because it offers a faceted look to a 2-hole Czech bead.  This 5x8mm shape comes in tubes of approximately 56 beads, and you can find a wide variety of DiamonDuo® patterns here.
Slider - New DiamonDuo
10) 2-Hole Cabochons (Cabs)
Flat on one side and domed on the other, this 2-hole cabochon shape gives you a lot of flexibility in designs.  You can also use RounTrio beads in nearly any design that would call for a 2-hole cabochon.  Keep in mind there are 2 different sizes of 2H Cabs from two different suppliers.  The original cabochon is 6mm, and comes in tubes of approximately 30 beads.  The later 7mm Czechmates cabochon comes in packs of 25.  There is also now a 7mm “Baroque 2-Hole Cabochon,” also available in packs of 25.
Slider - 2-Hole Cabs 2

11) Arcos® Par Puca®
Arcos® Par Puca® are a unique 5x10mm 3-hole curved shape with a moon/macaroni/telephone shape.  Each tube of Arcos® contains approximately 34 beads.  Have fun with this unique Czech glass shape with all of these Arcos® jewelry-making patterns.
Arcos Par Puca
12) Tiles
CzechMates 2-hole 6mm tiles are another essential building block for dimensional beading.  Tiles are often used as base elements for a variety of bead weaving techniques.  Tubes of tiles contain approximately 42 beads.
Slider - Czechmates Tiles

13) MiniDuo Beads
MiniDuo beads are the smaller version (2x4mm) of the SuperDuo bead (2.5x5mm).  See this video that highlights the differences.  Each tube of MiniDuo beads contains approximately 190 beads.  Here is also a list of MiniDuo patterns.
MiniDuo Beads 180 Colors

14) Crescent Beads
Crescent beads are an incredibly fun orange slice/crescent moon shaped 2-hole Czech 3x10mm glass bead from CzechMates.  The Crescent was launched in February 2015, and we have loved creating beading patterns with this shape.  Each tube of Crescents contains approximately 75 beads per tube.
Slider - Crescent Beads 2

15) BowTrio Beads
Potomac Bead Company just launched the BowTrio in December of 2017, and within just a few months it had already become one of the fastest selling beads in company history.  A whole entire fun new line of metal beads is currently under production, and each will offer incredible opportunities just like this 3-hole 18x4mm shape.
Slider - BowTrio

16) Cali Beads
Cali beads offer a marquise shaped bead with the holes through its thicker profile.  These 3x8mm beads just came out in early 2017, and contain approximately 50 beads per tube.
Slider - Cali Beads New Colors

17) Kheops® Par Puca®
Kheops® beads and designs have been available since around 2013 (we don’t remember the exact date) and feature a 2 parallel holes through the equilateral sides.  The 6mm Kheops® shape is also available in a version called the “SuperKheops®”, which features a 3-sided pyramid style of pointed profile on one side.
Slider - Kheops New

18) 2-Hole Bar
The Czechmates 2-hole bar is another fun 2-hole staple that provides a great spacer or base component in beadweaving designs.  Each 2x6mm 2-Hole bar is approximately 1/2 the thickness of a brick, and 1/4 the thickness of a tile.   Like many of the top 18 shapes before it, you can find many tutorials and patterns that utilize the bar.
CzechMates 2-Hole Bars

In addition to the most popular current shapes, we are projecting that most of the following beads will rise in popularity through the rest of this year, and will likely make the top seller lists in 2019.  If you like to be on top of the latest trends, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of these awesome new shapes before anyone else!  In no particular order:

This will be Potomac Bead Company’s first exclusive shape of 2018, and is scheduled to become available in April.  Lots of designs are in the works, and we predict that this will be a top 3 shape by the end of the year!  StormDuo beads will be available in tubes of 80 beads, or factory packs of 600 beads.
StormDuo 3
A 2-hole drop shape bead available in the 3x6mm regular version, and a larger puffed, 4x7mm rounded top version.  Many of these colors have just arrived in the past week.
Slider - DropDuo Beads 2

Amos Par Puca
Like the DropDuo, the Amos is a 2-hole drop shape, but both flat and larger than either DropDuo style.  This size is 5x8mm and tubes contain approximately 45 beads.
Slider - Amos Par Puca

