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ow to Choose Stringing Materials

When constructing your jewelry, your choice of stringing material is important for several reasons. The stringing material you choose will be the skeleton of your design and will affect the technique used to construct your jewelry.

In addition, the stringing materials should also contribute to the aesthetic quality of your jewelry. There are countless choices of materials in many colors and widths. Consider the weight and size of the of beads and components you will use as well as the hole size and direction. Some popular options are: stretch cord, flexible beading wire, monofilament, silk, hemp, cotton cord, precious metal wire. Each of has different characteristic and advantages and impacts on the final look of your piece.

Stretch cord is a common stringing material as is it convenient for many reasons. A bracelet or necklace made from stretch jewelry cord is easy to put on, especially for children. It does not require crimps and clasps and thus helps to keep material costs down. The only tool you need is a pair of scissors to cut the cord. This makes stretch cord easy to use and is a great option for children’s projects, especially larger groups as extensive adult assistance is not required. To finish stretch jewelry cord, simply tie a surgeon’s knot and secure with a dab of super glue. Stretch cord can be used on every type of bead as long as the cord fits through the hole, however, avoid creating excessively heavy pieces on stretch cord. Due to the stretchy characteristic, stretch cord will not provide the structure to maintain the shape of heavy pieces.

Flexible beading wire is one of the most multi-purpose stringing materials. It is a popular choice due to its versatility and strength. It is basically stainless steel "mini" cable coated with nylon. The flexibility and strength increases with a higher strand count. Strand count ranges from 7-49 strands. Flexible beading wire is suitable for all types of beads including acrylic, glass, wood, pearls, and stones. Common brands include Flex Rite, Soft Flex and Beadalon. This flexible coated wire works great with crystals, all types of stone beads. For small hole beads like pearls, flexible beading wire is available in a thinner size.

Stringing materials can also be made of natural fibers such as cotton, hemp and silk. These natural materials are available in many thicknesses and colors. Cotton cording often comes in 0.5mm to 2mm and is an economical substitute to leather. Hemp is commonly used knotted jewelry using macramé techniques. Silk is used to knot gemstones and pearls. A knotting tool is used to place a knot in between each bead. Not only does this add a decorative touch, but it also prevents the beads from rubbing against each other and reduces wear on the cording because the beads are held stationary in between knots.

Your local bead shop will have the best variety of stringing materials and tools. The staff will also have expert advice and be able to recommend the best materials based on the jewelry that you want to create.


Joyce Lee is a jewelry designer with over 15 years of experience in jewelry design and production. Ms. Lee also enjoys teaching jewelry making classes to children and adults of all ages.


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Visit www.beadbee.com for project ideas, instructions, and materials. Additional ideas & tips can be found at Bead Bee's blog. Joyce's artisan jewelry can be seen at Bead Bee Boutique.


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