If you are new to beading jewelry or if you are interested in weaving beads either with a loom or without, it is important to learn some basic knowledge about and familiarize yourself with the different types of beads that are available on the market. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of bead types and styles; but here is a quick look at delica beads and other popular beading media to help get you started.
--Seed Beads: This type of bead gets its name from its tiny size, but a seed bead is also appropriately named because it forms the foundation for many creations. These are the kinds you see most often in Indian jewelry or moccasin adornment woven into intricate patterns and designs. They are the primary beads used for large weaving projects because of their uniformity in size and shape. For today's beader the be-all, end-all in seed beads are delica beads which have extremely thin walls and large holes. The most well-regarded delica beads come from Japan and they may be either smooth-walled or six-sided: but always cylindrical.
--Glass Beads: Unlike seed beads which are always round, glass beads offer crafters more options in terms of shape. The preferred varieties come from the Czech Republic as well as India. They come in all kinds of sizes and colors which make them ideal for bracelets and necklaces.
--Crystal Beads: You have probably heard the brand name Swarovski when referring to crystal jewelry or adornments. That's because this company is famous for producing some of the loveliest, highest-quality crystal beads in the world. They are popular in jewelry-making because of their "wow" factor and are available in most reputable crafting supply stores. Beware of imitators, however!
--Semi-Precious Stones: Because the natural earthy look is all the rage right now, beads made from semi-precious stones are extremely popular with crafters right now. There are more than a hundred varieties to choose from in a rainbow of colors. Turquoise is perennially hot and yellow citrine, black onyx and smoky quartz varieties make for truly stunning jewelry.
--Pearls: Once the most sought-after semi-precious bead material available to mainline crafters, pearls continue to set the standard for delicate grace. What once was rare and expensive is now affordable thanks to pearl culturing.
The choices you make in beads depend greatly on the type of project you take on as well as your personal aesthetic. Make sure to start small and learn the basics before taking on something more advanced.