What Are Spacer Beads and How Can You Use Them?

Whether you’re a jewelry designer or just enjoy creating your own personal pieces, you should have a basic understanding of beading techniques to make the best quality accessories possible. Before beginning your project, it’s recommended that you plan out your design first to help guide the process and visualize a beautiful finished product. Making jewelry involves a lot of precise planning, including where you need to add spacer beads and how many beads of each color are required. Set your beads out on the table in the order you plan to string them to test out different color combos and designs. To break up sections of large beads, you’ll probably want to make sure you have a variety of spacer beads on hand. Find out more about how to incorporate these into your jewelry-making.

What Are Spacer Beads?

Spacer beads are essentially there to fill in part of the necklace or bracelet. Most pieces of jewelry focus on specific pendants, charms or beads. To bring more attention to these pieces, filler beads are typically smaller in size and placed between these larger focal points. Any bead can be used as a spacer bead, but you want to vary your bead sizes in your jewelry to make the design less busy and confusing, unless you’re creating a simple mala, which is made entirely of same-sized beads. Spacer beads help create an aesthetically pleasing design, create unique patterns and bring out the colors of the focal beads.

How to Use Spacer Beads

The best way to successfully incorporate spacer beads is by planning your design ahead of time. Determine which beads are going to be the main features of the bracelet and pick spacer beads that match this look. You can also use spacer beads to create a longer piece of jewelry without adding too many large, focal beads. Creating your design ahead of time is important to help you visualize the final product and test how many beads are needed in each section to reach the desired length or size. When using spacer beads, you may want to incorporate a finer thread as some types of spacers, like rondelle beads, have smaller holes than normal.

Types of Spacer Beads

crystal beads isolated

Rondelle Beads

The term rondelle is used to describe the shape of this type of spacer bead. Rondelle beads are typically round and feature facted sizes, which often catch the light, making the jewelry appear sparkly or shiny. If you’re going to incorporate rondelle beads as spacers, you’ll probably want to include featured beads that have a similar faceted or metallic appearance to make the piece seamless and not as though different beads were randomly thrown together on a thread. A comprehensive design is essential to creating a truly beautiful piece, so spend time creating the perfect combination of rondelle beads and larger, focal beads.

Metal Spacer Beads

Many spacer beads are made from metal because this material helps the focal beads to stand out, but if you’re going to use metal, be aware that they can become rusted or tarnished. If you don’t want to have to continually clean your jewelry, you may consider opting for a more expensive metal spacer bead that isn’t prone to tarnishing. These spacers come in many different sizes and shapes and can set off bright-colored focal beads very nicely.

Rice Beads

Another popular choice for spacers are rice beads, which, as the name suggests, are formed in a shape that resembles rice. These are available in a variety of colors, materials and gemstones, and are the perfect shape to keep the focus on your featured beads while also matching the overall feel of the piece. Because rice beads are so consistent in size and shape, they have the ability to really make the featured bead stand out. The longer, oval shape can also help break up a piece with a lot of larger round beads.

natural bead bracelets hanging from branch

Any Bead Can Be a Spacer Bead

From rice beads to rondelle beads, nearly every style can be turned into a spacer. You’ll want to plan your design prior to beading to make sure that your spacer complements your featured beads, but why not get creative and try a different type of spacer bead? Rondelle beads add a bit of sparkle to any piece with the faceted sides while metal spacers can provide a nice contrast. The Bead Traders also has a large collection of rice beads in different gemstones and colors that make the perfect spacers for any piece.

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