Welcome to a new series of beading questions and answers that will be running regularly on this blog. Here at Eureka we get a lot of questions about all things having to do with beads and beading so it felt like a good time to get all this information down in an easy to search format.
Today I’ll be answering some frequent questions that we get about our gorgeous Czech glass beads.
Q: What’s the difference between Swarovski crystal and Czech fire-polished beads?
A: Swarovski is an Austrian manufacturer of faceted crystal beads in a huge variety of colors and shapes. It is a luxury fashion brand and it is incorrect to use Swarovski to refer to any other crystal beads.
The difference between crystal and glass is the much higher lead content of crystal with gives it superior clarity, sparkle and makes it much harder than glass. This allows it to be cut with more precise facets the same way that gemstones are cut.
Swarovski beads are made in a variety of shapes and can have up to 100 sharp-edged precision-cut facets. Swarovski is a fashion innovator, constantly working with top names and designers, sponsoring contests and remaining on the cutting edge of the industry. They are known for the high quality and standardization of their products which means that you can match colors even if you bought some of the beads years ago.
Czech fire-polished beads are glass beads made in the Czech Republic with machine-cut facets that have been heated, or fire-polished, so that they are slightly rounded and very sparkly. Fire-polish is a generic term for a type of bead so there are many manufacturers both large and small in the Czech Republic. This makes for a wide and ever changing variety of colors, finishes and styles but it also means that finding more of a very specific color combination you bought before will be very difficult if not impossible.
Q: How are Czech glass beads made?
A: Bead manufacturers all over the world are secretive about the methods and equipment they use so it is impossible to know the details of the process. In general, Czech pressed glass beads are made in the Czech Republic from large rods of colored glass. The molten glass is pressed into molds of various shapes and sizes, with a needle forming the hole. Fire-polished beads are made from round pressed glass druk beads which are then cut with rough facets and then heated in giant ovens to soften the shape and add luster and sparkle.
There are a variety of common Czech glass bead shapes that you will come across and we carry all of them such as the very popular dagger bead, drop, table-cut, leaf and trumpet flower as well as many, many more.