Beads per inch. A UK Beaders, beads & findings guide

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Its a strange but true fact that measurements for beads are normally given in millimetres, and yet bead strands (and the jewellery we make with our beads) are normally measured in inches!

I have put together this quick guide so you can easily work out how many beads you should expect to find in a 16” strand (the most common length).
To be precise 16 inches equal 40.64 centimetres or 406.4 millimetres, so a typical strand will contain approximately...

  • 203    2mm beads
  • 135    3mm beads
  • 101    4mm beads
  • 81    5mm beads
  • 67    6mm beads
  • 58    7mm beads
  • 50    8mm beads
  • 45    9mm beads
  • 40    10mm beads
  • 33    12mm beads

Seed Beads

Just to make life even more complicated seed beads are measured totally differently. Many people believe that seed beads are measured in millimetres, but they are actually sized in units called aughts. Unfortunately the origin of the term/unit aught seems to be lost in history!

The larger larger the seed bead size (in aughts) the smaller the seed beads are. So size 6 seed beads are larger than size 15!

An easier way to remember this fact is the larger the seed bead size (in aughts) the more of them you will get per inch.

If it wasn't complicated enough in the first place to work out how many seed beads per inch, variations in country of origin, manufacturer,  types of finishes and coating used on the beads can all affect  the exact size of a seed bead, and therefore just exactly how many  per inch.

  • Seed Bead Size        Diameter            Beads per inch
  • 6/0                           3.3mm               10
  • 8/0                           2.5mm               13
  • 9/0                           2.2mm               15
  • 10/0                         2.0mm               16
  • 11/0                         1.8mm               20
  • 13/0                         1.5mm               27
  • 14/0                         1.4mm               24
  • 15/0                         1.3mm               25
  • delica                       1.8mm               20

As seed beads are so small they are generally sold by the gram (pack sizes can vary) but one other measurement you might come across is a hank.

A hank of size 11/0 seed beads would typically consists of a dozen 20” strands, but depending on the age, manufacturer and size of the seed beads this can vary a lot. If you are looking to buy hanks of seed beads you might want to check the details or confirm the weight.

e beads

E beads are the largest size of seed bead, sometimes people may refer to size 6/0 seed beads as e beads though many people consider e beads to be size 5/0.

Pony Beads

Pony beads are commonly made from plastic or wood. They are larger than seed beads and smaller than crow beads.

Crow beads

Crow beads are commonly 9mm with a 5mm hole or 6mm with 3mm hole. With their large holes they are often seen used in hair braiding.

Crow beads are a somewhat different shape to seed beads with flat sides like a tyre. You might  see them mislabelled as pony beads, or called roller beads, or tyre beads.

Crow beads are commonly made from glass or wood, but can be made from plastic.

Please look at my other guides for more information on crimping & finishing  your project.

copyright kitschkitty @ UK Beaders 2008
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