What is the Difference Between Beads and Pearls

The main difference between beads and pearls is that beads can be made from a variety of materials, whereas pearls form from shells of some mollusks.

Beads are small, beautiful objects we use to make jewelry. They come in various sizes and shapes and have different origins. Beads are made from both natural and synthetic materials like glass, wood, metal, bone, plastic, and gemstones. We usually consider pearls as a type of beads. However, they have very different origins.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Beads  
     – Definition, Features, Types
2. What are Pearls
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Beads and Pearls
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Beads, Pearls

Difference Between Beads and Pearls - Comparison Summary

What are Beads

Beads are small, decorative objects made from a variety of materials like plastic, stone, shells, bones, and glass. Beads have different sizes and shapes. They usually have a small hole in the middle for stringing or threading. We can string them together to form various items like necklaces and bracelets. In fact, beads are one of the earliest forms of jewelry.Beads vs Pearls

We can divide beads into several categories depending on their materials, shape, origin, size, and production. Gemstone beads (jade, agate, etc.), wooden beads, ceramic beads, cabochons, and crystal beads are some examples. Moreover, most beads are round in shape. But different shapes like cubes and oval shapes are also available.

Bead production can involve both natural and synthetic materials. At present, the most common materials used for bead production involve glass, plastic, and metal. Some organic materials used for bead production include wood, bone, coral, and seeds.

What are Pearls

Pearls are hard, shiny, spherical masses that are usually creamy white in color.  Pearls are the only gemstone in the world that comes from a living organism. They form within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusk. Therefore, they are composed of calcium carbonate. Moreover, pearls can come from either salt or freshwater sources. Although there are different colors and shapes in pearls, the most popular type of pearls are white and almost perfectly round in shape. 

Beads and Pearls

We can categorize pearls into two basic categories: natural pearls and cultured pearls. Pearls form naturally when a foreign substance slips into the mollusk, and the mollusk protects itself by coating the irritant with many layers of fluid. We call this coating nacre. Natural pearls are extremely rare. Cultured pearls also go through the same process. However, in cultured pearls, the irritant is surgically inserted inside the mollusk.

Difference Between Beads and Pearls

Definition

Beads are small, decorative objects made from a variety of materials like plastic, stone, shells, bones, and glass, while pearls are hard, shiny, spherical masses that are usually creamy white in color.

Origin

Moreover, beads can be made from a variety of materials like wood, plastic, glass, metal, and bone, whereas pearls form from shells of some mollusks.

Color

Beads come in various colors, while white is the most common pearl color.

Shape

In addition, beads come in different shapes, while pearls are usually spherical.

Price

Beads are available at different prices, while natural pearls are very expensive. But beads are usually more affordable pearls.

Conclusion

Beads are small, decorative objects made from a variety of materials like plastic, stone, shells, bones, and glass, while pearls are hard, shiny, spherical masses that are usually creamy white in color. The main difference between beads and pearls is that beads can be made from a variety of materials, whereas pearls form from shells of some mollusks.

Image Courtesy:

1. “About Pearls.” American Gem Society.
2. “Types of Beads.” Beadsdirect.co.uk.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Beads-colorful-decoration-jewelry” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Akoya pearl” By MASAYUKI KATO – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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