Do Beads Come In A Standard Size?

Do beads come in a standard size

CC Image courtesy of zeevveez on Flickr

Do beads come in a standard size?

Do beads come in a standard size? The answer to this question is a straight-forward- NO! All you need to do is walk into any bead shop and you will see what a strange question this might seem to be, but beginners shouldn’t be embarrassed. There are so many different ones that even the more-experienced bead hobbyists are amazed. While you might find commonly-used sizes of 11/0 for seed beads or 6mm to 8mm for other beads, it takes a bead size chart, in order to sort through them all other.


Seed beads will be smaller, the larger the number. Standard beads will run by millimeters, from lower numbers for smaller beads and higher numbers for the larger beads. You will find that metric bead size charts will depict the sizes of standard beads, by their circumference, in millimeters. Under this system, the smallest is 2mm, but they range up to 18mm. Seed beads are denoted by “aught” sizes, which actually run in the opposite direction. The smallest seed beads come in a size 20 or 20/0, where the larger seed beads will be a size 5, denoted as 5/0.

Do Beads Come In A Standard Size?

For those that love to make bead jewelry, standard beads are commonly used, since they are easier to work with. Seed beads are commonly used for bead-weaving or spacers, during jewelry-making. There are many uses for both size ranges, but it’s more difficult to work with seed beads and they are usually reserved for detail work, including fabric embellishment or intricate designs.


If you aren’t familiar with how millimeters compare to inches, it’s helpful to know that 6mm is about ¼ inch, 12mm is about ½ inch and 18mm is dime-sized. An inch would be stated in 25.4 millimeters, so you can use these measurements, as a general guideline for standard bead sizes.

Seed bead sizes are stated as “aughts”, so remember the higher the number, the smaller the bead. Pony beads, crow or roller sizes are typically 4/0 or 5/0, while an “E” bead is generally 6/0, up to 20/0. As a general rule, there would be 4-3/0 seed beads per inch, but there would be 18-15/0 seed beads, per inch of stranded lengths.


These guidelines can differ, if using spacers or other accents, but if you are making an 8-inch bracelet, you can calculate 100 of the 2mm beads, 33 of the 6mm beads or 25 of the 8mm beads, to complete the project. If you find preferred bead sizes, it’s easier to calculate for longer or shorter strands, so some people use even numbers, such as 20 of the 10mm beads for an 8-inch bracelet or 50 of the 4mm beads.


It can make it easier to adapt general bead-size or bead shapes guidelines to your own designs, if you have a general idea of how many beads will be required, for a certain strand length.

These examples are meant to help beginners that have no idea how many beads to purchase, for their first creative projects in bead-weaving or jewelry-making.

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  1. Thank you for this information, I still can´t make a right estimate of how many beads I´ll be using for certain projects, you gave me a good idea with these examples.

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