DiamonDuo Mini
The smaller version (4x6mm) of the DiamonDuo bead (5x8mm) is now here.  Not only does it work well with the original DiamonDuo, but the new size gives you a lot of flexibility with approximately 110 beads per tube.
Slider - DiamonDuo Mini

2-Hole Spacer Bezel
This Potomac Bead Company 2-hole metal bead has a setting for SS24 chatons.  You can quickly add beautiful crystal bezeled looks to your projects with these awesome beads.
Email - 2-Hole Spacer Bezel

S-Shape Snake
This of Potomac Bead Company’s new metal bead shapes being developed.  These fun high quality Zamak metal beads add a beautiful and wear-resistant metallic look to your projects.  We have generally been producing these metal beads in shapes that would not be possible with glass.

What shapes are your favorites?  As always, it is the customers and designers that determine what shapes become popular, and which do not.  Hopefully this list helps you determine what to prioritize when you are shopping for new supplies.

Happy beading!

-Nathan Buchman
Co-Founder, Potomac Bead Company

Bead Weaving Supplies 101

You may be new to beading (jewelry-making) and wonder what you need to to start beading as a hobby.  Perhaps you are an experienced beader but would like to share this knowledge with a friend… in either case, this article is just for you.

While there is an extensive range of excellent products available at The Potomac Bead 2242-2TCompany ( and, this article will help you to understand key items for beginners below.  Even if you ultimately choose to purchase one of  our pre-assembled beginner kits, it is essential to understand what these items are, and why we chose to include them.

In the vast world of jewelry making, the term “findings” is a comprehensive and  historical term, encompassing the multitude of components used to create finished jewelry.  The actual manufacturing and production of these findings is an entirely different and precursory step involving skilled artisans and tradespeople, blowing glass, shaping raw metals, and numerous other crafts.  Finally, the art of finished jewelry creation itself can be subdivided further; major types include wire working, leather working, stringing, and bead weaving.  Weaving can be done by loom or freehand (off-loom).  My passion is for off-loom bead weaving, so we will discuss those supplies here.

While one may spend hours browsing the endless supply of beads including our Potomac Exclusives, the other findings for a “basic starter kit” for beading should be simple and brief to gather.  Please note that when following one of our PBC video tutorials  or PDF patterns additional, specific materials may be required such as a particular size, width or color.

  • Bead Mat: the surface you will work on which literally helps keep your materials from1380-1 rolling away.  A common simple rectangular piece of felt will suffice.  These come in a variety of random colors like white, cream, blue, yellow or pink.  Bead Mats folds easily and without wrinkles for transport.  Potomac Bead Company also now stocks handmade Bead On It Boards 

    in various sizes, shapes and fabric designs.  The traditional grey plastic tray can also be  helpful for laying out and measuring design patterns.

  • NEEDLES: All needles are not created equally especially the size of the eye.  The important point here is to have a good quality beading needle that has enough flexibility for the novice hand but will not bend enough to warp the shape permanently.  It should also be long enough to firmly grasp anywhere but the sharp point.  As far as stringing,

    it will take some practice but size 10 is a good place to start, especially if avoiding the tiny 15.0 beads at first (requiring the thinner and more delicate size 12).  These days here at PBC we are fond of Pony needles, but we also stock and use other reputable brands, like Tulip Needles, John James, Big Eye, and Beadalon. Large eye needles do exist, but can be difficult to use and often produce more minor blood-letting  (aka finger pricks).  You will be better served by learning to thread needles, even if that requires some patience!


  • THREAD: There are many brands and types and we carry a wide selection here10407-2 at Potomac Bead Company. However, for the beginner, Beadalon Wildfire .006” (.15mm) is a versatile, yet hardy choice — one that fairly easy threads a size 10 needle.  It is thermally bonded and, for most basic projects, does not require waxing.  Aside from the standard black and white (usually known as frost or crystal) that are found in many stores, we also carry red, blue, grey, and green. Along with the different colors, there are differing lengths as well (50 and 125 yards).  We suggest starting with a 50 yard spool of white, black, grey, or green and testing to see how you like it.  Other thread choices will include Fireline, KO/Miyuki Thread, Hana Thread, One-G, Sono, and S-lon/C-lon.


  • BEAD SCOOP: The Scoop Eez an essential tool1381-1 used to easily gather, scoop, and control the beads on your mat.  Tweezers can usually wait beyond the beginner stage.


