2018 was just as rich in novelties in the bead world as 2017. As a typical greedy little bead horder with a stash worth to introduce on national tv and eyes even bigger, I would love to have them all, of course! However, for the sake of our tiny Amsterdam apartment I have to restrict myself. Nothing is too big here in The Netherlands except of the people themselves, who are supposedly the tallest in the world, so my studio space has it’s limitations. Not easy, right? If I were really desperate, I could argue it’s for work and I need them all, but nowadays nobody believes me that I am able to bead away everything I acquired during the past 10+ years. Not even my husband.
Talking or writing / reading about beads does not give the same pleasure as touching and playing with them, but it’s the next best thing I know of. Until there is augmented reality introduced to the Bead World I guess. Moreover, I (and you, too, of course) can always refer to this article when looking for the next challenge. It’s fun to try a new bead shape even if you are more a classic kind of girl / guy, and who knows, maybe the one you were always dreaming of sits already there on the shelf of your favourite local bead shop!
Click here if you would like to look back to 2017 before you dip into the long list of new beads introduced in 2018.
My personal recommendations to order the newest shaped beads:
- Bead&Glass Boutique – with the most amazing customer service of Amy Blevins
- PotomacBeads.eu run by my friend Tereza Soukupova
- Perles&Co. – with an insane selection of beads, tools and components for jewelry making
Some of the links above and below are affiliate links. This means that if you decide to order, I will earn a small percentage from your order (while you pay the same amount). It helps me to pay for the expenses running this website. Also, this was a condition so I can use the pictures from some of the companies.
If you decide to order, the bead shop itself is solely responsible for fulfilling your order.
Still a Beadsmith Inspiration Squad member in 2018, just like in 2017 – so let’s start with beads introduced by The Beadsmith! Remember, Beadsmith is a wholesaler and not a manufacturer, so the beads themselves are produced mainly in the Czech Republic, not in the USA. Beadsmith is, however, in many cases the exclusive distributor to bead shops and smaller companies, or the first who introduces a specific type of bead or colour.
After researching the new shapes in the Beadsmith webshop and talking to Perry Bookstein (who is a living encyclopaedia of everything bead related), it seems that in the first half of 2018 the New Jersey based company was focusing on shapes which are somewhere between a bead and a cabochon.
Fire Polished Cabochon Bead
This new shape introduced at the Tucson Gem Show in early 2018 looks like a little bit more then half of a classic fire polished bead you probably know very well. Just like the other three similar shapes introduced in 2018, thanks to the flat back it sits neatly against Ultra Suede in your bead embroidery. I can imagine it in a beadweaving project, too, but the piece definitely has to have a clever construction, a back layer and some more beads (maybe rocaille) around the Fire Polished Cabochon Bead to prevent it from turning around and showing its back.
It comes in two different sizes at the moment: 6 and 8 mm, while it has one hole. There are 15 colours available. It’s not a terribly big selection, but all the available finishes are favourites among the beading crowd. My choice would be Jet Red/Green Luster – it would look like a tiny beetle hiding in a flower when used in a flower shaped pendant!
My favourite out of the four half bead / half cabochon hybrids is the Cathedral Dome. Even if it comes only in one size (8 mm) and in the same 15 colours as the Fire Polished Cabochon Beads. In my opinion its cut looks more elegant then the Fire Polished Cabochon Bead’s, giving the bead a more dramatic look with the straight, long lines.
This 7 mm wide, 2-hole new shape is a relative of the popular Candy beads, Czech cabochon beads and Cabochettes. But instead of a smooth surface it has a “wrinkled face” reminding me of the craters of the moon. This is the one I actually have in my stash, but haven’t worked with yet. I think the colour is a bit lost under the thick transparent surface, and is not very visible from the side. I can imagine that the new, much more vibrant colours like the Rubysol and Aquasol are more of an eye candy though, and I have seen several of my fellow Beadsmith Squaddies to bead amazing pieces with them. There are also full coloured versions of the Cathedral Cabs available now.
‘The Horned Necklace’ by Helena Tang-Lim, with baroque cabochons
‘La Manchette Sainte Chapelle’ by Helena Tang-Lim, with baroque cabochons
As the name implies, the front side of this new bead looks like a carved rose. At 6 mm it’s just a tiny bit smaller then the above mentioned Baroque cabochon, so they are not interchangeable. The Rosetta cab has two holes running parallel.
