Almost all beads (including crafting beads, sterling silver beads, gold-filled beads, genuine copper beads, and rose gold-filled beads) are measured in millimeters on a metric scale. Seed beads, on the other hand, are made and measured in aught sizes. We’ll get to what aught sizing means later. You will need an accurate bead sizing chart for this.
If you are ordering beads online or shopping for them in jewelry-making supply stores, getting the correct sizes the first time might be particularly tricky, even if you are familiar with the metric sizing standards. In addition, if you want to combine new beads (with different sizes) with beads you already have at your workbench, things can get confusing at times. That’s all going to change with a bead sizing chart.
Horn, bone, wood, metal, glass, crystal, and gemstone beads are measured in millimeters. The measuring scale is often directly applied to the actual bead. However, if you’re buying a whole strand, the strand will be measured in inches and not in millimeters.
We recommend downloading Xinar’s printable bead sizing chart so you will have an accurate sizing reference. Our bead sizing PDF features bead sizes from 1mm to 30mm. You can print our guide and tape it on your bench for quick measures. Never get lost again with bead sizes.
No Bead Sizing Chart? Estimating Bead Sizes Through Comparison with Everyday Items
One of the easiest methods to comprehend and eyeball relative bead sizes (and short of carrying a ruler with you) is to compare the bead at hand with everyday things. For example, coins are commonplace objects that can be used to make comparisons.
A penny is about 1.52mm thick.
This can already serve as a gauge for bead size. You can approximate the size of a 3 mm bead by stacking two pennies. A 6mm bead will be equivalent to about four pennies stacked. If you’ve run out of pennies, nickels are an excellent substitute. Nickels have a thickness of 1.95mm, just shy of 2mm. Knowing that a penny’s diameter is 19.05 mm can be helpful when measuring beads with larger diameters
If you don’t have the habit of carrying loose change, use other objects that you know you confidently always take with you. The possibilities are endless – a beloved pendant, an always-worn ring, or a watch that you sometimes fall asleep wearing. Once you remember the size of the beads, any of these can assist you in evaluating bead sizes in the future.
Using a Bead Sizing Keychain
If you don’t have a bead sizing chart, making something with multiple sizes of beads and using it as a bead sizing tool is another way of keeping bead size information handy. Keychains are an excellent choice. You can purchase keychain jewelry findings and then embellish them with your dangling beads in the measures you often require. Separate and identify the beads with numbers or tags.
To reduce the risk of accidental breaking, choose a sturdy beading thread or wire. If you constantly need these references, consider putting the series of objects in a safety case so you can carry them around anywhere, with little risk of dropping or losing them.
You don’t have to use expensive beads either. Instead, find beads in the sizes you need, and make sure that the bead’s material/s are sturdy and unbreakable. Plastic beads are fine, while some glass beads may not be the best choice, especially if you won’t be as mindful of the sizing tool as you would with real jewelry. Another option is to stitch a bead sample on a cloth and mark the beads to visualize the sizes you need.
How Does the Aught Measurement Scheme Work?
Seed beads are commonly measured using aught sizes. This applies to various seed bead varieties, including cylinder beads and for round seed beads, cylinder beads, and several other seed beads.
People usually refer to aught as zero. Therefore, if the measurement of the bead is eleven aught, you are going to hear “eleven-oh” with “oh” as the zero. When this measurement system is written down, the aught is represented by a slash followed by 0.
15/0 (the smallest aught) is the most frequent size found in jewelry-making supplies and brick-and-mortar bead shops, followed by 11/0, 10/0, 8/0, and 6/0. The largest seed bead is the size six bead. These beads are sometimes known as an ‘E’ bead.
Here’s some backstory on why seed beads are sized the way they are: The standard size seed bead was known as the “null” or “aught” bead when it was initially created. There is no consensus on how the dimensions were determined, although it is thought that they were primarily measured according to the number of pieces that could be lined up, side by side, in a span of one inch. As a result, the smaller the seed bead, the higher the numerical designation.
Before beginning your beading project, remember to sort through them so you can remove any beads that are either smaller/bigger than the majority. This selection process is known as bead culling. Even in a single batch of almost perfect beads of any material, some beads will be slightly smaller or larger than the rest.
There are also instances when tubular beads will have thinner or thicker variants in the same batch. These size discrepancies are expected. You don’t have to throw away the discrepant beads. Set them aside for another project.
Aught sizes are found in both Japanese cylinder beads and round seed beads. In addition, the aught system is used to size some specialized seed beads, like 3-cut beads and hexagonal beads.
Bugle beads, cubes, triangles, and fringe beads are examples of tiny beads that do not necessarily follow the aught sizing scheme all the time. Bugle beads, for example, are commonly labeled with a pound sign (#) and a numerical designation derived in millimeters. Triangle beads are marked with aught sizes or in millimeters, like the sizing system used for bugle beads. Fringe beads and cubes are usually labeled in millimeters, while triangle beads can be marked in millimeters or aught sizes.
Are Bead Sizes Universally Consistent Across the Jewelry Supplies Industry?
Seed bead sizes have evolved as a result of new companies making seed beads and new manufacturing techniques. As a result, seed beads manufactured nowadays are not always sized according to their aught number. When buying beads from different producers, there may be subtle differences in size.
This is especially true because the shape of a bead can determine its width, with cylinder beads being naturally slimmer than stouter-looking beads like round beads. Think of variations like Czech seed beads, too, that have a more donut-like appearance. Czech seed beads aren’t identical to Japanese cylinder beads. When compared to round Japanese seed beads, Czech round seed beads will also appear flatter.