What is Beading Wire?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

If you have a passion for fashion and an urge to express your creativity, you may find yourself wondering how to create your own beaded jewelry. Fortunately, making beaded jewelry is a hobby that almost anyone can enjoy. Whether your style is trendy or classically elegant, it’s easy to create customized accessories for your favorite outfits.

Diagonal pliers can be used for cutting beading wire.
Diagonal pliers can be used for cutting beading wire.

Supplies for making beaded jewelry can be purchased from any large craft store or specialty bead shop. For your first bracelet or necklace, you’ll typically need an assortment of beads, a clasp, and a spool of beading wire.

Thin wire is ideal for working with smaller beads, like seed beads.
Thin wire is ideal for working with smaller beads, like seed beads.

Beading wire is an important part of any jewelry making project. Typically, this term refers to flexible nylon-coated multi-strand steel wire. Thicker wire is used for large or heavy beads, while thin beading wire is used for pearls, seed beads, or beads with very small holes. Regardless of which type of beading wire you choose, however, you can be assured your project will be extremely durable.

Beading wire should be cut using wire cutters. Cutting beading wire with a pair of scissors will quickly dull the blades. When cutting wire for your bracelet or necklace, it’s best to allow yourself a few extra inches to work with for finishing the ends. If the wire is too short, you may find yourself struggling to attach the clasp to the completed piece.

A crimp tube is often used to attach beading wire to a clasp in order to create a professional looking piece of jewelry and add strength to your project. To use these small metal beads, you simply pass the beading wire through the crimp tube and close with a pair of pliers. Although a crimp tube can be flattened using a regular pair of needlenose pliers, investing in a pair of crimping pliers designed for jewelry making will produce a more attractive result.

Although spools of sterling silver wire are often sold with jewelry making supplies, this wire is not suitable for standard beading projects. Sterling silver wire is used for creating loops to make pendant dangles or earring charms. This wire can also be used for wire wrapping, a process often referred to as making wire jewelry.

If you find beading wire difficult to work with, you may want to try creating your jewelry using clear elastic cord. This flexible material is easily cut and knotted to create stretch bracelets or necklaces that require no clasp. Simply cover the knot with a layer of clear fingernail polish to provide additional reinforcement.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


I loved jewelry as a teenager, so when my mother bought me some beading wire and beads at Christmas, I was ecstatic. I had a lot to learn about what I thought would be a simple process, though.

My first mistake was cutting the wire with regular scissors. I used the pair that I carried to school to cut thread in home economics, and this made them too dull to even cut through sewing thread.

It took several tries for me to learn to allow plenty of extra wire. I would get almost all the way done with a tedious project, only to find that I didn't have enough wire left at the end to secure my bracelet.

Once I finally got the hang of it, it became much more fun. I could create my own jewelry for a fraction of what I would have to pay for it in a store, and I would have total control over its appearance.


@wavy58 – I like making my own jewelry to give as gifts, too. However, I make mine using smaller beads and shells, so I use the lightest beading wire I can find.

When I go to the ocean, I search for small seashells that have holes through the top. You might be amazed at how many of them do! These are perfect for using on beading wire, because you don't even have to alter them.

Some bracelets and necklaces are made entirely of miniature shells, but my favorite necklaces are the ones that feature one medium-sized shell in the middle, surrounded by pastel-colored beads. I like to use pinks, browns, and creams, and sometimes I will throw in some wooden beads for that natural look.

All the beads I use are very small, so the lightweight beading wire has no problem supporting them. Working on a delicate level like this can be frustrating at times, because it can be hard to get the wire into those tiny holes. However, the end result is worth the hassle.


I use some heavy duty jewelry beading wire, because I design a lot of chunky necklaces. My friends prefer this type of jewelry, and since they are generally who I make it for, I need wire that can support the weight of the gaudy beads I have to use.

Some of these beads are as big as an oyster shell. Others are just dense with only small holes through them, so their weight could easily mess up thin wire.

Why my friends like this style of jewelry, I don't understand. Their preference for chunky, loud necklaces makes it easy for me to give them gifts on their birthdays that I know they will love.


I have delicate fingers, and I had a lot of trouble trying to work with tough beading wire. So, I bought some elastic cord instead.

It was much easier on my fingers to tie a knot with this material than with the wire. I double-knotted it for extra security, and I made a loop with the cord that the clasp could fasten through.

There was one big problem, though. If I slid the bracelet on over my hand, then it would pull out of the knot over time, and the whole thing would come apart. Beads fell everywhere, and all the time I invested in the bracelet was for nothing.

Because of this, I gave up jewelry making. I'm sure if I had a crimping tool, I could have worked with regular beading wire, but it all just frustrated me to the point of disgust at the whole process.

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