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Bead FAQs

We have a pretty cool feature that appears on all of our product pages. It is a Question and Answer forum where you can post questions about each and every product we sell. We get quite a few of them and especially love those that make us scratch our heads. (Some of you get really creative with your use of materials and want to use things in very interesting ways!) We do also encourage you guys to interact with one another and answer each other's questions. If you come across a question about a product and you know the answer or your answer is slightly different than the one posted, don't be shy! Let your opinion/advice/expertise be known!

In the course of answering questions about beads and components via this forum - as well as through the many emails we receive on a daily basis - we see a lot of the same questions on a regular basis. Our designers and product managers are hoping to provide some much needed general information in the hopes that it may clear up some confusion and wonder. And keep those questions coming - we will definitely continue to add to this handy reference!

Will this product be restocked? When will it be available? How will I know when you have it in stock again?
If you are like most designers, you have your favorite go-to products: your favorite clasp, your favorite bead caps, your favorite spacers. Those staples are things you never ever want to run out of and, when you do, you want to get them as quickly as possible. Guess what? We do too! Most of our products are reorderable, meaning that we will get them from our suppliers over and over again. (The exceptions to this would be limited availability or special purchase beads that we know we cannot get again, product that our suppliers discontinue due to manufacturing problems or slow sales and products we discontinue because they just aren't selling well for us.) On every product that we know we can get again, we have what I think is one of the coolest features on our website: the waiting list. Here, you can sign up to be notified when the product is checked back in. The person receiving the product will click a box and - voila! - you are notified that your beads and components are back in stock and ready to buy. On our end, the wait list also helps as a guide for us in what and how much to buy. If we have a package of seed beads, for example, that 20 people are waiting on, we want to make those a high priority item and get as many packages as we possibly can. So be sure to put yourself on the waiting list if you want to see something restocked - and be sure to strike while the iron's hot; you never know how many other people might be waiting on the same item. (As a general rule, you should receive notification that something is restocked within a few weeks, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. The biggest exception to this is usually that there is a delay in the manufacturing process. Please be patient if you don't receive notification within a few weeks of putting yourself on the wait list; we promise we are not ignoring your request!)

What is the hole size of this bead?
Part of the reason we do not provide that on every product we sell is because many of our suppliers don't give us that information and we don't have the tools to precisely measure down to a tenth or hundredth of a millimeter. When we get beads and components from TierraCast and Miyuki, for example, they provide us with very detailed information. TierraCast for example, will give all dimensions, including inner dimensions of loops and holes. Some other manufacturers and distributors are not so specific, leaving us to give an estimate of the bead hole size. Even then still, we don't always put that information in our product details because of this - and this is important, so please take note - most beads have a pretty uniform hole size between about 0.7mm and 1mm. Using gemstones as an example, your sizing will usually work like this: Smaller beads, such as a 4mm round, will have a hole size closer to the 0.7mm range while larger beads, such as a 10mm round, will have a hole size closer to the 1mm range. We almost always recommend using a .015" beading wire or 22 gauge craft wire with smaller beads and a .018" beading wire or 20 gauge craft wire with medium to larger beads. Beads with a normal hole size will not work on leather cording, rattail, or any other unconventional stringing materials. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this normal sizing:
1) Freshwater pearls are notorious for having small bead hole sizes, usually measuring around 0.5mm. Pearls are designed to work on silk cording so they can be knotted; however, if you would like to string pearls, you can use 19-strand .015" beading wire because it is fine enough to fit through small bead holes while still being durable enough to withstand regular wear. (You may still need a bead reamer to open up the holes a bit when stringing.) If you want to wire wrap pearls, you might try using 24 gauge wire; it is a very soft craft wire, but it might be the only thing that will fit through those tiny bead holes. 2) Lampwork beads are kinda the opposite of pearls in the sense that their hole sizes vary quite a bit and skew larger than average. We try very hard to include hole size on each lampwork bead because of the variance but, as a general rule, lampwork beads will have a hole size of around 1.5mm. Many of these beads will work on 1mm leather, but remember: your cording should always be smaller than the hole size. 1mm cording will not fit inside a 1mm hole. 3) Large hole beads have, well, a larger than average hole. We always provide the hole size on these because that is a thing you need to know. These are beads you want to use on leather or on multi-stranded designs, so you need to know exactly what size the hole is so you know with what materials the bead will work.

