How Beads Are Made

About how beads are made with videos and images of the bead making process.

Please note that the information in this page is general.  Every bead maker uses its own equipment and processing methods.  The information here will, however, give you some general ideas.

Preparing Amber For Use

Most amber is not clear enough to be used to make jewelry without clarification.  For centuries ambermen have used various methods to clarify the amber and enhance its beauty by roasting is and then oils and other mediums.

That is still done today by some jewelers.

Others use an autoclave  that works on the sane principle the one you see it the right. The picture comes from Ali Baba at this link. You can see a full description of this particular autoclave and others.

Such clarified amber is used in the various ways described below.

In some cases, amber is not put through an autoclave, and the processes below are used directly on the raw amber.

Once again, please note that the information in this page is general.  Every bead maker uses its own equipment and processing methods.

How Cut Beads Are Made

Amber Bead Cutting Machine

Cut beads are made with the aid of a special cutting machine. Machines vary from the old fashioned wood, foot pedal driven spindles to the modern unit shown in the picture to the right.

Amber stones are prepared by removing the bark and sometimes roasting or processing in an autoclave.

They are cut to size and clamped into the cutting machine. The cutting machine is programed to cut the bead to the desired size and shape.

Once shaped, they are removed from the machine and put in a sorting rack.

They are then sorted by color and pattern.

Beads with flaws are separated to be further processed in an amber press.

Cut beads are classified as Natural Baltic Amber.

How Pressed Beads Are Made

Amber Bead Making PressMethod 1 – Many beads shaped by the cutting machine show amber’s inherent flaws. Bubbles, cracks and impurities show on the bead’s surface.  See Characteristics Of Amber

They are put in a press like the one shown at the right. The image depicts a machine available on Alibaba where it is fully described.

Under pressure and heat, the amber flows to shape, cracks are fused and bubbles eliminated. The layers are bent so the surface pattern looks a bit different than a cut bead.

Method 2 – Stones are cut to sized and put directly into the press and shaped. The resulting beads look just like the beads made in Method 1.

Beads made by Methods 1 & 2 are classified Modified Baltic Amber.

Method 3 – Two or more pieces of amber, granules or powder are put into the press and shaped.

It is safe to say that most calibrated beads made are made using this method.

Beads made by method three are very popular. They can be made in large sizes and in many colors. See Beads 14mm

For example, quality large bead bracelets and large bead Islamic prayer beads are made using beads made by combining 2 stones. You can see Big Bead Bracelets at Big Bead Bracelets

Beads made by Method 3 are classified Reconstructed Baltic Amber

Note that beads made by any of these 3 methods are succinite.  Under an IRS test their spectral curves are identical to the spectral curves of cut beads.  The medicinal properties of the beads are also the same as those of the cut beads.


How Tumbled Beads Are Made

Amber Bead Tumbling Machine

Larger uncalibrated beads are made in a tumbler. In that tumbler is a polishing medium that smooths and polishes the surface of the bead.

The shape of the resulting bead is essentially the shape of the stone that went into the tumbler.

Tumbled beads are used to make necklaces like the one that you see at the right and pendants, to name only a couple common pieces of jewelry.
bead necklace

The resulting beads are classified as Natural Baltic Amber.


How Polished Beads Are Made

Small craft beads, on the order of 4 mm and  up to 7mm or so, are made from small chips of amber that have been polished in a machine such as that at the right.

Amber Bead Polishing Machine
Some of the beads are highly polished. These are the normal craft beads that people use in teething necklaces and other craft applications

Some beads are only partially polished. This is done so that the surface pores are not fully closed as they are when the bead surface is highly polished. These are called burnished beads.

Beads made like this are classified as Natural Baltic Amber


How Beads Are Drilled

Drilling beads is done by hand.  In some cases small Archimedes drills are used. But where accuracy is needed, machines such as the one on the right are used.

Note that even if a machine is used, drilling requires accurate hand work.

Should you have any comments or questions, you are invited to contact us.

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