Beaded Necklaces - The Ultimate Guide

14/01/2022 74 0 0

Beaded necklaces have been worn as decoration since ancient times. Their popularity has persisted though the ages, and the sheer variety and styles available means that these necklaces never go out of fashion. From old pearl and glass beaded necklaces to gemstone, gold,and silver bead necklaces our illustrated guide covers many of the different types of beaded necklacea.


Amber can be found in different varieties. Baltic Amber is the classic variety of amber and it can be found in various countries in the Baltic region such as Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, and Ukraine. Amber beads come in different colour shades. Baltic amber beads can be any shade of yellow up to a deep honey gold colour. Generally transparent amber beads with deep colour have more value than lighter opaque types. Other colours of amber are black, green,white, red and blue. Black amber accounts for 15 % of the worlds amber .White and red amber is quite rare with blue being the rarest.

  Amber bead chain necklace      Butterscotch Baltic amber beads  Baltic amber beads necklace

Amber bead chain necklace, vintage butterscotch amber beads, and Baltic amber beads necklace


Pearl bead necklaces are timeless classics and come in various styles from chokers to princess length (17 to 19 inches) to long strand pearl necklaces. There are generally four different types of pearls bead necklaces available. These are Freshwater pearl necklaces, Akoya Pearl necklaces, Tahitian Pearl necklaces  and South Sea Pearl necklaces. Akoya pearls are well known for their shape, colour and lustre. Most Akoya pearls are white in colour and perfectly round shaped. The most common size used for Akoya pearl necklaces is 7 to 7.5 mm, followed by 8 to 8.5 mm. Freshwater  pearls come in a variety of  shapes as they are grown without a bead inside. They are less shiny than Akoya pearls, and can be found naturally in different pastel colours as well as the typical cream/white colour. Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia are often called "black pearls" but actually display a rainbow of colours, the most popular colour being dark green. South Sea Pearl necklaces are the most expensive type of pearl necklace and are generally worn as statement pieces. They use either white and silver South sea Pearls or the very valuable gold South Sea Pearls.


  L to R: White double strand Akoya pearl necklace, Freshwater pearl necklace, and South Sea Golden pearl necklace


Sterling silver bead necklaces are popular due to their simple modern look which means they can be worn with most outfits. Silver beads are made in various shapes and sizes from classic circular beads, to  cubes,  squares, and hollow tubes amongst others.  Native Americans have a long history of silversmithing. Navajo pearls are sterling silver beads with a brushed  oxidised finish that are strung together on silver wire, traditionally handmade  made by Navajo silversmiths. Mexico is also known for quality silver bead necklaces.

sterling silver bead necklace       

L TO R: Sterling silver bead necklace, antique Navajo pearl silver bead necklace, and Mexican sterling silver graduated bead necklace


Multi coloured bead necklaces  are often made from glass, crystal, or gemstones. Austrian multi coloured glass bead necklaces and Swarovki crystal necklaces with colourful round crystals have proved popular over the years. Czech glass bead makers have a long history going back to ancient times and Czech glass bead necklaces come in many different shapes , styles and colours . Czech Harlequin glass beads are pretty  multi coloured bead necklaces.


Gold bead necklaces are made using various different shapes of beads, and vary in value based on the type of gold used. 22 or 24 karat solid gold beads are the most expensive but may not be ideal for everyday wear due to the softness of the metal. Gold filled beads (where a thick layer of 12 or 14 karat gold is applied to a base metal layer),are good quality beads and a more practical bead for everyday wear. Gold vermeil beads (gold plated sterling silver beads) are also a popular alternative to solid gold for modern jewellery makers. Gold plated beads are a cheaper alternative where a very thin layer of gold is applied to a base metal substrate. The gold layer does not last long though and skin reactions can occur.

 Long gold bead necklace          Gold bead necklace

Long gold vermeil bead necklace, vintage 18 karat gold bead necklace, and gold vermeil bead necklace with square beads.


Long beaded necklaces have been in and out of fashion over the years. Sautoir necklaces (long necklaces usually made of beads,pearls, or chains and often finished with tassels at each end were popular during the earlier part of the twentieth century.Long beaded necklaces (made of pearls, glass or bakelite) were typical of the  art deco 1920's and 30's jewellery style . Long bead necklaces featuring a variety of materials including gemstone or glass beads remain popular today.

 Long lapis lazuli beaded necklace   Long green beads necklace  

Long lapis lazuli bead necklace, long green beads necklace, and rose gold and silver long beads necklace


Venetian beads refer to a type of glass bead making that originated in Venice in the late 19th century. The beads are handcrafted according to a series of specific steps to create lovely quality beads known for their high level of craftsmanship. Their intricate designs ,distinct floral patterns, and vivid colours contribute to their beauty. Today many bead necklaces handmade in Murano and Venice are sold under this label.

Venetian blue Sommerso bead necklace    Venetian Murano glass beads necklace    Venetian wedding cake beads necklace

Venetian blue Sommerso bead necklace, Venetian Murano glass beads necklace, Venetian wedding cake beads necklace


Dichroic glass is  glass that is treated with  various metal oxides to make it appear to have many colors. The word "dichroic" literally means two coloured. When dichroic color is  applied to black glass it will reflect all the light resulting in a dynamic metallic color. If dichroic colour is applied to clear glass the result is  an ever-shifting rainbow colour. Dichroic glass bead necklaces display beautiful multi tone colours which can be difficult to capture accurately on camera due to their changing nature.


Rose quartz is the name for the pink version of the mineral quartz. It is very common and found in large quantities at varies locations around the world.  Rose quartz can vary in colour from a light barely there pink to a deeper translucent pink. Rose quartz is often cut into beads, cabochons and faceted stones of minimum 8mm dimension in order to display the rich pink colour. Rose quartz beads  come in various different shapes including round beads, nuggets,  hearts, and flowers. Rose quartz bead necklaces have always been popular as rose quartz is thought of  as a healing crystal and is linked to unconditional love.

Rose quartz beads necklace    Rose quartz beads necklace uk   
L to R: Rose quartz bead necklace, pale pink rose quartz necklace, and vintage Tiffany and Co rose quartz necklace


Millefiori Beads or Mosaic Beads date back to Phoenician, Alexandrian, and Roman times.The word "Milliefiori" literally means “Thousands of Flowers”, and the technique for making this glass comes from Murano glass artisans in Italy.The method involves making glass rods with patterns within the centre.  When the rods are cut the pattern is revealed .The beads are cut from the rods and then shaped  to show the beautiful flower patterns which can be created  in many different rich colours. Each bead is unique and handmade by artisans .Antique Millefiori Murano Beads are generally more valuable than those being made today. Ancient Roman mosaic bead necklace     

L to R: Ancient Roman mosaic bead necklace, vintage Italian milliefiori bead necklace, and 


Lapis lazuli is a blue metamorphic rock that has been used by people as a pigment, sculpting or decorative material for thousands of years. It was used in the mask off Tutankhamun , was used as a pigment by artists during the Renaissance and has been favoured by nomadic tribes and the people of Afgahnistan. Mines in Afghanistan are a major source of lapis lazuli, followed by Russia and Chile. Lapis jewellery and lapis lazuli beads in particular  have been popular over the years due to their intense rich blue colour. Good quality lapis lazuli can be expensive. The best quality lapis beads are those with a rich blue colour and possibly some small pieces of gold pyrite.

L to R: Ancient Roman mosaic bead necklace, vintage Italian milliefiori bead necklace, and 

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