How to Select Quality Beads for Jewelry Projects

Grade A beads and handmade sterling silver beads
Adrienne Warber

Once you discover the love of jewelry making, you are always on the hunt for beads. There are many great jewelry supply resources and it is certainly fun to explore them. Yet, soon you discover that not every bead is equal. How do you recognize quality beads? Here is a guide to help you select the right beads.

Grade A beads and handmade sterling silver beads
Adrienne Warber

Things You'll Need

  • Bead Grades Research
  • List Of Jewelry Supply Stores
  • Jewelry Project Ideas
  • Jewelry Supply Stores Research
Grade A and B beads with handmade sterling silver and pewter beads

Learn about beads. Natural gemstone beads are graded. Grade A beads are premium quality and have more shine, color, and seldom have flaws. Grade B beads are similar to A, only with a little less intensity and sometimes a few flaws. Grades C and lower will have less shine and definition and contain small natural flaws. The higher the grade, the more expensive.Other natural beads are available in materials such as wood, horn, and bone. Many have designs that range from simple to intricate. Complicated designs are more expensive.Metal beads come in a variety of materials from sterling silver to pewter. They can be handmade or machine-made. Handmade beads have more detail and are more expensive.

Research jewelry supply stores on-line and in your local area. Find out what type of beads they carry and the price ranges. Some jewelry supply stores do not disclose the bead grades. This is important to know if you are shopping on-line and can not see the beads in person before purchase. You do not want to pay for Grade A beads and receive Grade C beads.

Make a list of the jewelry supply stores that meet your criteria. You can refer to the list whenever you need supplies.

Think about your current jewelry projects and determine what type of beads are needed. Refer to your store list to decide where to shop for beads.

Grade B beads with handmade sterling silver and pewter beads

As you shop, examine the beads you are considering for purchase. Well-crafted beads are miniature works of art. Check for flaws, shine, color, and cut. Was the hole drilled in the bead properly? Are there cracks? Does the price match the bead? Don't overpay for lower grades or machine-made pieces that could easily be purchased for less elsewhere.


  • Shop around. Grade A beads can be purchased at reasonable prices. Try to buy beads locally so you can see them in person. This will allow you to determine the bead's quality before purchase. Once you find quality beads, buy in bulk to ensure you don't run out. Many jewelry supply stores offer a discount on bulk purchases.