Understanding AB and Metallic Coatings

Posted by beadsRfun on 11/24/2014

These terms may be used differently by suppliers which can be confusing. At beadsRfun.com, we would like to cover the basics of bead coatings.


AB coating - AB is an iridescent coating that gives a subtle shimmer. It is named after the Aurora Borealis, the fabulous Northern Lights. It can be full or half coated. For example, a Swarovski crystal bead described as AB is half-coated, AB 2X would mean fully coated.


A metallic coating can also be applied to give different finishes:


Iris – an iridescent coating that contains subtle flashes of toning colors. It is often used on jet for a striking finish.


Half coated – the special coating is applied to one side only which gives some shimmer while also allowing the bead color to be clearly seen.

CAL (Swarovski) or Labrador (Jablonex) is a silver half-coating on a crystal bead.


Vitrail – a half coating in differing hues on a crystal bead to give a sparkling look . These surface finishes are often added to fire- polished beads. Quality Czech glass beads have many facets so the finish adds extra sparkle and the beads really catch the light.


Pearlised coating - A glass or plastic bead is dipped in a special coating to give a pearly effect. For example, Swarovski crystal pearls and Jablonex glass pearls which are good for jewelry. Japanese plastic pearls are high quality but lighter which is ideal for bridal embroidery.

Luster - This is a special coating giving a soft, lustrous sheen to glass beads. An AB finish may also be added as well. Embroidery and seed beads may also be lustered.


Matte- These may be called frosted and have a dull, non-reflective look. They may also have an AB finish. For example, small Czech pressed glass beads of this type, in various shapes, can look very attractive.


Silver lined (S/L) - Transparent glass beads with a reflective silver lining in their holes. For example: seed beads and delicas are often silver lined. A silver lining can be used with clear or matte beads to achieve different effects. Silver lined large glass lamp beads are widespread.


Inside Lined - A clear bead lined inside with a color, often used on Japanese square beads and seed beads.


Enamel Ceramics - A high quality glaze is applied to the ceramic beads and fired at a high temperature. This may be done several times depending on the desired effect. Each bead can therefore look different.


Metalisized or Copper Coated Beads - These are plastic beads which are copper coated and then given a gold or silver plating. A special plating may be used to give an antique finish. A really high quality plating is a difficult technique.


Antique Finish - An antique look plating can be applied to base metal chain and findings. Materials such as pewter are often antiqued which gives them a very attractive appearance.

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