I recently came across a great faceted polymer clay bead tutorial that was too good not to share. I rave about polymer clay
as a jewelry-making medium because it can resemble just about anything you want it to resemble-- wood, plastic, even gemstones and metal--and here's proof of the latter!
Polymer clay artist Eugena Topina, on her Polymer Tutorials website, shares her complete step-by-step technique for making faceted polymer clay beads and adding a metallic finish to resemble gem or metal beads. The instructions are thorough and the photos couldn't be more print-worthy. I imagine you could use just about any color of paint or patina product to achieve a variety of results and create just about any "gemstone" polymer clay beads you'd like.
Eugena points out that this project is ideal for using old, nearly dried-up clay that's too hard to condition, because you are simply cutting and slicing blocks of clay. Brilliant idea!