All my beads are all hand shaped. This means I shape and polish them individually. I don’t use spherical grinding wheels or a bead mill.
Most beads these days are machine shaped. You put in a rough shaped piece of stone and the machine shapes a whole lot of them exactly the same. This is more time/cost effective but you have no variety.
Hand shaping is when you hold each bead on a pin vice and using a grinder shape each bead individually. Each one is a different so you can make a strand with a variety of widths and sizes that graduate in size from the clasp up to the middle bead.
The two approaches suit different people. Machine shaped is cheaper and uniform, hand shaped takes a lot longer/cost more but I think with the diversity you end up with something special.
I learnt bead making from Daniel Lopacki. Google him if you want to see some amazing hand shaped bead strands.
You can see some of the process below. It starts with cutting little bead blanks out of a piece of jade and then slowly shaping and refining each one.
When I have enough for a strand (around 60 – 80 beads) I measure each one and string them up by size so they taper from the largest at the front till the smallest at the back.
Then its onto making the silver clasp, loop and stringing the whole strand together.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.