Seed Beads: How to Create Beaded Jewelry that Lasts

Seed Beads: How to Create Beaded Jewelry that Lasts


It can be frustrating when new jewelry starts to fade or chip soon after purchase. When I first began making seed bead jewelry, I noticed that some pieces continued looking perfect, while others quickly faded or chipped.


I love creating pieces that can be worn all day and even in water, as you'll see on my beaded jewelry website Strands and Bands by Fran. To ensure the durability of the jewelry I create, I conduct extensive research and personal experiments to identify beads that can withstand daily wear without fading or chipping.


Whether you're a designer or a hobbyist, to make sure your beaded jewelry stands the test of time, it's essential to conduct some research and experimentation. Here's a selection of my strategies:


Methods for Evaluating the Resilience of Beads:


Bead Manufacturer Durability Charts:

Before purchasing or using seed beads in my jewelry, I try to look up the specific bead colors and styles on the manufacturers' websites to determine the rating level for durability under various conditions.


For example, this is the Miyuki Delica Color & Durability tool. Here I can look up every bead by item number and assess its durability in different situations like sun exposure, rubbing, dry cleaning, skin acid, regular use, and more.


Bead Store Durability Analysis:

Several articles on this topic have been published by bead supply stores. Many of the sites I frequent for bead purchases also provide information on the durability of different seed bead brands and finishes. I always conduct thorough research before buying new styles, colors, finishes, or brands of beads. Some of these sites are Fire Mountain Gems, Aura Crystals, and Caravan Beads.


Personal Experimentation/First-Hand Exploration:

For every bead I use, whether it's a new brand, color, or finish, I create a sampler bracelet to test it out (see photos). I photograph and document the lot numbers of each bead in the order they appear on the sampler to ensure I can track any fading.


I test the product by wearing it continuously for several weeks, ensuring that it comes into contact with water, soap, lotions, sunblock, and perfumes. If feasible, I even wear it in a pool or ocean. Otherwise, I immerse it in salt water.


I document any changes like fading, chipping, skin irritation, etc., and label the containers of beads that didn't hold up so I remember not to use or buy them again.

Challenges/Summary of Bead Durability Testing:

  1. Different beads may fade at varying rates when exposed to water and soap. Certain finishes fade rapidly, while others fade more gradually and may necessitate additional time to completely fade. This process can be time-consuming to observe and comprehend.
  2. Evaluating beads for chipping can be difficult as it often happens with friction, which is a challenge to expose the sampler to.
  3. Plated beads may react differently to individual skin acids, making it difficult to predict their reaction for everyone.
  4. Some glass seed beads, like all jewelry, may develop slight imperfections or gradually fade over time. I continue to use these beads because the changes are slow and subtle and even add character.
  5. In summary, these research and sampling techniques help me achieve my objective of avoiding beads that quickly fade or chip, thus allowing me to create handmade beaded jewelry that is durable, long-lasting, and waterproof.

Have a question about the Strands and Bands by Fran beaded jewelry collection or about topics in this article? Email today.

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