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Bead Shapes Glossary

Learn about over 120 bead shapes in our beads glossary. Find photos, line drawings and definitions in this easy-to-use, fully-illustrated dictionary of bead shapes. Not everyone uses the same words when describing jewelry components, but a "rondelle" by any other name still looks as beautiful when it's strung.

In addition to shape definitions, you'll also find descriptions of surface bead effects (like "puffed" and "corrugated") and specialty bead hole styles (like "half-drilled"). Use this free bead resource on its own and as a helpmate when you shop our online store.

Live outside North America? Then you might also find our British/American Translation Glossary of Jewelry Terms useful.

Shapes of beads are listed alphabetically. Click a letter below to go directly to that section of the dictionary.

A     B     C     D     E     F    

G     H     K     L     M     N     O    

P     R     S     T     W     Y    

Specialty Drillings & Holes

 
Center Drilled: beads drilled through the middle. Most basic bead shapes are center drilled. Here are just a few
center-drilled beads you can buy.
Illustration of a center-drilled bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of center-drilled beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

Corner Drilled: beads drilled diagonally. This effect is also known as diagonally drilled.
Corner-drilled beads you can buy.
Illustration of a corner-drilled bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of corner-drilled beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

Double Drilled: beads with two holes.
Double-drilled beads you can buy.
Illustration of a double-drilled bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of double-drilled beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

Half Drilled: beads that are drilled only part-way through. Used to mount on pegs or wire hangers.
Half-drilled beads you can buy.
Illustration of a half-drilled bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of half-drilled beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

Large Hole: We label beads "large hole" when the hole's diameter is 2mm or more. Large hole beads work great with leather cord, hemp cord, & omega chain.
Large-hole beads you can buy.
Illustration of a large-hole bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of large-hole beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

Tip Drilled (Top Drilled): these are beads that hang down like a pendant when strung horizontally. In other words, the hole is drilled near the top of the bead.
Tip-drilled beads you can buy.
Illustration of a tip-drilled bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Examples of tip-drilled beads (photo courtesy of Rings & Things).

 
 

Bead Shapes & Related Effects

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Almond: another name used to describe a marquise bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Animal Shaped: sometimes beads shaped like animals are used just for fun, or used as sports and school mascots. Other times, these shapes are called fetishes and are considered to have spiritual importance for the wearer. Animal-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of a bird-shaped animal bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A fox animal-shaped ceramic bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Atlas Bead: another term used to describe a tube bead with pentagon (five-sided) ends.    
   
   
   
   
   
Ax (Axe): a shape that resembles the blade or head of an ax. Ax-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of an ax-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An ax-shaped apple coral gemstone bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Ball: ball beads are a specific type of round (spherical) bead. The term can also be used to mean a cluster of stones or beads, for example rhinestone balls and pearl balls.    
   
   
   
   
   
