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  • carat (ct) – measures weight of precious and semi-precious stones; equivalent to 1/5 of a gram (2oo milligrams)
  • centimeter (cm) – roughly a pinky width; equivalent to 10 millimeters or 0.4 inches
  • foot (ft) – 12 inches; equivalent to 30 centimeters
  • gauge – a measure of thickness of wire; the larger the number, the thinner the wire
  • gram (g) – a measure of weight, roughly equivalent to a paperclip
  • gross – a measure of quantity, specifically a dozen dozen, which is 12 times 12 (144) of something
  • hank – a dozen (12) strands
  • inch (in) – roughly 2.5 centimeters
  • karat (k) – a measure of gold purity; 24 karat is 100% gold, 12 karat is a 50% gold alloy, etc.
  • mass – a measure of quantity, specifically a hundred dozen, which is 1200 of something
  • meter (m) – 100 centimeters; equivalent to 3.3 feet
  • millimeter (mm) – one tenth of a centimeter; a common measure of thickness of cord and diameter of beads
  • ounce (oz) – a troy ounce, a measure for wire, is equivalent to 31.1 grams (different from a standard ounce, which is 28.3 grams)
  • strand – a length of beads on a cord; no set length, number of beads, or weight – i.e. not a standardized measurement
  • yard (yd) – 3 feet; equivalent to 0.9 meters


  • bail – used to attach a bead or pendant to a chain
  • bead cap – a decorative top for a bead
  • bead tip – used to finish jewelry pieces made with string, cord, or thread; shaped like a tiny cup with a hole for the string, and a hook shape to fasten to a clasp
  • calotte – used to finish jewelry pieces made with string, cord, or thread; shaped like a clam shell with a hook shape to attach a clasp
  • chain extender – used to lengthen a piece or to make its length adjustable
  • clasp – a fastener that joins two ends of a piece, allowing it to be opened and closed as needed
  • crimp – a tiny tube used with beading wire which keeps the beads in place while providing a loop to attach a clasp
  • crimp cover – a c-shaped finding that can be squeezed into place around a flattened crimp to make it look like a bead
  • eye pin – a wire with a loop on one end that can be used to create a link or attach a bead to something
  • finding – any small, pre-made object used for finishing jewelry or attaching various parts to one another
  • fold-over – creates a means of attaching the ends of cord, leather, or chain to a clasp; has two ‘flaps’ that get folded over one another to secure the ends of the cord
  • head pin – a wire with a flat head on it, like a nail, which can be used to turn a bead into a drop or pendant
  • jump ring – a tiny metal circle with an opening that can be used to attach closed rings, pendants, or chain links to other findings or elements
  • spacer bar – used to keep multi-strand pieces from tangling
  • split ring – similar to a jump ring, except the metal is coiled twice to create an overlap; very much like a key ring
  • toggle – a type of clasp that has a large ring on one side and a bar or post shape on the other
  • wire guard – used with beading wire to protect the loop made when crimping to finish the ends; protects against friction to reduce chance of breakage


  • awl – a sharp, fine-pointed tool used for punching holes in leather and other materials; can also be used for other purposes, such as tightening or untying knots
  • caliper – measures diameters and gauges in millimeters
  • flat nose pliers – also called needle nose or chain nose pliers, used for flattening crimps, gripping small findings while attaching them, and making angular bends in wire
  • mandrel – used to shape materials, especially making coils of wire
  • reamer – widens holes in freshwater pearls
  • round nose pliers – used to create small loops or curves in wire
  • side cutters – used to cut wire
  • thread conditioner – keeps thread from fraying or tangling; can extend the life of a piece
  • wire needle – a flexible needle with a large eye that collapses, allowing it to be used for many applications where beading needles are too rigid
  • beading needle – a small, firm needle used for stringing beads onto thread


  • Aurora Borealis (AB) – an iridescent coating, usually on only one side
  • fire-polished – faceted glass beads that have been exposed to a flame in order to soften the edges of the facets
  • matte – essentially the opposite of shiny or glossy; not reflective
  • opaque – solid color which does not allow light to pass through
  • translucent? transparent?


  • briolette – a pear- or heart-shaped bead that is top-drilled and usually flat
  • coin – a flat, round bead
  • drop – a bead shaped like a teardrop; may be top- or center-drilled
  • faceted – cut with many tiny flat surfaces
  • nugget – an irregularly shaped bead
  • rondelle/rondel – a bead that is mostly round but slightly shorter along the axis where the hole is drilled


  • alloy – a combination of any number of metals or a metal with other elements; combined by mixing them
  • base metal – an inexpensive material upon which precious or other metals may be plated to obtain a certain finish at a lower cost
  • electroplating – using an electric current to apply a coating of one metal onto another
  • gold fill – a thick layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base metal; lasts much longer than gold-plated base metals
  • memory wire – a coil of hard wire that springs back to its original shape when moved; commonly used for bracelets
  • soft flex – a thin, strong, flexible, nylon-coated wire comprised of multiple strands of ultra-thin steel, wrapped together like string
  • stainless steel – a strong alloy highly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing
  • sterling silver – an alloy of 92.5% silver, making it usable in jewelry applications
  • vermeil – high-karat gold electroplated on sterling silver


  • center-drilled – a bead drilled along an axis of symmetry
  • crow bead – similar to seed beads, only larger
  • crystal – usually refers to Swarovski or Preciosa beads, which are made of glass with minerals added to give it superior lustre as well as a little extra weight; can also refer to clear quartz (both glass and quartz are comprised of silicon dioxide; glass is amorphous while quartz has a crystalline structure)
  • delica – small cylindrical beads with uniform size and shape used for techniques that require the beads to fit together snugly
  • freshwater pearl – an organic gemstone generated by mollusks, usually oysters or mussels; freshwater means they come from rivers or lakes
  • glass pearl – glass beads coated in a pearlescent substance made with iridescent materials, such as fish scales or mother of pearl powder
  • seed bead – small round beads used as colorful spacers or to cover surfaces of fabric
  • spacer bead – a flat, disk-shaped bead used to separate other beads for contrast or protection
  • top-drilled – a bead drilled horizontally through one point such that a larger portion of the bead is on one side of the hole, such that the bead will ‘hang’ on one side


  • cabochon – a smooth cut stone that is flat on one side and rounded on the other
  • druzy – refers to a stone or mineral which has one side that is covered in tiny crystals
  • filigree – fine metal worked into delicate, intricate patterns of swirls and curls
  • mala – a string of 108 beads, usually knotted, used to help track repetitions of mantras (or chants) in focused meditation
  • rosary – a string of beads used to track repetitions of a set of prayers; often made with sections of 10 beads separated by a contrasting element (eg a larger bead, an extra link, or a charm)
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