Chain & Cord
Discover which types of necklace wire, bracelet string, specialty cording, beading thread, etc. will work best for each of your bead stringing or woven creations. Beadalon®, SoftFlex™ and memory wire are just the tip of the beading supplies iceberg! Learn about various sizes and types of beading and stringing thread, cord, cable and wire, from brand-name favorites like Beadalon, Soft Flex, Wildfire and Stretch Magic, to hand dyed silk ribbon, leather cord, glossy Chinese-style knotting cord, and more. Natural-material stringing materials include cotton cord, waxed linen cord, and polished hemp twine - all great choices for men's jewelry as well as vegan couture. Black rubber cord and rubber tubing provide you with easy options for making timelessly stylish black necklaces and more.
Also known as beading wire, stringing cable, and flex wire.Beadalon®, Soft Flex® & Soft Touch™ are durable twisted wire cable (similar to the type used for suspension bridges). They are like tigertail, but stronger (often made of more strands) and have a smooth, soft-feeling plastic coating. These stringing cables do not kink unless extremely abused. The more strands they have, and the thicker the diameter, the more durable they are (e.g. 49-strand cable is stronger than 7 strand). Beading cable is very popular for stringing necklaces and bracelets, and some types of earrings. It's easy to use, because no needle is required, and no knots either: Use crimp beads with crimp pliers to finish the ends, with just a simple loop of wire cable to connect your preferred clasp. Or dress it up with crimp covers and wire protectors. Beadalon Jewelry Cable is similar to standard Beadalon, but is thicker and has no plastic coating. Jewelry Cable can be separated, giving three to six wavy strands. Finish ends with crimp tubes w/ loops.
Beading Thread / Bead CordBeading thread is a staple jewelry supply for making many styles of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and other wearable art... but there is no single best type for all beads & beading methods. Some beading thread, string and cord is best for general bead stringing, and others are best for beadweaving. Some can be used for both. Choose cord type and size depending on the type of project, and the size of your beads -- or more specifically, the inner diameter (I.D.) of their holes. Some projects are best with beading thread that doesn't stretch... and other projects are best with beading thread that has a little "give" to it.
- Beadweavers need thin, strong thread, that can be woven back and forth multiple times through tiny beads. When using teensy size 15 beads and a complicated pattern, you need the thinnest thread possible (that won't break or shred). When using size 11 seed beads and a simpler pattern, you can use thicker beading thread.
- When stringing necklaces and bracelets with large gemstones, trade beads, or other heavier beads, use thicker beading cord -- generally the thickest cord (or stringing cable) that fits easily through all the beads.
If you don't like stringing with wire cable, and are no good at threading needles, try needle-end cord, or some of the stiffer types of cord that don't require a needle. You can even make your own DIY needle: dip the end of the cord into a bit of glue, smooth with your fingers, wait for it to dry, and then trim at a 45° angle.
Necklaces and bracelets strung on beading thread are normally finished with bead tips, which help you securely knot your cord ends, plus hide the knotted ends.
Multistrand jewelry is often finished with a cone end or bullet end, or sometimes with a glue-on end cap.
Leather & Cotton CordGenuine Leather Cord is very easy to work with — string an interesting pendant with a few large-hole side beads, tie knots to hold the beads in place, and add a clasp. For a more professional (less rustic) look, finish the ends with coil ends or other end caps before using a jump ring to add a clasp. Other options are: make necklaces long enough to go over the head and/or make an adjustable (sliding) knot at the end. Black, dark brown and natural colors are the most popular. Types of round leather cord include economical "goat-skin" leather cord and superior-quality Greek leather cord.
Pre-made leather chokers (necklaces) are also available; just attach a pendant and you're done! Suede Lace is a flat, straight-cut cord, available in sturdy 3mm genuine leather. Supple genuine deer hide lace is handmade in the USA from North American deerskin. Tanned, dyed, and cut in the USA. This jewelry and artisan crafts cording holds a knot well and looks great in wrapped bracelets! Finish single strands of leather lacing with fold-over crimp ends. Finish multiple strands with bullet ends, cones or clamp ends. Leather Cuff Bracelets are colored with lead-free vegetable dyes. Available in a variety of widths, lengths and colors, and complete with snap clasps, these bracelets are ready for your custom decoration. Leather strips are also available, if you want to make your leather bracelets from scratch, or are making leather earrings! Use with rivets, eyelets, leather-working tools, and TierraCast leather accessories
Bolo Cord is typically a braided round cord offered in vinyl, rayon or leather. For bolo ties, finish with bolo tips and bolo slides. It's also a popular choice for masculine necklaces and bracelets. When using for chokers and bracelets, the four-strand leather cord can be finished with glue-on end caps, and your choice of clasp. Waxed Cotton Cord is very similar to leather cord, but since it is machine-made, it is more regular in size and color than leather cord. Water does not seem to adversely affect waxed, flat or braided cotton cord. Finish ends with coil ends or for multi-strand designs, use slider beads and matching oval end caps.