Balloon: this is another term for oval or egg-shaped beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Bamboo: bamboo-shaped beads are tubes that are narrower in the middle and curve outward at both ends. This shape is also known as a dog bone. Bamboo-shaped (dog-bone) beads you can buy.     Illustration of a bamboo-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Bamboo-shaped coral gemstone beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Barbell: Two round shapes joined together (or an oval with a tight belt!). This shape is also known as a figure 8, infinity, dog bone or bow tie. Barbell beads you can buy.     Illustration of a barbell bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Goldstone gemstone barbell beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Baroque: an irregularly-shaped bead characterized by extravagance, complexity or flamboyance. Related shape names include nuggets, cosmic, graphic and polygon. Baroque beads you can buy.     Illustration of a Swarovski crystal cosmic bead, example of a baroque shape (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Swarovski crystal cosmic bead, example of a baroque shape (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Barrel: a short, thick tube bead with slightly rounded edges. This shape is also known as a drum. Barrel beads you can buy.     Illustration of a barrel bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Natural agate gemstone barrel beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Bean: a cross between a barrel and an oval. A plump, roundish tube. This shape is also known as a rice shape. Bean-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of a bean-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Bean-shaped jet gemstone beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Bib: a set of long, tip-drilled beads that are graduated in length, with the longest bead in the center. Bibs are also known as a collars or fans. Bead bibs (collars) you can buy.     Illustration of a bib of beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A bib of graduated tigereye gemstone beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Bicone: a shape resembling two cones (smooth or faceted) joined at the base. The center can be rounded or have flat sides. This shape is also known as a hogan, especially if it is corrugated. Some people call this shape a rondelle (roundelle).     Illustration of a faceted bicone bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Chinese-glass faceted bicone bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Bow Tie: another name for a barbell bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Branch: a narrow, irregular shape that twists and curves like a tree branch or a branch of coral. Cupolini-style is a particular type of short branch shape. Branches are also known as sticks. Branch beads you can buy.     Illustration of a branch bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Peach bamboo coral cupolini-style branch beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Brick: another word for a rectangle bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Briolette: a teardrop or pear-shaped pendant with facets. Briolettes are always tip-drilled. This shape is also known as a faceted teardrop or faceted pear.     Illustration of a briolette bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A leaded-glass crystal briolette (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Bugle: a narrower version of a tube, usually a glass bead. The surface can be smooth or twisted. Bugle beads you can buy.     Illustration of a bugle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A smooth glass bugle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
A twisted glass bugle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Button: not to be confused with the sewing notion, this bead shape is similar to a coin when side drilled and a rondelle when center drilled. Button pearls tend to be slightly irregular, which can add to their appeal. They are typically slightly puffed on one side and slightly indented on the other (the way some buttons are designed). Some people call crystal rotunds "buttons." Center-drilled button beads are also known as corn beads. Button beads you can buy.     Illustration of a side-drilled button bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Side-drilled freshwater-pearl button beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Capsule: a cross between a couch cushion and a flattened oval that resembles the shape of a pill capsule. This shape is also known as a bean. Capsule beads you can buy.     Illustration of a capsule bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A silver leaf jasper gemstone capsule bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Charlottes: seed beads that have one hand-cut side on each bead. This single cut makes these tiny beads slightly faceted, adding a touch of sparkle. Also known as a charlotte-cut bead. Charlotte-cut seed beads you can buy.     Closeup illustration of Charlotte-cut seed beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Strands of Charlotte-cut seed beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Chip: an irregularly-shaped bead that is often thinner, smaller or flatter than a nugget bead. This shape is also known as a macadam or knucklebone. Chip beads you can buy.     Illustration of a chip bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Howlite gemstone chip beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cog: technically, a tooth or nodule on a mechanical gear, but often people use the word to mean the entire gear or sprocket. Beads shaped like mechanical gears and sprockets are typically circular and flat with teeth along their edges. Cog beads you can buy.     Illustration of a cog bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Base-metal silver-plated cog beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Coiled: a bead that is formed by a material being wound into spirals; often made of wire. Coiled beads you can buy.     Illustration of a coiled ring bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A star-shaped, wire coiled bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Coin: a flat or puffed circle, drilled lengthwise. This shape is also known as a side-drilled disk (disc) or a lentil bead. Coin-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of a coin bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sterling silver puffed coin bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Collar: a small, raised surface around the entrance to a bead hole. Also, another name for a bib.    
   
   
   
   
   
Column: usually this bead name refers to a tube bead with architectural decoration. SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS makes double-drilled crystal "column" beads that do not fit this description.     Illustration of a column bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An antiqued pewter column bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Concave: curving inward, like the inside surface of a bowl or sphere. The opposite of convex. Illustration of a concave surface.    
   
   
Cone: a bead with a wide base that tapers to a pointed end. Also, a finding that is used as an end piece for multistrand designs. Cone ends you can buy.     Illustration of a cone bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A silver plated cone end (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Convex: bulging or curving outward, like the outside surface of a bowl or sphere. The opposite of concave. Illustration of a convex surface.    
   
