Confused over Bead Wire Numbers?
The beading world can sometimes be confusing
with all its numbers. Stringing wire is a good example. "Stringing wire"
is a bunch of stainless steel wires bundled together and then coated is
added for strength, durability and comfort.
How does a new beader know which beading wire to
use and when? Well, stringing
wire comes in many different diameters and that is the way that they are
measured. They begin with wire as
small as .007 inches in diameter and goes up to .024 inches and some are
should you choose one over another?
One thing to consider is the type of beads you will be stringing
onto the wire. Some beads have
larger holes than others, and some are rougher on the inside than
others. If you are using man-made
beads such as ceramic, Czech glass, or Swarovski Crystals the holes will
usually be a bit larger and uniform in size. Depending on the quality of
those beads, some are a little sharper on the edges than others.
The weight of the beads is another thing to
think about. If you hang large
beads, more than 8 mm on the thinnest wire, the beads will pull the
wire. So on larger man-made
beads, I try to use a little bit larger diameter wire, maybe one that is
.018. That is really my “go to”
size of wire. It is a good
If you are stringing natural stones there are
other considerations. Something
that new beaders do not realize is that most natural stones are drilled
from both sides of the bead and the drills meet in the middle, so even
if a hole looks big enough on the outside, sometimes it is much smaller
in the middle. I usually use just
a little bit smaller wire than I think I need for natural stones.
Then there are pearls.
Pearls take a much smaller wire because when they are drilled, the
person drilling wants to leave as much nacre as possible.
A more familiar name for nacre is Mother of Pearl.
That’s what gives them their beautiful shine.
The result is very small holes in pearls.
But you ask, “There are other numbers on this
wire. What do they mean?”
The other numbers on the spools of beading wire, usually refer to
how many strands of individual wires are twisted into the wire.
The most common numbers are 7, 21 and 49.
And, just because there are more strands, it does not mean that
the wire is larger. It is
possible to have 49-strand .018 gage wire just like it is possible to
have 7-strand .018 gage wire. And
strangely, the more strands, the more flexible the wire.
I am not sure about this, but I think it is because those 49
strands are so thin that the whole wire is more pliable.
I hope this has made choosing beading wire a
little easier for you. We at
Heirloom Classics - Jewelry and Beads are here to help you understand
even more or to explain this in a different way, if you still have
questions. We have been here in
Fountain Square for nearly 2 years now and Judy has been making jewelry
for many years before that.
Please feel free to call anytime you have questions, or better yet, drop
in (free parking on the side of the building).
We will be happy to answer general questions and have classes to
teach the specifics. We are
located at 1311 Prospect Street, Indianapolis, IN 46203 (located in the
Historic Fountain Square area).
Phone number is 317-495-1102. Web
Site is: www.heirloom-classics.com.
And you can email us at:
We are open from 11am till 7 pm Monday thru Saturday, and closed