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Everything You Need to Know about Bead Metals & Platings

In this "Better Beaders" episode from PotomacBeads, Allie passes along must-know knowledge about the different popular types of metal beads and metal platings commonly used in the bead & jewelry industry. It is helpful to know the advantages of specific types of metals, and which metal bead or finding finishes will hold up or tarnish over time.

Episode Transcript


In this informative Better Beader episode, Allie and Katelyn dive deep into the world of bead metals and platings. Understanding the different types of metals and platings used in jewelry making is essential for creating beautiful, long-lasting pieces. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the key points discussed in the episode, helping you make informed decisions when selecting materials for your beading projects.

Types of Metals

The episode covers a wide range of metals commonly used in beading, including:

  • Base metals: Brass, copper, and nickel
  • Precious metals: Sterling silver, gold-filled, and gold
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Niobium

Each metal has its own unique properties, such as durability, color, and potential for allergic reactions. Understanding these characteristics will help you choose the best materials for your projects and customers.

Platings and Finishes

In addition to the base metals, the hosts discuss various platings and finishes that can enhance the appearance and durability of your beads and findings. Some of the platings mentioned include:

  • Gold plating
  • Silver plating
  • Rhodium plating
  • Antique finishes
  • Hematite plating

Each plating has its own benefits and drawbacks, such as the level of tarnish resistance and the potential for the plating to wear off over time. The hosts provide helpful tips on caring for plated items to maintain their appearance and extend their lifespan.

Allergies and Skin Sensitivities

An important topic covered in the episode is allergies and skin sensitivities to certain metals. The hosts discuss common culprits, such as nickel, and provide suggestions for alternative metals that are less likely to cause reactions, like niobium and titanium. They also emphasize the importance of disclosing the metal content when selling jewelry to customers with sensitivities.

Quality and Price Considerations

Allie and Katelyn offer valuable insights into the relationship between metal quality and price. They explain how factors like the purity of the metal, the thickness of the plating, and the country of origin can impact the cost of your materials. By understanding these factors, you can make informed decisions when purchasing beads and findings, balancing quality and affordability.


This Better Beader episode provides a wealth of information on bead metals and platings, empowering you to make knowledgeable choices when selecting materials for your jewelry projects. By understanding the properties, benefits, and potential drawbacks of each metal and plating option, you can create stunning, high-quality pieces that will stand the test of time. So, take this knowledge and apply it to your next beading project, and don't forget to share your creations with the Better Beader community!

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