Stone Bead Hole Sizes
Introduction to Bead Hole Sizes
More than ever we've been receiving questions about the size of our stone bead holes. As more and more stringing materials are being made and used in jewelry designs, the more challenges have been popping up as well. Bead holes come in a wide variety of sizes and are made for a variety of reasons. For example, glass beads have a very consistent hole because the beads are made from molds. Freshwater pearls have a very small hole normally, and raw diamond beads have the tiniest hole in the bead world.
Difficulties with Gemstone Beads
Then there comes the difficulty with consistency with gemstone beads. When you venture into natural materials such as stone, drilling them has many challenges. For example, the chosen stone material may be fragile in structure and will only allow for a small hole, so as not to crack the material. The larger the hole, the bigger possibility that the bead will break. When creating large hole beads, breakage and loss is inevitable because of the inconsistencies.
Some stones need to be drilled from either end into the center where they meet. This insures that the hole is centered but can lead to an uneven hole diameter. To combat this challenge, it is best to keep on hand a variety of stringing materials so you will never have to run to the store to complete a design!
Here are some stringing material sizes to try:
.014 diameter beading wire works great for glass, wood, seeds, and medium to large sized stone beads. Glass, wood, and seed beads are made with molds so their holes and shapes are consistent, making smaller holes easier to insert. Stone beads with small holes are also easier to make because there is a smaller chance of the gemstone breaking during the process.
.010 diameter beading wire works well for pearls and small stone beads. Freshwater pearls will always have small holes because they are very delicate. Stones like diamonds, while very hard, are still delicate as well.
Hole Drilling Techniques
There are multiple ways to drill stone. The best method (and the one we use for large hole beads at Dakota Stones) uses ultrasonic technology. Ultrasonic drilling gives the cleanest possible hole edges, minimizing potential abrasion and damage to stringing material. It also gives a consistent hole through the entire bead, eliminating the frustrating, and often impassable, narrowing in the middle of the bead that can result from poorly executed traditional drilling methods.
Large Hole Beads
If you're going to be using leather or a different cording, you'll need to buy beads that are specially sold with a large hole. Know the diameter of your cord or leather, and buy large hole beads according to the cording you're planning to use. Dakota Stones bead holes usually range in size from .8 - 1.2mm. We also have our line of large hole beads and these are perfect for designs with stringing materials like cording, small millimeter leather, and rubber tubing. When using leather, it is best to use 1-2mm cord. You can even double up if you use small enough cord!
In a pickle? Do it yourself!
If all else fails, you can use an electric bead reamer and make the hole larger yourself. This is a great tool and it is relatively quick and easy to use. Essentially, the bead reamer can smooth down rough edges, enlarge hole sizes, and/or straighten crooked or uneven holes. All of this is done without damaging the bead.