Rubber, Plastic & ElasticRubber Cording is round, flexible cording, great for showing off specialty beads and pendants. Finish the ends with sterling silver rubber cord ends and Loctite Ultra Gel Control adhesive. Premade rubber chokers/necklaces are also available; just attach a pendant and you're done! Hollow Rubber Tubing can be used in continuous lengths to cover an entire piece of memory wire. Or, cut the tubing into sections and string smaller-hole beads directly onto memory wire or beading cable, between sections of black tubing. Finish with rubber-tubing end caps and Loctite Ulgra Gel Control. Clear SuppleMax™ is is soft, supple, clear and strong -- ideal for "floating" necklaces (illusion necklaces), bridal jewelry, and hair adornments. It is beautifully clear, with no blue tint, and looks great with pearls, translucent glass and gemstone beads. It's designed specifically for bead stringing and high-end crafts, and has a much nicer look and feel than fishing line. 0.010" = 0.25mm, and .016" = 0.4mm. Please note, this clear cord is not stretchy. For clear stretchy cord, see Stretch Magic. Finish ends with 2mm crimp beads, super glue or square knots. Stretch Magic™ is a strong, flexible stretchy (elastic) cord. It is often used for "endless" crystal bead bracelets, or for nearly invisible stretchy hair bands and necklaces. Comes in clear and black. Ends may be seared (fused together) with a thread burner, square knotted or crimped. Gossamer Floss™ and Elonga are strong, extremely stretchy multi-ply semitranslucent cord. They knot very well, and the resultant tiny square knots can often be hidden inside beads. A dot of Hypo Cement glue helps secure knots. We suggest size 10 beading needles, or a big-eye needle such as the Igolochkoy needle/threader.
Fabric Cord & Silk RibbonRattail is a round, satin-like cord often used for Kumihimo, or to show off one large centerpiece. The smooth, shiny texture braids well and looks great. Rough or thin edges fray this cord, so use necklace tubes instead of jump rings for backs of pendants. Single strands are usually finished with fold-over crimps, and multiple strands with cone or bullet ends. Braided Nylon Cord is perfect for creating ornate Chinese-style knots, and is also popular for Kumihimo. It can also provide a fresh, upscale look for macramé jewelry. It's normally finished with a loop and knot. Cut the cord with a Perfect-End Thread Burner to keep ends from fraying. Hand-dyed Silk Ribbon is available in lovely ombre color blends. These beautiful ribbons come in 32"-36" lengths with finished edges and are 1/2" wide with tapered ends. They work great for necklaces and wrapped bracelets -- and you can simply tie the ends, rather than finish them with metal findings, making these a great option for people with metal allergies. Velveteen Chokers have one end unfinished, so you can cut the ribbon to desired length, and simply crimp the ribbon end using the included ribbon clamp. Optional: add a drop of BeadFix (adhesive) for increased security. To add a centerpiece, use rivets, large oval jump rings, or glue a cameo to the center.
Chokers & Pendant CordsMagnetic Chokers are coated-steel neck rings with a strong magnetic barrel clasp. Beads with 2.7mm and larger holes can be strung over the smaller clasp end, and of course bails and jump rings can be used to hang anything else. Highly versatile — can be worn with a different bead or pendant every day! Wire Chokers are convenient pre-made necklace forms. Some large-hole beads may be slipped over the ends. Pendants are generally attached with jump rings or split rings, or handmade wire-wrapped attachments. Nylon Necklace Cords are nice looking, unusual, and inexpensive options for displaying handmade pendants. Download our free PDF showing how to professionally tie pendants onto these necklace options. For the cleanest, most secure knot, use a thread burner to trim ends. Flocked Necklace Cords are sleek and inexpensive with a "velveteen" outer coating. Use a large jump ring, bail, or wire-wrap your own bail to attach a pendant.
