Aug 4, 2017

Bead Size Clarification

Beads for jewelry making come in many shapes and are made up of all kinds of materials, from glass to metal to stones. Basically, almost any item with a hole through it constitutes a bead. One issue for beaders is making sure they have the right beads for their jewelry designs, and part of this requires determining the size of the beads used, both the outer diameter as well as the size of the hole through the bead. This can get confusing, especially when moving from seed beads to gemstone or crystal beads because the same rules for labeling the size of a bead do not fit all types of beads. 

Dakota Stone Beads

Gemstone and Glass Sizing:

Most gemstone beads and Czech glass beads are sized by the metric system and normally the size is identified by a number followed by “mm,” which stands for millimeter. So, for example, if you are purchasing round carnelian beads that are categorized as being 8mm in size, that means the outside diameter of the bead is approximately 8mm, and this measurement does not indicate the size of the hole through the bead. The larger the bead, however, the larger the hole through the bead will usually be. So 8mm gemstone beads will have larger holes than 4mm gemstone beads. 

Duracoat Galvanized Sea Green 8/0

Seed Bead Sizing: 

Many of the seed beads available at Beadshop are manufactured by the Japanese company Miyuki. Rather than use the same system for measurement that gemstone and crystal bead sizes are identified with, seed beads have an entirely different method. They are identified with a number, a slash, and a zero. Additionally, the larger the number the smaller the seed bead size, so this is opposite of the system used for measuring gemstone beads. For example, size 6/0 seed beads are larger than 11/0 seed beads

Experimentation is one of the best ways to become more comfortable with using different beads in different sizes. The more jewelry you make, the more confident you will be as you decide on the best size beads for your jewelry designs. 

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