Bird Feather Bead
Another novelty introduced at the Tucson bead show by The Beadsmith is the Bird Feather bead. It measures 5×17 mm. Since it has only one hole but is of a bigger size, it can be a bit of a challenge to secure it – if you want to prevent it from moving. But if you are ok with more movement an organic look, the Bird Feathers are perfect for a Native American or nature inspired piece for example.
If you haven’t tried any of them yet, I would recommend to go for the White Gold or Turquoise Gold variety, they are both gorgeous!
Bird Feather necklace from Karolina Emingrova of Kaja Bijoux
Fire polished drop cuts
The 8×6 mm fire polished cut drops are perfect to incorporate into flower shaped pendants, fringes or as bottom pieces of earrings. Some of the beads are fully coated, and some of them look like as if the top and the bottom were dipped into a second colour – and those are my favourites!
If you are not impressed from this short text, wait until you see the Blue Opal Marble and the Turquoise Green Marble colours!
What’s great about the new 2-hole coin shaped beads is, that the 14 mm wide surface provides plenty of place to play with the finishes. At the moment there are 20 different variations, but non of them is simply ‘meh’ or ‘I have seen that before.’
There is a variety of Laser Tattooed ones available, but my absolute favourites are the etched ones! Tell me, how should one choose between the Jet Full Sliperit, the Full Labrador and the Jet Full AB? It feels cruel to leave any of them behind!
I left this much discussed bead shape to the end of the list of the new Beadsmith beads. And let me go back a tiny bit in bead history to another shape before I start to actually write about the PaisleyDuo.
It was about a year and a half ago, that another paisley shaped bead, the ZoliDuo hit the market. It’s one of the most elegant, beautiful shapes I have ever seen. Its narrow, pointy end sits nicely between two bigger beads, and the roundish shape gives a luxurious touch to any jewel. Even if it has a downside (because of the flat back you need a left and right bead), it quickly became popular. I don’t wonder!
When the first photos of PaisleyDuos appeared online, some beaders (and as far as I know, not the company producing ZoliDuos) sighed out loud, and started to treat it like a copy of the Zolis. While I have a strong opinion about copyright issues, and I am not sure that producing another diamond shaped bead with the same parameters was nothing more then a coincidence, I think in this case we should leave the Paisleys alone, and enjoy them to their max – while not forgetting about the ZoliDuos, neither!
Why do I think so?
The size is different, so you can’t use the two beads interchangeably. Because of this the PaisleyDuos would not be able to force the ZoliDuos out of the market even if they wanted to. Maybe they were inspired by the success of the earlier bead, but didn’t copy it.
First of all, while the Zolis have a flat back and a rounded top, both sides of the Paisleys are flat. The look of a finished jewel is more robust then of one made with ZoliDuos. That’s the result of both the bigger size and the lack of curves.
There is an improvement provided by the PaisleyDuos: you don’t have to keep an eye out for left and right sided beads, it is perfectly enough to buy one package of them. (Well, on second thought that’s not true, since there are now over 100 colours available :D)
If you look closely, then you see that the angle of the curves of the two beads are different, and in fact there are only two things in common between ZoliDuos and PaisleyDuos: they have two holes (like dozens of other new bead shapes) and they are of a shape of a paisley.
I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to shout for weapons and go into war, as no geometric shape on its own can be copyrighted or owned by a company. That would be the equivalent of saying that after a company starts to produce triangle shaped beads, no other company can produce a different triangle shaped bead.
I know there are beaders out there who agree and others who don’t feel the same way as me – and that’s completely all right. You are more then welcome to start a friendly discussion under this post! I’m all up for exchanging thoughts and ideas, and this is the perfect place to talk about everything bead related ❤️
PaisleyDuo beaded box by Katie Dean
Besides the new shapes The Beadsmith played with colours, too, and applied the Backlit and Laser Tattoo effect to coins, tiles, PaisleyDuos and daggers. There are also some new GemDuos, Paisleys and SuperDuos with the Halo effect. (Big virtual hug to Leslie Pope – bead specialist of The Beadsmith and designer of Twisted Sistah Beads & Fibre for helping me to put this list together.)
