Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Metallic Seed Beads

For as long as I have been beading, I have been taking Teejay's advice when it comes to using metallic seed beads in my beadwork. When she taught me how to do bead weaving, she said that it's usually a good idea to include at least some metallic beads in every project to help make it look like "real" jewelry. Obviously, there are times when using only colored beads is appropriate to achieve a particular look but 99% of the time I include some "metal" in my bracelets and earrings.

I often get asked what my favorite metallic seed beads are and where to buy them. Whenever possible, I try to get every color that I use in all three of the most common seed bead sizes - 15/0, 11/0 and 8/0. It would be very frustrating if I wanted to make a particular pattern only to find that the metallic color that I really want to use doesn't come in a size that I need. When I started beading, a lot of bead shops only sold some of these metallic colors in 11/0 which was very limiting. Thankfully, these days, it is easier to find shops online that sell them all three sizes. 

UPDATE: Click HERE to see examples of bracelets made with each metallic seed bead color.


I decided early on that I wasn't going to limit myself to one favorite brand of seed beads because I would miss out on too many color choices by doing so. Although I generally prefer Miyuki seed beads, I also have Toho metallic seed beads in many colors. Most patterns seem to work best with Miyuki beads but every now and then I come across a pattern that really needs Toho beads to work right.

Miyuki beads are usually smaller than Toho beads and more nicely shaped, especially when it comes to the size 15/0 beads. Toho's 15/0 beads are a horrible mess of sizes and shapes so I don't recommend them for netting. However, I don't mind them so much for bracelets that just need a few 15/0 beads here and there. They just need a little culling to pick out the best ones. Toho's 11/0 beads are generally pretty well shaped. They're just larger than Miyuki's. When working with a pattern that was designed for Miyuki beads, you can sometimes omit a bead or two if you really want to use Toho beads. I am also sometimes able to add an extra Miyuki bead when working with a pattern designed for Toho beads.


These are a few of my favorite sources for metallic seed beads:

Aura Crystals

Charlene's Beads

Potomac Bead Company

Red Panda Beads

Simply Beads USA

Supply Emporium

Below you can see samples of most of the metallic seed bead colors that I keep in my bead stash. I made little beaded squares in each color to use as color swatches when I'm trying to decide which color to use in a project. They give me a truer idea of the color than I can get by just looking at a bunch of beads packed into a tube. This also saves me the trouble of having to take out every tube of seed beads to match up colors for my projects. I keep these little samples in a zipper bag in my beading tool box so that they're handy.

This first group are the silver and pewter beads:

Miyuki/Czech - Crystal Full Labrador (CZ27000)

These are a hybrid of Japanese glass beads with a metallic Czech coating on them. I'm pretty sure that I got them from Red Panda. They are available in all three sizes.

Miyuki - Nickel Plated (190)

Miyuki and Toho both make nickel plated seed beads and the colors are virtually identical. However, the sizes and shapes are very different between the brands. I keep both brands on hand because it's not always easy to find Miyuki nickel beads in some of the sizes. If I can make do with Toho, I do that and save my precious stash of Miyuki beads for special projects. I can usually get all three sizes at Red Panda.

Toho - Nickel Plated (711)

These are pretty widely available in all three sizes.

Miyuki - Duracoat Silver (4201)

I haven't actually used this color very much but I like to have different options in silver beads. Some silvers are very yellowish and others not so much. This is one of the more yellowish silvers. As with all of the Miyuki Duracoat metallic beads, these come in all three sizes. I find that the best prices on the Duracoat metallics are at Charlene's Beads.

Miyuki - Duracoat Light Pewter (4221)

This color is one of my absolute favorites and I use it and the regular Pewter very often.

Miyuki - Duracoat Pewter (4222)

This is one of my go-to colors. My only complaint is that I sometimes run into beads that have holes that are too small to get my needle through the second or third time. I don't seem to have that issue with the other Duracoat beads but maybe that's because I don't use them quite as often as this color.

This next group are the golds:

Miyuki/Czech Aztec Gold (55127)

I only know of two places to get this color - Potomac Bead Company and Simply Beads USA. It does come in all three sizes.

Toho - Galvanized Starlight (557PF)

I don't use this color or Miyuki's Duracoat Gold very often, at least not for my own jewelry. This is a very bright gold that only really goes well with other beads that are in very light or bright colors. I don't wear a lot of bright colors but I do keep them on hand for making beadwork for other people who like this bright gold. I prefer Miyuki's gold over Toho's because Toho's is kind of pale in comparison. I do keep it on hand though for patterns that don't work well with Miyuki beads.

Miyuki - Duracoat Gold (4202)

When it comes to beads that have a 24KT gold finish (such as druks, fire polished and SuperDuo beads), these seed beads will usually match the color very well. Toho's metallic gold beads (Galvanized Starlight) are too pale and look washed out next to the real 24KT gold beads.

Miyuki - Duracoat Dark Gold (4203)

I have this color in all three sizes but I don't use it very often. It's a very dark gold color that doesn't seem to go with many other beads.

This next group of samples are the bronzes. Miyuki and Toho make totally different bronze colors so I like to keep them all on hand. Some bronzes have a yellowish tint and some are more reddish so it's nice to have a choice when matching them with the other beads in my projects.

Toho - Metallic Bronze Antique Gold (225)

For years I could only find this color in 11/0 but a few places now sell these in all three sizes. I really like this color so I keep it on hand in spite of how horribly wonky the beads tend to be. Just don't plan to make any delicate beadwork with these beads. They're quite roughly shaped and chunky.

