Bead Finishes and Coatings


Aurora Borealis (AB)

Half-coat metallic finish that adds a prismatic effect to the surface of the bead. The beads are placed in an oven where a chemical reaction between metals produces fumes that adhere to the exposed surfaces of the bead. Usually this coating is only applied to one side of the bead; however, there are some shapes, such as the Nouveau Brocade Discs, that can easily be coated on both sides for a more dramatic effect.


Same process as AB but results in a primarily orange/yellow reflection.


Same process as AB but results in a primarily pink/green reflection.


Tumbled to create a subdued look. The surface texture of a bead depends on the length of time it is tumbled. Instead of being tumble polished to a bright shine, the matte finish creates a soft appearance or glow to the bead.  Throughout the tumbling process the surface alternates from being matted to polished and it is up to the manufacturing experts to calculate the perfect tumbling time. The matted effect can also be created by dipping the beads into an acid solution.  This is the preferred method when creating matte AB finishes or working with delicate beads such as lampwork.

Matte AB

A combination of the above coatings.  The beads are first coated with an AB finish and then dipped into an acid solution to take away the shine.  This combination brings out the prismatic colour refraction of the AB finish and the rough texture of the matted bead creates a mesmerizing glow and an unbelievable depth to the bead.

Durable, transparent, glossy colour coating on glass beads that is heat treated like a glaze.  These coatings are usually applied to a crystal or jet based bead; however there are limitless combinations that are becoming increasingly popular.  On light beads a luster coating may add only a subtle hint of colour, whereas dark beads may have the complete opposite effect. Some examples include:

Vega (E9008)

Siam Ruby based bead with a luster transparent amethyst coating

Hematite (14400)

Jet based bead with a clear luster coating

Luster Opaque Rose/Gold Topaz (P65491)

This bead looks like an opaque pink bead with a gold luster but it is actually an opaque white based bead with Luster Rose/Gold Topaz.


A luster coating that appears more speckled and spotty; giving beads a natural, earthy appearance.  The colour can vary from light yellow to dark brown with underlying colour variations.  Some base bead colours, such as opaque beige, blue, or white allow the picasso finish to take on a raku pottery look.

Coated Beads

Also known as dyed beads, these coatings are generally used to create unique shades and dual-tone colour combinations that are usually unachievable or expensive to produce within the glass.  Although historically they are not as durable as lusters or other finishes, they are gaining in popularity around the world.  With proper care and when used in the ideal conditions, these beads will stay shiny and brilliant for years to come.  Beads we carry that are coated include the following:

Glass pearls

Alabaster white beads coated with a nitro-cellulose lacquer with pearl pigments. Our pearl-coated bead line has many shapes and colours that are an inexpensive and fashionable alternative to real pearls. Some of the variations include:


Jet-based beads with a thick and creamy coating.


Crystal-based beads with a thick and creamy coating.


Jet-based pearls

Pearl Lights

Transparent, crystal-based beads with the same nitro-cellulose lacquer finish as regular pearls. These beads look similar to regular pearls in low light, but have a saturated glow in bright light; producing a youthful, sophisticated style that is gaining in popularity.

Mirror Beads

Crystal beads with a 1/2 silver finish and coated with a brilliant colour. Beads with this finish are also called "Las Vegas Beads" or even "Mardi Gras Beads".

All our coated beads are clearly marked for your convenience. Start shopping now