Let’s continue with one of the best known producers of Czech glass beads – Matubo! This was the first time that I talked to Team Matubo, and I have to mention that I am amazed how helpful and kind they are. I am 100% sure that they are very busy, but still they found time to answer my questions to make sure you beaders have a correct and full list. Thank you, Team Matubo! Dekuji, a preju hodne stesti a uspechu do noveho roka 🙂
Matubo seed beads 2/0 and 11/0
Matubo Beads introduced their own line of Czech seed beads, and now they are available in the popular size 11/0 and an unusual biggie, the 2/0. The 11/0 Matubo seed bead is smallest bead Matubo have created so far, and the 2/0 at 6.2 mm is the biggest seed bead available on the market. Because of the size of its hole (2.1 mm) you can use it with many different stringing materials, not only thread or Fireline. I struggle for quite some time with creating something for my ♡ and in combination with a leather strap and some knots this might be the solution.
Matubo takes great care in creating “perfect” beads. Besides their uniformity and high shineI would like to mention a detail of the Matubo seed beads the company can be really proud of. It’s something what actually stays hidden inside the bead, but can cause a lot of nuisance if taken lightly. I’m sure that it happened to most of us that a perfectly executed jewel fall apart because of a sharp piece of glass left behind in the hole of a bead. Matubo made sure with creating extra smooth holes so it can never happen when using their beads 🙂
Tutti Frutti Colours
Besides developing new shapes Matubo Beads was also busy with working on new finishes and colours, which they applied not only on the brand new PaisleyDuos developed together with The Beadsmith, but also the GemDuo, which hit the market in 2017. As the name implies, the Tutti Frutti colours are “sweet”, reminding you of chewing gum and cotton candy. But please promise me to resist the urge and don’t put any of these in your mouth 😀
I have worked with Tutti Frutti colours in both colour combinations of my Poppy Fields necklace (scroll up for the photo to the PaisleyDuo beads). Make sure you take extra care when working with these, so you don’t scratch the surface of the beads, otherwise the colour coating may come off.
G&B Beads is one of the oldest companies from the Crystal Valley of the Czech Republic, where most of our treasures are manufactured. As G&B Beads say it on their Instagram page, the factory exists thanks to the current owner’s grandma, Oldriska Sourkova. I love the way they talk about this historical connection, and it’s great to see old and new photos about the building were the beads are born.
Czech glass carrier beads
I think I can say that the biggest hit of 2018 were the Czech glass carrier beads, manufactured by G&B Beads and carried (pun intended) by The Beadsmith. The shape is not new: carrier beads were already available, but were made from plastic. Plastic beads are lighter then the ones made of glass, which can be an advantage and a disadvantage, too. If you make earrings for example, then the lightness of material makes the earrings more comfortable to wear, however, sometimes you need a little extra weight to make gravity work and make the design hang nicely.
In general I try to avoid using plastic beads. While I am very conscious about the problems we face, this time it’s not about environmental issues. I don’t believe beadwoven pieces get dumped after wearing them once or twice, and the biggest problem is still with items which can’t be used over and over again. However, for me glass beads represent higher quality, and I am very happy G&B managed to elevate this popular bead ship to a new level.
The best part is, that while plastic carrier beads were always tucked under a layer of Miyuki Delicas woven together with Peyote stitch, the beautiful colours of the glass carriers invite you to leave part of the bead “naked” if you wish, thus offering a lot more design options then the plastic ones before.
Bejewelled Pillows Cuff by Helena Tang-Lim
Charles Bridge bracelet tutorial by Susan Sassoon
The Octo bead is a 3-hole coin shaped bead designed by Patty McCourt, just like the 3-hole Cali bead. Compared to its width at 8 mm they are surprisingly thick at 4 mm, with a little hole in the middle on the front and back, too. I can imagine this in more robust designs, especially a statement bracelet, however, I have to confess that I would probably need a bit of time to get used to them.
Octo Diamond bracelet tutorial by Susan Sassoon
Link beads are what the name says: a link between past and present. As I learned from the webpage of the Canadian John Bead Corporation (the company launching Links exclusively and worldwide), they were designed by Oldriska herself, but waiting for 80 years until they got into the hands of beaders. They a perfect to give more texture and a wavy impression to your designs.
John Bead Corporation
And now let’s talk some more about the above mentioned John Bead Corporation! In 2018 they launched a campaign called “The Search for The Next Great Bead.” Every beader with an idea could enter, and the concept of the winner was actually manufactured and launched by John Bead Company! It sounds like a dream coming true, right?
The winner of the campaign was Lena Gillespie, who designed the Rhombus bead. It’s clean design and perfect angles show off the design skills of Lena:
“In art school I learned a good design is as little design as possible, however we seem to live in a world where some think more is better. As a designer I believe a great bead should be about shape, colour and especially function. A bead should be adaptable to every artist, artisan & designer and in any
medium. The new rounded Rhombus is that bead. I love the clean lines, the simple curves and the beautiful impact of color it gives to any design.
