Cathedral Bead Conundrum!

Alright, my beady friends. I need your help with a bead identification conundrum! I have a pattern that I’m ready to start writing, but it uses a shape of faceted Czech crystal that I have always called Cathedral beads.

I know I rarely share sneak peeks of upcoming patterns, but this one is on the way!

The ones I’m using are 6mm, have faceted sides and those distinct sloping caps, like these ones I found in Blackrock Bead’s Etsy shop. I was fairly certain that they were called Cathedral beads and that’s how they seem to be listed in most shops. Perfect, right?

But then I did some googling and when I punch “cathedral beads” into any search, this more elaborate shape comes up as well. The faceted sides are more triangular and sharp and each bead features these intricate stair-step caps on each end. These 8mm-10mm beads and photos are from GR8BEADS on Etsy.

I wasn’t sure how such a different bead could go by the same name and was worried that would cause confusion when I go to write my pattern. But! I did find a 6mm version of this more elaborate cathedral bead in my bead stash, so I decided to test the pattern with this version of the bead. And luckily, it does work! Although, it seems a little harder to find this shape in a 6mm.

To make matters even more confusing, my searches ALSO turned up this shape as a Cathedral bead (although this one seems to sometimes be listed as a “Turbine” bead?). It’s lovely, but I’ve pretty positive that those more cone-like ends and wide middle means that it would definitely not work with my pattern. Thank you to ReductionNation on Etsy for the use of these photos. You can get these turbine/cathedral beads here.

To cover my bases, I did also try my pattern with plain 6mm rounds and it worked out alright, although I still think the original simplified cathedral beads with the faceted and softer caps suit the design the best.

Yes, the pattern will include earrings!

So, what is the truth? Are all three of these distinct shapes really all called “cathedral beads” or do they each have a more specific name that I don’t know about? Are they coming from different manufacturer’s all using the same name differently? I’m pretty sure all three are Czech, but that’s the most info I’ve been able to find.

I’m really stumped on what name or description to use in my pattern supply list. I want the people who purchase my pattern to feel confident when they order supplies to make my design and I’m just really stumped on what terminology to use. It feels unprofessional to just pop in photos of the beads I used and be like, “good luck finding beads that look like this!”, so I really want to avoid that. Any ideas? You guys are so knowledgeable and I’m hoping you have the info I need. Can you help a girl out?

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6 Responses to Cathedral Bead Conundrum!

  1. They are all actually a version of what is called Table Cut beads. Beads that start out as regular pressed glass beads, but then the sides (or some part) are ground off. There are literally 100’s of table cut variations and shapes. It is a fascinating process (I have been to the factory).
    Table Cut is what the factory calls them, but that is actually a type of bead rather than the name of a shape – the shape names come from the distributers, just like the color names for the seed beads. But yes the ones you like are what most people think of when someone says Cathedral beads


  2. cathy feist says:

    Hi Sammy, I checked with one wholesaler and they called your orange beads and garnet beads “Antique Style Octagonal” which is a new term to me. Your blue beads are more highly faceted and have metallic ends usually silver or gold tone but the ends are textured not smooth, more like a concentric ring pattern; these are what I’ve always seen referred to as “Cathedral” beads. They are called “Cathedral” because they have a “gothic” quality to the shape. Since your new pattern works with either shape I’d include sample pix of both. Maybe include sources too? Congratulations on your new pattern! I wish we could beta test it at Beaded Bliss like we used to; maybe later in the year once people are vaccinated??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your first pictures of more smooth but with sides kind of cut in circles, and the second (blue) pictures with the faceted sides but with the same shape of like a round that is sort of rolled to elongate?, are both called ‘Cathedral’ beads at my distributor. The ones in your hand (Reduction Nation) I have in my shop as Turbine beads (with Cathedral as a tag). Either way, your design is FABULOUS!


    • samwescott says:

      Yeah, I think I’m gonna have to include sample pics, which is definitely not my preference. I think I got really spoiled with the more modern shaped beads have specific names and branding. *sigh*


  3. Christie Schepers says:

    Whatever you call them, they are beautiful! I love the earrings with the Pearl’s also. A little more sophisticated look!


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