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How to choose the correct beading wire How To Choose the Correct Beading Wire

Beading wires, such as Beadalon, consist of strands of very fine wire twisted together and covered with a nylon coating. The more strands that are twisted together, the stronger and more flexible the wire becomes. Beadalon comes in 7 strand, 19 strand and 49 strand.

When deciding which wire to choose, you should take into account the type of jewellery piece you are going to make, how much flexibility you require and the types of beads you will be using. If you are going to make a single strand necklace you could use 7 strand wire as you won't need as much flexibility, however for something more intricate or if you will be using expensive beads, then 19 or 49 strand would be better.

In general, the diameter of the wire you choose will depend on the hole size of the beads. If you are using different types of beads in the same design, then you should choose the largest wire that will fit through the beads with the smallest holes.

If your beads have any rough areas around the holes you could use a bead reamer to file these areas to cut down on abrasion to the wire. Also, wire protectors or french wire can be used at the clasp area to protect the wire from wear and tear.

The weight of the beads will also be a factor in choosing the right wire. Heavier beads will require a beading wire with a thicker diameter. The following is a guide to the various wire sizes and uses.


Wire Diameter Recommended Uses
0.010" (0.25mm) Seed beads, freshwater pearls, small gemstones, lightweight stringing projects
0.012" (0.3mm) 0.013" (0.33mm) Crystals, seed beads, freshwater pearls, beads with small holes
0.015" (0.38mm) 0.018" (0.46mm) Versatile sizes for medium to heavy gemstones, crystals, seed beads, glass beads, metal beads
0.020" (0.51mm) 0.021" (0.53mm) Large beads or heavy gemstones
0.024" (0.61mm) 0.026" (0.66mm) Large or heavy beads with large holes
0.030" (0.76mm) 0.036" (0.91mm) Large, chunky metal or stone beads, large crystals and glass beads, heavy weight projects


Which type of stringing material? Which type of Stringing Material?

There are many types of stringing material to choose from but the type of jewellery project you are making will determine which one you use.

Beading wire, also known as tigertail or nylon-coated wire, is very easy to use and great for making simple necklaces or bracelets. It comes in a variety of diameters and finishes, is also very strong and can be used with heavier beads. It holds it's shape better than thread.

Nylon Thread is a cheaper alternative to silk thread and can be used for more intricate or woven designs or for knotting between beads.

Silk Thread is traditionally used for knotting between pearl beads or gemstones to prevent these more expensive beads from rubbing together causing damage and also to prevent loss of beads should the thread break. It also drapes very nicely.

Elastic Cord is used for making inexpensive jewellery such as stretchy bracelets. It is also easy to use and doesn't require any findings as you can just knot the ends once you are finished stringing.

Nylon Monofilament such as Supplemax or Illusion cord is a flexible, nylon cord which usually comes in a clear colour but also available in other colours. Used for making 'illusion' style jewellery and woven beaded crystal rings.

Leather Cord comes in various colours and sizes and works very well with natual beads or beads with large holes such as wooden, metal or ceramic beads, as well as with a single pendant. The ends can be simply knotted or you can use cord ends with a drop of glue.

Suede Cord is available as genuine suede or faux suede in a large range of colours. It is nice for showing off a pendant or focal bead and the ends can be finished off with flat cords ends such as fold-over cord ends or c-crimps.

Satin Cord is also known as Rattail and is made from rayon. It has a satin look to it and is available in a range of bright colours. Looks great with a pendant or large-hole beads. This cord is also used for Chinese knotting techniques. Use sliding knots or cord ends to finish.

Rubber Tubing is a hollow material which can be used to string large-hole beads or pendants, or for covering memory wire. It can be finised off with cord ends.


Guide to Wire Gauges Guide to Wire Gauges

The higher the gauge number is, the thinner the wire is eg. 28 gauge wire is much thinner than 20 gauge wire. The following table shows the different gauges and their equivalent diameters in both millimeters and inches.


Wire Gauge Diameter Recommended Uses
28 0.32mm (0.013") Fine wire used for wire knitting or weaving
26 0.41mm (0.016") Easy to bend. Used for fine wrapping, knitting, twisting and coiling, beads with small holes, tiara making.
24 0.51mm (0.02") Used to make light findings such as headpins, wrapped jewellery
22 0.64mm (0.025") Used for wire wrapping, making findings
20 0.81mm (0.032") Used for wire wrapping, making findings such as jump rings, clasps
18 1.02mm (0.04") Used for making wire jewellery and thicker findings
16 1.29mm (0.051") Used for making wire jewellery that will hold its shape.


Standard Jewellery Lengths Standard Jewellery Lengths

A bead board can be very useful for designing your jewellery projects as well as accurately working out the required finished length.

Choker 15-16 inches
Princess 18-20 inches
Matinee 23-27 inches
Opera 35-37 inches
Woman's Bracelet 7 inches
Eyeglass Chain 24-27 inches


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