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Metal beads are versatile staples in
. They can be used as spacers or primary components in beaded, wire wrapped and
. Precious metals, such as
, offer luxury and a timeless, classic appeal. Base metal beads like
offer affordability and, with a wide array of plating options, a variety of colors from which to choose. Round beads, flat spacers, cubes, fluted beads, rondelles - we have every shape and size metal bead you need to complete your next
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About Metal Beads
In recent years as the prices of sterling silver and gold have skyrocketed, base metal beads have gained popularity because of their low price point. In addition, because of the variety of finishes, shapes and sizes, base metal beads offer you more options than ever in your designs.
So... What exactly are metal beads made of and why are there just so many options when it comes to metal beads? While sterling silver and gold are considered precious metals, there are also base metal beads that are less expensive and more plentiful. Many base metals are plated, offering extensive color and finishing options. Plus, the advancements made in the plating process itself have allowed us more high quality options than ever for in our jewelry designs. And then there are still your classic sterling silver and gold filled options, for those of you who want nothing but the best!
Antique Brass Beads:
Antique brass is a brass plating that has been darkened to look antique. Antique brass beads are fairly neutral in color, allowing them to act as spacers or accents for many
. Because of its neutral color and vintage finish, antique brass also works well with gunmetal beads and findings.
Antique Copper Beads:
No matter what the base metal is, antique copper plated beads have a thin layer of a copper plating that has been chemically altered to look weathered and antiqued. Antique copper beads offer one of the most popular and versatile finishes available today. Because of its warm reddish-brown color, antique copper works well with gemstones and crystals of all colors, and is especially nice with earth tones.
Copper is a reddish metal that is soft and malleable and a great heat conductor, making it perfect to use as a base metal or in an alloy of metals. In mines where large concentrations of copper are found, you will often find gemstones whose color variations and striations are affected by the presence of copper. Because of its color, copper offers nice contrast to blue
beads. It works well with earthy gemstones and can be used as spacers between glass pearls and crystals.
Gold Filled Beads:
Gold filled beads, also known as rolled gold, are base metal beads that are created with a layer of solid gold bonded to a base metal. This means that, unlike plated beads, the gold is part of the bead formation process. Most of our gold filled beads are made with 14 karat gold incorporated into brass based metals.
Gold Plated Beads:
Gold plated beads are a great alternative to gold filled beads. Because gold plated beads are created with a thin coating of gold as opposed to a process that bonds gold to the base metal, they are less expensive. You can use gold plated beads anywhere you would use gold or gold filled; they are especially great with jewel tones such as amethyst, ruby, sapphire and emerald.
Originally, gunmetal was given its name because it was a metal used to make guns. It consisted of several base metals and was brassy in color. Today, gunmetal is a plating that is almost black in color; in fact, it is sometimes referred to as black oxide. Gunmetal beads can have a shiny, metallic finish similar to hematite in color or a more matte finish. For contrast in your designs, pair gunmetal beads with silver plated chain, findings and pendants. For a more harmonious, romantic, soft, antique look, try pairing gunmetal beads with antique brass findings and components.
The base metal pewter is usually at least 85% tin with mixed with traces of copper or silver. Pewter used to contain lead, but in the past decade or so, concerns about lead safety have led many manufacturers to either remove or significantly reduce the amount of lead in this alloy.
pewter beads, for example, are made in the USA and contain no lead. Pewter, like other base metals, can be plated in gold, antique brass, antique copper and silver.
Silver Filled Beads:
Like gold filled beads, silver filled beads are created when silver is bonded with a base metal during production. The benefit of this is that the silver actually becomes part of the bead itself, instead of just an applied layer as is the case with the plating process. The silver used is usually sterling silver. It is bonded into base metals such as brass and copper.
Silver Plated Beads:
Silver plated beads are among our most popular base metal beads because they offer an inexpensive alternative to sterling silver and silver filled beads. Whereas silver filled beads are created using a process that bonds the silver to the base metal during production, silver plated beads are created when a base metal is dipped in a plating solution. The advances in electroplating over the years have allowed high quality silver plated beads to be manufactured that, to the naked eye, look just like sterling silver and stand the test of time without worries about the finish chipping or flaking.
Sterling Silver Beads:
Sterling silver beads contain 92.5% silver and 7.5% base metals, the most common of which is copper. Though plating has come a long way in recent years, sterling silver is often the example of quality and consistency in jewelry. Most people prefer to use sterling silver beads in designs that feature more expensive, high end beads; some will use nothing but sterling in every piece they create.
Hopefully, you understand a bit more about the manufacturing process of metal beads and what each type of bead will contain. Knowing this definitely helps you make more educated decisions about which metal to use when and where.
More Metal Components:
Click on the link below to quickly find findings, chain and other components to complement your favorite metal beads. One more way we make shopping for beads and supplies easier than ever!
Jewelry Making Chain
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