Chain & WireMetal Chain is available bulk by the spool, meter, and foot, in addition to finished necklaces and bracelets with a clasp already attached! Use chain for everything from stringing heavy statement necklaces, to making free-form multistrand beaded chain necklaces, to linking delicate filigree findings and crystal beads. Use jump rings to connect chain to clasps or other findings, or more chain sections. Memory Wire is very strong coiled wire that retains its coiled shape. Use for chokers, bracelets, wine-glass charms and rings. Finish ends with memory-wire end caps, or use STRONG round-nose pliers to twist ends into loops, then dangle charms or beads from the end loops. Cut to desired length with heavy-duty cutters.
Types of Jewelry Chain and How To Use Them
Bulk chain is sold by the spool, meter, or foot. At Rings & Things, you'll find over 400 styles, sizes, and colors! Types of bulk jewelry chain include cable chain, curb chain, rolo chain, antique chain and much more in silver plate, gold plate, brass, copper, gunmetal, white plate, sterling silver, and gold fill. Ways to use bulk chain in jewelry projects include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Make custom-length bracelets and necklaces — our finished chain necklaces and chain bracelets are great if you want standard lengths, but with bulk chain you can cut the chain to any length you want! You can make long wrap bracelets (as seen in the Tree of Life Lashed Chain & Leather Wrap Bracelet Tutorial), charm bracelets to custom fit any wrist, short sexy chokers, long flapper-length necklaces, and every length in between. You can even knot together several lengths of chain to create an easy and attractive focal element!
- Make statement necklaces — use multiple strands of chain to make popular bib necklaces and statement necklaces. See our Random Scraps Bib Necklace Tutorial for a good how-to example!
- Bling out with purse chain — use larger types of bulk chain to make trendy purse straps on handcrafted purses and tote bags.
- Choose unique chain styles that stand out — while finished chain necklaces and chain bracelets are handy, the types of chain you can buy them in are limited. With bulk jewelry chain, you can choose from a huge variety of styles, widths, and platings!
- Make custom-fit fashion belts — nothing could be easier than turning a fun style of chain (or two) into a fashion statement that shows off your beautiful curves! Bulk chain gives you both the length you need and the variety of styles to create chain belts that drape attractively around the hips! Cut to your desired length, then add a large lobster clasp several links in from the end of one side. You can optionally add tassels or other dangles on the ends of your chain.
- Create your own tassels — make your own tassels for earrings, necklaces, and more by cutting several short lengths of dainty chain and connecting them together at the top. Tassels make great features on earrings, necklaces, chain belts, and more!
- Make your own DIY extender chains — extender chains are a great way to make your necklaces more versatile and more personalized. To make your own extender chain, cut a 2-3 inch length of chain (chain scraps can be useful here!), and add a clasp or clip on one end. Attach it to the back of your necklace to make the necklace instantly adjustable in length!
- Use as a foundation for cascading drops — instead of having to build your own chain with jump rings, use short lengths of ready-made chain as the foundation for cascading earrings! Attach dangles to each chain link to create beautiful vertical design elements that look stunning.
- Construct hair chain and head pieces — calling all costumers, belly dancers, and bohemians! Bulk chain is an integral supply for making gorgeous, flowing head pieces and hair chain to use in medieval costuming, SCA, Renaissance Festivals, belly dance, steampunk styles, fantasy dress, and more. Sometimes bulk chain sections can be quickly linked together to create fast, faux DIY chain maille.
Necklace chain & bracelet chain come with a clasp already attached for super easy DIY jewelry making! Types available include serpentine chain, cobra chain, cable chain, and more. Use them the following ways:
- Wear these chains as-is — they make simple, elegant necklaces and bracelets without you having to lift a finger!
- Embellish them for a personalized look - it's simple to add a pendant to chain necklaces with a bail or jump ring. You can even customize the bail! Chain bracelets can easily become charm bracelets. Create your own beaded dangles, or attach ready-made charms with jump rings.
Additional Helpful Links:
- Tips on Choosing Clasps & Finishing Methods is a visual guide, to help you choose the right size and type of clasp for each project, plus popular finishing methods for professionally connecting your chosen clasp to the various types of stringing materials.
- For general inspiration and how-to's, check out our free projects and helpful guides (no blinkin' ads and no login required).
- More Finishing Methods / Tips
- Beading and Stringing Tools
- Needles, Conditioners and Bead Looms
- Kumihimo Tools
- Magnifiers and Work Lamps