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June 03, 2012

How to Store Your Beads So You Can See What You Have

 Beginning Beaders Beware

From the day you start beading, you need to consider what to do with the beads, gemstones and findings that you start collecting (or in my case, hoarding).  Those little plastic baggies the beads came from the store in seem fine at first, since they are usually labeled, and you can write additional information.  But pretty soon, you need a box to store the bags of beads - and then there are more and more bags of beads, and bags of wire and bags of findings to sift through.  Soon, you spend more time trying to find the beads and supplies, then you do actually making the jewelry!  But, keep reading, because there are solutions!

Bead Storage Evolves into Watchmakers Cases

If you're like me, you take the step to organize.  In my case, my first storage system (which worked for quite a while) was these fantastic metal and glass watchmakers cases from Lee Valley Supply.  The bead cases come stored in metal or cardboard boxes and sizes from small to large.  I bought an assortment and was very happy with them at first.  I liked that I could open the metal container and see the beads, I could re-arrange them to see color patterns.  Honestly, I thought I had
bead organization problem behind me.

But, then, I started beading 'on the go' at my kids sports practices and games.  Well, the lids come off these cases pretty easy and I would end up with bead soup more frequently than I was willing to put up with.  Also, it became frustrating to find the beads I wanted, when I always had to open the metal or cardboard boxes to see in.  Soon, the solution was to leave the cardboard boxes open, but then the tops started splitting and the containers would spill out.  And, well, it just wasn't working again.

A New (Superior) Bead Storage Solution

So, that brings me to my current bead storage solution.  The cases I primarily use now are from Darice.  They are officially known as Darice 6-1/4-Inch by 4-1/4-Inch Bead Container with 24 Flip Top Canisters.  You can see two of them stacked in the picture on the left.  These are superior to my old storage system because I can see everything without ever opening the case.  I also like the consistent size.  No, not everything fits in them, but I use a lot of rondelles and rounds in smaller sizes or focals that are purchased in smaller amounts, so my guess is at least half
of my beads will fit into these cases.  (I haven't finished sorting and moving my collection yet though).  I'll post my bead storage solution for larger beads and findings in a future post.

As you can see, all of the individual cases are labeled.  I use a Brother PT-70 Personal Handheld Labeler to label the individual containers with the type of bead, size and cost.  I love this p-touch labeler!  The label tape lasts forever, it is small and portable, provides small and large fonts (I chose small), and has all the options I need.  It is an organizers dream.

When I am working on a project, I can either take the entire cases with me, or I can just pull out the individual bead filled containers I am working with.  On the review of these cases on Amazon, someone said they find the lids come off the cases easily.  I have never found that to be a problem.  They stay closed.  Sometimes, I need to pull the entire top off to get the beads in and out, but I think that is a plus rather than a minus.  If the lids didn't pull off, I could only use them for the really small beads that fit through the 'pour spout'.  If you are trying to picture the top of these containers, just think of a package of tic-tacs.  They are the same.

I hope you find my bead storage system helpful.  Links to the products I use (from Amazon) are below.  Good luck and let me know what works for you!


  1. Thanks for the ideas! I'm just JUST getting started and already have too many small things that need to be contained.....

  2. Not a bad system. I also went with clear plastic but headed toward larger containers. I have a large room for a studio which tends to make all the difference in the world.

  3. I would definitely go with a system where the beads are in their own containers as opposed to sections of a large container. The sections can mix if the container overturns (or worse - everything dumps out!). I have larger containers too. I don't have a dedicated studio, so I need to have containers that can be moved about easily and stored in a bookcase easily.

  4. Have you looked at the small see-through cases with 24 separate inner containers that Harbor Freight sells for under $5? I love them!!! I can quickly arrange, rearrange and sort beads and findings. I put a small tab of paper with bead names, sizes and costs for reference as I price the item. The tags are readable through the container. They fit easily on shelves and can safely stack quite high. The dividers are removable so I can build a project box with tools, etc. to carry and work while I wait for or watch my grandsons. I tried several other systems and my second favorite are the darice box with the round threaded stacks inside. I tend to spill more beads with these though than the little individual boxes.

    1. Spilling is a big problem for me - so I like the individual cases. But I love Harbor Freight! I'm so glad you brought them up - I haven't been there in a while. They have great tools and materials that can be used in jewelry making - like copper washers. I hope I have time to go today!

    2. AnonymousJuly 08, 2015

      This best jewelry making blog i have seen. I just started in September of last year. I love it. My husband not so much.. lol I have bought one of those plastic drawer system so my 6 year old doesn't think its his cuz he has one for hall his toys. Where did you buy your label maker? Thanks! I love this blog. Especially because you are up to date with all the new stuff. Some blogs are not kept up to date. I was nervous about making earings and wasting them. But they are so much fun!