Dealing with New Beads and Shapes



It is now 2018, and 6 years have passed since the launch of the Twin Bead & SuperDuo. In that time, multi-hole beads (and other new single hole bead shapes) have become the rage in jewelry and bead weaving design around the world. Some people LOVE this. They enjoy playing with the latest and greatest jewelry-making supplies from around the world.

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March 19, 2018

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March 19, 2018
selection of neutral beads

It is now 2018, and 6 years have passed since the launch of the Twin Bead & SuperDuo. In that time, multi-hole beads (and other new single hole bead shapes) have become the rage in jewelry and bead weaving design around the world. Some people LOVE this. They enjoy playing with the latest and greatest jewelry-making supplies from around the world.

How a jewelry-designer can sensibly manage the growth of new jewelry-making supplies

Some designers dislike the multi-hole bead trend, and longingly wish for the return of the 1980s and 1990’s when almost everything revolved around Miyuki Delicas and crystal bicones. Probably much of this frustration is actually caused by the large stockpiles that many beaders and jewelry-designers have built with those two original product lines.

What is New and What Isn't

Although many new shapes have been recently developed from 2012 – 2018, a common misconception is that ALL of the shapes are new. In many cases, manufacturers are going back to old bead molds from the 1920s-1960s and remaking classic shapes. In effect, this is just a new trademarked name on an old product. This is true of a variety of popular bead shapes like the O Bead, DiamonDuo/GemDuo, Candy bead, 2-Hole Lentil, and many other shapes.

Other bead shapes are new. For example Potomac Bead Company has put a lot of effort into creating new molds and shapes for popular bead products like the IrisDuo, RounDuo, DiscDuo, AVA Bead, and RounTrio. Other products like the CzechMates Crescent, QuadraTile, Arcos Par Puca, Spiky Button, and ZoliDuo are also all newly designed bead shapes.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change ” -Heraclitus

Change, and How to Cope

Whether we like it or not, the bead world will continue to grow and change over time. New products will constantly be developed. Some will be wildly successful… others will fade into oblivion. Much of the success or failure of any new bead shape depends upon how bead and jewelry-designers use those latest beads in their designs.

So how does this impact you? To start, take a look at each new product and do the following:

1) Consider “Do I like this bead and does it give me ideas?” If the answer is no, then you are probably safe to simply skip that bead and find another. If you find a new bead design intriguing:

2) Buy a few flexible colors of new shapes. Silver, gold, bronze, copper, black, white are good starting colors for any bead shape. They will easily blend with other bead colors in your designs. Buying a handful of colors gives you the opportunity to test how much you really like new shape without spending too much buying products you might not use later. At least with Potomac Bead Company products, nothing will be eliminated right away once launched, so you will have some time to make decisions.

3) Make unique creations. Demand for patterns, ideas, and inspiration is at a premium in the first 3-6 months after a new shape has been released. By being someone who is experimenting with new shapes and colors before many other people, that can position your designs in the market at a time when few other patterns have yet been created.

Finding Resources and Inspiration

Of course, perhaps you don’t like to design on your own, and would prefer to make beaded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, or rings once other people have created patterns. If you are interested in specific new shapes, you will want to first subscribe to Potomac Bead Company’s YouTube channel. Potomac Bead Company is most often the first company to come out with new free patterns… a variety of designers work at Potomac Bead Company’s headquarters, and even more around the world work with Potomac to create new inspiration.

You can also set up Google alerts by email to notify you when specific terms become available. For example if you are interested in finding patterns for the new IrisDuo bead that Potomac Bead Company released in 2017, you can set up Google alerts to notify you when the terms “IrisDuo” “Bead” and “Pattern” are found together. Pinterest boards, Potomac Bead Company’s private Facebook group, and the websites of your favorite designers are also other great places to check regularly to see what is new.

Picking Colors

Picking bead colors is always a popular topic discussed, and one worth noting when it comes to new bead shapes. You may be interested in reading a blog from Potomac Bead Company's Tereza on this topic on combining colors.

Generally, Potomac Bead Company will consistently launch new shapes with the same consistent popular color selection. These will usually include:
*Aztec Gold, Vintage Copper, Copper, Aluminum Silver, Zinc Iris, Lava Red, Ancient Gold, Crystal Labrador Full, Crystal Capri Gold, Crystal Amber, Jet, Jet Bronze, Jet Hematite, Jet Red Luster, White, White Lila Luster, White Baby Blue Luster, White Teal Luster, and White Lila Vega Luster.

various colored beads

Depending on the shape, additional colors and metallic finishes may also be launched at the start. Other factories and bead producers do similar things, often launching with many of the same popular bead colors.

What are your favorite colors? Do you try to maintain consistent colors across many different bead shapes in your collection? That is always a good place to start… as new patterns become available, having a few flexible colors in your pallet will help you to begin creating right away! Over time, as more beading patterns become available for any new bead shape, you can later indulge by adding more varied colors to your own personal bead collection. Keep in mind also that most new beads will launch with 20-40 colors… over the next year that number almost always grows as the bead shape gains traction in bead stores and bead sites around the world.

Of course, if a new bead does not sell well, sometimes that shape may maintain a very simple color selection, or could also be eliminated over time by the manufacturer. If you ever wonder how popular shapes are, take a look at Potomac Bead Company’s Czech Beads pages to see how many colors you can find. Generally the more colors you find, that indicates that the shape is more popular. Other slower movers may have more limited selection, and you can always contact Potomac Bead Company to ask for more detailed forecasts for specific bead shapes.

Flexibility in Designs

Observing, testing, and experimenting.

As you design, bead, and make your own jewelry, there are three essential processes to remember that will help you to stay up-to-date on the latest beading trends and jewelry-making trends.

1) Observing: Watch what is happening in the beading world, particularly from bead industry leaders like Potomac Bead Company. Subscribing to this blog will help to keep you up to date, and receiving Potomac Bead Company emails will help to keep you informed about what is new in the industry. Of course, the 2-3x weekly free patterns on the YouTube channel will also help to feed your creative side ;). Other resources around the web, magazines, blogs, and more will also help to keep you updated about what is happening in beading in 2018, 2019, and beyond.

2) Testing & Experiementing: Be willing to test assumptions and ideas about what works for you. Whether you are just a hobbyist, or even sell your handmade beading creations, it is important to push your boundaries. Not only is it fun to learn new skills and work with new products, but doing so is good for your health and creative side. Experimentation is essential for the modern beader… jewelry making is always changing, so a willingness to test new ideas, new products, and new techniques makes every single one of us more complete.

beaded crystal oval pendant

At Potomac Bead Company, we are looking forward to the next few years challenging ourselves to constantly produce new inspiration for each of our customers. We love being a part of the larger jewelry-making community. The challenges of stocking over 50,000 products gives a lot of opportunities to experiment with new beads, shapes, and colors. It also means we must be very careful in not biting off more than we can chew. Thanks for reading, and we enjoy having your on this beading journey with us!

by Nathan Buchman
Co-founder, Potomac Bead Company