Al2O3-Y2O3-ZrO2/HfO2 ceramics (including glasses, crystalline ceramics, and glass-ceramics) and methods of making the same. Ceramics according to the present invention can be made, formed as, or converted into glass beads, articles (e.g., plates), fibers, particles, and thin coatings. The particles and fibers are useful, for example, as thermal insulation, filler, or reinforcing material in composites (e.g., ceramic, metal, or polymeric matrix composites). The thin coatings can be useful, for example, as protective coatings in applications involving wear, as well as for thermal management. Certain ceramic particles according to the present invention can be are particularly useful as abrasive particles.