The Coyote's Game Blog

Coyote's Game Native American Beadwork & Crafts

18. June 2012 09:13
by coyotes

The Best of the Best--The Story of Charlotte Beads

18. June 2012 09:13 by coyotes | 0 Comments

by J-Me and Guy of Wild Things Beads

Charlotte cut seed beads are the Cadillac of seed beads, the one cut facet making them sparkle and shimmer. Considering how popular they are, they are very hard to get in any form of consistency, and beaders who know, buy them whenever they can, and keep their sources secret.

According to Peter Francis, Jr. Charlotte cuts were first used in 1847 in France, for the garment trade. Although Peter doesn’t know the origins of the name, in a recent letter to Bead and Button magazine by Elliot Greene of New York, Elliot states the name was attributed to his daughter. Elliot Green is an importer of Czech glass beads, and one of only a small handful of importers of charlotte cut seed beads.

Seed beads have been made for centuries, in Italy, France, and Bohemia; according to Peter Francis, Jr., the beads were made in Venice and Lyon, then sent to Bohemia for faceting.  Seed beads are no longer made in Italy, and France.

The only European seed bead manufacturer now in existence is in the Czech Republic. The factory is Ornela, located outside of Jablonec nad Nisou, where most of the Czech glass bead industry is located. Ornela is the world’s largest seed bead factory.  Having said that, charlottes are almost impossible to get, and most bead stores are always in short supply, as are the few importers who carry them. Why this is the case is a mystery, because charlottes are very popular.

Charlottes were originally only made in size 13/0, but then 11/0 were made, and now charlottes are available in 15/0, 8/0 and 6/0.  Because technically only 13/0 are charlottes, all the rest, (11/0, 15/0, 8/0 and 6/0) are called one cuts or true cuts. But if you are not a purist…then charlottes are really what they are called.

Charlottes are made in many colors of glass, and some are made with different lusters and coatings. Some of the most desirable charlottes on the market today are the precious metal charlottes such as 24 kt gold, sterling silver, copper and marcasite. However, buyers should be aware that there are two varieties of the precious metal charlottes – the painted (galvanized) seed beads and the baked on ones. The painted charlottes are much less expensive than the baked on ones, are not as bright, and the color comes off almost immediately upon contact, leaving the core base of crystal or alabaster showing through. Needless to say, this will ruin a project you would be doing. The baked on charlottes are quite a lot more expensive, but the coating will last much longer, if not indefinitely. Some beaders have reported that the coating will come off where repeated contact with other beads or metal findings rubs against the charlotte cut. Also, wearing your jewelry with these coated charlottes in the hot tub or pool will cause the coating to fade. But if you treat your beads with care, they will last a long time.

J-Me Lynn of Wild Things Beads has been creating this fancy anklet for over 35 years with various types of charlottes.

In response to the need for charlottes, Japan has entered the market as well, with Toho offering 12/0 and 15/0 charlottes. Unfortunately, they are only available loose.

In a recent comparison of Toho charlottes and Czech charlottes, the Japanese charlottes are not the same size. The Toho are larger. (Size 15/0 are really a 14/0).

As of July 3, 2005, the first shipment of 11/0 gold and silver charlottes arrived in our warehouse, along with 13/0 gold, in the 1/8 kilo bundles. There are approximately 19 hanks in the 13/0 bundles, and 11 hanks in the 11/0 bundles. The quality is exactly the same.

As previously mentioned, Elliot Greene of New York is one importer of charlotte cuts, but only carries 13/0. Other importers are: York Novelties of New York, who carries 13/0, 15/0 (but only loose), 11/0 and 8/0, Shipwreck Beads of Washington, who carries 13/0, Buy-Lines of Los Angeles, who carries 13/0, John Bead of Canada, who only carries a small amount of 13/0, and Wild Things Beads of Penn Valley, California. We carry 15/0, 13/0, 11/0, 8/0 and 6/0, depending on supply from the factory.

© 5/31/05 – updated 10/13/06

This is a shortened version of J-Me and Guy’s original article reproduced with their permission.  To read more go to:

Wild Things Beads is an American wholesale importer of glass beads, buttons and crystal prisms manufactured in the Czech Republic and Germany, supplying bead stores and the costume jewelry industry.  They also have a website  where you can find heaps of wonderful information about beads from all over the world.  Wholesale customers with tax ID numbers can order beads on-line.  In the near future Wild Things Beads plans to have a retail website.  If you're interested in being put on their retail list, send J-Me an email by going to their home page.

Specializing in the more exotic colors and coatings, Wild Things offers charlottes in 24 kt gold, sterling silver and marcasite, metallic chocolate bronze, green with a bronze luster, amethyst with a bronze luster and, cobalt blue with a bronze luster. These coatings look bronze when you hold them down, but when you hold them up to the light they become transparent green, purple, or blue.

Wild Things Beads have been in business since 1982, starting off in the arts and crafts industry, selling at flea markets, craft fairs, church fetes, art shows, and Quartzsite, Arizona before specializing in glass beads, first as a retail establishment, then in 1998 as an import house.The owners are Jamie and Guy Lynn, a wife and husband team. Both were in corporate employment during the beginning days of Wild Things Beads.