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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Where to buy beading supplies

So there are hundreds of options available to people wanting to make their own jewelry. When I first started I bought several packets of assorted lampwork beads, in different colours, from Ebay.
These glass beads are so pretty in their own right you can simply string them onto some elastic and you have a bracelet. 

Ebay can be great place for beading supplies but it is very inconsistent, some days you will get a bargain, other days you won't even be able to find what you want!

Bead Shops
There are also many boutique-style bead shops in town centres where you can touch and see the beads you want and buy them individually. They often have a lot of larger, more interesting beads, possibly even rare or unique beads. Such places will almost certainly have jewelry on display or for sale to provide inspiration and many will offer classes.

Bijoux Beads is the bead shop I used to go to in Bath, UK when I lived there. Its a lovely shopping experience and perfect for anyone wanting to make jewelry as a hobby. Sadly, as with most, if not all, boutique bead shops their prices are too high for anyone making more than the occasional piece of jewelry.

Wholesale Bead Stores
If you know where to look you can sometimes find shops off the beaten track which sell beading supplies at wholesale prices. Sometimes you will have to buy in wholesale quantities but usually the price just gets cheaper the more you buy.

I have found both Gen Bead and Beyond Beads in San Francisco and their prices are great. Sadly they don't offer a very big range of products and are often out of stock of items so they are only useful when they have what you want. I still prefer shopping there though, where I can actually see the items I might buy and where I don't have to pay postage.

Wholesale Online Stores
Online stores have the massive advantage of being able to stock a huge range of items and they can sell for less without the cost of maintaining and staffing a store.

Having said that, I still haven't found one online store that sells all the items I need. There are also hundreds of online bead suppliers, how do you decide which one to shop at?  To help me decide I have done a price comparison on items I frequently need from several online suppliers.

Shopping online isn't nearly as fun but it does mean I don't need to leave my house and I get the excitement of opening up my order when it arrives. The biggest problem as far as I'm concerned is the cost of postage which encourages me to make huge orders to get better value for money :S

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