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Top Ten Beading Supplies for the Beginner Starter Kit

Updated on November 8, 2014

Top Ten Beading Supplies for the Beginner Starter Kit

If you are in the beginning stages to learn how to bead then you need some very essential beading supplies.

There are lots and lots and lots of supplies to pick from. There are lots of choices in sizes, colors, shapes and styles but here you will discover the top ten beading supplies for any beginner starter kit.

As you become more familiar with techniques and the variety of supplies available, no doubt, this list will grow. For now let's just start with the basic minimum top ten of my recommendation for you, the beginner.


photo credits Bead At

chain nose pliers
chain nose pliers

Chain Nose Pliers

Beading Supply #1

For every beginner learning how to bead we must begin with tools and your top three items will be just the necessary tools. These will be your 'go to' tools that you will use repeatedly.

The first tool that is used most often is called the chain nose pliers. These will be used for almost every jewelry project you will create and are sometimes mistaken as a second pair of hands. I personally keep at least two or three pairs in my starter kit and available to me when I work most projects.

The high polished tips are tapered to a fine point to help get into tight spots that may present itself when making jewelry. They are most commonly used for holding items while stringing and I always use the chain nose pliers for crimping all my basic strung pieces. These are the main jewelry making pliers that are the first on your list of beading supplies to purchase.

The proper size chain nose pliers will not be less than 5" in length in order to feel comfortable in an adult hand, don't let the small cute ones suck you in.

The cost of these pliers range between $6 for the lowest grade and up based on higher quality tools available.

I have found that the Beadsmith chain nose pliers are a good starter tool, moderately priced and hold up well over several years use.

round nose pliers
round nose pliers

Round Nose Pliers

Beading Supply #2

Next on the list of tools, the round nose pliers.

These pliers are mainly used to create loops for earrings, charms and to create linked jewelry.

Having a strong resemblance to the chain nose pliers, you will need to make sure which tool you are using for which job so be sure to pay attention as you pick up a tool.

The high polish nose also tapers to a narrow point making it useful for creating a variety of loop sizes based on your needs for your project. A small tight loop to create a decorative head pin vs. a large loop to create a bail creating a pendent necklace.

The round nose pliers should measure approximately 5" in length and they are priced for a mid-grade pair around $6 or more expensive for a higher grade tool. I have used Beadsmith beading tools since I began beading back in 2002 and they are the tools of my choice for all my beading for beginners classes. They have served me very well and I find no particular reason for switching.

I recommend Beadsmith tools for beginners, they are moderately priced

wire cutters
wire cutters

Beading Wire Cutters

Beading Supply #3

To round off the top 3 on the list of essential tools are wire cutters. These cutters will be used to cut your beading wire for your necklace, bracelet and anklet projects using beading wire.

If you use heavier wire be sure to use a heavier wire cutter. These little babies are not strong enough to handle heavy gauge wire and if used will damage the tool and leave notches.

Please use caution when using cutters, they are sharp and will cut, just another little tip I've learned along the way.

Just as the other two pliers the beading wire cutters should measure a minimum of 5" in length and run in cost approximately about $6 for moderately priced pair and up according to grade of the jeweler's tool.

All of these tools listed here can be found through your local beading supply store or if you would like to purchase on line just follow the links provided for you.

Each of these tools are the exact tools I use in all my jewelry making projects and what I have available for those taking classes from me and are my recommendations. These are not the only jeweler's tools on the market but to keep things at a nominal start up cost they are moderately priced making a beginning beader's starter kit very affordable.

I recommend not investing too much up front in supplies until you are sure this is the direction you want to pursue. Once you have your bearings and want to continue in your training in making jewelry then by all means look into a higher grade tool. These very tools I have shared with you here are the exact tools I've been using for the past 12 years, but ultimately in the end the choice is yours. There is no right or wrong just my opinion.

Let's move on down to number 4 on the list.


Beading Mat or Beading Board

Beading Supply #4

The fourth item on the list is some sort of beading surface to cushion your work space. You can use what's called a beading mat or a beading board.

Either works well enough you just need something to keep the beads from rolling away from you. You can actually use a hand towel as well. The choice is yours.

The difference between a bead mat and beading board is the sturdiness.

A bead mat is just allows a cushioned work area, I tend to prefer to lean this way for my quick projects. They are washable which keeps them fresh, they do not peel and get caught up in your work like felt mats eventually do.

The beading board allows you to store your project if you do not have enough time to finish in one setting due to some sort of interruption. I keep a few around and constantly have something going in them all the time. The grooves in the beading board allow you to lay out your project and provides a quick measurement.

Advantages to both and both are very affordable that you could purchase each without breaking the bank.

