Glossary of Beading Terms

Findings

Findings are the components used to make a collection of beads into jewelry. This includes clasps, headpins, jump rings, bead tips, crimp beads, and more. Usually these are metal, but they can also be made of wood, stone, or other materials.

Bail

Bail

A finding that connects a pendant to a necklace. They come in different forms: some clip onto the pendant, some have mounts to glue the pendant to, and some attach to a ring on the pendant. The purpose is to hold the pendant flat when worn.

Barrel Clasp

Barrel Clasp

A common form of clasp, especially for necklaces. Can be hard to attach on bracelets without help, and often comes undone on anklets, so is best suited for necklaces.

Barrette

Barrette

A clip or bar used to tie hair back. Beadwork can be added to barrettes by working it onto fabric or leather first and then gluing or otherwise fastening the work to a barrette blank.

Bead Cap

Bead Cap

A metal bell or cap-shaped bead that goes next to a round bead, partly covering it. Often used on both sides of a bead to “frame” it.

Beading cone

Beading cone

A metal cone finding that covers the ends of the strands in a multi-stranded necklace. The cone lets you attach a clasp, while concealing the knots that secure the ends of the strands.

Bullion

Bullion

Also known as French Wire or Gimp. This is a very finely coiled wire that forms a flexible tube like a spring. It is used for finishing the ends of strung jewelry pieces. It is threaded over the cord to cover it where it is normally exposed, such as where the cord goes through the loop on the clasp at the ends of the piece. It gives a professional look and protects the bead cord from fraying from exposure. The downside is that it tends to wear rather quickly itself, so it is good for fancy jewelry that you don’t wear often.

Callotte

Callotte

Metal findings that cover the knot at the end of a string of beads. Callottes (also called clam shells) clamp sideways onto the knot. Tying the knot around a seed bead and adding a drop of glue secures the knot. Close the callotte with pliers and snip the excess thread. Also called clamshells or bead tips.

Earring Post

Earring Post

The straight part of the earring that is passed through the ear. “Post-back” earrings require a backing to hold the earring in place and can come with a flat pad to glue beads onto, or with a metal bead with a loop under it to attach beads to (similar to hook earwires).

Earwire

Earwire

The most common commercial earwire has a coil, a metal ball, and a loop that can be opened to attach to an earring. Earwires are available in different compositions and finishes, like gold filled, silver plated, brass, or steel. Choose a color that complements your earring design.

Eyepins

Eyepins

Eyepins are just like a headpins except instead of a head there is a loop. You can make these yourself out of wire – just cut a length and make a loop in one end. But if you want them super-straight you’ll have to buy them.

Fish Hook Clasp

Fish Hook Clasp

The fish hook clasp refers to the extra safety mechanism. When the clasp is opened, a hook wraps around a safety bar. This added security feature is in place in case that the clasp should accidentally open up, and works quite well to secure the necklace when it’s being worn.

Half-drilled bead

Half-drilled bead

Beads with a hole that goes only half-way through, instead of all the way through like a normal bead. There are many findings that are made to take a half-drilled beads, like ring settings and earring posts. You can also use them to finish memory wire bracelets–an end cap. They are affixed with bead glue.

Headpins

Headpins

Headpins look like small thin nails. Put a few beads on a head pin, bend a loop in the top, and you have a dangle which can be made into an earring with the simple addition of an earwire.

Hook and Loop Clasp

Hook and Loop Clasp

A type of clasp that is very easy to use. It can be made by hand with some wire (gauge 20 or thicker), however it may come apart if the hook is stretched. Hammering the wire with a ball pein hammer and anvil can harden it so this is not an issue.

Jump Ring

Jump Ring

Used to connect jewelry parts, like attaching a clasp to a necklace. Jump rings are a simple wire loop. To open them, push one end forward and one end back. If you enlarge the circle by prying the ends farther apart you will weaken the metal. Split rings are more secure but bulkier.

S-hook Clasp

S-hook Clasp

A form of a hook and loop clasp where the hook is shaped like an S, with one half of the S closed to attach to one side of the jewelry piece, and the other half of the S open as the hook.

Split Ring

Split Ring

Double wire rings (like a keychain), used to connect different parts of a piece of jewelry. A split ring is more secure than a jump ring but also bulkier.

Spring Ring

Spring Ring

A very common clasp which is inexpensive and secure. The drawback is that it requires nimble fingers to use.

Toggle Clasp

Toggle Clasp

A type of clasp consisting of a bar which fits into a loop. It operates on the same principle as a button. Toggle clasps tend to be bulky and therefore most appropriate for chunkier jewelry. This clasp is also sometimes used as a main decorative element in a necklace that clasps in the front. photo credit