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Seed Bead Sizes

Seed Bead Sizes

The diameter of Toho's round seed beads.
Seed beads are measured in aughts which refers to the number of beads that, side by side, will fill an inch. So the smaller the number the bigger the bead as the fewer will be needed to fill an inch.
Seed Bead Finishes

Seed Bead Finishes

Opaque beads are solid colour and transmit no light. They come in shiny and matt finishes.

Transparent beads have no finish applied to them. They are completely see through. These beads also come in matt finishes which are often referred to as frosted.

Iridescent, Rainbow or AB is a finish that is applied to both transparent and opaque beads while the bead is hot. This creates a rainbow effect on the surface of the bead and makes then come forward visually.

Ceylon is a pearl like finish on a transparent bead.

Lustre is a semi-transparent high gloss coating applied to the surface of a bead resulting in a pearl like appearance. The lustre can be gold, coloured or white.

Gold Lustered beads are transparent beads that have a gold lustre applied to the surface creating rich colours with a subtle gold highlight to the bead.

Frosted beads have a matt surface created by chemical etching or tumbling a transparent or transluscent bead. When used with a shiny bead they recede visually and help the shiny bead 'pop'.

Matt beads surface is created by chemical etching or tumbling any type of bead. 'Frosted' usually refers to a transparent or transluscent bead and 'Matt' to opaque beads. On a metallic bead the finish looks similar to raku fired beads. When used with a shiny bead they recede visually and help the shiny bead 'pop'. Toho's matts and metallics are by far the most beautiful on the market.

Dyed beads are transparent beads that have been painted and baked. Strong UV light may cause fading over time.

Inside-Colour or Colour-Lined beads are transparent or transparent AB beads that have had an opaque colour applied to the inside of the bead. There are many beautiful and exciting colour combinations. Some colours are available frosted.

Galvanised beads are plated with zinc. The coating may wear due to friction or acidity in the hands. The beads may be coated with an acrylic spray to stabilize the finish. They also come in a matt finish.Toho has developed a finish for their galvanised beads which will provide 95% durability called Permanent Finish. Miyuki have now developed their equivalent called Duracoat.

Metallic and Higher Metallic beads have a shiny finish that gives them a metal-like appearance. This finish si one of the most time consuming to manufacture beacause of the many different elements, including titanium and gold, used. Higher Metallic beads contain more gold in their finish resulting in a brighter finish.

Silver-Lined beads are transparent beads that have been lined with sterling silver. The lining creates a mirrored surface that gives the beads a wonderful sparkle. They are also available with a frosted finish.

Gilt-Lined beads are silver lined Ceylon beads. Toho has developed a technology that has dramatically improved the stability of these beads.

Bronze beads are coated with gold mixed with other materials and then baked on.

Nickel. A metal alloy, containing mostly nickel, is applied to the bead producing a stainless steel look.

Bead Durability Information

Toho have recently updated their durability information giving clear details as to which beads can be affected by friction, solvents, oxidation and solvents. Colours that may be affected by friction and solvents are subdivided into those that need prolonged exposure and those that don't. We have shown all this information on the Toho product pages. We no longer show the information on the boxes.

Miyuki also publish durability infomation but it is out of date as many new colours are not included. We have included their information as published and extended it for new colours as far as we can. We no longer show the information on the boxes.

No durability information is published for Czech beads and historically Czech coatings have been stable. Due to the different glass composition of Czech and Japanese beads, coatings that are unstable on a Japanese bead can be durable on a Czech bead.

For all beads from all suppliers the extent to which colours are durable can depend on individual use. Differing acidity of the hands, thread and fabric will all affect durability. We recommend that you test the durability of beads before starting projects, particularly large ones. We do not recommend that you wash, dry clean or subject beads to any chemicals. Look after your beads and your projects will last a long time.

Bead Quality - is there a difference?

Japanese first quality beads are very uniform with a high consistent standard. They can be used for all beadweaving stitches.

We only stock Japanese first quality beads and have a preference for those made by Toho because of the beautiful metallic and matt beads they produce. Toho have larger holes in their beads than the other manufacturers, which makes it easy to get several threads through the bead. The beads are consistent with very little dye lot change.
We also stock beads made by Miyuki, mostly as mixes. These are of a very high quality.
The other Japanese manufacturer is Matsuno. Their beads are slightly more cylindrical than the other Japanese beads and can vary in external diameter depending on the finish. We don't stock these beads.

Czech seed beads are more uniform than Indian ones but are variable in shape. They are more rounded than the Japanese beads. They can be used in most beadwork and can give an interesting texture but there will be odd shaped waste beads. The beads come in fewer colours than Japanese beads.

Czech seed beads from the manufacturer, Matubo, are pressed resulting in highly consistent beads with little wastage.

Indian seed beads are the most variable in size and shape. They are mostly used in embroidery where the uneveness doesn't show. We don't stock these beads.

Stone Sizes

Stone Size (SS)mm

Cylinder Beads

Cylinder beads are small thin walled beads with straight sides and large holes. They can be used in any beadweaving especially when a smooth, even surface is required.

The four branded cylinder beads are:

* Delica the brand of the Japanese manufacturer Miyuki.
* Treasure the brand of the Japanese manufacturer Toho.
* Magnifica the brand of the American supplier Mill Hill. The beads are manufactured by Toho.
* Aiko, a new cylinder bead manufactured by Toho. Aiko beads are almost perfect with only about 1 bead in 100,000 being considered defective. They are a lot more expesive than the other cylinder beads because they take a lot longer to make, only about 3 kg are produced a day compared to 500 to 1,000 kg of other seed beads.

The brand names, particularly Delica, are often used as the generic terms for cylinder beads. Make sure when you buy cylinder beads under a brand name that the manufacturer (or supplier in the case of Mill Hill) is stated.

Craft Wire

GaugeDiameter (mm)Examples of Usage
181.02Clasps and ear findings
200.81Clasps, ear findings, wire wrapping and jumprings
220.64Ear findings and wire wrapping
240.51French beaded flowers and wire wrapping
260.4French beaded flowers, knitting and crochet
280.32Knitting, crochet and beaded animals
300.25Knitting and crochet
Beadalon Hardness Scale

Beadalon Hardness Scale

Chain Maille

This chart shows recommended gauges and number of Artistic Wire chain maille rings for some of the popular weave styles.
Chain Maille Chart Text

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