Small Beads for Embroidery and Embellishment

Etelage | Australia | Your online bead store for Czech glass beads.

Stockists of Czech glass seed beads which we buy directly from Preciosa (formerly Jablonex – the state run distributor of Czech glass beads and jewellery)

Since 2002 we have been selling Czech glass seed beads which are available in bulk 500 gram bags or buy in small retail packets of 20 grams from our extraordinary online range.
Formerly buying from the Ornela factory which distributed the beads by the state run distributor of Jablonex the factory was bought by the crystal company Preciosa, an established manufacturer of glass products for centuries in the mountains north of Prague. Today we no longer have to surrender our passports as we checked in at the factory. Yes it is true! A hangover from the communist days but still practiced up until 2007.
We offer a wide range of colours, finishes (see the finishes glossary below) and stock sizes including 11/0 tiny 2mm , 8/0 medium 3.5mm  and 5/0 a large 5mm.
Czech glass beads are distinguished by their high quality and regularity and are easily recognisable by their round doughnut shape. The symmetrical shape of the beads can be appreciated even more when beads are strung. Regularity and consistency of the shape set Czech seed beads apart not only from Chinese but also, contrary to popular belief, from Japanese seed beads. Whether you are a design student, DIY crafter, or jewellery designer you will discover just how versatile these beads are. Use in jewellery design, off loom stitching such as peyote, brick or lattice stitch, hand sewing for beaded embellishment for quilting and clothing plus much more.

How To Use Seed Beads

You can never have too many seed beads as the possibilities for their application is as numerous as the sizes and colours available. They are perfect fillers in jewellery design, allowing your feature beads to really stand out and they are useful to embellish your embroidery or a contemporary canvas artwork. They are used in bead weaving by the North American Indians, were the basis of the beaded purses and shift dresses worn by the 1920 flappers whilst Masai women still wear flat neck beaded collars as a form of symbolic adornment.

  1. we love to use them in beaded embellishment and embroidery on quilts and clothes which adds fabulous texture, detail and sparkle
  2. hand weave intricate beaded jewellery made from off loom stitches such as peyote, right angle weave and more!
  3. use as a “filler” bead between bigger beads on strung necklaces and bracelets to give a soft drape which gives it the best tension ever! Promise. Once you use them between strung beads you will be amazed at the dramatic difference it makes using seed beads for a beautiful drape like silk offers.

The Different Seed Bead Shapes

Sizes available in our Czech glass seed beads are:

  • 15/0 approx 1.5mm
  • 11/0 approx 2mm with almost 40 colours to choose from
  • 8/0 approx 3mm with over 50 colours to choose from
  • 5/0 approx 4.5mm with over 70 colours to choose from

The “0” known as the aught indicates the size of the glass rod used in the manufacture of glass beads.
We sell Czech glass seed beads in small bags of 20grams. You can also buy at a discount 100grams or buy in bulk the factory packet of 500grams of loose beads.

Our range includes Preciosa Drops which are small drop shaped and have a hole in the centre of the bead. They are slightly tapered at the top which balloons at the base, like a tear drop and produce an interesting affect when strung together. They are also known as Fringe beads or Magatama beads. 

These beads are related to the bugle bead family and have two random cuts creating more reflective surface and therefore added shine and extra sparkle in jewellery designs and embroidery.

How Are Czech Glass Seed Beads Made?

Through eight gaping gates, workers scoop molten glass out of red-hot pots in the brick furnace. The glowing ingots sink with an angry hiss into wooden tubs of water large enough to swallow an easy chair.
Glass rods are melted in a furnace, then, while still pliable, pulled through a machine that shapes them into a strawlike tube. The end result looks a bit like a cocktail straw, although there are 20 sizes, each creating its own size of bead, and 20 basic colours that can be mixed into an almost endless selection of tones and shades, some opaque, some transparent whilst others silver lined.
The holes in the straw can be round, triangular, star-shaped, even double-barreled, and a second colour can be used to accent the hole or create baked-in glass patterns on the bead’s face.
The glass straws are sent through a slicing machine that bites off bead-size lengths, which are then reheated gently and put into a spinning machine that shapes the pliable glass into perfectly round beads that are then sorted and polished.
And at the end of all that, all you have is one measly glass bead!

Seed Bead Finishes

The more complex the finish the more expensive the bead. Reds, pinks & gold are more expensive colours because of the more complicated process to produce the glass rods.
“AB”: Means “Aurora Borealis” & looks like a rainbow tint on the surface. It is a permanent “rainbow” finish which is applied while the bead is hot. The rainbow finsih sets the beads off and makes them come forward visually.
Copper Lined: Transparent with inside hole lined with copper.
Iris: Oil effect on an opaque surface.
Lustred: Metallic sheen.
Matt: A dull, low lustre “frosted” surface.
Opaque: Glass transmits no light. i.e. Solid Colour.
Pearlised: Subtle colours with a shiny surface.
Silk: Opaque Shiny Glow.
Transparent: Glass transmits light. i.e. See through.
Two Colour: See through with the inside hole lined one colour & another colour over the outside.
Silver Lined: Have a mirroe like reflective lining. i.e. Transparent with the hole lined with silver to give a mirror effect.
Striped: Two or more colours vertically on the bead.
White Heart: Hs an inner core of white glass. i.e. Inside hole lined with white. Original trade beads are sought after beads today because of the intensity of their colour.

The History of Czech Glass Seed Beads

Artisans around the globe have used seed beads for nearly 500 years in jewellery making, producing elaborate clothing textiles & tribal regalia. Beaded articles are a symbol of a person’s marital status, wealth & power. Beads communicate different societies’ values especially in Africa where a  Zulu love letters (iNcwadi) is used as means of maidens communicating to their lovers with each colour & combination having a specific meaning. In Masai bead work there are 40 words for different types of Masai beadwork.
American Indians also used intricate beaded motifs to communicate between tribes. Each tribe had their own distinctive geometric or floral design.

Where are Czech Glass Seed Beads Sold Today?

Preciosa sells directly to 70 countries and, through regional distributors, to 40 more.
In Africa, the company sells to the Masai and Samburu tribes in Kenya and Tanzania, and to the Zulus, Xhosas, Ndebele and other tribes of southern Africa.
Their No. 1 market in 2017 is India.
Beads are used there in Hindu ceremonial accessories, but also in everyday products like the mangalsutra necklaces worn to signal that a woman is married.
Southern Sudan has also become a big market.
In South America, there are ceremonial garments for religious occasions, like childbirth ceremonies, as well as costumes for Carnival and an assortment of belts, napkin rings and jewellery for everyday use.
Czech beads in Ukraine and Russia, are being used to adorn religious icons and paintings.
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