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by Rose Marion, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Resource for February 29, 2012

When I was in Tucson, beads were everywhere! And for the most part, they weren’t loose, or in bags, but tied on strands of fishing line or cotton thread, and then bunches of strands, called hanks, were rubber-banded together at the top, often hanging off hooks around the walls of a booth, so you could slide the strands you wanted free from the hank, or take the whole hank.

While I’m not 100% sure why 16 inches is the standard size for bead strands, that’s how long each of my strands was that I brought back with me from Tucson, and these strands came from all over the world! But of course, when I came home and sat down to record the new inventory (not my favorite part!), I thought, I’m not going to count every bead! While some people do enjoy counting each bead to be precise, I thought I might as well put my math skills to use instead. so here’s what I did.

The beads I got the most of were some 4x6mm crystal faceted rondelles (pretty!). After making sure the strand was 16 inches (it was), I converted 16 inches to millimeters, which is 406.4. Now, I took the easy round and typed into Google, “What is 16 inches in millimeters.” But you can multiply your inches (16) by 25.4 to find the measurement in millimeters if you are just using a calculator.

Then, now that I knew that there are about 406 millimeters in a strand, I simply divided that by the width of my beads (4mm). 406 / 4 = about 100, and sure enough (I only counted one strand!) I had about 98 beads on that strand (I think I lost count a couple times). Most bead factories simply string the beads on by the length of the strand, rather than counting, so I’ve found that for smaller size beads, the bead count is within a few beads, give or take, of my mathematical calculation, which is close enough for me.

To find the approximate number of beads per strand in a consistent strand:

1. Multiply the length of the strand in inches by 25.4 to convert it to millimeters.

2. Divide the length of the strand by the width of your bead. This number should be accurate within a few beads!

For another example, if you want to know how many beads are in a 13x4mm tube bead strand, simply divide 406 / 13 = 31. So I would expect about 29-33 beads on a 16 inch strand.

Of course, while this is a pretty good way to find the number of beads per strand, if there are any knots in the thread between beads, or if there are clear spacers between shaped beads to protect them, this method will not give an accurate result, and then it’s best to count them oneself.

I hope this helps you!

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