   
Corn: A corn-shaped pearl is similar to a rondelle. Corn pearls tend to be slightly irregular, which can add to their appeal. Their organic shape is perhaps why some people say they resemble kernels of corn. They are typically slightly puffed on one side and slightly indented on the other, making them similar to center-drilled button beads. Corn pearls you can buy.     Illustration of a corn bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Freshwater pearl corn beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cornerless Cube: a cube with faceted (cut-off) corners, making it a cross between a round (sphere) and a cube. This shape is also referred to as a corner-cut cube and is more angular than a square ball. Cornerless cube beads you can buy.     Illustration of a cornerless cube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Lampwork glass cornerless cube beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Corrugated: a bead with a ridged or grooved surface. When the groove is lengthwise, this is also known as a fluted surface. Corrugated beads you can buy.     Illustration of a corrugated bicone bead, also called a hogan (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sterling silver corrugated rondelle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cosmic: one of several types of baroque shape. Cosmic beads you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
Couch Cushion: a slightly rounded rectangle, shaped similarly to a cushion on a sofa (couch). This shape is also known as a puffed rectangle. Couch cushion beads you can buy.     Illustration of a couch cushion bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An amazonite gemstone couch cushion bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Crescent: a circle with either a triangular piece removed (think Pac-Man) or a smaller circular piece removed or obscured (like a crescent moon). This shape is also known as a moon, half moon or angel wing. Crescent beads & pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a crescent bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass angel-wing (crescent) bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cross: two intersecting lines lying perpendicular at or near their midpoints. The shape used by the Romans for crucifixion (symbol of Christianity) has a short horizontal line that intersects three-fourths of the way up a longer, vertical line. Cross beads & pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a cross bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A green aventurine gemstone cross pendant with bail (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Crow: a circular, large-hole bead. Basically, a rounded short tube. much like a drum. This shape is also known as a wheel, pony bead, roller bead or "E" bead. Crow beads you can buy.     Illustration of a crow bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A luster glass crow bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cube: a three-dimensional (3-D) shape with six equal square sides. This shape is also known as a die (singular) or as dice (plural).     Illustration of a cube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A dichroic glass cube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Cubist: one of several types of baroque shape. Cubist beads you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
Cupolini: a short style of branch bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Dagger: a blade-shaped bead. A dagger always has a point at one end. The sides can be straight or curved. Dagger beads you can buy.     Illustration of a dagger bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass dagger drop bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Diamond: a square or rhomboid rotated 90°. A bead shaped like two triangles joined at the base. This shape is also known as a corner-drilled square. Diamond-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of a flat diamond-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A cloisonné puffed diamond bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Die (Dice): another name for a cube bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Disk (Disc): a flat or puffed circular bead that is similar to a coin, but is center drilled. Often has a rounded outer edge. This shape is also known as a heishi, wheel, donut, wafer or spacer bead. Disk beads you can buy.     Illustration of a flat disk bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass puffed disk bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Dog Bone: an alternate name for either bamboo-shaped beads or barbell beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Donut: a large disk with a very large hole. Sometimes, donuts can be found in additional (non-circular) shapes, for example ovals, rectangles or triangles. This shape is also known as a ring. Donuts you can buy.     Illustration of a donut bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A turquoise gemstone donut bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Drop: a shortened name for a teardrop. Also, a general term for any shape that dangles freely.    
   
   
   
   
   
