Bead Count

You have a great idea for your beading project, now to the bead count: how many beads will you need?

  • Check the Charts! How many beads are in that tube? How many strings in that hank? Read the Bead Seller's description of their beads as well as the weight or bead count of the vials, boxes, or bags. If a chart isn't obvious, their bead glossary may explain how many beads are in their packaging. Our own bead glossary can give you a general overview.
  • Make a Sample! If your idea for a torque collar incorporates solid bead embroidery, you need only make up a design sample the size of a brooch to do a reasonable estimate of the number of beads needed.
  • Work small, then BIG! Before making 10, make one. Before beading the fabric's all over pattern, complete one motif; before encrusting an entire chest plate, make a medallion or applique. Developing a usable sample can give you an opportunity to work out the bead pattern's details and make an accurate bead count.
  • Read the Bead Pattern. You might be surprised at how many people just look at the picture and jump right in. The designer's suggested bead count has been tested at the designated bead type and size. Of course, if you decide on a different bead, you adjust to a greater or fewer number to achieve your preferred Necklace Length.

    This page: Bead Counts or return to...
    List of Sizes/Conversions pages for Bead Sample Charts, Bead-to-Fiber conversion charts, Embroidery conversion charts, Silk hand-dyed fiber conversion charts, Fiber charts to store on your PDA; Fabric Width conversions, wire gauges, beading needles & threads, and more: need a chart?

    How big is a Seed Bead?
    6/03.7mm0.145 inches
    7/03.4 mm0.134 inches
    8/03.0 mm0.118 inches
    9/02.6 mm0.102 inches
    10/02.3 mm0.091 inches
    11/02.2 mm0.087 inches
    12/01.9 mm0.074 inches
    14/01.6 mm0.063 inches
    15/01.5 mm0.059 inches

    Seed Beads are, as one might expect, the size of seeds.
    6/0 (E-beads, Pony Beads) are as large as a pea: easily strung on leather, twine or fiber as thick as a shoe lace. As the size number grows higher the seed bead becomes smaller. The size range up to (or as small as) 15/0 are readily available. 18/0 through 24/0 beads appear as tiny as the seeds of the California poppy. These caviar sizes are no longer commonly made, will be offered in smaller amounts, fewer colors, may cost a bit more, require an extraordinarily thin beading needle, a good light and magnification and are undisputedly quite wonderful.

    See our list of Bead Sellers. Most bead sites will have a links list where you could find additional vendors, Bead Magazines have long lists of bead sellers, and you query on the Internet at a search engine such as Just remember that the words 'bead' and 'beading' are used in more than bead art. It can be helpful to query using more words (e.g. "seed beads") to narrow the search results.

    BEADS per Package

    A typical package of seed beads (currently) can range from 5 to 40 grams, although a vendor may offer tubes, boxes, or packets of smaller or greater size, which may be just the amount you need. The number of beads per gram will greatly depend on the type of bead measured. Check the bead seller's catalog or Bead Glossary for the gram weight of their containers. There is nothing wrong with the container size varying from seller to seller; just look for the weight, or approximate bead estimate, to be clearly marked.

    Beads per Gram
    Size 11/0approx. 120 per gram
    Size 15/0approx. 250 per gram
    Delica (12/0)approx. 200 per gram

    All of these charts are approximate: Check your bead seller's calculations, which should be specific to the beads they offer.

    Remember also that you will need to cull the occasional mis-shaped bead or those with an off-center opening, particularly if you are loom- or needle- weaving. You won't find that peccadillo with the precise Delica or Toho beads, but one need not interpret these characteristics of other seed beads as flaws, only understand that bead artists commonly purchase a little more than a suggested bead count, expecting some bead personality that may need to be sorted. You may wish to keep and use the culled beads because opportunities for celebrating bead idiosyncrasies arise in free-form peyote, beaded dolls, and of course, bead embroidery.

    Grams to Ounces
    1 gram 0.04 ounce
    28.35 grams 1 ounce

    Kilos, Grams, Ounces & Pounds
    1/2 kilo 500 grams 17.63 ounces 1.10 lbs
    1 kilo 1,000 grams 35.27 ounces 2.20 lbs

    Hmmmmm...So you don't think you'd ever buy a 1/2 kilo or kilo? Most of us started with a small 20- or 40-gram pack of seed beads. Before you know it, we were buying a half-dozen or more tubes of beads at a time, with fistfuls of pearl hanks and quantity lots of cabochons not far behind. Ideas and projects kept growning...then, we discovered THE BEAD SHOWS! Row upon row of tables heaped with wonderous beads like a Treasure...Oh! How the heart quickens! Maybe we'll just tuck those kilo to pound conversions away for a rainy day. Or you can always look them up on a converter site like

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    Seed Bead Hanks

    Hanks are those loops of beads temporarily strung on thin cotton strands. They look like so many necklaces hung on the wall of your favorite bead store. Expect 12 strands per seed bead hank, although Rocaille and other cut-beads may have fewer. Again, I will refer you to the
    bead sellers' reference charts for the quantities they present.

    Bugle Bead Lengths
    Size 12.5 mm0.098 inches
    Size 25.0 mm0.196 inches
    Size 37.0 mm0.275 inches
    Size 49.0 mm0.354 inches
    Size 511.0 mm0.433 inches
    20mm20mm0.787 inches
    30mm30mm1.181 inches

    Like seed beads, bugle beads are sold by 12 string (or fewer) hanks, by tube, by box or by bag marked by gram weight. If you are following a pattern, and the size of beads suggested, the Artist's bead count will no doubt be accurate. Otherwise, making up a sample can offer an useful estimate, make note of your findings in your Bead Journal for future works.

    ...more coming

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