Bead Durability

Warning! There are some colors and finishes that just don’t last. Any dyed or galvanized bead is very likely to fade or wear off over time. The new Duracoat Galvanized beads use an improved version of this finish. They last much much longer than the original Galvanized beads and Miyuki has been producing an ever increasing line of colors and finishes. The life of the finish varies dramatically depending on use and on the person using it. Some beads will fade after just one wear, especially in hot or humid weather, or if a person has high skin acidity. A bead that wears off quickly on one customer may last for many months or years when worn by another. If you aren't sure about the finish of a specific bead, Miyuki provides a wonderful durability chart. It's a great reference and will help you decide what beads are best for what project.

Dyed beads come in a variety of pinks, purples and reds that are impossible to create except with a dyed glass. They will often fade under natural or artificial light, when in contact with skin, and after laundering or dry cleaning. Beaders often notice that there are no good substitutes for these colors, which is the reason they are still manufactured even though they will often lose their bright colors. Possible substitutions for a dyed seed bead include opaque colors which do not run or fade.

tubes of galvanized beads

Galvanized beads are created by an unstable surface treatment or chemical wash that give a metallic coating to the bead’s surface. They were originally designed for loom weaving for pieces that would be matted and kept under glass. Because the bright metal colored beads can only be created using a galvanized finish, they are still manufactured despite the fact that their finish can rub off. A metallic glass bead will always be preferable to a surface finish. A 24k gold plated bead like 11-191 will still rub off over time, even though it lasts longer than a galvanized bead. A bead made from a metallic glass like 11-457 will last forever.

Galvanized beads can begin to rub off while the beaded piece is still being created. This is especially noticeable in very small beadweaving projects (earrings and rings) where the entire project is held in the hand and turned round and round, or in sculptural projects where friction may cause the beads to rub together.

Although it may be an urban legend of the bead world, some beaders are said to use a Krylon Workable Fixitive Spray to help maintain the finish over the long term. Please note that it is important to spray the loose beads before working on the project, and then let them dry fully. Most people spray the bag of beads and shake it around to coat it evenly. It is best to use a fresh plastic bag for each color of beads, as the Krylon may cause some of the finish to come off. Neither Miyuki nor Caravan Beads has done any long-term testing on Krylon to see what the efficiency of this process is.