You can learn how to make simple beaded jewelry in an hour and spend a lifetime perfecting it! That’s why beading is so much fun, it’s easy to get started yet the different shapes and sizes of beads can keep you challenged in exciting ways as you develop your skills. Another reason to love beading is that it’s ageless, anyone from teens on up can enjoy this activity and learn this art form. In this article, we’ll cover the jewelry tools and components you’ll need to get started, but first, the most difficult part of beading for beginners is how to finish the ends. In fact, finishing beaded ends is the one question we get asked the most. How do you secure the beads? How do I add a lobster claw or jump ring? What is a crimp or crimping tool? Below is a video on finishing the ends of a beaded jewelry piece.
What you need to start beading
Recommended budget for jewelry beading tools
I would recommend a $75-100 initial budget for jewelry tools and supplies. The pliers, cutters, and crimpers listed below are a one time only purchase and will last for years to come. Here is a list of the essential jewelry making tools and supplies that you’ll need when beginning beading:
- Chain nose pliers = $5.00 each (you’ll need two pairs for opening and closing jump rings)
- Ultra-fine Point Cutters (a.k.a. nippers) = $8.00
- Crimpers = $15.00
- Adhesives = $5 – $10
- Stringing Wire (100 foot spools) = $20 – $40
Another option for the tools is a plier kit. These 4 piece kits come with chain, round and flat nose pliers, one side cutter and a carrying case. These are great kits, however, the side cutter isn’t ideal for beading and I’ll explain why later.
- Basic Pliers Kit = $20.00
- Premium Sonora Pliers Kit = $35.00
Shopping for beads is the fun part!
Let’s talk about shopping first! It’s exciting when you begin to build up your array of beads. You’ll find beads from all over the world, in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors and once you start planning out your designs you’ll be hooked. If you’re budgeting, get a general idea of what size beads you want prior to shopping. This will help keep you focused because you still have a few other things to purchase before you can finish your piece:
- Closures (spring rings, lobster claws or toggles)
- Jump Rings
- Crimp Beads
For every bracelet or necklace that you make you need 1 closure, 2 jump rings and 2 crimp beads. That’s the standard but as you become comfortable beading, there are lots of other beading supplies (including crimp covers, beads caps, and cones) that you’ll eventually add to your jewelry designs.
Organize your beading tool stash space
Organization is key when you’re beginning to bead. As these jewelry tools and small components accumulate, it will become important to find things quickly. Plastic compartmentalized containers work well keeping your items separated plus they’re inexpensive and easy to store on a shelf.
Separate the beading tools and precious metals. If it were me, I would separate the sterling silver items, like jump rings and closures, from the adhesives. Fumes from certain adhesives can make your sterling silver items tarnish quickly!
Tip: It’s always a good idea to store any sterling silver components in ziplock plastic bags with one anti-tarnish tab per bag. This simple step will help prevent tarnishing on your sterling silver items.
Breakdown of Beading Tools
Chain Nose Pliers
Tip: When beading you use your pliers quite a bit, so be sure when you purchase pliers that they have spring handles. These types of handles allow the pliers to spring open on their own every time you close them. Spring-loaded handles are much easier on your wrists especially if you are beading a lot.
Note: If you purchase a kit of pliers, you can use the flat nose along with the chain nose pliers to open and close your jump rings, without the need to purchase a second set of chain nose pliers.
Jewelers Glue – secure those knots!
Here at Halstead, we carry two of the top names in stringing wire; Beadalon and Soft Flex. These are superior beading wires for their strength and flexibility.
Beadalon is made out of nylon coated stainless steel and although it is made from metal it feels like thread. Inside of this abrasion-resistant, nylon coatings are either 19 or 49 strands of twisted miniature wires. The more stainless steel wires it has, the more flexible it is. So although they are both super strong, the 49 strands of wire create a more flexible stringing wire than the 19 strand does. This is great for beaders! Sometimes you don’t want that much flexibility for say collars or choker length necklaces, however, you may want more flexibility in a longer beaded necklace.
Soft Flex is also a nylon coated stainless steel product. You have a choice between 21 or 49 micro woven stainless steel strands which are then braided together. It is a lead-free, hypoallergenic product.
Start beading today! Have fun on your beginning beading adventure and check out our learning section on wholesale beads for information on our sterling silver and gold-filled beads, caps, crimps and more!