Metal beads and why we love them!



Leslie Rogalski

Add metal beads to your jewelry and wow, magic! The alchemy of metal transforms our designs in more ways than one. Because we value metal itself, using metal beads in our jewelry lets us ask a higher price! Metal gives a higher perceived and literal value to our work. 

Metal beads also say a lot about who we are, our style. For fun, I collected some cool metal beads and totally made up what I think are the traits these beads might bring to a finished piece of jewelry—and what type of personality you may be to use them! (Approximate sizes are noted, for scale.) Go on, test your… metal!



The swirls in this silver saucer look like patterns in a Zen sand garden. Add beads like this to jewelry for an Asian fusion flavor. If you find this bead appealing, you tend to be calm and in control. You probably have a lucky bamboo plant in your home and will eat sushi, if it’s cooked. (20mm dia.)


  Tactile, modern, and a cartoon in antiqued brass, this squiggle bead gives a wink of whimsy to designs. You love having people smile when they see your jewelry! You probably like squiggly food, too, like licorice lacing, spaghetti, and funnel cakes. (18mm dia.)


  These silver beads are far out! Use them to bring a 60’s style, mod look to your work, bold galactic spheres from beyond. Bet you watched “the Jetsons” as a kid, and enjoy spacey, new-age music. (15mm dia.)

Paisley pyramid

  World traveler—albeit from your laptop—you’d use these beads to lend an exotic detail to your work. The decorative surface designs and shape of this Hill Tribe silver bead evoke treasures of the silk road trade. You like patterns and prints, and your jewelry reflects your love of intimate detail. Bet you wear… paisley socks! (12mm dia.)



Shaped of hammered brass, these large, hollow daggers look very tribal. Even a single dagger as a focal bead would make a statement of strength and power in a design. If you’re drawn to dagger beads you are probably something of a warrior, a leader, and always want to be the driver when you go places with friends. (35mm long)



  Being floral makes this bead feminine, but its oxidized surface and hand-crafted look make it a hip tribute to modern woman. It designs well with many other bead materials like stone, shell, or wood. Like it?  You are probably eclectic and artsy, and have bowls of beach stones around your house. (8mm.)

Old metal

  These old-looking metal components could have been unearthed at an archeological site, a remnant of an antique piece of jewelry or some unknown mechanical device. If you'd use them in your designs, I bet you like gears and watch parts, too. You probably are a fan of the Indiana Jones movies (except the second one), appreciate the imagination of Jules Verne, and might have secretly switched your brother's toy train for your Barbie one Christmas. (From 10mm to 20mm dia.)

Modern barrel


You are all about the shine, the elegance, the glamor of metal. These contemporary barrel beads are very luxe, and would totally enrich a design with semiprecious stones.  If these are the beads for you, your home is probably a showcase, with modern furniture, glass tabletops, and you have a box of tools with your name on it at your manicurist. (15mm.)

Verdigris dangles


Nothing new and shiny for you! You want the character of the ages. These brass dangles have a luscious green patina you adore. Jewelry becomes a museum piece with metal beads like these. You might have once taken a belly-dancing class, and are fond of samosas and dolmades. (5mm.)

Copper saucers


This is one of my personal favorite metal beads. The antiqued surface is a contradiction to the retro saucer shape, and as a metal, copper has a rich yet earthy paradox to it. This bead could look either industrial or tribal. Copper beads design well with wood, resin, stone, and fiber beads. You may be inspired to design with these large (30mm) saucers if you like ethnic arts, but also watch sci movies… like me!


Bluish necklace by Jane Dickerson
"Bluish" by Jane Dickerson


Find over 70 designs that use all sorts of metal beads in the 2009 edition of Creative Jewelry, like this "Bluish" necklace by editor Jane Dickerson. 

Then, share which metal beads are totally “you” here and on the Beading Daily forums!





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Erin Carey

About Erin Carey

  Erin Carey is the current Web Production Administrator for Interweave. She studied metalwork and communications before receiving her BA in Media Communications from Colorado State University in 2008. During college she worked for several newspapers doing freelance photography, then lived abroad in New Zealand for two years. A recent but avid beader, Erin currently lives in Colorado where she loves making jewelry, writing and traveling whenever she gets the chance.  

11 thoughts on “Metal beads and why we love them!

  1. Leslie how did you manage to leave out my favorite metal beads. I love the cast bronze beads from Africa. They often have designs that would have been home with Celtic jewelry.

  2. I am tired of opening the emails from you and seeing all the books advertised. I want more free patterns and directions for beading. If I want beading books I will go to the book store and get them, I don’t need advertising in my emails also.
    Thank You

  3. I lucked into some 65 mm corrugated aluminum beads and just had to have them. Then I got introduced to the new metal seed beads and oh what fun. Using 6/0 seeds in antique brass, antique copper, and gun metal I made three strands that were approximately 8 inches long. With no set pattern, I added metal beads of 4-6mm randomly on each strand in the corresponding colors. I ran these strands thru the 65 mm beads. Then I used the 11/0 seeds in the same colors as the 6/0’s to complete the strands. I wove them all together and finished with a clasp. The 65 mm beads rest right at the collar bones and the finished necklace is around 22 inches long.

  4. I am quite eclectic, as I like many different styles of metal beads, depending what I am creating at the time. What does that say about my personality? Confused, indecisive, schizo???? 🙂

  5. I happen to use silver plated or brass spacer beads in almost every design, I especially like to use antique beads in my earrings. They always give a little “oomph”. Thanks for this post, it’s my type of beading!

  6. Very feminist orientation!! (Said with tongue in cheek.) I find your descriptions of these beads with personality traits very interesting, but as a male, I firmly disagree with some of them, e.g. Zen – not calm, but I like the curved, rep0etetive pattern; Spirals, I like the ‘texture”, but The Jetsons didn’t exist when I was a kid (TV didn’t reach my town until I was in High School’ and it was ‘snowy’ then); I’ve been an SF fan since I read “Rocket Ship X-1″; I, too, like the saucers – I was a kid during the start of the ‘Flying Saucer” era.
    Remember, “Said with tongue in cheek”; I do agree with most of your comments, that is, I see where you’re coming from. How about doing some more of these?
    Stan B.