Of all the gem species on the planet, Quartz is the largest species with gemstones in the Crystalline, Micro-crystalline and Crypto-crystalline varieties. Quartz Beads come in transparent to opaque qualities in almost every color known. Examples of Quartz varieties in the Crystalline group are Citrine, Amethyst, Rose Quartz & Crystal Quartz; in the Micro-crystalline group are Jasper and Agate; and in the Cryptocrystalline group are Chalcedony. Being the most plentiful gem, Quartz is found worldwide.
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The way the surface of a bead is finished determines how it will reflect light. Plain beads are smooth and polished, and have a nice shine. Faceted beads have small, polished cuts covering the surface. This effect creates the shimmer and sparkle that so many expert crafters covet. Matte finished beads have a dull, unpolished surface. This kind of finish pairs well with natural material beads, such as wood, seeds, or shells. Faceted quartz gemstones are especially dramatic in necklaces and bracelets.
Round beads are the traditional shape used for jewelry making because they are easy to diversify. There is a variety of rounded bead shapes. The rondelle is a round bead that has been flattened slightly. The oval bead is elongated on both ends. Small rondelle beads, such as andalusite gemstone beads, mix well with larger beads as spacers to form a repeated pattern.
Quartz gemstones and other beads come in a wide variety of geometric shapes, including squares, rectangles, cones, bicones, cylinders, and tubes. Heshi beads are a type of thin cylinder made of chips that are strung together and then ground so that they produce a string of smooth disks or wafers. They can be worn alone in a long string or mixed with other beads as spacers. Heshi beads are often made from shells, wood, or other natural materials, but can be crafted from gemstones, too.
Gemstones are often cut into common shapes, such as hearts, coins, teardrops, or pears. A briolette is a teardrop-shaped pendant with facets. Quartz gemstones in the briolette shape catch the light beautifully and are a striking focal piece for a necklace.
Baroque is a term that describes any irregularly shaped bead, including nuggets, chips, and polygonal beads. Freshwater pearls and natural crystals are also considered baroque beads and pair well with many types of quartz.
Twisted and pillow beads provide more of an aesthetic design than a shape. Twisted beads look as if they’ve been wrung out, like a dish cloth, but not to the same extent as a spiral or corkscrew shape. Pillow beads have a puffed and rounded appearance. Both can be combined with traditional round or geometric beads to create interesting patterns and styles.
The placement of the openings in a bead can affect its appearance and how it is used. The most common drilling pattern is from side to side. While this drilling pattern works well for round, square, and elongated beads, it can be ineffective for others. Pear, teardrop, or briolette-shaped quartz gemstones are often drilled at the top, while square beads drilled from corner to corner give of an interesting effect.