Jewelry Making Basics #1 : All About Beads (Free Tutorial)

Would you like to be able to make your own jewelry but want to keep it to a small scale, without having to spend a TON of money or time? Something simple, maybe like these Bohemian inspired summer danglers? Then read on..

 My Etsy Store Listing

Ok! So I am starting a new series called Jewelry Making Basics, where I will be sharing with you entry level skills for bead jewelry making along with information about where to find materials if you are living in Tokyo/Japan, as well as online resources from where you can easily have materials mailed right to you post box.

So please leave a comment on this post below, and don't forget to Subscribe to this blog for automatic updates via email.

For the first post I am going to share some resources about different types of beads that exist out there. You can also Google and find out more, but this post could be your starting point.


Bead shapes

My favourite bead shapes are round, square, rondelles and bicones. But there are a variety of different shapes that creative peeps have come up with. Here is a great resource on bead shapes I could count at least 40 and I am pretty sure there are more!!!

Bead Sizes

Beads sizes are measured in "aughts". Typical sizes are 6, 8, 11, 15. The larger the size, the smaller the bead. To make my wire wrapped jewelry, I typically use a mix of sizes 11 and 6.
Here's a great resource that talks about bead sizes: There is also this wikipedia article on bead sizes.

Bead Types

There are several. Seed beads, Lampwork beads, Fresh Water Pearls, Power-Stone beads, Gemstone beads, Metallic beads just to name just a few. There is a great board I found on Pinterest that can show you all the amazing possibilities with bead types.

Bead Exporting countries

Some countries famous for their glass beads are: China, Austria, Czech Republic, Japan and India. Here is a statistical map of exports from various countries:
Japan and India are famous for fresh water pearls. India and China take the lead in the gemstones market.

Jewelry Supplies Shops

I typically buy my beads and other jewelry materials from the US, India and Japan. I know that what I buy in the US would include a mix of imported beads coming in from other countries, but I like the choice, range and quality control. My favourite bead store in the US is Shipwreck Beads. I call it the COSTCO of beads! And I think they also offer international shipping. I also visit Michaels, Joann all the time, especially around SALE time ;)

Beads found in India include those imported from China as well as a lot of natural gems and stones from all parts of the country, and what I like best about shopping in India is that they are so affordable, though you do have to take the help of locals to find where all the wholesale action is. Be prepared to have to ask for a specific type or color of beads because not everything is displayed at eye level. The shopkeeper will typically have someone bring out a box from the back of his shop to "show you". Then you decide on the amount you want, it will be weighed and given to you in a small bag on the spot. I also found this online shopping guide for glass bead dealers in India.

Buying beads in Japan is like shopping in paradise. Everything is visually displayed, neatly and beautifully packed (which might not be a great thing environmentally, but ya, you can find exactly what you need).

The bead mecca of Tokyo is located in the Asakusabashi and Okachimachi areas. Asakusabashi is pretty friendly to hobbyists but Okachimachi is mainly for retail and wholesale and a while ago when I went into a shop there, I was asked for my business card to even enter. (!!) Back then, I had not established my business so I had to satisfy myself with window shopping!

Shops that carry a large collection of beads that I like to shop at are: Joyful Honda, Tokyu Hands, Parts Club, Kiwa, Yuzawaya to name a few. Some of them have online stores as well, so check them out.

Online Jewelry Stores in Japan

While there are a ton of Japanese stores that have an online presence, I'd like to introduce Etsy to you, if you did not already know. Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade items, supplies and antiques. At the time of writing this post, Etsy has about a million sellers and about 30 million buyers worldwide.

As some of you know, I run my own jewelry store on Etsy called TheMagicOfBeads. Currently I am offering a 10% discount on my Etsy store here for anyone interested in buying ready made jewelry. Please use the discount coupon codeBLOGOFF to claim your discount. [Note that this discount code will only work on my store: TheMagicofBeads and not the whole of Etsy!]

I am also sharing a list of some of my favourite Jewelry sellers on Etsy Japan. Check them out!

1. Kojica
2. OfOnAWhim
3. Aya1Gou
4. CapriciousBijoux
5. HoriSweetShop
6. Pemabeads

Ok, that's it for now. Next time, I plan to cover Jewelry Findings. Don't forget to subscribe to this blog, and do leave a comment below about what you think about this series!

Have a fantastic week!
#etsy #etsyjapan #crafts #crafting #handmade #handmadeology #craftshows #sell #crafty #smallbusiness #branding #brand #sales #creative
#localbusiness #businesscard #jewellery #business
 #how to


  1. What a fun article RJ! Lots of good information and ideas of places to go for supplies. I use Parts Club too, but making a trip to Asakusabashi or Okachimachi would be SO fun! I have picked up gemstone beads down in Osaka's Hommachi district, some great wholesale shops down there. I prefer buying my gemstones in Japan from retailers I trust for quality and good price.

  2. Thank you Erinn! I have been to Hommachi once, several years ago when I hadn't even started making jewelry. Is that the go-to place for beads in Osaka? Would be fun to check it out some day!