  • TOOL TO CUT WITH: Scissors can be quite small and portable (like the Slip-N-Snip.)1470  Thread cutters with covers are inexpensive but may lack the smooth and precise cutting blade/edge.  More experienced beaders may use a handy tool called a Thread Zapper  which cThread Zap IIan be used to cut a variety of threads and cording.


  • GLUE: Super New Glue is perfect for adding a drop to a knotted2927 end when finishing a project. It dries rapidly; just beware of its other adhesive properties if it ends up on skin (think Crazy or nail glue).  I would not recommend other types of craft adhesives on thread.


  • CLOSURES (CLASPS/TOGGLES/BUTTONS): Unless you plan to make a continuous Product Spotlight - New Cup Buttonsnecklace to fit over your head, some kind of connection  is needed between the two ends of your beading project when worn.  I would start with our 2-hole Cup Buttons  which come in many colors and hues.  You can even start with a variety pack of colors that will give you a lot of flexibility in your designs.  Cup buttons can also be used as beads.


  • BEADS: Once you have all of the basic tools, beads choices become the rest of your decisions.  I would recommend starting with a few colors of size 8/0 and 11/0 Miyuki Seed Beads.  Other simple one holed beads are the Czech Pearls or Faceted Rounds, which come in many different colors and finishes.  Sizes 3mm, 4mm, and 6mm will be most commonly used in patterns.  Likewise, Swarovski/Preciosa bicones will come in similar sizes and are also used in a lot of beginner projects.  Multi-holed beads are also extremely popular, but you might want avoid them as a beginner, until you feel more comfortable with the needle and thread.  Once you do, there are hundreds of patterns and tutorials from which you can choose which beads to start with!czech fire

                                                                                                                                          STITCHES: You may also wonder “what stitches are best for me to start with?”  There are a variety of different weaving stitches, and many projects will use multiple ones.  To start, we recommend you learn the following four stitches:

1) Flat Spiral:
2) Peyote Stitch:
3) Flat Herringbone Stitch:

4) Right Angle Weave (this is a good start project for RAW):

When you have mastered these four stitches, you can begin experimenting with variations on each of them, including tubular versions.  The sky is the limit now, and you will love growing as a jewelry-maker.

Remember, we are here for questions and advice. Happy beading!

-Kimrie at Potomac Bead Company

Seed Bead Sizing in the 21st Century

Recently, in the Potomac Bead Company’s private Facebook group, someone asked “What does the number mean when referencing seed beads?” So I set out to answer the sizing question in depth during a Facebook live session…

I work with these little marvels of glass every day and still had to do some research before having a detailed answer to provide fellow beaders.  Traditionally speaking, the number associated with the size of the seed bead has been explained to me time and time again as the number of beads per inch.  For example, in the 1800s when the sizing was loosely standardized, an 11/0 seed bead meant that there were approximately 11 tiny glass beads per inch, 8/0 has 8, ect.  However, that was in the 1800s.  Today production has become much more technologically advanced and precise, so these classic figures are no longer accurate.

In the pictures above, you can see the early 1900; Vintage strung seed beads (left) versus the Japanese, Miyuki 11/0 seed beads (right) in current production.  Notice how the vintage seed beads are so inconsistent in size and even in shape compared to the modern Japanese beads. Obviously, this will affect the actual size of the beads even though they may both be labeled as 11/0 seed beads.

After sharing this information, I had a comment on the Live video ( that stated the measurement should be done with the beads lying hole side sitting up.  I have never heard this as a measurement standard but thought I would look into it and do a little testing myself.  I could not find any historical information that verified this point of view, BUT, when laid on their side, the seed beads did have the number per inch closer to their size descriptions.  This is still not an accurate number.  For example, the Miyuki brand size 11/0 (which I tend to prefer) have 13 beads per inch when measured this way.  There is also historical thinking that the actual size of seed beads may have been named after the size of metal rod being used to create them.  Again we do not have significant data to determine this one way or the other.

For all design purposes however, I prefer to know the number of beads per inch when strung… after all it is the thickness of a bead that will generally determine how it works in a pattern.   Determining these measurements will answer the next question, “are different brands of seed beads interchangeable in patterns?”