Toho - Antique Bronze (223)

Of Toho's two main bronze colors, this one is my favorite. This is a yellowish bronze rather than a reddish bronze. I complain about how poorly shaped Toho's seed beads are but they usually seem to get this color right with nicely shaped beads, especially the 11/0s. They're also not quite as big and chunky as some of their beads.

Toho - Bronze (221)

This is a reddish bronze. I pretty much only use it when it's the best match for the other beads that I'm working with.

Miyuki - Light Bronze (457L)

This is one of my go-to colors and I seem to be using it more than Dark Bronze these days.

Miyuki - Dark Bronze (457)

These are nice when you want to make jewelry that looks old and antique. I used to use this bronze the most but lately I've been using Light Bronze quite a bit as well.

Miyuki - Metallic Chocolate (461)

This is a very dark bronze color that is almost a dark copper and it's one of my favorites. I usually use copper findings when I work with this color because bronze ones usually don't look quite right. For years this color only came in size 11/0 but now you can get them in 15/0 and 8/0 in some shops. I have found these at Aura Crystals and at Red Panda.

This last group are the coppers and some other miscellaneous metallics:

Miyuki/Czech Black Bronze (CZ55030)

These are even darker than Metallic Chocolate and are actually a very dark copper. They are Miyuki black seed beads with a dark metallic Czech coating on them. The only place that I know of to buy this color is at Red Panda. They do come in all three sizes.

Miyuki/Czech - Vintage Copper (01770)

These are a hybrid of Japanese seed beads with a Czech metallic coating. This is a relatively new color and not easy to find. I found some at Red Panda and at Potomac Bead Company. Simply Beads USA also has them. They make them in all three sizes.

Toho - Metallic Potter's Clay (YPS0019)

These are also a hybrid of Japanese seed beads with a Czech coating on them. The only place that I know of to get them is at Supply Emporium. This color is only made in 11/0 and 8/0.

Toho - Transparent Montana Gold Luster (204)

These are not actually metallic beads at all but the gold luster finish on them makes them appear to be metallic. The beads are transparent but you can't see through them when wearing a bracelet that is made with them. I don't recommend using them to make earrings because the light will shine through them. I love the color of these. They are a soft, dreamy color that's a very pale gold/bronze that is slightly coppery. There have been times when this was the only color that would work with the other beads I was using so I always have this color on hand. They are Toho beads though so they might be too fat to work with some patterns. They are even fatter than most other Toho seed beads because of their thick glossy coating. These are made in all three sizes.

Toho - Metallic Hematite (81)

Toho and Miyuki both have a hematite color but they aren't exactly the same. Toho's have more of a bluish tint than Miyuki's which are more like a dark steel gray color.

Miyuki - Metallic Gunmetal (451)

While I like the even size and shape of these, I think I prefer the slightly bluer color of Toho's Hematite beads.

UPDATE: If you would like to make seed bead sample squares like I did, I used Deb Moffett-Hall's "Marcasite Square Bracelet & Earrings" pattern to make them. It also makes a pretty bracelet and you can buy it HERE.



  1. What a clever idea to use the little samples and tags!

    1. Thanks, Helen. I used THIS pattern to make the little squares. I will add this link to my post.

  2. Linda, thank you for a great post. I nearly always include metallic seed beads and try to keep my stash full of both Miyuki and Toho. I've noticed the size issues and inconsistencies in Toho but not to the degree you mentioned about some colors being better than others. This is a really valuable resource that I'll be printing out to keep handy. And the samples are ingenious! Much better than pulling out tubes of beads and pouring some out to see what they really look like. Can't believe I didn't think of that... really brilliant!

    Barbara H.

    1. I'm glad that my post will be useful, Barbara.

  3. Thanks for this great post Linda! This was so informative, and is a great resource for seed beads. You always know where to get these wonderful metallics, and I appreciate your willingness to share!! I am sending you heartfelt thanks for your generous spirit!

  4. Wonderful post, and I appreciate the trouble you went to providing us with this information. Oddly, I find the Toho 11's and 8's more uniform than Miyuki, and I use them wherever I can. Have to have both in the stash, though. Thank you again.

  5. This is sooo helpful - I use metallics a lot as well and it's nice to see someone else's favorites. I think I'll branch out and try some of yours - thanks!

    1. I'm glad to hear that. What are some of your favorites? Maybe I'm missing out on some good ones.

  6. I don't suppose you have any recommendations for UK suppliers of metallics, my current goto supplier is beadstampede but sadly for us but not for you they are relocating to Las Vegas in a few weeks and will not be shipping to the UK

    1. I don't know who to suggest so here is a list of all of the UK bead shops that I'm aware of:

      BeadFlairCreations Etsy (UK)

      Beads Direct (UK)

      CJ Beaders UK

      Creative Beadcraft (UK)

      Crystals and Ice Bead Shop (UK)

      Highly Strung Beads (UK)

      Kookeli Etsy (UK)

      Old Bicycle Shop (UK)

      Perles & Co (UK)

      Robin's Beads (UK)

      Spellbound Beads Co (UK)

      Spoilt Rotten Beads (UK)

      StitchnCraft Beads (UK)

      The Half Moon Bead Shop (UK)

      The Southampton Bead Shop (UK)

  7. Thanks for the info, I am aware of some of these but not all so will check them out. Look out for beadstampede when they start selling in the USA. They have a big choice and describe the beads very well on their website