Findings: Basic Beading Supplies


Findings, Components, and Supplies You Need to Start Beading

Pretty beads are only half the story when you want to create jewelry. Just as important are the bits that hold them together and they’re called findings or components. It’s always easier (especially at first) to see things in person when you buy them, so visit your local bead store if you have one-even Michael’s or AC Moore will do in a pinch. However, sometimes that isn’t possible, so I’ve armed you with lots of links on where to buy your findings online.


What the heck is a “finding” anyway? Findings are the parts that connect your beads together. These include ear wires, jump rings, head pins, eye pins, and clasps. This post is a great list of what you need to get yourself started.

Ear Wires

frenchhooksThere are hundreds of neat ear wires to choose from, but most are variations on three basic stylesLever Backed, French Hook, and Kidney–French Hooks are in the picture on the left here. These can be found at any store or online beading venue.

While I think the beginning beader should generally use base metal findings when they’re just starting out,  it’s probably a good idea to spend the extra money to get sterling silver or gold ear wires (especially if you’re making a gift) because many peoples’ ears are bothered by base metal.

Any bead supplier online will have ear wires, but here are two links to simplify your life:|1240428259817=ear%20wire

Jump Rings

jumprings2Jump rings are small wire circles with a slit in them so you can open and close them to attach beads and connect chain and different findings together. Very handy. You need to get a variety of sizes of jump rings-2 or 3 is probably good to start.

The jump ring thing can be a little complicated because there’s a million sizes and styles.

Ideally, jump rings are described by their circumference and the thickness of the wire. Get wire that’s around .040″ or .032″ thickness if you can–they should be nice and strong. Not everyone describes their jump rings this way (or at all for that matter), so I’ve provided two links to PDF catalog pages of a Manhattan jewelry supplier (Metalliferous) that has a great selection of both base metal and silver jump rings.

To get the the base metal PDF catalog, click here and then click on the Base Metal Findings link, and that will open the base metal findings catalog. If you view it at 100% or print the pages, the sizes you see should be life-size. Even if you end up buying somewhere else, I think it’s a good visual aid.

If you do want to buy from here, and you’re not sure what to get, you might try these styles to get started: BMF372W and BMF374W.

For their catalog of silver findings, click here and then click on the Silver Findings link, which will open up a huge alphabetical list. Click on Jump Rings and the PDF of those findings will launch. I’d personally go with SRJ6, SRJ7, and SRJ9.

If you’re shopping somewhere where there  isn’t any information about the thickness of the jump ring wire, try opening one.  If you can open it easily with your fingers, it’s too soft. You should need pliers to open and close it properly because you don’t want your beaded project to break.

To learn more about how to correctly open and close a jump ring, watch my short video.

If you want the check out other sterling silver jump rings, Rio Grande also has a great selection:|1240428294303=jump+rings&category|cat_132|502=Jump+Rings&category%7ccat_502%7c1990=Silver

Head Pins

headpin1A head pin looks kind of like a sewing pin, but it’s not sharp on the open end and won’t hurt you. It’s a good basic for making earrings or drops for a necklace. They come in a big variety of lengths, but just get the 2″or 1 ½” size to start with-unless you know you like to wear very big earrings, then consider something longer.

Very thin base metal (24 gauge) and sterling silver will bend more easily (tempting when you’re still learning your way around your pliers), but a thicker wire would be a better choice at the beginning.

Here’s a nickel head pin that could do the trick:|1240939452775=head+pin

Eye Pins

eyepinsEye pins are like head pins and have the same job, but eye pins have a loop on the end so you can dangle other beads off of them and create nice movement for your earrings. Again, 2″- 1 ½” is a good standard size, but they come in all lengths.

It’s really best if your head pins and eye pins aren’t too soft, since it takes more skill to create a wrapped loop to secure a soft wire. If you can’t open the package to test if you can easily bend the wire, then just buy a few of a style until you find a sturdy version. Rule of thumb: If the wire looks very thin, the pins are probably not very sturdy.

Here are eye pins  from Fire Mountain:


lobsterclasps1There are hundreds of very pretty and interesting clasps, but just start with a lobster clasp to get yourself going and be able to finish your necklace and wear it. Lobster clasps come in a variety of sizes and finishes, but I recommend a medium sized lobster clasp at first–easier to open. But if you make really delicate things, go ahead and get a small one to match.

Here’s a page of options from Fire Mountain:

Beading Wire

beadwireYou need to string your necklace or bracelet onto something, and I strongly recommend that you use beading wire unless you are using leather or are knotting pearls in a traditional way. Why struggle with knotting and awkward gluing when you can use bead wire which is strong, flexible and clean. I like Soft Touch bead wire from Soft Flex because it’s very flexible and doesn’t kink as much as some others, but there are a lot of styles and you can do fine with any of them. Accuflex and Acculon are two other brands as well as Beadalon. (The Michael’s near me only carries the Beadalon brand.)

Soft Touch/ Soft Flex

Bead wire comes in a dizzying array of options, but I generally use the Soft Flex brand’s medium (.019) size for my general beading activities. Anywhere from .015 to .019 is good though, so if you use another brand, just check the size is somewhere in that range. If you are making very delicate pieces, then you can get very lightweight bead wire, and if you are using giant stones, I recommend the heaviest size so your necklace doesn’t fall off your neck someday and all your beads start rolling away from you in different directions like they’re on a jailbreak or something. Somebody stop those beads!