Is this gemstone bead or pendant real? Is it dyed? Is it stabilized?
1) Is this gemstone real?
First of all, we would never intentionally mislead anybody about what a product is. If something is synthetic, we say so. If a bead strand that looks like turquoise is howlite, we call it howlite. There have been times we have been misled due to supplier information (or lack thereof), but we strive to be 100% honest and accurate in all of our product descriptions.
2) Is this gemstone dyed?
This is a rather common question and one that we understand to a certain degree. If a gemstone is dyed, there could be a fear that the coloration is going to wear or bleed somehow. Since this issue is of concern to so many people, we can tell you that you will know when something is dyed because it will be a color you just don't find in a natural stone. Hot pink jade, for example, is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, so it is safe to assume that it is a dyed jade. Many stones, like agate, are very porous so they absorb color well and lend themselves to being dyed and/or color treated. These days, stones are dyed after they have been tumbled. They are soaked in dye for anywhere ranging from days to weeks; the longer the stone soaks in the dye, the more the dye is able to penetrate the stone so the color is more uniform and "permanent". Without this dyeing process, you would not have so many vibrant gemstones and so much color in your stone selection. If you are concerned about color bleeding or fading, you probably ought not be; chances are, you have bought and worn many dyed gemstones without ever knowing it.
3) Is this gemstone stabilized?
It seems that some people speak of stabilizing gemstones as a bad thing, and that is understandable to some degree. When a gemstone is stabilized, it means that it is injected with resin during the production process. We can totally see how someone buying a strand of turquoise beads might be wary if she knows that the turquoise strand contains resin. After all, it can't be real, right? Wrong. Using resin or epoxy when creating beads and pendants out of stones such as turquoise actually solidifies the stone itself and fills fractures; this process prevents turquoise (which is a fairly soft and unstable natural stone) from breaking. Stabilizing a stone also prevents it from changing colors when exposed to the air or the acidity in your skin.

I don't understand the sizing of this seed bead/wire/bead strand. How do I know what size a bead or component is?
1)Those of us who love seed beads can look at them and tell on sight what size they are, but it does take a while to get used to the sizing. Size 6/0 seed beads are larger than 8/0 seed beads, which are larger than size 11/0 seed beads. WHAT?!? Yes, it does seem a little backward, but the higher the number, the smaller the bead. We try to provide detailed information on every single seed bead we sell, but here is the breakdown for you: size 6/0 seed beads have a diameter of 3mm by 4mm; size 8/0 seed beads have a diameter of 2mm by 3mm, size 11/0 seed beads have a diameter of 1mm by 2mm and size 15/0 seed beads of about 1.5mm.
2) Craft wire has AWG (American Wire Gauge) sizing. Like seed beads, you have to think in opposites. The lowest gauge we carry is a 14 gauge, which is also the heaviest. This gauge of wire is primarily used for creating clasps and other findings. The highest gauge is 28, which is a very soft wire generally used for wire crochet and wire knitting. Generally speaking, most wire wrapping projects require the use of medium gauge wires (between 18 and 22).
2) Almost every American is confused by the sizing of beads when he or she first gets started; after all, we are not that familiar with the metric system. Have you ever bought something that was 12mm, thinking it was large enough for a pendant only to discover that it was too small to even use as a charm? Those of you who are new to beading or who still get confused from time to time, remember this: 25mm is about 1 inch. Therefore, a 48mm disc pendant is about 2 inches in diameter while a 12mm drop is about 1/2 an inch. It is always a good idea to keep a bead gauge handy so you can get a visual on what size a bead or pendant is and an idea about how that size will work in your design.

The above are the most common product questions we have received over a period of years, but we are sure there will be more! Be sure to save this page as a reference and PLEASE do keep asking us intriguing questions about how to use beads and findings - we love those questions! - as well as about the production of certain components. And we certainly encourage you to answer each other as well when you come across a product question you are certain you know the answer to. When it comes to discovering answers to creative questions, the more the merrier!
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