There are some beady terms that we tend to take the definition of for granted, but I’d like to just pause for a moment to “make clear” what is meant when we rattle off terms like “transparent,” “crystal,” etc. These definitions are pretty standard – but can be confusing if you are just getting started.
When someone refers to a bead being transparent, it means you can see through it – but it is not necessarily colourless. In some cases, it’s darn hard to see through, because the glass is a very dark colour, but transparent glass beads can be coloured, not necessarily clear.
To make this more confusing, “Crystal” is also a material that beads are made out of – like vases and wine glasses. Crystal is a type of glass that has some lead oxide added – which makes it sparklier and more refractive. Generally, beads made with “Crystal” glass are faceted – either by machine or by hand. We have an extensive line of crystal glass beads made by Swarovski in Austria and Preciosa in Czech.
There are glass beads that are between these two, however. There are the “Opal” glasses – which have a milkiness to them – light is transmitted, but you can’t really see through them. “Alabaster,” “Greasy” or “Oily” beads have similar properties. You can’t really see through them, but they do transmit some light, giving them a richness and depth.
That’s the inside view on transparent vs opaque. I hope this was helpful to “clear things up.” 😉
BONUS FACTOID: Here’s something you probably don’t need to know but I’ll tell you anyway. Black glass is usually actually very dark transparent purple (sometimes blue). Making glass completely black and opaque is quite a bit more expensive – so very dark purple is the usual stand-in. Most of the times, you can’t tell, but sometimes you get a streaky bead that is made with black and white and it looks more like blackberry juice – like this one!