Alphabet Beads

Written by Sarah Provost
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Alphabet beads, also known as letter beads, are available in a variety of shapes and materials. The most common shape is the block or rounded block, but oval and heart shapes can also be found. Materials range from gold to plastic and include such types as vermeil, bone, and wood, but sterling silver is the most popular choice. (Note that the letter in sterling silver charms is usually colored by oxidation rather than dye. For that reason, don't dip them in tarnish remover or the letter won't show up.)

Projects with Alphabet Beads

Of course, alphabet beads are most often used to spell out names, honorifics such as "sister" or "grandma," and endless variations on the word "love." Mothers and grandmothers love necklaces and bracelets with the names of their progeny, but if you use your imagination you can come up with a lot more ways to use alphabet beads. For example, you can combine sterling silver alphabet beads with your mother's birthstone to create a personalized mother's bracelet, which is sure to be treasured for years to come.

If the men in your life adamantly refuse to wear necklaces or bracelets, key chains make nice beaded gifts. I made one for my son, who is a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity, also known as Crow House. I spelled out the name of the fraternity, added his scroll number, and finished it with a sculpted silver bird charm.

At family dinners, guests are always squabbling over whose wine glass is whose. Last Christmas, I gave them each a wine glass charm. Using ring-sized memory wire, I beaded the body of each charm with its recipient's favorite color. With a head pin, I added a dangle of each person's initials in silver alphabet beads. These were much appreciated, and kept peace in the family, at least on that topic.

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