If Swarovski beads are essentially a form of crystal, what makes them so different from glass beads? These two styles of beads are quite different, imparting unique characteristics to their respective beading projects.

Glass vs. Crystal Bead Compositions

Both Swarovski crystal and glass beads contain glass, which is made of about 70-72% silicon dioxide with added sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, aluminum oxide, and magnesium oxide. Premium Swarovski crystal beads, on the other hand, incorporate a proprietary combination of lead oxide and other ingredients for improved clarity, higher refraction, and added sparkle. It is this lead content that lends crystal its quality. While a 1% lead content will earn the “crystal” designation, at 30% and higher, Swarovski offers the best crystal in the world. Standard glass beads, such as cat’s eye beads, contain fewer additives and no lead. Though less expensive than crystal beads, their composition doesn’t offer the same level of sparkle.

Design Characteristics

The production of standard glass beads is less precise than that of Swarovski crystals. You will note some variations in sizing and shape when using glass beads. Glass beads are firmer than crystal, with a lighter feel. Lead-imbued crystal, which is heavier but softer and easier to cut, offers a more precise design. Swarovski crystals, in particular, utilize sophisticated cutting machinery to cut crystals, similar to diamond cutting. This process, alongside the unique composition of the crystals, ensures a uniform, precision cut every time. Angles are carefully positioned to maximize light refraction and reflection, for enhanced brilliance. There are no visible differences from crystal to crystal and no bubbles in certified Swarovski stones.

Choosing the Right Bead Style for Your Design

When choosing between glass and crystal beads, there are a few things to keep in mind:


If you are looking for design uniformity from piece to piece, or within your design, the precise cut of Swarovski crystals is unquestionably your best option. If your designs are more casual, budget-friendly glass beads options, such as lamp beads, are also beautiful, but with subtle variations of color, size, and shape.


As Swarovski crystal beads cost more than glass beads, your design budget will likely play a role in your selection.

Resale value

If you plan on selling your designs, or looking to create something with a high-end feel, splurging on Swarovski crystal pendants and beads will generate products with a higher value and striking visual appeal.

Ensure stunning jewelry results, in-budget with the help of Crystal Findings. We offer a wide variety of affordably priced designs and styles, including quantity discounts for additional savings. Shop our wide selection of glass and Swarovski beads today.