A bead is a small object that is pierced for threading, stringing or weaving. Beads can be made of any material, the most common being glass, metal, plastic, seeds, stone or wood. Beads come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Bugle beads are thin, tube shaped beads that are longer than they are thick. Bugle beads are normally made out of cut lengths of glass cane. Bugle beads normally range from 4 to 30 mm in length. The bead holes are normally either round or square in shape. The square holes are usually slightly larger and serve as internal facets.

The various types of glass beads currently available are made with one or more of the following finishes in order to give a wider variety of visual effects. Some of the most widely used forms are listed below:

Jet is a hard, compact black form of lignite (highly compressed, decayed wood), which is normally matt in appearance, but which can take a brilliant polish. The word derives from the Old and Middle English geet, jeet and later jeat. It is comparable to the Old French word geet, and later jaiet or jayet. The modern French work is jais.

Job's Tears is a tall, grain-bearing plant of the family Poaceae (grass family), a native of Southeast Asia. The seeds of this plant are used as a form of applied decoration. The plant flowers from July to October with the accessor fruit (pseudocarps) ripening from September to November. It grows in the open, preferably in moist soil at a high altitude.

Seed beads is a generic term for small, glass beads. However, it more specifically refers to a shaped spheroid bead ranging in size from under 1 mm to several mm. Seed beads are often used for embroidery as well as for bead weaving.