Beadsmith BBU28F Design Beading Board, 9 by 13-Inch, Grey Flock
Beadsmith BBU28F Design Beading Board, 9 by 13-Inch, Grey Flock

I really like having either a beading board or beading mats on hand. If I had to pick between the two I would have a beading board as my first choice. With it's plastic pre-shaped formed it makes it mobile for easy storage for an unfinished or interrupted project. I keep 4 or 5 stacked with ongoing projects in my studio until I can get back to each one.

beading wire
beading wire

Beading Wire

Beading Supply #5

As you begin to learn to string jewelry there will be lots of choices for what to use and what you decide to use will depend as to what you are making.

As I began learning to make beaded jewelry I just wanted to learn basic stringing but I had two major questions.

What is the proper type of string to use? ~and~ How am I to keep the jewelry together?

Well let me answer the first question...What is the proper type of string to use?

Answer...beading wire.

Listed here is my beading wire of choice, Softflex beading wire.

Softflex beading wire is a soft flexible beading wire used for making necklaces, bracelets, anklets and some earring designs.

It is kink-resistant and easy to handle. It allows your jewelry to be strong and durable while providing a soft draping effect. You never know that it is actually wire that you are using but you are.

Softflex beading wire comes in a variety of strand numbers, thickness of diameter as well as colors available. Beading wire for stringing necklaces are generally sold on spools as you see here. Pricing varies based on amount on spool and how it is purchased.

Each retailer will have their own pricing set but I generally see them priced between $10 to $15. The price also has a bearing of amount being sold on the spool, you can generally find 30', some spools have more and some have less. If you reach a point that you find yourself stringing several pieces you can purchase spools with 100' and possibly more.

Soft Flex Wire 21-Strand, 0.014-Inch Diameter, Satin Silver
Soft Flex Wire 21-Strand, 0.014-Inch Diameter, Satin Silver

Soft Flex beading wire is my beading wire of choice. The 'fine' weight serves all my needs for most every jewelry project I do and it's what I use in all my beginner classes. 30' will certainly give you a good start of supply to have on hand and if you find you need to keep more on hand then you have the option of a 100' spool instead. Once you try Softflex I believe you will be a loyal customer as I am.


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crimp beads
crimp beads

Crimp Beads

Beading Supply #6

Next on the top 10 list of beading supplies for a beginner's starter kit will be crimp beads which are paired with the beading wire. Crimp beads are the secret sauce to hold your jewelry together when using beading wire, therefore it is a necessary item and one of the top 10 you should always keep in your supplies.

Crimp beads are a pliable bead intended to be compressed either flat or folded. The compressed crimp bead is 'the' component to secure the beading wire holding your piece of jewelry all together.

These highly useful beads are available in a variety and based on your project will determine the type of crimp bead would work best. There are small 1 mm crimp beads larger 2mm x 3 mm crimp tubes. These specialized beads can also be used as a decorative effect in your design.

Available from base metal with a colored covering to precious metals my choice varies based on the color of my jewelry creations. I do favor silver components and therefore have a preference to using sterling silver crimp beads over based metal beads with a silver coating.

Visit this necklace tutorial to see it in action.



Beading Supply #7

#7 on our top 10 hit list of beading supplies is clasps.

Clasp are the components used to open and close your necklaces and bracelets to easily put on or to take it off from around your neck, wrist or ankle. I'm sure you have seen them.

This picture shows you a small selection of some of the clasp styles available. Recognize any them?

You will be able to find them in different colors as well as base or precious metal, silver or gold or copper or brass or several different colors.

Clasp have one loop for attaching a single strand and some clasp have more than one loop for attaching multiple strands. Assortment awaits you to unfold and discover.

Some clasp are merely for function purpose or decorative to create a focal point of your design. The fun of getting your supplies is to discover all the goodies out there, I love the discovery of finding new and different looking components.

Cost is relatively affordable for the basics but once you get into the higher end for decorative use the prices range to any price point you are willing to pay.

Check out this tutorial of a clasp, called a toggle, attached to a basic bracelet.

Mixed Silvery Golden Bronze Jewelry Lobster Clasps Findings 12mm -150pcs
Mixed Silvery Golden Bronze Jewelry Lobster Clasps Findings 12mm -150pcs

Variety is key for a well stocked beading starter kit. These lobster claws are a very common clasp used for either necklaces or bracelets. The mixed colors gives you a great choice of what ever your mood will be for the day.

ear wires
ear wires

Ear Wires

Beading Supply #8

Now moving down the list we move onto making earrings and one of the two components used are ear wires.

Ear wires, as shown here are the very necessary component, also called a finding, to be able to wear a pierced earring. This ear wire in particular is called a fish hook earwire.

Like all the components mentioned here there will be choices, choices and more choices to choose from. Color, base or precious metal, size, shapes and designs.

You will find that all base findings are very affordable and you won't have to take out a second mortgage in order to create jewelry. Pricing can start as little as pennies and again depending as to how much you want to spend you are sure to find something in the price point that you looking for.