Druk: (Druck) another term used to describe a round bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Drum: a thick tube bead with flattened ends (like a drum!). Its sides can be straight or curved. This shape is also known as a barrel. Drum beads you can buy.     Illustration of a drum bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A resin drum bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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"E" Bead: a large (size 5 or 6) seed bead with slightly flattened ends. This shape is also known as a crow bead, pony bead or roller. A metal-lined E bead with a square-shaped hole is called a rocaille. E beads you can buy.     Illustration of E beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Silver-lined glass E beads with square holes, also known as rocailles (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Ghost (matte aurora borealis) glass E beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Egg: an oval bead with one end that's smaller than the other. Egg-shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of an egg-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Sodalite gemstone egg-shaped beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Faceted: a surface effect of small, polished cuts. Facets tend to increase the shimmer of a bead or pendant. We sell over 2,000 faceted beads! Here's a selection of faceted beads you can buy.     Illustration of a faceted round bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Lapis lazuli gemstone faceted round beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Fan: this term is sometimes used to describe a puffed (partially flattened) briolette, and sometimes used to describe a bib of graduated beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Fetish: a bead or other object, often animal shaped, that is deemed to be of spiritual importance. Fetishes are sometimes thought to provide their wearer with aid and protection. Animal fetishes you can buy.     Illustration of a bird-shaped fetish bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Fluorite gemstone bear-shaped fetish bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Figure 8: another term used to describe barbell beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Filigree: a hollow bead with an open, intricate design on its surface. Filigree beads you can buy.     Illustration of a round filigree bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An antiqued silver plated filigree tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Flat: any bead that is thin with straight sides. The opposite of a puffed bead.     Illustration of a flat rectangle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A resin flat diamond bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Flower (Flower Shaped): beads that resemble flowers. These can be center drilled or side drilled. This shape is also known as floral, daisy, margarita (marguerita) or sometimes star-shaped. A selection of flower beads and pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a center-drilled flower bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Swarovski crystal side-drilled flower bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Fluted: a surface effect of lengthwise ridges on a bead. This is also known as a corrugated surface. Fluted beads you can buy.     Illustration of a fluted bicone bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An antiqued copper fluted round bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Flying Saucer: another term used to describe saucer beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Football: another term used to describe marquise beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Four-Facet Ball: another term used to describe square ball beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Gear: an alternate term used to describe a cog bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Graphic: one of many types of baroque beads. Graphic beads you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Hair Pendant: a term some people use to describe tanfouk beads/pendants.    
   
   
   
   
   
Half Moon: another term used to describe crescent beads/pendants.    
   
   
   
   
   
Hassock: a cube bead with a puffed top and bottom, named after the kneeling cushion it resembles. This shape is also known as a puffed cube or lantern bead. Hassock beads you can buy.     Illustration of a hassock bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A cherry quartz gemstone hassock bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Heart: two hook shapes joined at the tips (see images). Heart-shaped beads and pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a flat, side-drilled heart bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A foil-lined glass heart bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Heishi: a type of disk bead that is usually flat, but sometimes slightly puffed. Traditionally, this shape was achieved by drilling flat chips, stringing them and then grinding the strand against stone to gradually wear the edges into smooth, flat-edged circles. Pronounced hee-shee, this shape is also known as a wafer, wheel or spacer. Heishi beads you can buy.     Illustration of a heishi bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Luhanus shell heishi beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Luhanus-shell heishi beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Helix: a bead shape that somewhat resembles a faceted round, but has facets that create a spiral around the bead for a different final effect. Helix beads you can buy. Illustration of a helix-shaped CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A glass helix bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Hexagon: any bead with six sides. This shape is also known as hexagonal. Hexagonal beads you can buy.     Illustration of a hexagon bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A foil-lined glass hexagon tube (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Hogan: a bicone bead with a corrugated surface pattern. Frequently made of metal. Hogans you can buy.     Illustration of a hogan bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A silver plated plastic hogan bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Keishi: "Keshi" is the Japanese word for poppy seed, and true keshi are small irregular pearls formed by accident. In recent years, the marketplace has (erroneously) called larger irregular pearls from China "keshi" or "keishi." Our keishi pearls are these larger Chinese variety and have been intentionally cultivated. These larger irregular pearls are also known as cornflake pearls and petal pearls. Keishi pearls you can buy. Illustration of a keishi, or keshi-style, pearl (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Gemstone keishi pearl beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Knucklebone: an irregularly-shaped bead, similar to nuggets and chips, that resembles the bones in our fingers.     Illustration of a knucklebone bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Turquoise gemstone knucklebone beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Ladder: another word used to describe trapezoid (trapezoidal) beads and pendants.    
   
   
   
   
   
Leaf: beads with shapes that resemble the foliage of a tree or other plant (leaves). Leaf-shaped beads and pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a tip-drilled leaf bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A top-drilled Czech glass leaf bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Lentil: another term used to describe a coin bead; sometimes thinner than a coin, with edges that come to a point. When the latter, it is usually either tip drilled or diagonally drilled. Lentil beads you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Macadam: another term used to describe a chip or nugget beads.    
   