With this in mind, I set out to determine how accurate are the numbers associated with the sizing of seed beads — How do different seed beads vary by the most popular manufactures?  I took a head pin and grabbed a tube of each of the post popular sizes, and further the different sizes across brands.  The cart and pictures below show the results of this stringing.  Obviously, there was a difference in the number of beads per inch by sizes, but also by manufacturer.

Czech Seed Beads Matubo Beads & Miyuki Delicas Sizing

Toho 8/0 = 13 beads per inch
Toho 11/0 = 17 beads per inch
Toho 15/0 = 22 beads per inch
Toho Demi Round 8/0 = 21 beads per inch Toho Demi Round 11/0 =
26 beads per inch
Miyuki 8/0 = 13 beads per inch
Miyuki 11/0 = 19 beads per inch
Miyuki 15/0 = 24 beads per inch
Miyuki Spacer 8/0 = 21 beads per inch Miyuki Spacer 11/0 = 27 beads per inch
Czech 8/0 = 15 beads per inch Czech 11/0 = 19 beads per inch Czech Charlottes 15/0 = 28 beads per inch Czech O Beads = 21 beads per inch
Matubo 8/0 = 12 beads per inch Miyuki 11/0 Delicas = 20 beads per inch

The difference in the number of beads per inch varied enough for me to conclude that there is not an actual industry standard, rather a manufacturer standard for each size.  Yes, an 11/0 seed bead is roughly the same size across the board, but there are slight size differences.  In additional to a slight difference in the size of the beads and number per inch by manufacturer, the hole sizes of the beads also differ based on brand.  Across all of their sizes, Toho seed beads have a larger hole then the competitor brands, (Miyuki and the Czech seed beads). This means that the wall of the seed bead is generally more cylindrical on a Toho seed bead vs. a Miyuki seed bead of the “same” size.   Additionally, due to this larger hole, the Toho 15/0 seed bead is much less rounded then the Miyuki 15/0 and looks more cylindrical.

Miyuki and Toho Seed Bead Sizing Per Inch

The biggest variation of the size is actually in the smallest bead.  The 15/0 size seed bead has the greatest variance in the number of beads per inch based on the manufacturer.  Why does this matter? For most projects, Toho and Miyuki brand seed beads size 8/0 & 11/0 can be used interchangeably with very little impact on the final look of the piece.  However, I have found that the difference in the shape and the size of the 15/0 seed bead can impact the design.  Therefore, if a pattern calls for a specific brand of 15/0 seed, this will make a significant impact on the design of the piece.

Also, while testing out the size  8, 11, and 15 sized seed beads I also grabbed a tube of the newer, thinner, Demi Rounds by Toho and the Spacer Beads by Miyuki.  These two beads are a slimmer versions of their most popular sizes, the  8/0 and 11/0.  They are essentially, the original seed bead sliced in half.  Fortunately in this case, the sizes are almost identical.  This makes it very easy to use a Demi Round in place of a Spacer bead or vice versa.

O Beads Demi Round & Spacers Sizing

Similar in shape to the Toho Demi Round and the Miyuki Spacer bead is the Czech O Bead.  While measuring and testing which beads are interchangeable, I also examined how many of the O beads stack in an inch to compare it the Japanese versions.

I also tested the Miyuki Delica bead in 11/0.  The Delica bead is, in my option, the most precise bead manufactured and has little to no imperfections in a tube.  The Delica bead is tubular in shape vs. the more rounded shape of a standard seed bead.  Miyuki Delica does not have a real replacement option when a pattern calls for it to be used.  Do not attempt to use any other 11/0 seed bead because it will not have the same look and may not work for many patterns.

Overall, finding out how many seed beads where in an inch across the major brands and sizes is incredibly helpful. While the number of beads per inch may not be exactly 8, 11, 15 ect. the sizes across the brands is fairly consistent.  In many patterns, designs or ideas, Toho, Miyuki, & Matubo (Czech) seed beads will be fairly interchangeable.  Regardless of how the idea for seed bead “8/0” “11/0” “15/0” sizing evolved over several hundred years, I am very happy we have sooo many styles of seed beads today.  These tiny beauties are the fuel to our creativity, and the bead world would not be the same without them!

Happy beading!

