Beads have been a popular item in arts and crafts for centuries. Among many other possibilities, you can use them to make jewellery, adorn furniture and spice up clothing. Traditionally, coloured glass has been the material used to make beads but, since the advent of advanced plastic manufacturing, more and more beads have been mass-produced from coloured plastic. Some of the plastic beads are made so well you need to know a few tricks to tell the difference between them and their glass counterparts.
Pick up the bead in your bare hand. Glass beads initially feel cool to the touch, because they are more dense than acrylic (the most commonly used substance for plastic beads that mimic the look of glass), but they also warm up fairly quickly in your hand, whereas acrylic beads take longer to change temperature.
Measure the weight of a bead you know to be glass against one that you're not sure about. Acrylic beads are much lighter than glass beads.
Test one of the beads by lightly tapping it with a hammer (if you have a large batch and can spare one). Put on your safety glasses, place the bead on a hard surface and tap it with the hammer. A glass bead will crack quite easily, while the hammer will bounce off of a plastic bead under a light blow.
Things you need
- Small scale
- Safety glasses