It’s not easy to keep up with all the new bead shapes and colour effects appearing on the market these days.
I would like to make it easier to remember and summarise the most important beady innovations from 2017.
In 2012 Twin and SuperDuo beads hit the market. It was a revolution, as these beads were the first 2-hole Czech glass beads. Since that time many new bead shapes (and even more holes) followed. Sometimes we complain that we can’t keep up and try everything, but I have to confess I am happy about this boom of new bead shapes. My heart skips a beet every time I discover a new shape or new colour which is speaking to me, and I can’t wait to play with them. Sometimes there is also one or two which doesn’t get me excited right away, but it can still develop into a good relationship later, even if it wasn’t love at first sight, right?
2017 was a good year regarding new bead shapes and new colours. Manufacturers did their best, and there are many novelties to inspire us to create. Here I would like to list the most important ones, so we can remember 🙂
The Potomac Bead Company was very generous,
and you can win a goodie pack full of their newest bead shapes!
The contest is over. The lucky winner is:
Make sure to pin this article, so you can return to it later!
You will find recommendations by every bead shape for bead stores stocking them.
Some of them are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to order, I will earn a small percentage from it (while you pay the same as without an affiliate link). It helps me to pay for the expenses running this website. Also, this was a condition so I can use the pictures from that particular company.
If you decide to order, the bead shop itself is solely responsible for fulfilling your order.
Being a Beadsmith Inspiration Squaddie I would like to write about the new beads developed by the New Jersey based wholesaler at first, of course!
I had the opportunity to play with the 2017 novelties as one of the first beadwork designers, as during his travels in Europe Steven Weiss visited me in Amsterdam and brought me some of the newest (and coolest) shapes and colours. I showed him around the city, took him to my favourite patisserie (Yep, that was before my diet…) and we spent a day talking everything bead-related.
Beadsmith is the company responsible for our beloved Honeycomb beads and SuperDuo Duets, and they didn’t run out of inspiration. Well, far from it! The Battle of the Beadsmith continued (with Loli Garcia Tirado winning first place with her Gingko necklace), and in the meanwhile Beadsmith experimented with new colour effects and new bead shapes, too.
Kite beads are Czech pressed glass 2-hole beads. Easy to guess: they are inspired by kites 😀
The front and the black is completely flat, too, which makes them easy and fun to use.
They are produced in one size for now: 9×5 mm. (I think they would be quite nice in a bigger version, too. What do you think?) Kite beads are 3.2 mm thick. The holes are parallel, with a 0.8 mm diameter.
One bead weights 0.04 g. In a 10 g package you can find about 45-46 beads.
Beadsmith lists over 50 different colours at the moment, including some very special one in the metallust line!
The best bead shops for Kite beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Kite beads
The Czech flat glass drop beads filled a gap on the market. They were inspired by the shape ‘briolette’ well know from faceted precious stone beads and also from Swarovski drops. Being 9×10 mm in size, the beads are bigger then most of the innovations nowadays, and have only one hole with a large, 1 mm diameter. (Which is a nice difference after so many 2-, 3- and even 4-hole beads.) Briolettes aren’t produced in a very wide colour range, but what’s available is awesome. They come in different matte, picasso and chalk effects.
The best bead shops for Briolette beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Briolette beads
Nib-Bit beads are 2-hole Czech pressed glass beads. There is one size (6×5 mm) available for now, and many different colours! Nib-Bit beads are wider and taller at one end, and they lack any sharp angles. This makes them a bit trickier to use, unless you have a flat bracelet on your mind for example. But don’t let this scare you, please! Nib-Bits are perfect to use as flower petals for example, so it’s well worth to start playing with them.
The holes are parallel, with a 0.8 mm diameter. The distance between them is 2.3 mm. In a 10 g package you receive about 54 beads. They are available as full covered and as “Duets”, too.
The best bead shops for Nib-Bit beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Nib-Bit beads
The introduction of GemDuo beads created some controversy, as they are exactly the same size and layout as DiamonDuos, which are manufactured by a different company. Luckily, they were very well accepted since then. Even if both beads are of a 8×5 mm diamond shape, they create a completely different effect. You can freely choose which bead you would like to choose, as beading patterns work well with GemDuo and DiamonDuo beads, too. Both of them have a flat bottom, but while the top of DiamonDuos with the cross-shape raise create a geometric look, GemDuos are of a smoother, more elegant style.