-Allie Buchman



Miyuki Bead Sizing Chart:
Miyuki Beads

Toho Bead Sizing Chart:
Toho Beads

How to choose colours for your next jewellery-making project

Sometimes I find myself having some limited amount of spare time where the best way to spend it is, of course, beading. But not every time I have any projects ready that I can continue working on, or any particular project I would like to work on right now. I just want to start something new.

Let’s say I have a nice cabochon, a crystal, a pendant, a charm, anything I like and want to use. That’s a good start, so let’s choose the rest of beads to go with it. Oh, wait. I need to choose the right colours too. And at this point, one can become filled with frustration, and quit. I guess every person sometimes struggles with the same issue. Fortunately, there are some beading colour selection tips that can help if you find yourself lost in all those shiny hues, shades and tones.

First, decide how many colours you want to use for your project. Ask yourself these questions to influence your final decision:

  • What kind of jewellery do you want to create? Is it a necklace, a bracelet, or a pair of earrings?
  • For what occasion is this piece of jewellery made? Should it be made in versatile hues for every day casual wear, a bit crazy and colourful for occasional wear, or a shiny piece for some special event?
  • Will I need to purchase a nice piece of clothing that needs matching jewellery? Or do I already have some piece of clothing I can wear it with my project-to-be?
  • Have I already chosen a central cabochon to start with? What colours go with it?
  • Do I have enough beads to finish this project?

Those are only some helpful thoughts that can help guide your decisions. Depending upon how many answers you gathered up until now, you can then choose the number of colours to work with.  You may also want to check out our blog post about keeping up with new bead shapes.


For somebody, the ultimate go-to idea and easiest to work with. For me personally, there is no such thing as one colour. I can’t work with simply one colour, but I can imagine working with different tones, even when talking about black. It is so easy to get lost in today’s huge variety of beads, but it also provides us with great jewellery-making colour options to narrow things down (and still have so much to work with).

Combination of smooth/frosted/matte finish

Surprisingly simple, but varying matte or frosted finishes with smooth or shiny bead ones offers so much potential – that’s the great combo of smooth and frosted surface. It goes especially for black, but works miracles in almost every beading colour combination.

Tone on tone

You have one favourite colour, but so many different shades of beads? Technically, this option shouldn’t be in one colour section since you will be actually working on a monochromatic scale, but who cares, this is your chance to use lots of your favourite beads! However, be careful.  This can be a bit more complicated simply because not every green bead looks great with the other. If you feel helpless, keep it simple, use maximum of five different shades that go well with each other.


Shades of grey and more

If I am in a hurry trying to choose two colours for my project as quickly as I can, I usually go for one “neutral” and a distinctive colour. In other words, the first colour is usually black, white, or grey, the other one can be anything. Then it’s up to you how dominant your neutral colour will be. Are you going to use just a splash or will that colour prevail in your project?

We love metallic finishes

I don’t know how about you, but metallic finishes are my favourite. They are so easy to work with and they look amazing almost every time! Especially the classic “metals” – silver, gold, copper. Then you have brass, nickel, pewter… You can mix just them and you are set! You want to use your favourite colour for your project and want it to stand out? Add some beads in metallic silver or gold finishes and you are all set!


One, two, three?

When two is not enough, and yet you feel like three distinct colours are too much? Meet halfway! Find a complementary colour that is somewhere in between those two and create a visually pleasing transition from one colour to the other. I could write poems about this option!


Use colours of your central piece

Above we discussed choosing a cabochon or other (central focus) material to work with first. All you have to do then is to choose beads to go with it. You can use some of the tricks from above – add black, grey, silver or gold. Those usually work in 90% of cases. Nevertheless, you don’t have to JUST draw upon the colours dictated by your primary design components.

The ultimate hack

Still lost? Or you want to use more colours then just three. Even for such a crisis, I have a solution: it is called HSL model. I won’t bother you with the detailed information (that will require a whole separate blog post), but know that it can be very useful for you. It will help you decide what colour is complementary to your chosen colour. It will also show kinds of colour harmony – you can go with monochromatic, analogous, triadic, tetradic, … You can simply type into Google “interactive colour wheel” or “colour calculator” and you’re set! Choose your colour, then pick the harmony, and the app will show the results to you. Then, it is only up to YOU as to how you will mix it up 😊

Some links at the calculators:

I hope this post has been some help to you – helping you to spend less time pondering over the infinite colour combinations, and more time beading!

