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

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Review of Popular Bead Coatings and their Durability”

  1. Since there are very clear differences in the wear of the finishes, why isn’t this indicated as part of the description of the bead? It isn’t just the investment of $, but the amount of time to make something. For those of us who sell our creations, it would badly damage our rep if the product sold had such severe color fade. Perhaps there are brands to avoid? I really appreciate this article, but it did leave me with HUH? how to I know until after I have used a fade-prone product? Is there a wear standard for color coated beads like there is for fabric? There should be.

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    1. Many of these coatings have been around for decades, but nobody else (manufacturers, distributors) are doing any testing on them. Because of that, we are the first company to really begin testing coatings. It will take some time to share these types of reviews across tens of thousands of different products. Even with that, these results are with one specific test, and not dozens of tests on different people with different skin chemistry.

      Beading is a much smaller and newer industry than textiles, which go back thousands of years and compose a significant part of most countries economies. There are dozens of coatings, hundreds of manufacturers, tens of thousands of retailers. We are trying to make the first small steps in terms of make a more comprehensive form of testing since we are one of the few companies vertically integrated in each portion of the market. But, we are still a small company, so this will certainly take time to do the jobs that should really be done by the larger companies at the top of the supply chain.

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  2. I appreciate Potomac’s honesty in this coating test and putting it out there for the world to see. Czech dual coatings also do not last and I learned the hard way after making some jewelry for a customer and it rubbed off almost immediately. What I do now, is tell a customer that some jewelry should not get wet, be worn when exercising (yoga), and refrain from wearing body lotion. That’s a lot of conditions when I’m trying to sell. I agree that this should be indicated in the description of the bead so I have all the details before spending my hard-earned money. A buyer beware, per se. Miyuki’s Unions Aluminum coating also does not wear well and started chipping off before I even wore the item. Thanks, I look forward to more tests.

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  3. I realize some of these beautiful beads have their “issues”..but overall, Czech beads are wonderful to use. What I tell people who buy my jewelry, instead of saying, “don’t wear here” or “not if your gonna go there”, I say “my jewelry is perfect for lunch with the girls, dinner date with your man, church, or for some other type of special event, and like all costume jewelry its not for the pool, bath or shower. Beaders need not be so hard on themselves worrying about their reputation. Jewelry making is an art, not a science. We are artists. Anytime you buy jewelry at a Walmart (not their “fine” stuff, their stuff on the regular shelves) or Claire’s Boutique, you are gonna get the same kind of issues..bead color coatings changing, findings tarnishing, all that stuff! And usually when color coatings come off quickly on people, they usually have already experienced that before with other pieces so they won’t fault you for it. especially if they know it was something made with a lot of thought and affection.

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