Glass Bead Finishes and Coatings

Glass beads come in an assortment of finishes, which embellish and enhance their appearance. A finish is a surface treatment, such as an additive, color or coating applied to the end product.

Common finishes include matte, frosted, AB (aurora borealis) or rainbow, metallic, pearl and satin.

AB finish is a permanent rainbow finish that can be applied to any color or type of glass bead. The finish is only applied to one side of the bead.

Metallic coatings are usually applied by heating the glass beads and then spraying them with oxidized tin.

A matte treatment results in a non-reflective, frosted, velvet-like appearance. Semi-matte is matte but with a light polish. The beads do not look as shiny as regular opaque.

Luster coatings may be metallic, white or colored. They have a uniform, shiny finish on the surface of an opaque, translucent or transparent bead. The beads end up having a pearlized look.

Pearl finish is often used to describe beads with an opaque luster.

Iris is an iridescent permanent coating applied to glass beads, which gives them a rainbow metallic shine.

Vitreal (vitrail) is when one half of the glass bead is painted silver, with a rainbow finish over the silver half. There are a variety of rainbow coatings available. Raku is a matte vitreal finish.

Gold or Silver Luster is when transparent glass beads have been coated with a luster gold or silver finish, which creates subtle gold highlights.

A galvanised bead has been plated with zinc with either a shiny or matte finish.

Plated glass beads are plain beads which have been electroplated or coated with a metallic finish. Silver-plated beads are plated with silver, and gold-plated beads are plated with gold.

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