-Tereza Drábková
Potomac Bead Company Europe


Dealing with New Beads & Shapes

How a jewelry-designer can sensibly manage the growth of new jewelry-making supplies

It is now 2018, and 6 years have passed since the launch of the Twin Bead & SuperDuo. In that time, multi-hole beads (and other new single hole bead shapes) have become the rage in jewelry and bead weaving design around the world.  Some people LOVE this.  They enjoy playing with the latest and greatest jewelry-making supplies from around the world.

Others hate this trend, and longingly wish for the return of the 1980s and 1990’s when almost everything revolved around Miyuki Delicas and crystal bicones.  Probably much of this frustration is actually caused by the large stockpiles that many beaders and jewelry-designers have built with those two original product lines.

— What is new and what isn’t —
Although many new shapes have been recently developed from 2012 – 2018, a common misconception is that ALL of the shapes are new.  In many cases, manufacturers are going back to old bead molds from the 1920s-1960s and remaking classic shapes.  In effect, this is just a new trademarked name on an old product.  This is true of a variety of popular bead shapes like the O Bead, DiamonDuo/GemDuo, Candy bead, 2-Hole Lentil, and many other shapes.

Other bead shapes are new.  For example Potomac Bead Company has put a lot of effort into creating new molds and shapes for popular bead products like the IrisDuo, RounDuo, DiscDuo, AVA Bead, and RounTrio.  Other products like the CzechMates Crescent, QuadraTile, Arcos Par Puca, Spiky Button, and ZoliDuo are also all newly designed bead shapes.

….read this post to learn more about how Czech Beads are made.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”

— Change, and how to cope —
Whether we like it or not, the bead world will continue to grow and change over time.  New products will constantly be developed.  Some will be wildly successful… others will fade into oblivion.  Much of the success or failure of any new bead shape depends upon how bead and jewelry-designers use those latest beads in their designs.

So  how does this impact you?  To start, take a look at each new product and do the following:

1) Consider “Do I like this bead and does it give me ideas?”  If the answer is no, then you are probably safe to simply skip that bead and find another.  If you find a new bead design intriguing:

2) Buy a few flexible colors of new shapes.  Silver, gold, bronze, copper, black, white are good starting colors for any bead shape.  They will easily blend with other bead colors in your designs.  Buying a handful of colors gives you the opportunity to test how much you really like new shape without spending too much buying products you might not use later.  At least with Potomac Bead Company products, nothing will be eliminated right away once launched, so you will have some time to make decisions.
Flexible Colors

3) Make unique creations.  Demand for patterns, ideas, and inspiration is at a premium in the first 3-6 months after a new shape has been released.  By being someone who is experimenting with new shapes and colors before many other people, that can position your designs in the market at a time when few other patterns have yet been created.
— Finding resources and inspiration  —
Of course, perhaps you don’t like to design on your own, and would prefer to make beaded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, or rings once other people have created patterns.  If you are interested in specific new shapes, you will want to first subscribe to Potomac Bead Company’s YouTube channel.  Potomac Bead Company is most often the first company to come out with new free patterns… a variety of designers work at Potomac Bead Company’s headquarters, and even more around the world work with Potomac to create new inspiration.

You can also set up Google alerts by email to notify you when specific terms become available.  For example if you are interested in finding patterns for the new IrisDuo bead that Potomac Bead Company released in 2017, you can set up Google alerts to notify you when the terms “IrisDuo” “Bead” and “Pattern” are found together.  Pinterest boards, Potomac Bead Company’s private Facebook group, and the websites of your favorite designers are also other great places to check regularly to see what is new.

Picking colors (link)
Picking bead colors is always a popular topic discussed, and one worth noting when it comes to new bead shapes.  You may be interested in reading a blog from Potomac Bead Company’s Tereza on this topic on combining colors.

Generally, Potomac Bead Company will consistently launch new shapes with the same consistent popular color selection.  These will usually include:
*Aztec Gold, Vintage Copper, Copper, Aluminum Silver, Zinc Iris, Lava Red, Ancient Gold, Crystal Labrador Full, Crystal Capri Gold, Crystal Amber, Jet, Jet Bronze, Jet Hematite, Jet Red Luster, White, White Lila Luster, White Baby Blue Luster, White Teal Luster, and White Lila Vega Luster.
Starting Colors

Depending on the shape, additional colors and metallic finishes may also be launched at the start.  Other factories and bead producers do similar things, often launching with many of the same popular bead colors.

