Ive just been browsing on ebay and I feel the need to share a very important tip with all buyers of Lampwork beads:
Look carefully at the ends of the bead in this picture, you see those sharp ends? This would not be a good bead to buy! Sometimes you will see beads for sale with only a part of the end sticking out sharply.
Those sharp ends will cut your stringing material, ruining all your hard work at desigining and stringing your creation together. They are also weak, even when annealed, the thin edges on the sharp ends will chip away and eventually undermine the strength of the rest of the bead - not to mention...theyre sharp! Ouch!
Sharp ends are a sign that the maker was either: 1) very new to the craft, and is still lacking the skill to prevent sharpies...OR...2) the maker does not care about the quality of thier work.
If the auction description says something about the maker having 'smoothed the ends with a diamond tipped bit', then chances are pretty good that the bead had sharp ends and the maker has ground them down. I do not know whether or not that solves the problem, but I would take my cash elsewhere.
So, whats a good end? Glad you asked! A technically good end is one that is puckered inward...a good example is BELLY BUTTONS....on beads you want an "inny", and NOT an "outy".
On beads that are very round, an inward pucker is darn near impossible, so dont let that trip you up, but look carefully at the ends around the mandrel hole, and you should not see evidence of an 'outy".
So next time you fall in love with some beads, remember to check for a "Happy Ending".