GemDuo beads are 3.2 mm thick. The 2 holes run parallel, and are 0.8 mm big. One bead weights 0.12 g, and you get about 53 beads in a 10 g pack.
The best bead shops for GemDuo beads
Inspiration and tutorials with GemDuo beads
Steven Weiss and his creative crew didn’t only design new bead shapes, but they introduced new colour effects, too. Backlit became the most popular for now. The beads themselves are made of transparent glass, but a shiny, metallic finish on the back side (hence the name ‘backlit’) makes them very unusual. My favourite thing about them are the names of the different colours. Who could resist a bead called ‘Backlit Tequila,’ ‘Utopia’ or ‘Champagne on Ice?’
The colour effect shows the best on bigger beads. They need to have flat back side to make it possible to apply the special foil.
Backlit is available at the moment on the following bead shapes: dagger, jagged dagger, GemDuo beads, Briolette (this is my least favourite and comes only in one colour), Baroque Cabochon (hitting the market in early 2018), Honeycomb (only one colour for now, probably more are coming).
The best bead shops for Backlit beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Backlit beads
Since my adventure at Makerversity in Amsterdam (a co-working space for creatives, with all kinds of tools and machines members can use) and making friends with their laser cutter I am interested in everything which involves laser. (I will show you sometime how did I cut my beading diagrams into a pair of old jeans :D) The high precision of laser can draw some incredible effects on the beads. Same as the backlit effect, the beads need to be of a bit bigger and have a flat surface. Both sides of the beads are tattooed.
So far the daggers, honeycomb beads and kite beads are getting tattooed, and omg, I have so many favourites already!
The best bead shops for Laser Tattooed beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Laser Tattooed beads
Same as the above colours, the splash shows the best on bigger beads, however, it can be also applied to surfaces which are not completely flat, for example GemDuo beads. The splash can be silver or gold, and comes in very random shapes and sizes. It is applied all over the beads, so the front and the back come with the same effect.
The best bead shops for Splash effect beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Splash effect beads
Did you know that the ‘splash’ effect was inspired by nail polish?
Potomac Bead Company
The Potomac Bead Company had a very busy 2017. The Buchman family (Allie, Nathan and their kids including baby Camille) travelled through Europe to visit their business partners. It was very interesting to follow them to the Czech Republic and Germany through their social media updates. In the ‘bead city’ Jablonec nad Nisou they visited some manufactories, and managed to dig out a lot of bead moulds used in the past but forgotten since then.
Another exciting good news regarding Potomac Bead Company is their decision to open a warehouse in Europe, so their customers on this side of the ocean can get their packages faster and without having to sort out and paying for customs and extra VAT. The European warehouse will be run by my good friend Tereza Drabkova of Jewel in the Crowd (formerly The TerezkaD). I can’t imagine a better person then her for this position!
This 2-hole Czech bead is made of pressed glass. It is shaped like an almond, and comes in one size for now: 7×4 mm, while being 3.4 mm thick. The holes are placed 3.8 mm from each other, and run through the shorter side. One bead weighs 0.12 g. Since they are of a marquise shape, they are perfect to combine with glass or crystal glass navette cabochons.
The best bead shops for IrisDuo beads
Inspiration and tutorials with IrisDuo beads
Potomac Exlusive crystal cabochons
Potomac offers a more affordable alternative to crystal cabochons. They are not the same as Swarovski, but still very nice, and come in a wide variety of shapes and colours. The new additions in 2017 were the navettes (I love the 4×15 mm slender one, especially in Blue Zircon) and squares, which are available in 8, 12 and 14 mm versions.
The best bead shops for Potomac Exclusive crystal cabochons
Inspiration and tutorials with Potomac Exclusive crystal cabochons
Multi-holed metal beads
A very interesting idea from the Potomac Bead Company was to produce multi-holed metal beads. They are produced in the European Union (Greece) to ensure the highest quality. The material is Zamak, which is an alloy with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium and copper. Hence the name: Z stands for Zinc, A stands for Aluminium, M is for Magnesium and K for Copper (Kupfer in German).
The best bead shops for multi-holed metal beads
Inspiration and tutorials with multi-holed metal beads
Why are they so cool?
The use of metal enables the production of shapes, which would be impossible to manufacture from glass.
The sliders can be decorated with rhinestones and are perfect to make bracelets. So are the BowTrios: because of their sharp corners I can imagine them more as components for bracelets. The 3-hole snake-shape metal beads are great for every kind of beaded jewellery as a divider or framing bigger round beads or rondelles.
