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Tila Beads and CzechMates

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How They Differ
Tila beads and CzechMates

Tila beads and CzechMates. (Please click the image for a larger view.)

© Chris Franchetti Michaels

Tila beads and CzechMates are similar in that they both have two-holes and are shaped like flat squares. However, they are made by different manufacturers and have some distinct characteristics. Here's a look at the most important ways in which these two bead styles differ. (For efficiency, I'll refer to CzechMates throughout this article interchangeably by their full name or the abbreviation "CMs.")

1. Bead size. Tila beads are slightly smaller than CMs. Tilas measure 5mm long, 5mm thick, and 1.9 mm thick, while CMs are 6mm long, 6mm wide, and 3mm thick.

2. Hole size. Tilas also have slightly smaller holes than CMs. Tila holes measure 0.8mm in diameter, while CMs holes are 1.25mm in diameter.

3. Shape. CMs have rounded corners, while Tilas have squared corners at the ends and very gently rounded corners along the sides.

4. Colors and finishes. Both Tilas and CMs are available in a broad range of interesting colors and finishes. CMs are produced in many of the same colors as other designer beads made in the Czech Republic, including mottled "Picasso." This means that you can match CMs exactly with other shapes of Czech Beads in your designs. You can also match CMs with the line of seed beads called Toho Hybrids.

Tilas are available in many of the same finishes as Miyuki round seed beads and cylinder beads, including irises and metallics.

5. Price. CMs are significantly more expensive than Tilas beads. To make a quick comparison, I checked prices on a favorite supplier's website. CMs ranged from about $0.10 to $0.18 USD per bead, and Tilas ranged from about $0.05 to $.08 per bead.

Note: CMs are typically sold by the strand, whereas Tilas are usually sold by the gram. There are about 10 Tila beads per gram.

6. Durability and need for culling. Tila beads can be prone to chipping along their corners or even on their broad sides. Some beaders report needing to cull (remove and discard) some Tilas from each new lot they purchase. Other beaders have reported Tilas chipping during use (such as when they are passed through multiple times with a needle and thread) or even when their completed jewelry is worn.

CMs, on the other hand, are more durable and very unlikely to chip. So far, the only CMs I've culled were a couple with slightly scratched surface finishes. You may also occasionally find a CM that is not quite as well molded as the others at its corners, but those beads are often still usable.

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