I was using these silver beads on the tree of life necklace and earring set that I recently made and I was reminded of how much I dislike metallic beads that aren’t really metal. Specifically, galvanized beads. When I ordered these (for a hefty $3.79 a tube) I didn’t realize what I was in for. I wanted silver and gold beads, and these looked shiny and gorgeous. I knew they had a glass core, but I figured that was just perfect. Little did I know that I was going to come to despise galvanized beads.
If you buy galvanized beads these days, a good store (like Fire Mountain Gems) has a warning posted that lets you know that the metal finish will wear off and you’ll have to use a sealer product to keep the beads looking good. When I bought mine, either it wasn’t common to give that warning, or the place I ordered didn’t want to let people know that they were charging so much for something you’d destroy on the first use. Just touching these beads is sometimes enough to make the coating come off!
You can see what looks like two beads there on the piece of wire in the photo. Those aren’t actually different beads, they’re both from that bin. The one on the right was scooped out with the wire, but the other is one that I picked up with my fingers. My fingers were sparkly, but the bead was nearly bare. In order to use these things I’m going to have to put gloves on, and I hate working that way. It makes it hard to feel what I’m doing. Unfortunately, you don’t have much choice when working with galvanized beads. I don’t even understand why they make beads that are going to be clear glass after someone touches them a time or two.
I’ll use some kind of coating on the ones I have so that my customers aren’t going to rub off all the color. In the future, I won’t ever buy galvanized again. I’m not sure how I can get metallic looking beads without buying real gold and silver, but I’ll do some searching and I’m hoping that I can find something that will work. I like having metallic beads as spacers or enhancements, but I don’t want to have to work with things that are going to just rub off.
So, if you’re looking to buy beads, be wary of anything with the word “galvanized” in the title. The finish will rub off very easily and you’ll be left with a bunch of clear beads. I actually have an idea of how to preserve the beads I currently have. I’ll let you know if it works, just in case, like me, you’ve already got some and you want to get them used.