I hope you love working with it as much as I do.”
Preciosa, a Czech manufacturer with a long history of producing crystal components and glass beads, added new shapes into their already brilliant selection of beads in 2018, too.
My first impression of the 3.5 x 15.5 mm Bow bead when I first saw it in real life was: OMG, that’s huge! It would definitely be a step out of my comfort zone to use them. But as you know, I am not afraid of challenges, so it may happen some day! Until now I am admiring the beautiful creations of my friends Tereza Soukupova of Potomac Beads and Karolina Emingrova of Kaja Bijoux.
Antoinette bracelet with Bow beads, made by Tereza Soukupova of PotomacBeads.eu
A very cool pair of earrings made with Bow beads by Karolina Emingrova of Kaja Bijoux
The Karo is a 5 mm square shaped seed bead. Rather large for a seed bead, right? And unusual with the two holes. But because of the method of manufacturing (cutting a glass tube into pieces vs. “table cut”, “fire polished” or “pressed bead” method) it still is a seed bead indeed!
It pairs well with the Twin range of Preciosa very well, and comes in many different colours.
Karo beads lining up neatly in the bracelets of Karolina Emingrova of Kaja Bijoux
The Rola is a large hole, cylinder shape which comes in three different sizes: 5×3.5, 7×3.5 and 10.5 mm. They are distant relatives of bugle beads manufactured in Japan with a different technique. But while Miyuki decided to introduce a slender version a year earlier, Preciosa focused on more robust looking variations. They are perfect for example for making snowflakes – you can check one out in Preciosa’s gallery!
Full Rola necklace by Karolina Emingrova of Kaja Bijoux
Starman is one of the first companies I discovered when I entered the world of beading. The shelves and hooks of my bead shop were stuffed with their products from the first day. Until my customers let them be there – the stock usually didn’t last long!
The ChechMate system by Starman beads is a brilliant collection of different multi hole beads. The size of the holes and the distance between them is always identical, so it’s easy to combine them into one jewel. The newest addition to the CzechMate system is the Diamond bead. While there are already at least two diamond shaped beads on the market, in case of DiamonDuos and GemDuos the bead faces us with it’s top. On the other hand the CzechMates Diamonds have two holes running from the top to the bottom of the shape, so most designs will probably feature them by showing you the edge of the bead.
For comparison check out Zsuzsa Veres’s brilliant xx beaded bead. Zsuzsa is one of the designer’s of year of Beadwork Magazine, so hopefully you will bead a lot of different designs from her in 2019. Let’s start with the xx beaded bead!
Wyatt beaded bead by Vezsuzsi – Zsuzsa Veres
Teacup beads are tiny little half domes with one hole in the middle. They can be added on top and bottom of a bigger bead as mini bead caps, or used in bead embroidery to give more texture to your work. I can’t wait to try them!
I think this 2 mm colourful half-drilled bead is a great idea, and comes more handy to wireworkers and mixed-media artists then beaders. The look of this earring enchanted me so much, that I can’t skip mentioning the Finials, even if there is practically zero chance for me using them in the future ♡ If you are into wirework or use memory wire though, I highly recommend to check out the booklet Melinda Barta of Starman Beads put together about these tiny glass beads. Available now in 30 colours, and come handy when you want to make colour coordinated headpins!
Earrings with Finials by Starman Trendsetter Penny Dixon
Puca beads by Societe Francois Parent
Puca beads are another well built “system” of beads fitting perfectly together. There is not a year lately when French designer Puca would not surprise us with yet another novelty. In 2018 there were three of them.
The 7×4 mm Paros beads have a flat top and bottom, and two holes running diagonally through the beads. Because of this unusual feature it can be a challenge to use them, but Puca proves that it’s worth the try and in fact Paros opens up new possibilities in your designs.
Basile necklace by Puca with Paros beads
Kos were announced at the same time as Paros. They are 6×3 mm semi-circles with two holes running parallel – from the direction of the flat part to the top of the circle. They look great on their own, too, but you can actually create a full circle when putting two of them next to each other, or create an interesting effect when adding a small bead between the two semi circles.
Maiya bracelet with Kos beads by Puca
Samos beads were the third and last innovation of Puca in 2018. They are puffy ovals of 5×7 mm, with two holes of 0.8 mm. I can totally imagine them in the middle of petals in flower shaped motifs for example.