You can buy a 100 foot roll of Soft Flex Medium Wire from the company itself:

Too expensive? Start smaller and just get 30 feet:

And their premium brand, called Soft Touch, costs a little more but you might find it worth it:

Crimp Beads

crimpbeadsNot really beads, crimp beads are the way you close beading wire when you are done with your necklace. You can’t tell from the picture, but you “squish” them with a special crimping plier to close your necklace. They create a nice strong, professional finish.

Basically you can determine which size crimp you should buy by doubling the number of the bead wire you’re using. So if you use the .019 medium size Soft flex wire, you’d want a crimp bead around .038 in size. A little bigger or a little smaller will also do in a pinch.

Try one of these from Rio Grande:

Silver: (Item # 693-393)|1240497418171=crimp+bead&category|cat_132|432=Crimp+Beads&category|cat_432|1686=Silver

Base Metal: (Item # 42015612) Slightly bigger but they’d work fine.|1240497996926=brass+crimp+tubes

Stretch Bracelet Elastic (optional)

opelon_elasticI added this category at the last minute because stretch bracelets are easy and fun to make-and you can make a nice fashion statement wearing several at once. And depending on your bead choices, you can create very different looks.

I usually use Opelon brand elastic, but I don’t have a strong opinion about which elastic is superior. Opelon comes in a bunch of cool colors, but you really don’t see the color once you string all your beads and tie your knot.

Here’s a vendor that sells Opelon (never used this site myself but it came up high in my Google search:

This elastic is a little thinner, but if you like to use semi-precious stones, which often have smaller holes, you”ll probably  want this one instead:|1240499053332=elastic

And Fire Mountain sells one slightly thicker:

bigeyeneedleBig Eye Beading Needle

You don’t necessarily need one if you’re making a stretch bracelet, but it can make your life easier.  A Big Eye Needle in the beading world is a needle whose entire length is an “eye” or hole-so it’s super thin and go can thru a lot of beads. You can tug sheer ribbon through bead holes using the Big Eye Needle as well. Just remember it’s not a sewing  or embroidery needle with a thick eye at the end, it’s a super slender needle just for beading. (I scanned one of mine so you can see how they sell them–individually taped to a piece of paper.) I tend to use the 2.25″ size.

This example on Rio’s site helps you see how the whole needle is one big eye:|1240499458472=big+eye+needle

Bead Reamer

beadreamerYou only need a bead reamer if you are going to work with semi-precious stones because often the stone holes are uneven and some can be quite small (especially in fresh water pearls, for example). So as you can see from the picture, it’s a very hard pointed needle type thing with rough, sandpaper-like edges that allows you to gently grind a bigger hole in your stone. It’s sort of like a pen, and the style on the left comes with several tips and they’re stored inside it–the top unscrews.

Here’s one example:|124094171

Bead Boards and Jewelry Trays

beadboardBead Boards can be great because you can lay your design out and also know when you have enough beads laid out for the necklace length you want.

A simple flat tray is also a handy work surface because it’s a great way to keep your latest beading project both portable and all together in one spot. You can even have a different tray for each project.  Love that idea. Classic jewelry trays are shallow and black. You can buy a velvet insert to keep the beads from rolling around too much, but of course a regular tray you have lying around the house works perfectly fine, just place a towel or a piece of cloth on the bottom to keep your beads from rolling back and forth and driving you crazy.

Here’s a basic bead board at a reasonable price:

Here’s an example of a classic jewelry tray:

And here’s an example of a velvet insert pad:


plasticstorageboxYou also need to store your beads and findings somewhere. There’s a lot of cute little storage containers out there, but I like your basic translucent plastic organizer box that many places sell. You might find it useful to keep your findings in one box and your beads in another–and as you accumulate beads (don’t worry, you will), it can be good to keep like colors together in their own boxes.

Another nice feature of the unromantic plastic storage bins is that they stack well, so you can slide them under the bed or in the closet when you’re not using them. In addition, when you’re sitting on your couch watching TV and beading, your bead storage trays can stack nicely on the floor near your feet taking up very little real estate, so you can have your entire bead stash in a tidy pile and just pull out a few beads as you need them.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. but Michael’s also has trays like this too:

Phew! I Think We’re Done

Well, this should definitely get you started on a lifetime of happy beading. Do you have favorite findings you consider a “must have” that I didn’t include here? Other sources that you think are great and would like to share? Please add your thoughts in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!

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Categories : Beading, Supplies


  1. Laura says:

    Wow, this list is super-helpful — right down the the product numbers to order.

  2. This is quite a well rounded list! I like to have copper wire in as many gauges as I can find (I usually go to the hardware store) so that I can make my own hammered findings. They give a real artisan look to your pieces and are very inexpensive to make!

  3. Sarah says:

    @Laura–so glad–I like to be concrete in my suggestions :-P
    @Cindy–great point–I forgot to mention bead wire, and copper is my favorite too, although I’ve always bought mine at the bead store..great suggestion about the hardware store!

  4. Jessica says:

    What a marvelous starter list, thank you very much for this wonderfully handy post, I’m seriously going to use when I go shopping for beading tools for the first time tomorrow.

    Thank you again & have a beautiful weekend,
    ♥ Jessica

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