How to Tell Crystal from Glass Beads

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How to Tell Crystal from Glass Beads

Crystal and glass beads are the two primary types of beads that are part of different styles of handcrafted jewellery. These materials look similar and are often mistaken for one another. Crystal beads have an elegant sparkle and are costlier. Glass beads have a similar look, but with less sparkle, and are more affordable. Because crystal and glass beads both come in a variety of colours and shapes, buyers should be able to distinguish between them to make the proper choice for their crafting needs and budget.



One way to distinguish crystal beads from glass beads is the general appearance. Crystal beads have a reputation for superior clarity and sparkle because of their chemical compound and their lead content. Although glass also reflects light, glass beads do not typically shine as much as crystal beads because they contain no lead. Generally, the higher the lead content, the better the shine will be because more colour and light is able to reflect from the crystal surface. Imitation glass beads can sometimes have scratches or bubbles, while a genuine crystal will not have any scratches or bubbles.


Another way to determine if a bead is indeed crystal or glass is to examine the cut. Genuine crystals will all be similar in shape and size, whereas glass beads can be many different shapes and sizes. Crystal is typically harder than glass, which allows it to have facets that are more precise. Crystals are cut with precision machines, which make them uniform and the facets will line up, while imitation glass beads will not meet up at the points.

Different Types of Glass and Crystal Beads

There are many different types of crystal and glass beads for buyers from which to choose. Choices should be about what quality and appearance is ideal and the intended purpose for the beads. For instance, crystal beads would probably a better choice for a buyer purchasing beads to make jewellery for a high-end boutique, whereas glass beads might be better suited for a buyer who makes jewellery sold at a discount store.


Bead Type


Swarovski crystal bead

Considered high-end

Superior quality

High lead content

Usually more expensive than other types of crystals

Stone crystal bead

Made from naturally occurring stones

May feature inconsistencies

Popular choice for natural beauty

Comes in several colours

Czech glass bead

Pressed glass

Great shine

Known for elegance

More expensive than other types of glass beads

Faceted glass bead


Looks similar to crystal

More affordable than other types of beads

Less shine than crystal beads


There are so many different types of crystal and glass beads that it is difficult to list smaller subtypes individually, but it is important to notice the difference between glass and crystal beads. Both types of beads come in several different colours, but crystal beads are usually of higher quality and cost more. Glass beads can also be beautiful, but the quality is not quite as high, so they are generally cheaper. Glass beads tend to have rougher edges and are not always a uniform shape due to the manufacturing process.


How to Buy Crystal and Glass Beads on eBay

When looking on eBay for crystal or glass beads, you can start out by performing a general search for 'beads' or a specific type of bead, such as 'glass beads' or 'crystal beads'. Before making any purchase, understand the differences between crystal and glass beads so you can make a well-informed decision on what type of bead is best suited for your needs. Carefully read the item descriptions and review sellers' feedback to ensure you get the beads that will be best for your project. 

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