Announcing the Czech bead final four face-off!

group shot of beads

Welcome to the jungle, baby.

Mid-Summer for me is the perfect time for idle Internet contests and quizzes of the “Which apex predator am I the most like?” variety. Here’s my bid for your summertime clicks, with a cause we can all support: four major types of Czech glass beads vying for dominance, paired as follows:

  • Picasso Finish vs. Opal Glass
  • Leaf/Flower beads vs. Table Cut beads

The two initial winners will face off when victory is declared based on quantity of  Facebook “likes”.  I have chosen seven beads in each category to serve as team members, and a vote for a team member or a vote for its category both count towards the team total.  Check back in a couple of weeks to see who wins.  In the meantime, here’s a tipsheet for all four sides to help you choose your champion.

illustration of Picasso Finish

Picasso Finish, a scrappy fighter

Picasso Finish advantages:

  • Golden, dark brown or gray-black picasso finish produces a glamorous vintage look on the plainest beads it is applied to.
  • Picasso finish sets off the fanciest pressed glass beads by outlining their carved details or by cloaking their opalescence.
  • (I just found this out from one of my suppliers who visits the bead factories) Picasso finish is produced by applying silver oxide on the glass and heating it during a step of the beadmaking process. It is permanent.
picture of opaline glass

Opal Glass: smoky seduction, burning heart.

Opal Glass advantages:

  • When sunlight hits opal glass, or indoor light at a sudden angle, its color flashes out with unpredictable, miraculous intensity
  • Opal glass is translucent, but has more solidity and visual presence than plain transparent glass, so it works well in jewelry that must be seen against clothing.
  • Opal glass, or opaline glass, is produced when the right chemical mix for the glass (a paperweight maker told me that flourine is involved) coincides with the right heat levels. Too much heat results in opaque glass, just-right heat results in opal glass’s gorgeous Godfather 1-cinematography-like golden inner glow.

OK, that’s the first set of contenders, put them out of your mind now and consider Leaf/Flower beads and Table Cut beads, the second set of contenders.

illustration of Leaf/flower beads

Leaf/Flower: small tributes to nature’s beauty.

Leaf/Flower advantages:

  • Leaf/Flower beads are a human effort to commemorate transient natural beauty in wearable art. Flowers were found in Neanderthal gravesites. Leaf/Flower beads are petrified courtship garlands from a pastoral Eden.
  • These beads lead the field in sheer variety of color and shape.
  • Leaf/Flower beads are produced with color mixes and molds that are passed down from generation to generation in small factories.
Illustration of Table Cuts

Table Cuts: born in flame and diamonds.

Table Cut advantages:

  • Table Cut beads are born of a complex, fiery, martial process into lovely miniature, dramatic geometry.
  • Table Cut beads are made with such care that designing and producing jewelry with them is a pleasant process.
  • Table Cut beads are pressed into shape with molds, rolled in picasso or other finishes, subjected to heat again, then one side of each bead is planed and polished. Then, all the beads in the batch are individually adhered to a wheel-like table, and all the other sides of each bead are planed and polished.

The face-off, should you wish to weigh in,  is at Click here to go to the face-off!

Let the games begin!