Seed Beads Explained
Seed beads are typically small beads that you can add to your jewelry-making projects in a variety of ways. They are often used for bead weaving and stitching, bead embroidery, and even stringing projects. We're taking a look at the different seed beads you'll find at Artbeads.com, along with some jewelry inspiration for incorporating them into your jewelry designs.
Japanese Seed Beads
Let's start by talking about the leading brands of seed beads: TOHO and Miyuki. These are both Japanese seed bead makers and they offer some of the most precise and uniform seed beads you'll find out there. They both offer similar seed bead shapes, styles, and sizes, so let's take a look.
Round Seed Beads
Round seed beads are a traditional choice for your jewelry designs, as they are used for all kinds of projects thanks to the classic shape. Many beaders use them for seed beading and stringing alike. They are available in a variety of sizes (as with all TOHO and Miyuki seed beads), from large 3/0 to tiny 15/0 seed beads. Remember that with seed beads, when a size number is smaller, the bead will be bigger. We used 11/0 TOHO round seed beads in summery colors for our Citrus Twist crochet rope bracelet. Shop round TOHO seed beads here. Shop round Miyuki round seed beads here.
Cylinder Seed Beads
Cylinder seed beads are even more uniform in shape than round seed beads and are preferred for stitches like peyote and brick stitch. They also look excellent all lined up in looming. Both TOHO and Miyuki make cylinder seed beads. Miyuki Delicas come in a variety of sizes, from 8/0 to 15/0. TOHO Treasure seed beads are only available in the 11/0 size, but there are lots of colors to choose from and they are really nice to work with. Both Delicas and Treasures allow for many passes of thread, so are an excellent choice for intricate bead work. Looking for the perfect cylinder bead? The TOHO Aiko seed beads are simply amazing! These 11/0 precision-cut cylinder seed beads are step above TOHO Treasures. They are produced by state-of-the-art machinery, so they are extremely consistent in size and shape. You won’t have to worry about culling any beads, which will save you time while working. These high-quality seed beads will provide a smooth, silken finish to any beaded piece created with them. You can see how precise they are in the loomed pattern of our Block Party bracelet. The squares in the pattern are so perfect! Try TOHO Aiko cylinder seed beads for yourself with one our Aiko ring kits, like Cynthia’s Desert Oasis set.
Bugle beads feature a unique tubular shape and are available in smooth and twisted styles. These beads make great spacers and are also excellent for stringing and weaving. You can even dangle them in fringe earrings or custom tassels. Cynthia used smooth bugles in a free form brick stitch pattern for her Frosted Lane bracelet. Twisted bugles create the structural foundation for our magical Fairy Lantern earrings. Shop TOHO Bugle Beads here. Shop Miyuki Bugle Beads here.
Hex beads feature six perfectly formed sides that will add a pop of texture and shine to any project. These hexagon-cut beads are perfect for bead weaving, looming, and embroidery. With a large hole size, they are the smart choice for intricate designs that require several needle passes. They make for shimmering details in our El Dorado bracelet. Find Miyuki Hex cut seed beads here. Shop TOHO Hex cut seed beads here.
Cube and Square Beads
Both Miyuki and TOHO offer square and cube seed beads. These shapes also bring a geometric effect to jewelry designs. Available in a variety of sizes, each little seed bead is precision-cut into a cube shape. Use them as spacer beads, in bead weaving, or to embellish fabric. They line up wonderfully in brick stitch, as shown in Cynthia’s Helen of Troy bracelet.
Magatama literally means “curved bead” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what these beads look like. TOHO Magatmas feature a rounded teardrop shape that will result in beautifully staggered patterns for your beaded jewelry designs. They are ideal for fringe, bead embroidery, stringing projects, and more. Miyuki Magatama beads are more elongated, and look excellent in beaded kumihimo designs, like our Monterey Pop bracelet.
