Heishi vs. Rondelle


Heishi beads and rondelle shaped beads have similar appearances when looked at side by side, but their histories couldn’t be more different! While both have a flat look to them, rondelles have a smoother cut and are slightly more rounded on the edges. Rondelles can also often be faceted. Heishi beads are always disc or tube shaped and are smooth. Both can be cut into various sizes, and both can be made into very small beads!

Heishi Gemstone Beads

Heishi Beads History

Pronounced “hee-shee,” Heishi beads started off as shell beads found in the Gulf of California. They were often traded by the Santo Domingo Native Americans in exchange for shells or goods. They are some of the oldest forms of jewelry in North America. This shape even predates metal beads.

The process of creating these beads requires dedication, patience, and skill. First, the raw material is sliced into long strips by a blade, then small pieces are nipped off into little squares with a hand tool. The corners and sides are cut down and shaped as close to a circle as possible. Then, a hole is drilled in the middle. Once the rough beads are strung, a lapidary artist then turns the beads against a spinning stone wheel to slowly shape them into a disc. They sand them, and then the beads are then ready to be made into jewelry!

Rondelle Gemstone Beads

Rondelle History

Dating back to ancient civilizations, rondelle beads have been used for centuries. In Eqypt, Mesopotamia, and India, they were used in ornate jewelry. People thought that the rondelle shape was more comfortable and smooth when worn on the skin.

The cutting process of rondelle beads is relatively simple. A round bead is cut and “flattened” by creating a thinner profile on the top and bottom of the bead and leaving the diameter wider. Rondelle beads are cut vertically so they can stack on top of each other and be strung together. This type of cut can be smoothed out or it can be faceted to create sparkle and texture.