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Guide to Bead Sizes With Bead Size Chart

Beads may come in many shapes and sizes but there are some standard sizes that most manufacturers adhere to, making it easier to select what you need, particularly if you are new to beading. As is the norm, on Big Bead Little Bead, we classify the bead length as the distance between bead holes regardless of the overall shape of the bead. So if an irregular shaped bead measures 28mm from hole-to-hole, then it will be described and keyworded as a 28mm bead. This length is the key measurement when combining beads on a length of silk bead cord, beading thread or stringing wire, as it gives an overall length for a necklace or bracelet when the beads are placed hole to hole. We use a sliding bead gauge to measure all newly received stock to confirm bead sizing to ensure our bead descriptions are as accurate as they can be.

If a second dimension is also relevant, usually because a bead has an irregular shape which may have an impact on a jewellery making design, then we provide this measurement in the Product Details description. So this 28mm irregular bead may well be described as 28mm by 24mm in our Product Details description, but the first figure given will always be that key hole-to-hole measurement.

Printable Bead Size Chart

On this basis the Bead Size Chart below shows standard sizing for both round beads and oval beads, and it can also be applied to cabochons. However, because PC monitor resolutions vary, to get a truly accurate representation of this Bead Size Guide you need to download this resource as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file and then print it at 100% on a sheet of A4 paper (21cm by 29.7cm).

Printable Bead Size Chart

Guide To Bead Sizes – Free Adobe PDF Download

Download this Free Guide to Bead Sizes as a PDF

Bead Calculator Tool

You can also use our Bead Calculator, which can be found in the menu bar immediately above, to quickly determine the number of same size beads needed for any given length of silk bead cord, beading thread or stringing wire, in millimetres, centimetres or inches. Simply enter the required information in the Custom Length section on the right hand side and the Bead Calculator will confirm the number of beads required.

How To Measure Beads

It also calculates the number of beads of a given size required to make a standard length bracelet, choker, princess necklace, matinee necklace, opera necklace, rope necklace or lariat. Simply select the type of bracelet or necklace you plan to make and the size of bead you intend using, in the Project Length section on the left hand side, and the Bead Calculator will determine the number of beads required.

Glass Bead Sizes

Both Seed Beads and Bugle Beads have their own scale and methodology for sizing and so we have added this information to our Guide to Seed Beads & Bugle Beads to ensure we can cover this area in detail.

Very briefly Seed Beads are measured in terms of the number of beads that can fit in a given length, with that length usually being an inch. This is referred to as the aught size and is usually written as a number/0 or number/º. So a Size 6 Seed Bead is an aught size 6/0 or 6/º, which denotes that six beads will fit in to a length of one inch. The higher the aught size the smaller the bead. When working with Seed Beads it is worth remembering that they are cut from a continuous length of glass and there will be variations in the individual length of these beads, as well as the finish to the ends. On this basis it is well worth sorting through the beads prior to embarking on a project to identify smaller than average beads and poorly finished beads.

Bugle Beads are drawn from the same glass rods as Seed Beads but they are cut into longer lengths. As such they will always be longer than they are thick, creating their distinctive tubular bead shape. As with Seed Beads the majority of Bugle Beads are manufactured in Japan by Miyuki and Toho, and in the Czech Republic by Preciosa. For Bugle Beads this has resulted in two differing systems of measurement.


Bead Size Comparison Chart, Bead Size Conversion Chart, Bead Size Convertor.

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Anna Weller of Big Bead Little Bead

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