Seed Beads – Learning The Basics

Glass Seed Beads

CC Image courtesy of balanced.crafts on Flickr

Seed Beads

If you are fairly new to the fun and relaxing hobby of beading, you may need to understand some of the basics of seed beads, since they have many uses. These smallest of beads are denoted in different sizes and measured in units, known as “aughts”. Unlike the larger beads where large millimeter sizes mean larger beads, the higher the number of the seed beads size, the smaller the beads are.



There are conversion charts to help you estimate the number of seed beads in an inch, but you can estimate an 11/o bead size equates to 20 beads per inch. Seed beads can be a term used for any smaller-sized beads. They are usually round in shape, with sizes running from the larger size 5 to the smaller size 22, which resembles a grain of sand. There are many different finishes, including opaque, transparent, silver-lined and luster or “pearlized” surfaces.


Delicas – The Staple Bead Of Many

Delicas are considered the staple bead of many enthusiasts, with varieties that include cut facets, for better light reflection. In addition, these cylinder beads are more uniform in shape, with large holes in comparison to their size. The ends are flat, which allows you to use them for rows and columns, when embellishing fabric or weaving. As a newer shape of Japanese seed bead, they are made in 4 different sizes, ranging from 8/o to the smallest, 15/o.


Uses For Seed Beads

If you want to start bead-weaving, seed beads are the perfect choice. There are plenty of jewelry-making uses for seed beads because they are popular as fillers, but you can make woven necklaces and use them for embellishing fabrics, too. For crafting, you will find them to be the most popular choice, whether you are doing bead crochet, bead embroidery, bead stringing or bead weaving. Animal patterns can be made in Peyote and Brick stitch or lacy beaded edging can be embroidered onto a scarf or collar, as a few beginner’s beading projects.


Differences Between Czech Glass Seed Beads and Japanese Glass Seed Beads

Before World War II, the majority of seed beads were made in Europe from glass, steel or aluminum and three-cut faceting was common. Today, most seed beads are made in Japan and the Czech Republic. Japanese glass seed beads have a uniform size and shape, with larger holes. Czech glass seed beads are made in a larger variety of styles and their holes are smaller, in comparison. These are both the highest quality seed beads, since they are manufactured from glass. Cheaper varieties are made in India, Taiwan and China, but they are less uniform.


While you may pay more for higher-quality Czech glass seed beads and Japanese glass seed beads, many beading enthusiasts believe they are worth the price. Another difference is that Czech seed beads are sold by the hank, where Japanese seed beads are sold by the gram. This difference may mean very little to the average beginning bead enthusiasts, however.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. This is a really good summary of bead types, thank you. I’m only new to beading and am learning lots from your site. 🙂

    • Hi Cindy

      Thanks for the comments! Glad you find the site useful. I would love to hear how you progress with your beading – and if you have any suggestions for topics on this site 🙂

  2. Great article, I didn´t know about the aughts measuring unit, thanks for such precise information this will be of great help for when I purchase my beads, I am new to this great art.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Jessie. Seed beads are used in so many beading projects I’m glad you found the post helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *