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Our Newsletter


The Beads

Beadsite is based in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK and run by myself, Hilary Milne. I started selling Greek ceramic beads around 2005 and have gradually chosen to specialise in them, slowly decreasing the Bali and Thai silver beads that I stock. The Greek ceramic beads I stock are consumer driven. In other words if there are colours or shapes you want me to stock, I will try to get some of them in for you if I think there will be a market for them as I often have to buy thousands at a time. I do absolutely everything myself - website, photography (modeling too if my arms are long enough!), stock taking, tax returns, Facebook page, Pinterest and an Etsy shop (www.beadsite.etsy.com).

When I am on holiday, either a friend helps out, or the online shop closes for a while, but usually if you phone, you will be speaking to me. I will not always be available to answer the phone, so generally email is the best way to contact me.

I sold my handmade jewellery online and around craft fairs in Scotland for many years, and found that the beads were taking over my life. If you have any jewellery making questions I will do my best to help you, and if I don't have what you need, I will be happy to point you to websites which might be able to help you.

I love the coloured ceramic discs as they are so versatile to use, not only in jewellery making, but also in sewing, knitting and decorative crafts. These beads have large holes which makes them very popular.

Greek Ceramic Metalicised beads

A clay bead is formed and fired in a kiln. A coating of copper is applied to the clay base, and the bead is fired again. Finally a third layer of metal is applied, such as gold, silver or more copper , and the beads are kiln fired for a final time. This fuses the metal to the bead and makes the coating hard-wearing. Many of the beads that I currently stock have large holes suitable for stringing on cord and leather thong. Naturally if they are placed next to an abrasive bead such as glass, some wearing will occur at the point of contact, but with normal use it is unlikely the coating will wear off next the skin unlike electroplated beads.

Over time they will dull and tarnish a little, so I advise keeping them in sealed bags until needed for use. No abrasive products should be used on them, but a polish with a soft silver cloth will restore the shine. please see the photo below which shows the same beads before and after a quick polish with a silver cloth.

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The supplier is a Greek company based within the EU. Although the supplier states that the beads are made to EU regulations, the quality of these beads does vary between batches. These beads are sold by several online and "bricks and mortar" shops within the UK and the EU. Anyone who requires more specific information should contact me, before buying any beads.

I measure the beads with a micrometer to be as accurate as possible about their size. When the diameter is given it will be the width of the bead, not the size of the bead from hole to hole, as this is what matters for your design. Sizes will generally be correct plus or minus 0.5mm, but bathes do vary.

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Karen Hill Tribe (Thai) Silver beads

The supplier is based in Thailand and states: "All of our silver used products are made of "high content" silver which ranges from 95% to 99% in silver purity. The only metal used with our silver is bronze which is mixed with silver as soldering solution."

Due to the high price of silver, I am reducing the amount of Thai beads that I stock.

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Bali silver beads

Bali silver beads contain the same equivalent silver content to sterling silver. There are cheaper Bali-style beads available now from China and India, but the quality is very low. I will be offering the best quality I can find which comes direct from Bali. 

The supplier is based in Bali and states:
"Our products is a mixture of 92.5% pure silver (in some products the percentage is even higher than 92.5%) mixed with copper. That makes them 925 sterling silver. For products which design have the soldering part - for soldering we use the mixture for silver, copper plus brass. So those are all materials contain in our products. Our products do not contain nickel.

There is only one goverment agency to check the silver content in Bali and in our understanding only us who do this kind of testing among beads suppliers in Bali. The testing method that is available in Bali is by titrimetric system (melting the whole item and testing them by chemicals) and the result is usually only indicated the silver content of the product. Bali bead products are produced per batch, therefore it is not viable to test every batch that we produce. However silver content are always strickly maintain and we never use nickel."

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Lampwork Glass beads (Not available at present)

I buy some of the world's finest handmade lampwork glass beads directly from individual bead designers across the world. To me, every one is a work of art and a minor miracle of the artists' skill and patience. The vast majority of lampwork bead makers are women who work from home, and who started making beads as a hobby until it became an obsession. The bead on the right is by UK based Judith Johnston, but I also buy from Canada, USA, Australia, and Germany.

When I have lampwork beads for sale they are "one of a kind", and cannot be repeated. I sell both individual focal beads and also sets of beads. I hope you will become as obsessed with the artistry of these beads as I am!

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Polymer clay beads (Not available at present)

A true clay has fine particles of silicate suspended in water, whereas polymer clay has fine particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in plasticizer - but it can be used much like clay. The ones on the right were my very first attempt!

Beads made from polymer clay are baked in an oven then polished to a shine. The beads do not have designs painted on them but like millefiori are made up of canes of multiple colours. The skill needed to make these beads is every bit as involved as making lampwork glass beads.

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