LeafDuos are 7×10 mm leaf shaped Czech glass beads. The shape is a classic one, however, Potomac has now a 2-hole variation, too. It’s great because it allows you to fasten the beads better, with more security. The leafs will not flip around any more.
The best bead shops for LeafDuo beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Kite beads
After the huge success of Tila and Half Tila beads Miyuki introduced an even more slender version of this beloved Japanese bead. Quarter Tila beads are the cutest between all the new beads of 2017! They are 5 mm long (so they are easy to combine with the ‘big brothers’), but only 1.9 mm wide. This makes them incredibly elegant, and perfect for bezeling cabochons. They don’t come in a very wide selection of colours yet (but some of my favourites are already included), however, I hope this changes because of the great success they already achieved.
Not a new bead shape, but a great innovation from the Japanese company is the introduction of a ‘library’. The Miyuki Seed Bead Directories are great for checking, which shapes are available from your favourite colour for example.
The best bead shops for Miyuki Quarter Tila beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Miyuki Quarter Tila beads
All of the beads in the CzechMates System, including the new 2-hole Cabochon and 3-hole Beam, have consistent hole spacing, which makes them the most versatile shaped beads on the market because they are interchangeable and perfectly compatible with each other. CzechMates are called the “Building Blocks of Modern Beading” because they are tools that allow artists to achieve dimension.
Learn more about the CzechMates beading blocks from Nichole Starman’s CzechMates Technique Guide!
Starman debuted the CzechMates Beam and CzechMates Cabochon in 2017.
The Beam bead’s function is to suspend, extend and intersect. They are 10×3 mm big and 2 mm thick. All three holes are 0.8 mm wide. One bead is 0.16 g, and you get around 30 beads in an 5 g package.
The best bead shops for Czechmates Beam beads
Inspiration and tutorials with CzechMates Beam beads
CzechMates Cabochon beads
The CzechMates cabochons are 7 mm in diameter and 5.5 mm thick. They have two holes 0f 0.9 mm. The distance between the holes is 2.6 mm. One bead is 0.35 g, and you receive around 15 beads in a 5 g package.
The best bead shops for CzechMates Cabochon beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Czechmates Cabochon beads
Starman also released the one-hole Starman Prong, which is not part of the CzechMates system. The Prong is often used in bezels to mimic high-end jewelry. The Prong beads are 6×3 mm and 2.3 mm thick. The hole is 0.9 mm wide and is drilled at the thicker side of the bead. One bead is 0.08 g. A 5 g package contains around 50 beads. They are available in beautiful colours: Saturated Metallics, Suede, Pacifica, Matte Metallic and Polychrome for example.
The best bead shops for Prong beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Prong beads
The best bead shops for L2Studio.sk cabochons
You can browse the cabs Lenka left with me in Amsterdam here
There are some more in Lenka’s own Etsy store
What a coincidence, that avocado green (or chickenshit, as my friends Eva and Miriam call it) is my favourite, right? 😀
The avocado glaze looks perfect on light clay cabochons. The colour can be perfectly combined with turquoise to make something happy, but also with mat bronze for example if you maybe want to tone it down a little bit.
Lenka’s special collection developed and manufactured especially because of her visit in Amsterdam!
The whitish background sprinkled with blue dots is inspired by Delft blue porcelain. Delft is a city in The Netherlands famous for it’s white-blue porcelain. The inspiration traveled around half of the world: Chinese porcelain (decorated with the same colours) was very popular in The Netherlands, when the ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) were transporting massive amounts of luxurious products from Asia to the port of Amsterdam. The trade made Amsterdam the wealthiest city in the world, and Chinese porcelain became a status symbol. Several manufactories wished to replicate the process, until one day the one in Delft succeeded. Hence the Chinese style traveling to the Dutch city and then to Lenka’s atelier in Slovakia!
Crystal Turquoise Collection
The biggest success so far from Lenka’s 2017 collections! Because who doesn’t like turquoise, right? The cabochons from the Crystal Turquoise Collection are special: the surface looks like if it was covered by a thin layer of glass, which is very delicately crackled. Lenka tests new glazes and colours all the time, and selects only the best ones to develop into a full collection.
The Crystal Turquoise Collection is made from porcelain instead of clay, so these cabochons are even lighter and more delicate!