In this tutorial I cover the steps that it takes to create your first pair of earrings . I also explain more a bit more on the findings used as well. If you should have more questions please feel free to contact me, I'm always glad to help.

Beading Station 100-Piece Mix Ear Wire Fish Hooks for Jewelry Making, Silver/Gold/Black
Beading Station 100-Piece Mix Ear Wire Fish Hooks for Jewelry Making, Silver/Gold/Black

This selection of mixed colors gives you enough versatility based on what color wire you prefer to work with. These are a base metal plated with color so if you are in need of precious metal ear wires then search a bit more for a good supplier for either sterling or gold plated.

head pin
head pin

Head Pins

Beading Supply #9

There are two components that make earrings, ear wires [which made #8 on this list] and head pins.

So our #9 item are head pins.

Head pins are just that, a pin with a head. The head is intended to keep the beads from falling off the pin, but you must pay close attention to make sure the hole of the bead is not too large that it will fall off or that the hole is not too small that it won't fit on the pin.

These are not regular sewing pins so do not get them confused.

Head pins are a pliable metal, either base or precious metal, which can be shaped to hold beads and the ear wires in place.

I have created an earring tutorial that explains this process in better detail than I can do here. You can visit my first beaded earrings for more information on head pins and making earrings.

144 Head Pins .029dia X 3 Inch Silver Plating Over Brass Standard 21 Gauge Wire Beadsmith Headpins
144 Head Pins .029dia X 3 Inch Silver Plating Over Brass Standard 21 Gauge Wire Beadsmith Headpins

I recommend having a minimum of 3" pins on hand for your projects. You can always cut it shorter but you can never add more on so start with a larger pin for more versatility of your projects. The 21 gauge will give you enough stability for either a single or wrapped loop of your choice.


You Guessed it...B-E-A-D-S!!

Beading Supply #10

How can you have a top 10 list of beading supplies and not include the most important ingredient to the whole mix...beads.

Now I could tell you lots and lots of details about beads and we would end up being here all day long and probably into tomorrow, I have found that when I get started talking about beads I have a hard time stopping.

So let me just say this...beads come in every shape and size and color and finish and price range almost imaginable.

Beads are the eye candy of jewelry and it's fun shopping for beads. I could sit and look through catalogs and websites til the cows come home and still would not be done looking at all the varieties of beads that are available.

So instead of loading you down allow me to provide you with two other resources I have put together to share more detail about these lovely little treasures.

The first page here is a brief overview of beads with pictures and detailed information. I would encourage you to visit for a good introduction.

The next page is a list of resources I have compiled of beading suppliers. You may be familiar with some and there may be some new ones to add to your list. As you look through it if you have a good supplier you would like to recommend, then please let me know.

So happy reading and happy shopping for your beading supplies beginning with these top 10 that I feel should be a staple in every beginner's beading starter kit.

Creations from the Top 10 List

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craft storage
craft storage

BONUS ~ Beading Supply #11

Beading Supply Bag

Now that we have rounded off the top 10 supplies that every beginning beader starter kit should have you now need something to store all of these items in...beading supply bag would be an obvious choice.

There are several on the market and it would really be up to you as to what serves your needs the best. I have written an article on my top 5 favorite storage containers but really different needs and working areas call for different types of storage. I discuss that in this article.

I actually have a few different that I use but this one shown here is my handy holder for just around the house.

When I'm out the door heading to do a beading class I need something larger that will hold all of these top 10 supplies and enough for every one attending class so I use a duffle bag which serves me very well.

Once you decide how you will be beading and how often then you can decide which type of beading supply bag will work best for you. When you do I sure would like to hear about it.

Trend Lab Storage Caddy, Versailles Black And White
Trend Lab Storage Caddy, Versailles Black And White

A beading supply tote will be a necessary item to keep all your supplies in one place. This handy tote will make your supplies mobile so that you can take them with you whenever you need to grab and go for a beading party or just a girl's night out.


Do you have a 'go to' beading supply that you would keep in your beginner beading starter kit? - Please share with us here.

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    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      Hi Bonnie, Thx for stopping by always a joy seeing your smiling and supportive face. Onward and upward, Cheers.

    • profile image

      beliza 3 years ago

      This is a very comprehensive and useful list for beaders. Thanks!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Not a beader, but I can see the appeal to many of the ladies out there. Good lens with clear instructions well done on the LOTD!

    • tracy-arizmendi profile image

      Tracy Arizmendi 3 years ago from Northern Virginia

      Great lens!! Thanks for sharing!! I am still a novice beader and have not yet tried earrings, but they are next on my list!!

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      @Brite-Ideas: So glad you liked it...thx for the visit

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      wow, very detailed! terrific page


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