   
   
   
   
Margarita (Marguerita): a specific type of flower shape. Margarita beads you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
Marquise: an elliptical shape with pointed ends. Generally flat or puffed. This shape is also known as a horse eye, almond or football. Marquise beads you can buy.     Illustration of a marquise bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A fancy jasper gemstone marquise bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Melon: another term used to describe an oval bead. Melon ovals you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
Moon: another term used to describe a crescent bead/pendant.    
   
   
   
   
   
Moon Drop: another term used to describe a teardrop bead/pendant.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Nibblet (Nibblette): a small tile bead (rectangle tube). Some people spell this shape niblet. This shape is also known as a chicklet, baby pillow or puffy pillow. Nibblets you can buy.     Illustration of a nibblet bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass nibblet bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Noodle: a curved tube bead. Noodle tube beads you can buy.     Illustration of a noodle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An antiqued copper curved tube (noodle) bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Nugget: an irregular bead with no definite shape; a lump. Usually larger than a chip, this shape is also known as a knucklebone or macadam. Cornerless cube beads and faceted cubes are also sometimes called nuggets.     Illustration of a nugget bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sterling silver nugget bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Octagon: any bead with eight sides. This shape is also known as octagonal. Octagonal beads you can buy.     Illustration of an octagon bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Double-drilled, faceted, smoky quartz gemstone octagon beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Onion: a round bead with a short tube-like protrusion around each opening of the hole. Onion-shaped beads you can buy.    
   
   
A hand-blown glass onion bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Oval: an elongated round bead. This shape is also known as a rice, egg, bean, teardrop, balloon or melon bead. Oval beads you can buy.     Illustration of an oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An olive wood oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Oval Tube: a tube bead that's much wider in the center than at the ends; an elongated oval. Oval tubes beads you can buy.     Illustration of an oval tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A resin oval tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Pear: another term used to describe teardrop beads/pendants. A sampling of pear-shaped pendants you can buy.    
   
   
   
   
   
