There are a lot of different types of glass beads available to buy these days, but one of the coolest and most beautiful styles available is called dichroic (pronounced dye-crow-ick). To find out all of the facts about dichroic glass, read on to find out more.
What does dichroic mean?
Dichroic beads are named in the Greek naming tradition, and the word literally means “two colored”. Di is the Greek word for “two”, and “chroma” is the Greek word for color, so when the words are combined to create “dichroic”, it means something with two colors. These beads are called dichroic glass beads because they appear to have more than one color at the same time, especially when you view them from different angles. You may also hear dichroic being shorted to dichro by some jewelry makers.
How do these beads work?
This technology has been created thanks to the magic of physics, and uses a phenomenon known as “thin-film physics”. When scientists noticed the wonderful ways that the surfaces of bubbles shimmered, or the ways that dragonflies’ wings seemed to reflect light, they were intrigued. Eventually, they were able to come up with a special coating treatment that could be applied to glass which would simulate this effect. Although the effect was originally created for use as a special coating for satellite mirrors and for re-entry tiles on spaceships, this scientific breakthrough soon began to be used as an art form as well. The coating has not been injected with any coloring agent or dye, and therefore it does not have its own inherent color. However, when light rays meet the coating, they are reflected back in a very special way, so that wonderful, multi-colored effects appear. Although the coating itself is not colored, this coating can be sprayed onto different colored glass beads to create different effects. This means that you will be able to choose from a huge range of these beads when you are creating your next jewelry project.
Is it possible to make my own dichroic glass beads?
At the moment, it is not possible for home jewelry makers to make their own dichroic beads, because the procedure uses relatively advanced technology. The process involves vaporizing metal oxides using a special electro-gun in a vacuum chamber. This metallic mist will then be allowed to settle on the surface of the hot glass, in an incredibly fine layer. Most of these items are coated with between 15 and 45 different layers. This can also affect the appearance of the bead. Once the final layer has been applied, the bead will be fired in a kiln to fuse the oxides to the glass.
Are these beads delicate?
These beads are slightly more delicate than ordinary glass beads, in so far as the coating can become chipped or damaged if the bead is manhandled or if there is too much friction rubbing on the surface of the bead. Other than that, they are very versatile for jewelry making.