Large Hole Beads

and Other Bead Tips for Wire Jewelry

The theme for this page is large hole beads and other bead tips for wire jewelry. It's about things you need to keep in mind when choosing lampwork, gemstone and other beads for your wire designs.

The Hole and the Hole Story

Ahh, the hole... to be more specific the size of the bead hole. If you have been working with medium to thick wire you will be sighing with me. And you'll know that you need a large hole in the bead.

Jewelry Making Beads for Wire
About the beads in the picture:
  • The big one is a lampwork bead with a flower pattern... it has a large hole ( see the next picture )
  • The small pink ones are agate. Although they are small beads, they have surprisingly large holes, and
  • the green beads are peridot... I love these green gems. However they have teeny tiny holes and can take only the thinnest wire!

The size of the bead isn't an indication of the size of the hole in the bead!

Large Hole Beads... Lampwork beads often have large holes.
Lampwork glass beads are a good source of large hole beads. Even on the internet you can expect to find out what the diameter of the hole is before you buy.

Other large hole beads are not that easy to come by.

When you see a bead that you really, really like... hold your breath and hope for the best.

Sometimes you can even get your wire through the hole, but if fits too tightly!

This is not ideal because any bending of the wire is likely to make the bead split in two or damage it in some other way.

You can stretch the size of the hole a bit by reaming.

You can ream some beads like the softer stones, polymer, metal and wood.

Reaming Stone Beads ... Large Hole Beads
If the bead is made of stone and the stone is not too hard, for example lapis lazuli (hardness of 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale) or fluorite (hardness of 4 on the Mohs hardness scale) you can make the hole a little larger.

Holes of Gemstone and Stone Beads
There is another thing you need to keep in mind about stone beads. The holes of stone beads are often not the same diameter right through the bead.

The hole is larger at the two sides (entry points).

You have to stick your wire right through the bead to find out what diameter of wire will fit through.

This brings me to what I call my bunch-of-wires...

Shopping and My Bunch-of-Wires

What is my bunch-of-wires?

I have taken a sample of about 3 inches or 80mm of all the wire diameters that I work with.

I have made a simple loop or a wrapped loop (for thinner wire) on each piece of wire.

I have put all these sample wires-with-loops on a key ring.

This bunch-of-wires go with me when I go shopping. I use it to test bead hole sizes.
( If the beads are on a string, you will have to figure a way round that out! )

Pearl Beads... you can make the hole bigger, but the bead itself is not that hard.How Hard is the Bead?
The complications with choosing beads are not over when you find a bead with a good size hole... another point you need to consider is the hardness of the material of the bead.

It is wise to use harder stones and materials for bracelets and rings.

The beads on the wrists and fingers have a rougher life than the beads around the neck and in earrings.

Weight and Size
When you put your beads together for a design you need to consider the total weight of the beads.

Some people can wear much heavier jewelry than others who are sensitive to heavy or bulky jewelry.

Take all the beads you are going to use in your design and consider the total weight before you start making your piece.

I literally take the beads in my hand and feel how heavy they are.

Don't worry too much about the weight of the wire in your design, unless you are planning to use thick wire in abundance. Generally the wire will not make a huge difference in the total weight of the piece.

Wrapping up...
Hardness, weight and size are all factors to consider when choosing beads for a design. The size of the hole in the bead can be a deciding factor when making wire jewelry.

Return to the top of Large Hole Beads and Other Beads Tips page.

Return to the Jewelry Making Beads and Wire main page.

Return to Wire to Jewelry home.