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Bead Hole Size

We are often asked about bead hole sizes. This is a question that has many answers, the size depends on the type and size of the bead.
To measure your own bead use a series of solid wire of known size, make sure there are no burrs. Better still, obtain a set of tiny drills often used for Dremel power drills. Use the shank of the drill as a guage.
With care, a bead reamer can be used to enlarge small holes - this is also an essential tool for 'breaking' the potentially harmful sharp hole edges often found on stone and glass beads.

This guide is relevant only to the beads sold on this site.

Pearls tend to have small holes since a popular stringing method is using silk thread. Holes are usually 0.5mm, although the smallest pearl will be drilled at 0.3mm and some larger pearls may be upto 0.6mm. Larger diameter of silk thread will pull through a smaller hole.

There is a wide range of rocaille bead and manufacture each with their own standard, however we only stock size11/0 which have hole size 0.8mm.

Murano/Venetian Glass
The hole sizes are determined by the mandrels used in the construction. Typically our supplier uses a 1.2mm mandrel, however some of the smaller beads may be 1mm and the largest is 1.5mm. The mandrel is 'removed' by clipping it close to the bead then etching the metal with Nitric Acid. This can sometimes leave a residue in the hole which further reduces its' diameter.
Note poorer quality and 'indian' beads tend to have holes 2-3mm diameter. We do not stock beads of this type.

Made in a similar way to the Venetian beads, the holes are typically 2mm.

The holes may be of any size. We currently stock a range of round handmade beads with holes of 2mm.

Czech Glass
A wide range of beads but most holes are sized 0.8mm

Semi-precious beads
The range of semi precious beads is enormous so it is impossible to give a definitive guide. The tiniest beads will be drilled as small as 0.3mm-0.5mm but typically most beads will have a range of holes 0.5 - 1mm and exceptionally 1.5mm. Long holes are sometimes drilled from each side, the hole joint in the centre of the bead is sometimes not completely aligned thereby only allowing a smaller diameter wire to be used.

In general the round beads we stock have the following hole sizes:

Bead Diameter Hole Size
4mm 0.6mm
6mm 0.8mm
8mm 1.0mm

Hole size depends upon the article and bead size., as a rule of thumb use the following:
Beads 3mm - 5mm: 0.6mm hole. 6-8mm beads: 0.8mm hole, although some are drilled 1.0mm.
A bead reamer should not be used on crystal.

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