Bead Vault stocks the most variety of crystal beads in unique finishes, shapes, and sizes in Australia. Buy Czech fire polished and Swarovski crystals to vintage French jet glass.
CZECH FIRE POLISHED BEADS
Bead making is an age-old cottage industry and makers are dotted across the hills of northern modern day Czech Republic which historically has produced glass since the 16th century. Skilled artisans continue to make glass beads such as pressed, and lamp work beads produced in small batches whilst a handful of factories manufacture cut glass and seed beads.
The countryside is dotted with two chimney cottages, indicating that a glass furnace is making beads continuing hundreds of years of glass bead making tradition. Cut bead making is done by skilled artisans who work with molten glass rods poured into a mould. The molten glass takes the shape of the mould. Once cooled, the bead is machine faceted then polished by glazing inside a red-hot furnace. The intense heat of the furnace softens the edges of the facets, and the beads develop a smooth sheen and polish which remains as that cool down. (Hence their name “fire polished”)
The beauty of fire-polished beads is the range of available mixed colours and surface treatments. In addition to the traditional reproduction of rare precious gems (ruby, emerald, etc.) Czech fire-polished beads also come in colour combinations that resemble all the wonderful semi-precious gemstones in the natural world.
These beads do not have led in them, so they are not truly crystals, despite the sparkling facets and jewel colours.
Bead Vault stocks a comprehensive range of Czech fire-polished shapes, sizes, colours and finishes, from sizes 3mm – 22mm. One beauty of fire-polished beads is the range of available mixed colours, surface treatments and finishes. Made of quality glass, colours will not fade, and the treatment of fire polishing creates in a scratch-free surface, which creates maximum brilliance.
Our most popular sizes are 4mm, 6mm and 8mm. With over seventy colours to choose from in our 4mm Czech crystal range you are sure to find the colour you are looking for. Use 4mm in such projects as yoga bracelets, bead embroidery, delicate jewellery designs and embellishment.
A range of drops 5x7mm, 10x7mm and 13x10mm are available in our fire polished bead range along with oval shaped crystal beads from 8x6mm to 13x10mm. Other shapes are available in a limited colour range such as wheels, rondelles and rectangles.
With its centuries-old glass-making traditions in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) it was the cradle of machine cutting and polishing last century, think your nana’s chandeliers, her cut glass vases, crystal drinking ware and most of her jewels. Sadly, most of our glassware is now mass produced in Asia. However, there still exists a small cottage industry for bead production in the Czech Republic despite globalisation, and a history of disruption from war, freedom fighters, Gestapo and communist dictators.
CZECH CATHEDRAL GLASS BEADS
Bead Vault stocks a variety of sizes 6mm – 10mm and shapes including melon, lantern, and barrel in cathedral glass bead range.
Cathedral Glass Beads are so named after the stained-glass windows of European churches and cathedrals. They are also known as crown beads due to the beautifully finished lace like caps at the top and bottom of the bead. These caps accentuate the main colour of the pressed cut bead. The facets give them high light refraction and colour saturation, adding an old-world vintage charm to your designs.
Skilled artisan makers balance artistry with science as they go through multiple steps to produce the cathedral beads. The decorative end-cap colour is applied to the bead first before the surface faceting. The beads are then polished by a red-hot furnace for a second time requiring a high-level mastery of skill to ensures that the end colours are not burned by the additional firing.
Size and shape may vary slightly, and colour may vary from dye lot to dye lot. Solid colour means the base colour of the glass is saturated throughout the dye lot and will not fade or rub off over time.
CZECH MACHINE CUT CRYSTAL BEADS
Czech beads are renowned for their excellent craftsmanship, dating back to the 11th Century. My items use Preciosa (formerly Jablonex) prime quality, traditional Czech glass beads. The Preciosa brand was first registered in Bohemia in 1915 and has been a world-leading producer of cut crystal since 1948.
Bead Vault stocks a wide selection of crystal beads from the Czech Republic, made by the world-leading producer Preciosa. Recognised for their quality and value Preciosa has a tradition of glass making from crystal beads to chandeliers for centuries and is recognised for their quality, innovation, tradition, and value.
Made of quality glass, the vivid colours will not fade and are consistent throughout the line.
Glass like precious stones can be cut, ground and polished. Manual bead cutting developed at the end of the 18th century allowed skilled artisans to successfully imitate stones such as diamond, ruby, topaz, sapphire and amethyst. Manual cutting has since been replaced by machines.
Machine cut crystals offer quality crystal with extraordinary optical and aesthetic characteristics from the heart of Bohemia. These crystals have a much sharper (square facet) cut than the fire polished crystal (rounded facet) which gives them their irresistible sparkle.
The chaton (stones) are further enhanced by means of a reflective layer of genuine silver whose durability is ensured by highly resistant varnish providing protection during general use in jewellery assembly.
Vacuum Coating is the application of layers of metals, their oxides and / or salts create special surface treatments i.e., Metallic Finishes. The Finish is more expensive due to the technical processes used to produce such precious colours.
Please note use an epoxy resin glue to adhere to other materials. e.g. Araldite
SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL BEADS
These beads have a much sharper, square cut than cut glass, which creates their irresistible sparkle. Round beads are available in up to fifty facets. The more facets the bead has, the rounder it is, and the greater the brilliance.
History of Swarovski Crystal Co
Daniel Swarovski (Born in 1862 in northern Bohemia now the Czech Republic) has become the world’s best- known producer of machine cut stones beads and figurines. Although his father was a glass cutter, he defied tradition by choosing to learn the metal craft. In the late 1880’s he established a business in the manufacture of brooches and hatpins, marketing them directly to Paris. He filed a patent for his first stone cutting machine in 1892 and three years later moved his operations to Austria and became known as K.S and Co after his financiers.
Later D.S. & Co was his trademarked business name and logo before becoming the current swan logo in 1988.
The Daniel Swarovski brand today produces jewellery, accessories and interior objects. If you come across crystals in the original D.S. & Co packaging (like above) you know it is authentic vintage.
Swarovski vs Fire Polished
You can visibly see the difference between Swarovski crystal and Czech fire-polished on the edges of the facets. The Swarovski machine-cut crystal has a clean, sharp edge between facets. Czech fire-polished beads have a slightly rounded edge. This is due to the heating process that gently melts the glass at the edge of the facets and on the edges of the holes. Czech fire-polished beads do not have lead content, so they are not considered crystal. Swarovski beads are lead crystal (as they do have a lead content), which makes them richer and deeper in colour.
French Jet or crepe stone is black glass or black crystal. (not fossilised wood). Manufactured from the late 1800s in the former Czechoslovakia using hand cutting techniques these beads are flat on one side and cut on the other with 2 holes drilled through them. They are extremely versatile. Mount them on filigree stampings, sew them onto garments and string them to create unique bracelets and chokers. Note: they have either the makers mark on the back or some have decorative etchings which makes them reversible. Like all glass, it will be colder to the touch and heavier than Whitby jet or vulcanite.