What are your favorite colors?  Do you try to maintain consistent colors across many different bead shapes in your collection?  That is always a good place to start…  as new patterns become available, having a few flexible colors in your pallet will help you to begin creating right away!  Over time, as more beading patterns become available for any new bead shape, you can later indulge by adding more varied colors to your own personal bead collection.  Keep in mind also that most new beads will launch with 20-40 colors… over the next year that number almost always grows as the bead shape gains traction in bead stores and bead sites around the world.

Of course, if a new bead does not sell well, sometimes that shape may maintain a very simple color selection, or could also be eliminated over time by the manufacturer.  If you ever wonder how popular shapes are, take a look at Potomac Bead Company’s Czech Beads pages to see how many colors you can find.  Generally the more colors you find, that indicates that the shape is more popular.  Other slower movers may have more limited selection, and you can always contact Potomac Bead Company to ask for more detailed forecasts for specific bead shapes.

Flexibility in Designs

Observing, testing, and experimenting.

As you design, bead, and make your own jewelry, there are three essential processes to remember that will help you to stay up-to-date on the latest beading trends and jewelry-making trends.

1) Observing: Watch what is happening in the beading world, particularly from bead industry leaders like Potomac Bead Company.  Subscribing to this blog will help to keep you up to date, and receiving Potomac Bead Company emails will help to keep you informed about what is new in the industry.  Of course, the 2-3x weekly free patterns on the YouTube channel will also help to feed your creative side ;).  Other resources around the web, magazines, blogs, and more will also help to keep you updated about what is happening in beading in 2018, 2019, and beyond.

2) Testing & Experiementing: Be willing to test assumptions and ideas about what works for you.  Whether you are just a hobbyist, or even sell your handmade beadingPendant creations, it is important to push your boundaries.  Not only is it fun to learn new skills and work with new products, but doing so is good for your health and creative side.  Experimentation is essential for the modern beader… jewelry making is always changing, so a willingness to test new ideas, new products, and new techniques makes every single one of us more complete.



At Potomac Bead Company, we are looking forward to the next few years challenging ourselves to constantly produce new inspiration for each of our customers.  We love being a part of the larger jewelry-making community.  The challenges of stocking over 50,000 products gives a lot of opportunities to experiment with new beads, shapes, and colors.  It also means we must be very careful in not biting off more than we can chew.  Thanks for reading, and we enjoy having your on this beading journey with us!

by Nathan Buchman
Co-founder, Potomac Bead Company


New Multi-Hole Beads of 2015

Multi-hole beads of 2015!

2-hole beads, 4-hole beads… what is next?  While we have a lot of new designs currently in production, we also carry nearly every other multi-hole bead available in our stores, and at  Would you like to see a list of what is available in 2-hole and 4-hole bead shapes?

Launched so far in 2015 are the following…

CzechMates Crescent bead:
A two-hole crescent moon shape, 3x10mm
Crescent beads available here

Kheops Par Puca bead:
A two-hole triangle shape, 6mm
Kheops Par Puca beads available here

Potomac Bead Company’s RounDuo bead:

A two-hole round bead, 5mm
RounDuo beads available here

CzechMates QuadraTile:
A square shape/tile bead with four holes, 6mm
QuadraTile beads available here

CzechMates QuadraLentil:
Like the QuadraTile, this is a four hole bead, but in a disc/lentil shape, 6mm
QuadraLentil beads available here

Half Moon Beads:Another new moon shape bead, but instead of a crescent, it half a thicker half-circle shape, 4x8mm
Half moon beads available here

Es-O beads:
This new bead is like a mix between a RounDuo and SuperDuo, giving a round pinched feel to a disc shape bead, 5mm
Es-O beads available here

CzechMates 2-hole bar:
Another new CzechMates bead, this in a bar shape, 2x6mm
2-hole bar beads available here

… and we have more on the way, so stay tuned!

RounDuo Beads: 2-Hole 5mm Round Beads

RounDuo beads are Potomac Bead Company’s latest creation, and using these amazing new two-hole round pressed Czech glass beads, we are creating dozens of new classes, patterns, and tutorials.  Get yours today by visiting a Potomac Bead Company retail store near you, or by shopping online from!