Brooch ‘Sati’ by Puca with Samos beads
With opening a European warehouse (run by my friend Tereza Soukupova) and continuously working on new bead shapes the Potomac Beads company is going strong this past year. I have a feeling that it’s worth to keep an open eye out for them on the beading scene. They have a library of beading patterns of massive proportions, coming handy mainly for new beaders, but the Potomac beads themselves are perfect for beginner, advanced and professional beaders, too.
StormDuo beads are elegant, wavy, swirling, original… And in addition have the perfect name! It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into this 7×3 mm two hole bead. Different then the other, mostly geometric bead shapes introduced in 2018, and enriching designs with a maximum amount of movement and energy. Well done, Potomac Beads!
The slightly smaller, 4 mm Mini RoundDuos are the small sister (or little brother?) of the original 5 mm wide RounDuo beads. They have two parallel holes. When using the closely related RounTrio beads with 3 holes I had the feeling of “yeah, nice, but I could probably go with only two holes, too”, this two hole, small version is a bead I can really appreciate. It’s not entirely small, so I can build upon it, it will keep the construction sturdy, but at 4 mm still won’t overpower everything else in the design.
EVA Beads (Mini AVA)
EVA and AVA are Potomac Beads’s iconic products. Both beads are of a V-shape, but while the 10×4 mm AVAs introduced a year earlier have three holes and an angle of 60 degrees (so one full circle is made up of 6 AVAs), the 6×9 mm EVA‘s are drilled only twice and because of the 90 degrees angle four beads are enough for a fully enclosed shape. What’s great about them is that the sides are slightly beveled, so the beads can sit neatly next to each other. They are available in beautiful colours, the Pomegranate Metallic Ice is to die for!
Tereza Soukupova’s Crystallized bracelet – with Eva beads in the bezel
Halo beads are metal (more precisely zamak, which is a high quality zinc alloy) frames you can put around any 6 mm bead. They are made in Greece and distributed exclusively by Potomac Beads.
They look great, but I’m wondering how can you prevent them from turning around when using with classic 1-hole beads, but not backing them up with another layer of beads when beadweaving or Ultra Suede in an embroidery project. The 4-hole Halo beads designed to fit 2-hole glass beads don’t have this issue, and I think they are a great invention.
Perles&Co. is one of my favourite places to go for a virtual round of bead shopping. They have an amazingly wide selection of cabochons, components, tools and beads, of course. What’s best, that you can apply for a discount if you buy big, and also take advantage of discounted prices if you buy in bulk.
The first (and hopefully not the last) exclusive bead of Perles&Co. is the Star Bead. It’s 11×11 mm wide and 3 mm thick. I bought a package in the otherworldly Green Turquoise Metallic Matte, and it’s everything I expected. I plan to use them in a special design for Christmas this year. But please don’t restrict yourself to the holiday season if you are thinking about grabbing some Star Beads, they can of course be used all year around. A good combination of colours will make them look like the night sky full of stars!
Erika’s Curated Collection
In 2018 I dug even deeper in the labyrinth of manufacturers to find unique components and beads for you. I focused mainly on rare coloured cabochons, and the selection of opal, metallic and rainbow shades grew significantly. These are some of my favourites:
My beloved L2Studio.sk didn’t present a full new collection in 2018, however, Lenka opened a new possibility to get her art quality cabochons for a better price, even before they hit the shelves. You can join Lenka’s VIP group here.
The cabochons are made of dark or light clay, and in some cases porcelain. These latest are a little bit smaller then the originally introduced clay ones, as more water is evaporating during firing in the kiln. It makes them even more delicate, while the shape, texture and colours are just as sharp and lively as in case of the slightly bigger versions.
ACL Patterns and More
The talented duo of Edwin and Aurelio started their own line of jewellery making components.
Kafe Dragon Clasp
The most fascinating piece from the New York based atelier is the Kafe Dragon Clasp. It’s hand carved, hand painted, and what’s the best: it’s made of recycled coffee from the Colombian mountains. Don’t worry if it seems tricky to attach the clasp to your bracelet: as a gift you wil receive a tutorial for a beaded “dragon mane” which will solve your problem.
I hope you enjoyed reading this summary! Tell me in a comment: which were your favourite bead shapes in 2018, and which ones would you like to try the most?
Wishing you a lot of beady adventures for 2019,