Every industry has specific lingo that the pros use to talk about different tools, supplies, and whatnot, and the beading industry is no different. Although we wouldn’t be able to explain the difference between eSATA and USB 3.0 (that’s computer-speak) or the difference between “bloom strength” and “fat bloom” (those are candy-making terms!), we CAN help you wrap your head around all of the terminology within the world of beading. Here is your first lesson in Beading Lingo 101:
Findings are basically anything within your piece of jewelry that aren’t beads or pendants. Findings are the pieces of (usually) metal that connect everything together. They include clasps, ear wires, jump rings, etc. (See below for more on these terms.) These pieces are also commonly called “thing-a-ma-jigs” and “whoosie-whatsits,” although these are not considered to be technical terms. 😉
Commonly called “closures,” these come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and materials. The most common types of clasps are lobster claws, spring rings, toggles, box clasps, or magnetic clasps. These are the most frequently requested types of clasps by our customers.
A popular clasp style is the lobster claw.
A classic clasp: the box clasp.
A handy clasp style: magnetic!
Sterling silver ear wires.
Also known as “ear hooks,” these are the pieces that actually fit into the hole in your ear lobe. Ear wires come in a variety of metals and styles, and can actually be created by hand fairly easily. An earring is not technically an earring until you have added an ear wire to it, or an earring post/clip-on component. Without a way to suspend your beaded dangle from your ear, you won’t be able to wear it!
Chain maille earrings by WovenArtJewellry on Etsy.
Commonly called “O-rings”, these small metal circles are often the crucial connecting components (say THAT three times fast!) in many jewelry projects. Jump rings come in a variety of diameters and gauges, and come in either open or closed (soldered). Open jump rings can also be used just on their own to create elaborate designs. This technique is called chain maille and the intricate design possibilities are endless!
These tiny, tubular beads are different from other beads in that their primary purpose in life is to be squished! Crimp beads can be used as spacers in your jewelry designs if you wish, but they are usually used to attach cord to a clasp or chain. They come in different sizes to accommodate cords of different thicknesses, and they come in a wide range of metals.
Sterling silver crimp tubes.
A crimped crimp tube, anchoring the clasp to the loop of beading cord.
A crimp bead covered with a crimp cover.
Crimp covers do exactly what you would think: they cover up crimp beads! The C-shaped pieces fit around a squished crimp bead, and then you gently close the “C” with crimping pliers to form what looks like a 3mm or 4mm bead. Crimp covers give a polished look to necklaces and bracelets, and they also prevent any small pieces of cord ends from scratching the wearer.
These straight pins are used for creating beaded dangles/earring drops. Simply stack your beads onto a pin, use round nose pliers to create a simple loop or wire wrap at the top, and voila: instant dangle! Head pins usually have a flat bottom that looks like a nail head, but they can also be found with a round ball or decorative element on the end.
Close-up of flat-headed head pins.
Ice Cream Social earrings created by Fusion Beads using headpins.
Close-up of eyepins
Like headpins, eyepins are straight pins that can be used for earrings or charms/drops. What makes eyepins different, however, is the fact that they have loops (or “eyes”) at the bottom; use round nose pliers to create a loop on the other side of your bead(s) and you now have a link that can be used in a wirework necklace or bracelet.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Bead Styles & Shapes!
First lobster claw photo courtesy of Charm Country on Amazon. All other photos courtesy of fusionbeads.com unless otherwise noted.