Designing Jewelry with Acrylic Beads

by Rena Klingenberg.

Designing Jewelry with Acrylic Beads, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

I used to be a bead snob.

Back then, I wouldn’t even look at a bead that wasn’t a semiprecious stone or pearl.

Fortunately, over the years my appreciation grew for other types of beads – glass, wood, bone, polymer clay, ceramic, metal, paper….

And finally acrylic.

Acrylic was probably the last type of bead I learned to appreciate, because the first beads I saw made from that material looked tacky and cheap.

They had obvious seams, ragged holes, and were sloppily decorated.

To me they looked more like toy beads than actual jewelry components.

But nowadays I find lots of acrylic beads that are well-made.

Designing Jewelry with Acrylic Beads, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

Some are pretty – and even elegant.

And one of the things I especially appreciate about them is that they’re extremely lightweight.

I have never been able
to wear heavy jewelry.

The weight makes me start to feel dragged down and tired after an hour or so – and I wind up taking off the heavy pieces instead of wearing them.

A necklace made with large, chunky stone or glass beads would be too heavy for me to wear.

But with chunky acrylic beads, it’s wonderfully lightweight and comfortable.

Some acrylic beads
come in gorgeously saturated colors.

Like the translucent red and lime colors of the faceted acrylic teardrop beads in the photo above.

And the hot pink teardrop and go-go hoop components in this lariat necklace from my Fun with Lariat Necklaces (Tutorial):

Fun with Lariat Necklaces - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You can make elegant jewelry
with acrylic beads.

Like this tiered necklace with a rainbow of acrylic beads dripping from the chains, from my Two Tier Bib Necklace (Tutorial):

Two-Tier Bib Necklace - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

It’s easy to find
large-hole acrylic beads.

These can be great for stringing onto chain, or onto thick cord or wire.

In fact, here I’ve used them as a pretty way to cover the crimp beads at the ends of my necklaces, from my Pretty Crimp Bead Cover Alternative (Tutorial):

A Pretty Crimp Bead Cover Alternative - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

I don’t use acrylic beads
for everything.

They’re just one of the elements in my design arsenal.

And although there are still junky looking ones out there, you can also find many lovely, well-made ones.

I purchase most of mine at etsy.com – do a search there for acrylic beads, and another search for lucite beads.

If you’re buying them online, be sure to look at the zoom-in closeup photos, to check for ragged seams and other flaws.

Are you making jewelry with acrylic beads?

Or with a type of component
you used to be a “snob” about?

I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

Older Comments:

Tamara says:

I agree, Rena, about acrylic. You have to find the good quality acrylic, but I love the bright colours they afford, that you generally can’t find so much in stones. Because I love colour and translucence, I love glass, and crystal, as well. When I started designing, I started with stones, because it seemed to be “the thing” to use. But I find now that I use very little in the way of stones because it’s not really in line with my style or preference. I do love turquoise however because of the colour. I also find that mixing different kinds of materials together in a piece is a good way of including something you’re not wanting to make a whole necklace of – for instance, a bit of acrylic or wood. I also find that I’ve evolved into making almost exclusively lightweight pieces, and advertise that, so use elements that lend themselves to that.
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Mitzie Crider says:

I am a bead snob, but haven’t been doing this a long time. The only plastic beads I like are vintage lucite styles that aren’t available in glass, and acrylic that looks like glass or crystal. I have friends who adore acrylics, however.
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Beckr says:

I can’t afford to be a bead snob so have purchased Acrylic beads which are gorgeous!!
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Cherilynn Fields says:

I advertise thru word of mouth. I’m happy to sell in that manner. I don’t get overwhelmed. I’ve had many discussions with other jewelry designers about acrylics. They want to call them plastics, that is not true. The chemistry is different, also I can command a lower price for my product. Every time I show an acrylic piece it sells right away, because I mix A&AB glass chips with them instead of crystals. When I do use crystals I can raise my prices by $2-4.
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Kate says:

Oh what a relief – I can go off and get some acrylics then. I still need to find a source, but have held off because of telling people they were acrylic.
I do like them because of the gorgeous colours, lightness, brightness and sheer fun.
bye Kate
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Rena Klingenberg says:

Kate, if you’ll be selling your acrylic bead jewelry, be sure to tell them about the things you just mentioned that you love about acrylics – the gorgeous colours, lightness, brightness and sheer fun. You’ll find other people who appreciate those qualities in jewelry too.
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Armande says:

Oooh this is so me! Just the first sentence alone made me grin. I have learnt to appreciate acryl as well, the weight is very easy going, and the great variety in colors. I love acryl flower beads.
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Vivien Bowling says:

Yes, I used to be a bead snob! But then I noticed that when I buy for myself, I am most driven by colour and the play between colours – get that right and I will pay – no matter what the material (draw the line at doggy doo) So now I make a point of using them in my classes and ignoring those eyes when they hear the poisonous word. I point out their fun, lightweight, bright elements. I place most emphasis on colour – if the colour is right, I buy! I LOVE colour!
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Carol Burton says:

I love creating flowers with lucite (acrylic) beads! I seem to get better quality when using lucite beads. You can layer lucite beads to make them look more like petals. Then finish off the center with a crystal.
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Lynn Lloyd says:

I am so glad you mentioned this, I use acrylic beads because I just love the vibrant colors, and like Rena I cannot wear anything heavy around my neck. My designs have a mixture of glass, crystal and acrylic and the overall effect is quite stunning if you get the right colors.

The price point on the acrylic beads helps to keep my costs within reasonable limits and makes the retail price more affordable to customers, and as I’m just about to embark on turning my hobby into a business and give up my full time job, this is crucial in making a success of my passion. Wish me luck.
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Carol Burton says:

Acrylic beads make beautiful skirts for angels and fairies, also.
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