Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Guide to seed beads and wire sizes

Have you ever been confused about the sizing of seed beads and wire? That is because a different sizing system is in operation in different parts of the world.

For instance in America they refer to seed beads as 11/0, 8/0 etc., the higher the number the smaller the bead. They can also be referred to as E beads or rocailles. Below is a go to guide to the most popular sizes and their conversions.


Sometimes seed beads are sized in millimeters and sometimes in gauges and can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer. Here is a quick guide to the sizing of the most popular ones.

Size 11/0 - approx. 2mm - 5g would give you 580'ish beads - 80cm in length.

Size 8/0 - approx. 3mm - 5g would give you 220'ish beads - 40cm in length.

Size 6/0 - approx. 3.7mm - you would get approx. 7 beads per inch.

Larger seed beads are often referred to as E beads.

The same rule applies with wire which in America is measured by gauge, the higher the gauge the thinner the wire. The opposite to what you might imagine.


As with seed beads these can be described by gauge or in millimetres and here is a rough conversion guide.

16 gauge - 1.2mm - used for structure

18 gauge - 1.0mm - used for structure (i.e shapes or ring shanks)

20 gauge - 0.8mm - the most useful to start with, can be used for structure and to make findings.

22 gauge - 0.6mm - another very popular size with many uses including tiaras and rings.

26 gauge - 0.4mm - commonly used for wrapping such as in tiara making.

32 gauge - 0.2mm - also known as lacemakers wire, can be almost like thread with seed beads for brooches and fine work.

There are of course other in between sizes but these would be the most commonly used.

I hope you find this useful, any questions please leave a comment below or email us

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