Monday, August 26, 2013

Differences Between Types of Crystal & Glass Beads 2

Part 2-Fire Polished Beads and Crystal

In my last post I talked about several different kinds of glass beads. Today I continue along a similar vein. As my mom used to say, "It's sort of the same; only different!"

My mom-a pip if I ever knew one!

Czech glass is made without lead. It was discovered that by combining potash with chalk  a clear glass with excellent strength could be created. These beads come in every color of the rainbow and in myriad shapes including cubes, rectangular tubes, tubes, leaves,  rondelles, teardrops, ovals, flat ovals, donuts, cones, lanterns bagels and the ever popular round or “druk” that are used for making fire polished cut crystal rounds.
Czech pressed glass is made by pressing molten hot glass into a mold to form a specific design. Molten rods are fed into a mechanical apparatus which molds them into their desired shape. They are then rolled in sand to smooth any seam lines. Each rod can make multiple beads and thousands can be made daily. This process began because it allowed workers the ability to copy more expensive bead styles and create more elaborate colors at a great savings in both labor and cost.

This necklace features Czech pressed glass leaf beads with an aurora borealis finish
Beginning as a cottage industry over 200 years ago, Czech fire polished beads, also called Bohemian Crystal, are basically Czech pressed glass that is cut then polished using a firing method employing an open flame. This is a very different method than other crystal beads, as it is fired after being cut in order to smooth the edges of the cuts, rather than being cut after firing. There is no lead oxide in these beads, however, they still have a lovely luster to them. Another little known fact about these beads is that the shades of each vary from dye lot to dye lot and that the greater the diameter of the bead the more intense in color they become.

Bohemian crystal beads in teardrop and bicone shapes are used here along with Swarovski rhinestones.
Jablonex is the standard in this type of bead and came into being in 1945. After much criticism for using prisoners as forced labor they stopped this practice in 1989. Today many other companies have begun to thrive since Jablonex is no longer taking on new US clients.

When using the best quality in Czech beads is necessary look specifically for Czech table cut beads. Preciosa, founded in 1794, is the brand name that sets the standard in these beads and they have a great shine that is often compared to Swarovski crystal, having up to 34% lead and averaging 30%, but they are sturdier and will not chip and shatter as easily as Swarovski Crystal.

Preciosa Crystals are the standard in true Czech crystal.

Last in the lineup of fire polished beads are those now being sold by companies in India. In the last decade these companies have purchased some of the old machinery from Czech companies to produce similar beads to those produced in the Czech Republic. While they have duplicated the process, the Indian beads are lower in quality as the glass that is used to create them is not of the quality that the Czechs use.They also have a high fade rate and over time will begin to really show their inferiority, while the true Czech beads do not seem have this issue.

If you have any questions or need any clarification please do not hesitate to ask by contacting me through this blog or via my Facebook page or Twitter handle!  

Others in this series:

Part 1 of 3
Part 2 of 3 



  1. The Czech glass beads are beautiful all alone. No doubt. But what you do with them expands their beauty!

  2. Love learning - never knew. Thanks!

    1. You are most welcome and thanks for reading! I think most people really are not aware of the differences and it is necessary when making a decision on what you are buying. Glad you are enjoying the blogs! :)

  3. Your work is lovely so much talent. Will come again!


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