Pentagon: any five-sided shape. In batches of pentagon tube beads, a few six-sided tubes (with flower-shaped ends) will occasionally sneak in (this happens with nearly all vendors). Pentagon beads you can buy.     Illustration of a pentagon tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Cinnabar pentagon beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Pinch Bead: another term used to describe a tri-oval bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Polygon: meaning "many sides," this term is used to describe geometric shapes other than basic shapes like triangles, rectangles and squares. Also, one of many types of baroque shape. A sampling of polygon beads you can buy.     Illustration of a cosmic bead, one type of polygon (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Swarovski crystal polygon bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Pony: a smaller version of a crow bead, or a large "E" bead. This shape is also known as a roller or wheel. Pony beads you can buy.     Illustration of a pony bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Trade bead white heart pony beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Post: a bead that is tube shaped, but side-drilled and not hollow. This shape is also known as a stick. Post beads you can buy.     Illustration of a post bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Cherry quartz glass gemstone post beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Potato: an irregular oval or round bead, typically with a few bumps. This term is usually used to describe pearls. Potato pearls you can buy.     Illustration of a potato bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Potato pearl beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Puffed: any shape of bead which is "puffed up" from being flat; a bead with rounded (as opposed to flat) sides and often an inflated/enlarged center. Puffed beads you can buy.     Illustration of a puffed rectangle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A pierced sterling silver puffed coin bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Puffy Pillow: another term used to describe a tile bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Pyramid: a 3-dimensional triangle. Webster's says it's a "polyhedron having for its base a polygon and for faces triangles with a common vertex." We say "it's like those big things in Egypt." Pyramid beads you can buy.     Illustration of a pyramid bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass pyramid bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Rectangle: a flat or puffed bead with adjacent sides of unequal length, parallel sides of equal length and all right angles. An elongated square. This shape is also known as a brick. Rectangle beads you can buy.     Illustration of a flat rectangle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A pewter puffed rectangle bead with Celtic knot designs (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rice: a bead with a rounded rectangular shape. This shape is also known as an oval or bean. Rice beads you can buy.     Illustration of a rice bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Pearl rice beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rice Crispie (Rice Crispy): a rice-shaped bead with a bumpy surface (like the breakfast cereal). This term is usually used to describe pearls. Rice crispie pearls you can buy.     Illustration of a rice crispy bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Pearl rice crispy beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Pearl rice crispy beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Ring: a large-hole disk with a hole even bigger than that of a donut. Sometimes, rings can be found in additional (non-circular) shapes, for example ovals, rectangles or squares. Small rings work great as large-hole spacer beads and large rings can be used as pendants, or sometimes links. Occasionally, a large ring has additional side-drilled holes for stringing. Ring beads you can buy.     Illustration of a ring bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A mother of pearl oval ring, with side-drilled stringing holes (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rocaille: a seed bead or E bead that is metal lined and has a square hole. Rocailles you can buy.     Size 6 silver-lined E-bead rocailles (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Roller: a very short tube with slightly rounded ends, resembling a tire. Generally, a large-hole bead, a roller is less rounded than a crow bead or pony bead. This shape is also known as a wheel, "E" bead, rounded tile or slider. Roller beads you can buy.     Illustration of a roller bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass roller bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rondelle (Roundelle): a "squashed" round bead. Thinner varieties are similar to saucer beads and wider varieties are similar to rotund beads. This shape is also known as a button. Some people call bicone beads rondelles or roundels. Rondelles you can buy.     Illustration of a rondelle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Snowflake obsidian gemstone rondelle beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rope Edge: an effect in which rope-shaped details are found on a bead's edge(s). This effect is also called a twisted edge. Rope-edge beads you can buy.     Illustration of a rope-edged bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sterling silver rope-edged wheel bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Rotund: a bead that has a rounded shape, but is not fully spherical. Something in between a round and a rondelle (roundelle). An almost round bead in which the smaller dimension is 75% or more of the larger dimension. Rotund beads you can buy.     Illustration of a rotund bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Glass rotund beads with 'wedding cake' lampwork embellishments (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Round: a bead that has a nearly perfect spherical shape. This shape is also known as a ball, sphere, druk or onion. We sell thousands of round (spherical) beads! Here are some popular ones:     Illustration of a round bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A faceted firepolish glass round bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Ru-yi (RuYi): this Chinese phrase means "may everything go the way you wish." The related shape has a curled top and a base that curves to a tip, like the bottom of a radish. The ru-yi became a symbol of abundance and wealth in China because it was carried by powerful imperial Chinese officials. It has become an important Chinese symbol of authority, leadership and power. Ru-yi beads you can buy.     Illustration of a ruyi bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A cinnabar ruyi bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Saucer: a squashed round bead with very narrow edges. Similar to a disk or rondelle. This shape is also known as a flying saucer. Saucer beads you can buy.     Illustration of a saucer bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Salwag nut saucer beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Seed: a tiny short rounded bead cut from a narrow cylindrical glass tube. This shape is also known as a tile bead or "E" bead. A metal-lined seed bead with a square-shaped hole is called a rocaille. Seed beads you can buy.     Illustration of seed beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Size 11 Toho® Japanese glass seed beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Shell: either a bead that is made from an actual shell (the hard, protective portion of any mollusk), or a bead shaped like a shell. See our beach-themed components you can buy for shell-shaped beads, plus links to beads made of actual shell.     Illustration of a tip-drilled shell-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech-glass center-drilled shell-shaped bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Simplicity: a rotund bead with facets. SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS simplicity beads you can buy.     Illustration of a simplicity bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Swarovski crystal simplicity beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Slice: a slightly irregular bead with flat ends and rounded sides. This shape is also known as a tire. Slice beads you can buy.     Illustration of a slice bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Trade bead chevron-cane slice beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Sphere: another term for a round bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Square: a flat or puffed bead with four straight sides of equal length and right angles. A flattened cube, or a diamond laying on its side. Square beads you can buy.     Illustration of a square bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A foil-lined glass square bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Square Ball: a round bead with four flat (faceted) sides. This shape is rounder than a cornerless cube. It is also known as a four-facet ball.     Illustration of a square-ball bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A glass square ball/four-facet ball  (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Star (Star-Shaped): a flat or puffed shape with five or more points. Star-shaped beads & pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a side-drilled star bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A center-drilled garnet gemstone star bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Stick: another term for a branch or post bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
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Tabular: any bead that has two large flat surfaces. Tabular beads you can buy.     Illustration of a tabular bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A glass tabular mosaic trade bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tanfouk: a flat or puffed bead/pendant with an arrow-shaped base and a circular top with a large hole in the middle. Traditionally worn in the hair of Tuareg and Moorish women, thus sometimes called a hair pendant. Tanfouks you can buy.     Illustration of a tanfouk bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). An agate tanfouk pendant from Mali (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tapered: any shape that decreases in radius/width at one or more ends. For example, a cone is tapered at one end.    
   
