What beading wire should I use?

Beading threads, cords and wires are many, varied and often specialised for particular applications, and the terminology and sheer number of them can be bewildering! On this page we have summarised how to use the most popular threads and cords, and when not to use them!


View our range of stringing materials, wires, threads and cords

Beadalon Thread

Use for: Stringing any type of beads into necklaces and bracelets.

Beadalon is a branded version of Tigertail, and both are 7-strand wires that have been braided and coated in nylon. It is extremely strong and durable, but must be used with crimp beads or crimp tubes to secure it (it will not knot!).

Don't use for: Knotting! Beadalon thread will not knot, so make sure you buy some crimp beads to attach your clasp.

Chain

Use for: Necklaces and charms bracelets, handbag and key charms, and wealth of other things! Our chain is plated base metal and comes in a wide range of styles and colours, and is all open-link. This means the links are not soldered closed and can be opened and closed like jump rings. Curb chains have a lovely twist in the links, and snake chains are so finely linked that they resemble snake skin!

Don't use for: Items that are going to be kept on at all times; plating on base metal will wear through over time and continued exposure to moisture, perfume and skin, so if a piece is designed to be permanent, consider sterling silver over plated materials.

Copper Craft Wire

Use for: Wrapping, twisting and forming structural pieces.

Copper craft wire is very flexible and stays in the shape you mould it to, making it perfect for use in making your own rings, using with the Spiral Bead Maker to make wire beads, and wrapping around frames and beads to create interesting features. You can even knit and crochet with it!

Don't use for: Stringing beads into a necklace or bracelet. Copper stresses if bent in the same place multiple times and can break.

Aluminium Craft Wire

Use for: Twisting and forming structural pieces.

Aluminium craft wire is very soft and flexible and stays in the shape you mould it to, making it perfect for use in making your own rings, making wire beads, and wrapping around frames and beads to create interesting features.

Don't use for: Tight curves or any stringing. Aluminium is much softer than copper and if bent too tightly will split at the surface.

Elastic

Use for: Bracelets and chokers.

We sell Crystal-Tek single core elastic for maximum strength and durability, and it's available in 3 thicknesses by the metre. the thicker the cord, the stronger it is. Tie the knot using a "surgeon's knot" and secure the knot using glue or clear nail varnish.

Don't use for: Loose necklaces or in conjunction with a clasp. Elastic inevitably relaxes a little over time, so make sure you put your pieces under some tension as you make them.

Fireline

Use for: Stitched beadweaving projects that use potentially sharp beads such as bugles and crystals, or when increased strength is required. Fireline is a super-fine braided thread that is far stronger than KO thread, so use for your most precious or precarious beads!

Don't use for: Stringing. Fireline is a premium product so don't waste it on general stringing!

KO Thread

Use for: Stitched beadweaving projects.

KO is the better, more versatile alternative to Nymo thread which is pre-waxed and knots incredibly securely.

Don't use for: Stringing. It's far too fine with no drape or body to itself; it derives it's strength from the structure you weave with it when using it in beadweaving.

Leather Cord

Use for: Great for making cord necklaces and bracelets.

Leather is a traditional and natural material used in jewellery making; it knots well, can have cord ends crimped on to the ends to attach clasps and can either be covered or left bare.

Don't use for: Continuous wear. Leather naturally degrades if exposed to moisture and constant wear and tear. Consider Waxed Cotton Cord as a hard-wearing alternative.

Monofilament

Use for: Also called illusion cord, monofilament is perfect for beginners and advanced beaders alike in stringing projects.

Composed of a single strand of nylon, monofilament resembles fishing line and is incredibly strong. You can either tie it (surgeon's knot & glue) or you can use crimp beads with it. Use this thread for Illusion or Floating Jewellery as it's pretty much invisible when worn!

Don't use for: Beadweaving. Monofilament isn't wholly flexible enough for use in tight beadweaving projects due to it being a single core. Consider Fireline as an alternative for beadweaving.

Nylon Cord

Use for: Stringing and knotting projects.

Nylon cords are known for their strength, durability and wide range of colours, so are perfect for macrame knotting, shamballa style jewellery and kumihimo braiding.

Don't use for: Heavy bead stringing. Although it's very strong, it has very little drape so will just "hang".

Rat Tail

Use for: Kumihimo braiding, macrame, shamballa style and general bead stringing.

Rat Tail is again composed of nylon silk threads, so is very strong, durable and comes in a great range of colours.

Don't use for: Rough edges! Due to the multi-stranded structure of rat tail, rough beads can dislodge and fray the fibres.

Silk Cord

Use for: Stringing and knotting expensive or precious pearls. Traditionally, pearls are strung on silk and knotted between each bead to avoid friction and inevitable degradation of the beads. Silk will form nice, neat knots.

Don't use for: Anything else! Natural silk isn't known for it's tensile strength and degrades over time. It also has no drape, so anything bulkier than fine pearls will just hang.

Soutache Braid

Use for: Soutache projects!

Soutache cord is pretty specialised so although you can use it for other things, it's cost is pretty well matched to use for just soutache projects.

Don't use for: Anything else really, find a similar looking alternative for other projects.

Suede Cord

Use for: Knotted "beach" style jewellery.

Suede cord is actually synthetic in origin (rather than being natural suede which is actually pretty expensive) and is perfect for informal and casual jewellery designs. Can be knotted or have cord ends added to enable the addition of a clasp.

Don't use for: Continuous wear and heavy beads. Suede is quite a delicate cord and degrades over time, so be aware than suede jewellery might not be permanent if worn frequently.

Tigertail

Use for: Stringing necklaces and bracelets.

Tigertail is the non-branded version of Beadalon thread, and works just as well. You can get higher-stranded versions, but these become increasingly expensive, so we just stick to the 7 stranded version. You'll need to use crimp beads to attach a clasp to tigertail, don't try and knot it!

Don't use for: Tying. Tigertail will not tie, but it does kink if you mistreat it! Keep it loosely coiled when in storage, or ideally on a reel or spool.

Waxed Cotton Cord

Use for: Stringing, knotting, macrame, kumihimo... just about anything!

Waxed cotton cord is actually a very fine braid of multiple cotton fibres which is then waxed (as the name suggests!). This makes one of the most hard-wearing and durable stringing materials available. It will withstand moisture and everyday wear, can be knotted or used with cord ends, can be used with nearly any kind of bead and for any piece of jewellery such as bracelets, necklaces, anklets...

Don't use for: Pearls. The only reason for this is that generally pearls have a hole smaller than 1mm so it won't fit through!


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