Buying Wholesale Beads — When Does It Make Sense?

Posted by on May 19, 2011

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You may enjoy beading. You may even enjoy beading a lot. But buying beads in bulk can be a tough decision. Sure, the wholesale prices are tempting, but how do you know if it's worth investing that much in your jewelry-making habit? Brit Ashley Wood, who co-authored "Beading: 200 Q&A" with her mum, Dorothy Wood, gave us some clear direction.

cover of Beading: 200 Q&A
Is it better to buy wholesale beads and jewelry supplies or to buy supplies on an as-needed basis?
I would say for making jewelry as a hobby it is better to buy supplies as you go — products are being improved all the time and fashions change and so unless they are essential findings like jump rings, headpins or earring findings you may find that you have bags of supplies that you don’t use.

How much jewelry do you need to be making regularly to make buying wholesale beads worthwhile?
It depends where you shop for the wholesale prices. Some bead shops allow you to get a wholesale discount for say 20 of the same bead where as wholesale suppliers often want you to buy 100. You need to be repeating the same design several times to make buying large quantities of the same bead worthwhile.

Where are the best places to buy unique beads: craft superstores, independent shops or online?
You can buy unusual beads in any of these places, but for unique beads you are looking at finding bead designers working with lampwork, clay or resin. I’d say searching on the internet or going to beading fairs are the best ways to see unique beads.

Where are the best places to buy wholesale beads and jewelry supplies?
It really depends again on the quantities required. Some bead shops will give wholesale discounts whereas wholesale bead distributors want you to buy large quantities at once. Often this is the exact same color, size and shape — so for Swarovski Elements XILIONS (bicones), for example, you’d need to buy 360 of a single size and color at a time.
cover of Beading: 200 Q&A
Ashley Wood wrote "Beading: 200 Q&A" with her mother, Dorothy Wood (published by Barron's).

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