   
   
   
   
Teardrop: a bead with one wide rounded end and one narrow end, that resembles a falling drop of liquid. Teardrops can be flat, puffed or 3-dimensional. They can also be tip drilled or center drilled and smooth or faceted. Teardrops are also known as pears, drops, moon drops, ovals or briolettes.
    Illustration of a tip-drilled teardrop bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A faceted firepolish center-drilled teardrop bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tile: a short tube with straight (rectangle) sides. This shape is often small like a seed bead and is also known as a nibblet bead. Larger varieties can also be called rectangle tubes. Tile beads you can buy.     Illustration of a tile bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Trade bead glass tiles (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tire: another term for a slice, wheel or roller bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Trapezoid: a quadrilateral (four-sided) shape with no right angles. This shape is also known as a ladder. Trapezoid pendants you can buy.     Illustration of a flat tip-drilled trapezoid bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A puffed rhyolite gemstone trapezoid (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Triangle: a bead with three sides. (A triangular-shaped donut is called a trillion — see below). Triangle beads you can buy.     Illustration of a flat, side-drilled triangle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A George O'Grady handmade borosilicate glass triangle bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Trillion: a triangular-shaped (three-sided) donut with bowed sides and rounded points. In other words, a puffed triangle donut. Trillion (triangle) donuts you can buy.     Illustration of a trillion donut (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A new jade gemstone trillion donut bead/pendant (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tri-Oval: an oval bead with three equal side facets. This shape is also known as a pinch bead.     Illustration of a tri-oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Czech glass tri-oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Tube: a long, narrow, usually cylindrical (circular-ended) shape. Alternately, the sides can be flat to create rectangular or square ends (rectangle tubes), pentagon-shaped ends (pentagon tubes), etc. Tube beads you can buy.     Illustration of a tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A cloisonné tube bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Twisted: any shape that is partially wound around itself, but not as tightly wound as a spiral or coil. (Think of a shape that's being wrung out.) Twisted bead shapes you can buy.     Illustration of a twisted 3-dimensional oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A foil-lined glass flat twisted oval bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Wafer: another term used to describe a disk (disc) bead.    
   
   
   
   
   
Watch Band: a short puffed rectangle with smooth tapered ends. Watch-band beads you can buy.     Illustration of a double-drilled watch-band bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). Amazonite gemstone watch-band beads (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Wavy: any bead with an undulating shape. A shape that's somewhere between being flat and twisted. Alternately, a bead with "wavy" surface decoration. Beads with wavy shapes or patterns you can buy.     Illustration of a wavy diamond bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sodalite gemstone wavy diamond bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Wheel: a thin, circular center-drilled bead, usually with flat sides and flat (not rounded) outer edge. Similar to a disk, this shape is also known as a rondelle (roundelle), tire, spacer or wafer. Wheel beads you can buy.     Illustration of a wheel bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A Swarovski rhinestone wheel bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
Wing: a shape resembling a single wing or pair of wings from an insect, bird, angel or other flying creature. Wing shaped beads you can buy.     Illustration of a wing bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A sterling silver wing bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).
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Yuanbao: a Chinese money shape. A flat or puffed bead resembling a butterfly. This shape is also known as a sycee or tael.     Illustration of a yuanbao bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things). A cloisonné yuanbao bead (picture courtesy of Rings & Things).

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