Glossary of Beading Terms

C

Cabochon

Cabochon

Piece of semi-precious or precious stone that is cut and polished, but that contains no facets. Often large and oval.

Callotte

Callotte

Metal findings that cover the knot at the end of a string of beads. Callottes (also called clam shells) clamp sideways onto the knot. Tying the knot around a seed bead and adding a drop of glue secures the knot. Close the callotte with pliers and snip the excess thread. Also called clamshells or bead tips.

Ceramic

Ceramic

The term ceramic can refer to a wide variety of inorganic, non-metallic materials that are hardened through heating and then cooling. Most commonly when used in jewelry making, it refers to beads made of clay or porcelain. Ceramics tend to be hard but also brittle.

Chain

Chain

A strand of metal links. Chain comes in a huge variety of styles and metals, can can be used as either a component or entirety of a jewelry design.

Charlotte Beads

Charlotte Beads

A type of seed bead where one side is cut (faceted), making them sparkle. Originally they were only made in 13/0 and therefore charlottes in other sizes are sometimes referred to as “true cuts” or “one cuts”. photo credit

Charm

Charm

Originally denoting something with magical qualities, now usually refers to small metal stylized pendants, often of animals, symbols, or signs of the zodiac (horoscope).

Chaton

Chaton

1) A cone-shaped crystal or gemstone where the top circular edge is beveled. Sometimes refers to costume jewelry where crystal beads in this shape are backed by foil to make them sparkle. 2) A type of setting where the gemstone is held in place by metal claws. Contrast with bezel setting.

Choker

Choker

The shortest length of necklace, worn very close to the neck or sometimes high on the neck. photo credit

Cinnabar

Cinnabar

A soft stone composed of mercury sulfide, cinnabar is bright or brick red in color and is often carved in intricate fashion. Today, much jewelry called cinnabar is actually a heavy molded polymer made to resemble cinnabar beads, or red lacquered wood. photo credit

Cobalt

Cobalt

A lustrous, magnetic, silvery-white metal with a blue tint. Cobalt has been detected in Egyptian sculpture and Persian jewelry dating all the way back to third millennium BC, and in Chinese artifacts dated as early as AD 607. True cobalt beads are not often seen in typical beading applications. However the term cobalt is used to describe the deep, lustrous blue color of beads made of other materials. photo credit

Concho

Round or oval metal pieces that are often embossed with western designs. Conchos are popular in creating costume jewelry with a western motif, as well as hat and belt decorations.

Copper

Copper

Copper is a reddish-orange metal and one of the elements in the periodic table. Pure copper is soft, so it is often mixed with other metals to create stronger alloys like bronze and brass. Copper is also usually the main alloying metal in sterling silver. Copper is a very good electrical conductor, and is sometimes used to make therapeutic bracelets. photo credit

Coral

Coral

Precious coral beads are made from harvesting deap-sea coral beds that are formed from the exoskeletons of the coral sea creature, and forming that coral into beads. Other coral beads are harvested from other sources of coral and died red. Corals of all kinds grow very slowly, and harvesting has depleted the world-wide supply. Regulations are beginning to protect them, much like ivory, but many places where coral is harvested are still unregulated.

Costume Jewelry

Costume Jewelry

Originally, costume jewelry was over-the-top, large and fake to be seen from the stage. However, many people also refer to costume jewelry when describing jewelry made of faux gemstones and metals like nickel, instead of precious gemstones, semi-precious gemstones, gold, silver, or platinum (though sometimes the clasps are made of gold or silver).

Cowry

Cowry

Sometimes spelled cowrie, these shells are rounded, shiny, and have a porcelain-like appearance. They are egg-shaped and smooth with colorful patterns and a long, narrow, slit-like opening. Historically, cowry shells have been used as currency in Africa, China, and India.

Crow Beads

Crow Beads

Crow beads are similar in shape to seed beads and pony beads, but much larger and more squarish. They are cut from tubes of glass or plastic and tumbled and polished to give a smooth rounded, slightly oval finish. Crow bead size is commonly 9mm (with 5mm hole) or 6mm (with 3mm hole). They are popular for using in hair braiding, fringe, and some Native American styles of jewelry.

Crystal

Crystal

This can refer to many things, but in beading it usually means either naturally occuring quartz gemstones, or man-made leaded glass beads. Adding lead to glass beads makes them sparkle more; the more lead, the higher quality the bead. It also adds weight, so really light “crystal” beads are probably just glass. Man-made crystal beads come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors like cubes, rounds, rondelles, and specially shaped pendants of all kinds. There are many types of crystals available, but Swarovski crystals seem to be the most popular and are widely considered the highest quality.

Czech glass

Czech glass

Glass made in the Czech Republic, where the tradition of craftsmanship in glass-making goes back centuries. Also called Bohemian glass or Bohemia crystal. photo credit