Handmade lampwork beads, made by a skilled lampwork artist, can be told from Chinese lampwork beads by price alone. The wholesale lampwork beads from China and India are fairly good beads, but the makers do not have the time or interest to make their beads perfect. The artist lampworker works to make their beads perfect, and rejects those that do not measure up to his or her satisfaction. The difference in price is such that a whole fifteen inch strand of lampwork beads wholesale can be purchased for the price of two small handmade spacers or one medium size bead made by the artist lampworker.
The types of lampwork beads made by the lampwork artist vary from the small spacer bead, made to match larger beads, to the large focal bead, meant to be the center piece of a necklace. Some artists also make a suite of beads, which I call important beads, where there are five to nine medium size beads, made the same, from which the buyer can make a necklace / bracelet / earrings combination of jewelry. Getting these beads to be the same size and design takes some practice and repeating the same design, something many artists do not like to do. So such a suite of important beads can be difficult to find.
The focal lampwork bead is where the lampwork artist can have the most fun. They may make many similar beads, especially if they have developed a “signature” bead that is popular with bead buyers. The same form of beads can be made using different colors of glass and by varying the placement and choice of colors, the same form can be made many times without duplicating a previous bead. The artist also can vary the size somewhat when making focal beads, also allowing for some variation. These changes keep the bead making interesting and the lampworker from getting bored with their bead making. There are always new combinations and patterns to try.
Lampwork glass beads come in industrial and handmade, and the level of perfection varies as much. Look for one of a kind handmade lampwork beads at bead shows and in books and beading magazines, and marvel at the beauty they encompass.