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.  In Europe, get AVA beads here.

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. In Europe, get ZoliDuo beads here.ZoliDuo Beads

3) IrisDuo Beads
IrisDuo beads were first produced by Potomac Bead Company in July 2017.  (In Europe get IrisDuo here).  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.  You can also get RounDuo beads in Europe 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.  Find DiscDuo beads in Europe 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.  For EU, get them here.
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

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

New Gemstone Shipment

A new gemstone shipment just arrived to our warehouse last week, and has been separated, photographed, and sent out to each of the retail stores.

We have dozens of new shapes in this order, including multi-faceted gemstone nuggets, wave discs, two hole discs, faceted barrels, turtles, faceted diamonds, and more.

The stones include Amazonite, Amethyst, Abalone, Antiqued Jade, Aquamarine, Aquad Jade, Azurite, Brown Amazonite, Bamboo Leaf Agate, Banded Agate, Black Labradorite, Black Moss Agate, Black Onyx, Blood Agate, Bloodstone, Blue Apatite, Blue Aventurine, Blue Candy Jade, Blue Crazy Lace Agate, Blue Goldstone, Blue Kyanite, Blue Lace Agate, Blue Onyx, Blue Agate, Blue Sponge Coral, Blue Tigereye, Blueberry Quartz, Botswana Agate, Bronzite, Brown Agate,
Coral, Candy Jade, Carnelian, Cherry Quartz, Tiger Cherry Quartz, Calcite, Citrine, Colorful Jade, Crazy Lace Agate, Dumortierite, Fire Agate, Fluorite, Garnet, Goldstone, Green Banded Agate, Green Crazy Lace, Green
Goldstone, Green Kyanite, Green Onyx, Green Tourmalated Quartz, Green Nephrite Jade, Green Opal, Magnetic Hemetite, Howlite, Impression Stone, Labradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Lemon Agate (banded), Malachite, Moonstone, Opalite, Moss Agate,
New Jade, Red O
cean Agate, Ocean Jasper, Olive Jade, Opal Jasper, Orange Agate, Oyster Opal Agate, Peacestone, Picture Jasper, Pietersite, Pineapple Quartz, Purple Crazy Lace Agate, Pink Crazy Lace, Pyrite, Rutilated Quartz, Rainbow Jasper, Red Crazy Lace Agate, Red Jasper, Red Turquoise, Rhodonite, Rhodochrosite, Rose Quartz, Orange Sardonyx, Serpentine Jade, Silver Leaf Agate, Silver Smoke Jasper, Sky Quartz, Soapstone, Sodalite, Tibetan Style, Tigereye, Red Tigereye, Tourmalated Quartz, Unakite, White Coral, White Lace Agate.

To see photos from the shipment, visit our New Gemstone Page, or follow our twitter posts (@potomacbeads) for more frequent updates.