Jewelry Lessons: Where to Buy Beads | My Girlish Whims

Jewelry Lessons: Where to Buy Beads

Friday, August 31, 2012 |

I get a lot of questions from people on where I buy my beads and jewelry supplies. I thought I'd do a post with the low down on where I get them from!

Where to Buy Beads and Jewelry Supplies

 

Bead Shows

Bead shows normally roll into a venue for a long weekend. These shows are great places to STOCK UP! Most of the beads are sold on strands or in vials. You can normally find a lot of great deals at bead show finds.  Booths will have buckets of $1 strands or displays of $2-$4 strands, and THESE are the places I flock to!

Bead shows are normally pretty exhausting. Physically- and on your wallet ;).  Wear sneakers and be ready to fight with lots of middle-upper aged ladies for a spot at the tables to dig through the beads!!! Ok, maybe not fight....but politely nudge out of the way possibly...

The BEST bead show I have been to is Bead Fest. It only comes to Philadelphia, Texas, and Santa Fe though. The Philadelphia show is only 20 mintutes from my house {{{lucky!!!}}}Some People go all out for these things-flights, hotels, the whole deal! I've blogged about bead fest here and here.

I also go to The Innovative Bead Expo, which goes to a few more states on the East Coast.

If your interested in going to a bead show but these don't come to your area, flip through a Bead & Button or Bead Style magazine next time you are at a bookstore - there are tons of ads in there for bead shows all over America.

Craft Stores

These are your Michaels, Joanns, AC Moores, and Hobby Lobbys (never been to a Hobby Lobby though--do they actually have jewelry supplies? None near me so I wouldn't know!!)

Just in my opinion...I'm not that big of a fan of AC Moore. Unfortunately that's the closest craft store to me so I do go there if I really need something. I don't think their variety of jewelry supplies is the best.

I normally go to Michaels/Joanns for jewelry making supplies. I tend to hit up Joanns a little more, just because they will often have 15% off all jewelry findings or 20% off on all beads, where Michaels I have never seen that. Head pins, jump rings, ear wires, beading wire, all that stuff I normally stock up on here. I get some beads here, but normally come away with more supplies.  Beads are normally sold in these stores in little packages, strands, or vials.

Local Bead Stores

These shops are normally little mom & pop shops or small chains. There is a ma & pop type shop about 40 minutes from my house, and a small chain around 20 minutes from my house. I tend to find the small shops overpriced. They mostly sell beads PER bead, which really adds up quick. I tend to only hit up these places if I need something really unique, like a gemstone pendant or something like that.

I really like The Potomac Bead Company chain. There are two of these within half hour from my house. They still sell a lot of loose beads per bead, but also have a lot of strands and jewelry making supplies - a lot more variety than you would find in a craft store. 

Online Bead Store

There are a ton of online bead stores. I use these often for supplies for pieces that are made-to-order in my etsy shop. I don't normally get findings from them (head pins, jump rings, etc.) unless I'm looking for a fancy clasp or something.  I buy beads and more unique supplies like resin or sheet metal online.

My FAVORITE place to buy beads from (and I really wish they'd sponsor me or something cause I talk and link to them all the time out of the goodness of my heart lol) is Fusion Beads. They have a great variety, fair prices, ship quickly, and best of all, shipping is always free! I would completely recommend them.

I've also bought beads from Fire Mountain Gems before, but I'm not very pleased with that company. If you do a lot of work with gemstones they have a great variety, but I ain't go the cash for that! They charge shipping AND handling. Seriously, who still charges handling anymore?

If you do a good search you'll find tons more, but from a personal preference Fusion Beads is my favorite.

Walmart

Good old Walmart. They've got everything. I would NOT recommend buying findings here, they are very low quality. Most of the beads they sell are plastic or acrylic, but every now and then I'll find something I like.  They are the best place I have found, however, to buy rhinestone chain, and sometimes have some other nice chain as well.  My walmart has recently had the rhinestone chain on clearance for 50 cents a package though...so I hope they continue to restock them (cause lord knows I bought up all the 50 cent packages already...)


Whew! Alright, I think that's all the places I frequent. Questions? Thoughts on other places? Leave me a note in the comments :)

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9 comments:

Christine@ Projects Around the House said...

Do you have any recommendations for brands of findings to buy at Joann's? I bought some that are tarnishing already so I won't be buying those ones again!

MiMi said...

I like wandering the bead aisles at Walmart.

Chris said...

Thanks for the info about the bead shows (who knew?) and buying from Fusion Beads. I've never heard of them but can't keep affording to buy retail beads with a coupon!

You are missing out with Hobby Lobby! It seems the one by me is having a 50% off jewelry findings like every month! I always stock up- they are much cheaper than Michael's and JoAnns. Tho I find JoAnns has great clearance beads!

Do you have any recommendations to find yellow beads? I'm having the worst luck locating pretty small to medium sized yellow beads!

Elen said...

There is a rock and gem show that comes around my area once a year, and they have all sorts of beads-strands, loose beads, semi-precious drilled and undrilled, as well as precious stones ready for mounting! It's SO much cheaper than buying at craft stores! I'm also lucky enough to have three bead stores nearby (less than 20 min. away), and they carry unique beads and findings... But it is a bit pricey!

As for other places, have you considered doing a bead swap? I've seen these organized swaps (on craftster.org or swapbot) where people trade beads. It's a great way of getting new beads in exchange for the beads you're sick of seeing!

Catherine @ Cat on a Limb said...

A place I frequent for supplies is Etsy! Sometimes the supplies category can get overwhelming, but I love to be able to find things like stronger jump rings, many different kind of chain, unique single metal pieces or just things I can't find anywhere else.

Debi Bolocofsky said...

This is great info. I have a link party on Wednesdays, and I would love it if you would link this and any other posts. It is called Wednesdays Adorned From Above Link Party. It runs from Wednesday to Sundays.
http://www.adornedfromabove.com/
I hope to see you there. I have been following you for a while, and I would love for your to follow me also. I love your blog. Have a great Day.
Debi Bolocofsky
Adorned From Above
www.adornedfromabove.com

alicia said...

Tons of great ideas here! I also second the recommendation to check out Etsy's supplies section!

Carol, The Answer Is Chocolate said...

Great post. I've bought from these two places in person and been very happy, but know they also sell online: Shipwreck Beads in Lacey,WA and Beads Galore in Tempe AZ.

Ami said...

Just FYI -- Fire Mountain Gems doesn't charge "shipping & handling," they charge $5 for shipping only.

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