Special TOHO Shapes
TOHO has other shapes that will please any creative seed beader. TOHO Takumi seed beads are much like traditional round seed beads, but have stringing holes that are 15% larger than traditional TOHO round beads. With such a large stringing hole, you can make more passes through the bead and you also have the advantage of being able to use thicker stringing materials. Because of their hole size, these seed beads are ideal for intricate bead weaving projects.
Demi Round seed beads feature a thinner shape with the same hole size and diameter as traditional round TOHO seed beads. They work wonderfully in popular stitches, with exciting and innovative results. They allow for amazing color depth and detail thanks to their shape. You can even use them as spacers in stringing projects. Cynthia stacked them together while stringing for a fun, textured look in her High Plains necklace.
TOHO Triangle seed beads feature a small stature and geometric shape. Each triangle-cut bead features an ample stringing hole and three smooth, flat sides that reflect light beautifully. They add texture instantly to any look. You can certainly see the texture and dimension they bring to our fringe Couture earrings.
Special Miyuki Shapes
There's even more creative seed bead styles from Miyuki, too. Miyuki Tila Beads and Half Tila Beads are two-hole seed beads that are square and rectangular in shape. They are a popular choice for bead weaving and stringing projects. You'll love the look of the Tila Beads along with round seed beads in our Spice Road bracelet.
Miyuki Drop Fringe Beads feature a teardrop shape with the stringing hole drilled through the top of the shape, allowing these seed beads to add a little bit of dangling style to your designs. They are perfect for earring drops and embroidery because of the way they lay.
For an elegant, pearl-like look, try Miyuki Baroque Beads. These beads feature a "Baroque" pearl coating for a shiny luster. The surface of each bead is textured, so they reflect light softly. They're perfect for designs featuring vintage flair. Try them as accents in necklaces and bracelets or use them in seed bead embroidery. Check out Leslie Rogalski's beaded beads to see these beads in action.
Finally, Miyuki Berry Beads will give you amazing results in your projects. These Miyuki berry beads feature a small bone shape with a stringing hole through the center of the shape. These beads look marvelous when strung because they nest together, displaying an interlocked effect. Use them in seed bead embroidery and weaving projects for extra flair.
Czech Glass Seed Beads
You'll also find Czech glass seed beads to use in your jewelry designs. Czech glass seed beads are available in amazing colors and finishes, as well as fun styles.
Round Seed Beads
Of course you'll find classic round Czech glass seed beads. These rounded Czech glass beads are perfect for using with other seed beads in a variety of projects. They are consistent in size and shape, giving you beautiful beads you can add to every design. Use them in stringing projects, bead weaving designs, craft projects, and so much more. We offer Matubo round seed beads and you'll also find faceted round seed beads from Raven's Journey.
SuperDuo Beads are two-hole seed beads that are excellent for bead weaving. They feature a unique oval shape and two stringing holes. Their tapered, petal-like edges work well in seed bead embroidery and weaving, like our Dragon Scales bracelets. They fill in gaps nicely, join up well, and can even help you create floral patterns in designs. Use them in multi-strand designs for a sweet, colorful accent. Use them with SuperUno Beads, or try the smaller version: MiniDuo Beads.
Matubo 3-Cut Seed Beads
Matubo 3-Cut Seed Beads feature flat cuts on three sides of the bead, making them excellent options for bead weaving. The cut sides will nest up beside each other nicely. These beads are great for stringing, too. Matubo beads are known for consistent size and shape, so you can use them in all kinds of projects.
Czech glass O Beads are wonderful little seed beads to add even more detail and dimension in your jewelry designs. These unique little beads feature a flattened donut or ring shape with the stringing hole in the center of each bead. You can add these beads to your bead embroidery designs, stack them as spacers in stringing projects, incorporate them into your bead weaving, and so much more. They work wonderfully with other seed beads. No matter how you use them, they will add a colorful layer of detail to your work. We used them with round and cylinder seed beads in our O Bead Color Block bracelets.
More Seed Bead Info
Now that you've learned about the many different kinds of seed beads, make sure to check out our Guide to Seed Bead Stitches to start using those seed beads in amazing ways! We also have a great video all about TOHO and Miyuki seed beads and how to use them in jewelry designs.