Rose Gold Luster Collection
If you are all about metallics and luxury, then the Rose Gold Luster Collection was made for you! Past years rose gold became a favourite in design. I see it in many places: interior design, clothing and even in a fancy bike shop here in Amsterdam. Now it’s also available as a beautiful cabochon to play with 🙂
Puca Annick rocks the bead world! I remember her name from more then 10 years ago already, when I started to bead. She was one of the best designers and tutorial writers. Even if I don’t speak French, it was always a pleasure to follow her beading patterns. Several years ago she started to design not only beadwork instructions, but beads themselves, too! Puca’s beads are mostly basic geometric shapes, executed in a professional way and available in a wide variety of colours. Thanks to perfectly designed angles, shapes and distances between holes they fit together nicely, and it’s easy to combine them.
The trapezoid shaped Tinos beads are 10×4 mm, and 3.2 mm thick. Tinos have two holes, which are running through the shorter side. They have a 0.9 mm diameter and are parallel. One bead is 0.2 g, and you can find about 45 pieces in a 10g package.
They are perfect to create geometric shapes, but I’ve also seen them creating a very organic looking ‘flower-wirlpool’ beaded by my friend Susan Sassoon. The earrings will be published next year in the Beadwork magazine. Keep an open eye for them!
The best bead shops for Tinos® beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Tinos beads
Amos are drop shaped pressed glass beads with 2 holes running parallel. They are 8×5 mm big and 3.1 mm thick. The holes are of 0.8 mm diameter. We already had a lot of drop shaped beads available, however, the Amos® beads filled a gap on the market.
The best bead shops for Amos beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Amos beads
The best bead shops for Cabochons by Puca
Inspiration and tutorials with Cabochons by Puca
Super Kheops beads are of the same diameter with the same placement of holes as Kheops beads. They are 6×6 mm, with two holes running parallel. They are completely interchangeable with Kheops beads. However, the top is raised, so the shape now commemorates even more the shape of the pyramid of pharaoh Kheops. Because of this feature the Super Kheops bead give even more texture, and strengthen the geometric feel of the jewel.
The best bead shops for Super Kheops beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Super Kheops beads
Ios beads look like a brick (or a rectangle), however, they have smooth edges instead of sharp one. They are 5.5 x 2.5 mm big, with two parallel holes. The holes have a 0.6 mm diameter, and are placed 2.5 mm from each other.
The best bead shops for Ios by Puca beads
Inspiration and tutorials with Ios by Puca beads
Swarovski introduces two new collections every year. Check out these videos to see what was new in 2017!
‘Light and Shadow’
The most popular innovations introduced last spring:
The most popular innovations introduced last autumn:
The best bead shops for Swarovski Elements innovations
Inspiration and tutorials with Swarovski Elements innovations
What’s new in the Storytelling Bead Shop?
In my own little bead shop there are also some new shiny treasures available! I didn’t manufacture them myself, of course, but I love to bring you material to play with, which is not easily available elsewhere. As I mentioned above, Lenka left some of her amazing clay and porcelain cabochons here in Amsterdam, but that’s not everything!
I am a big fan of cabochons, especially in opal and matte colours. For years I couldn’t find them in sizes and shapes I wanted to play with. After testing a dozen factories I finally found some where I am happy with the quality and the selection, too. Last year I focused on the 27 mm round cabochons, which are perfect for the Passiflora and the Caravaggio and Charlotte necklaces, but there are also some smaller sizes and different shapes waiting for you.
Inspiration and tutorials with glass cabochons from the Storytelling Bead Shop
Rhinestone chains (cupchains)
Three years ago I visited Jablonec nad Nisou, the Czech bead paradise. I found a nice little company manufacturing not only beads, but metal components, too. The cupchains they offered me were beautiful and of very good quality. However, the colours were the usual very basic ones.
After a lot of e-mails, discussions and even more waiting the treasures I ordered arrived. I was really happy, as they were even more beautiful then I imagined: rhinestone chains with Czech Preciosa crystals: Amethyst Opal, Chrysolite Opal, Indicolite Blue and many more.
Since there is no way I could use them all, I decided to share them with you!
Inspiration and tutorials with rhinestone chains
Which beads did you try yourself, and which one was your favourite?
Tell us in a comment what do you think about the new shapes!
Have a nice day, and happy beading!
P.S. If I forgot to list any new shapes hitting the market in 2017, please let me know!