How to Protect and Store Your Beads!

Have you ever wondered what the best and most clever ways are for storing your various jewelry making supplies? While there is (sometimes) more than one right answer to the categories below (and absolutely some wrong ones!!), I’m here to give you some insight into how I store all of my jewelry supplies. This comes after many years and much research, trial, and error!

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Gemstones: Like some of the other categories of beads I’ll talk about below, I store some gemstones different than others. I base my decision on things like the hardness of the stone (easy to Google!) or how delicate a cut/facet they might have. Many of my gemstones are stored on the strands on which they were purchased as this helps me greatly when looking for just the right one to use on a project since many gemstones can vary ever so slightly. It also means that they won’t roll everywhere should they be accidentally dropped on the floor. I store the strands or groups of beads separated into small ziplock baggies with a sticker label on which I’ve written the name of the stone, along with what my marked-up cost would be per bead in that baggie so pricing my jewelry is easier and so potential would-be customers won’t know my cost for those items should they see my studio. I hole-punch through the top of the baggie and they are placed individually on inexpensive metal shower hooks that are easy to find at any large home-improvement store. I hang all of the various shower hooks on super inexpensive curtain rods that are attached in rows on my studio walls and try my best to organize (or keep them organized) by color. Very expensive and/or larger gemstones may be separated into each their own tiny baggie so they don’t rub against each other and potentially harm any of the beautiful crisp facets.

Freshwater Pearls: (<– on the website soon!!) Long-term, freshwater pearls shouldn’t be stored in plastic bags as this can eventually become unhealthy for the luster of the pearl. I keep my pearls laid out with a tag hanging off of each strand (or group of strands) to document the same information I laid out in the gemstones category above. (I’m lucky to be able to have the room to do this.) I also find it helpful to lay them out according to color.

Seed Beads: I have a large organizer with drawers (larger than the one mentioned under “Findings” below) where I separate my seed beads by category (surprisingly, not by color!). I have a drawer for all 15/o’s (with a separate box inside that I use to separate my 15/o metallic Charlottes from the other 15/o’s), Delicas, 11/o’s, 8/o’s, etc, and miscellaneous! I also have a handy drawer for all unfinished/in-progress projects. This is simply what works for me, but you could certainly add more dividers of some kind into the drawers to help separate by color as well!

Crystals: While zip lock bags might be your go-to here based on everything else I’ve said, I actually prefer NOT to store my crystals in baggies! Once they arrive in the mail or I bring them home, I change them over to smaller plastic organizers that can be individually lifted out of a larger organizer or carrying case. The main reason I do this is because over time as the crystals move and shift, they dull the inside of the plastic bag and they simply don’t look as appealing or sparkly when looking a them through clouded plastic. Perhaps this is purely aesthetic, but I simply find it helpful! You are certainly more than welcome to continue to store them in plastic baggies if you find it easier. 😉 Larger crystal pendants I store individually in small plastic baggies so their delicate surfaces and finishes can be protected from scratches.

FindingsSince many of my findings are made of Sterling Silver and 14k Gold-Filled, it’s best to store them inside ziplock baggies – especially the Sterling Silver!! Sterling Silver is 7.5% copper, so when Sterling Silver tarnishes, it’s actually the copper content that’s doing the tarnishing (not the silver!). To GREATLY prevent your Sterling Silver findings from tarnishing, store them neatly organized into baggies. I have a plastic organizer with lots of different drawers – the kind that you can purchase at your local home store like Target. I then take the bagged-up findings and organize them into the draws based on what category If feel they fit into: Clasps and related findings (like crimps, crimp covers, jump rings, etc.), Earring findings (like ear wires and head pins), and also for chain.

Wire: I find it helpful to store my wires coiled up and separated into bags be gauge. It’s especially important to store Sterling Silver wire in zip lock bags to prevent tarnishing (see above in “Findings” for reasoning) but with 14k gold-filled it’s not an issue. This helps keep my wire in better shape (less kinks and bends) and from getting unraveled and tangled together. It’s also easy to label the bags with material, gauge, and what your marked-up cost would be per inch or per foot.

Chain: Some of the chain I purchase comes wrapped on little cards or it comes wrapped as if around someone’s hand and then secured at either end with twist ties. Either option works great to keep your chain from tangling – which should be a priority! Again, as previously stated above, if Sterling silver – make sure it’s stored in a ziplock bag as well to prevent tarnishing, though I make sure to store all of my chain (separated by type) into individual bags anyway to avoid tangling and that are then filed together in a drawer in that storage container mentioned in the “Findings” category above.

Tools: I happen to have a neat rotating tool holder but this was a handmade item that was given to me as a gift many years ago. A great option I can recommend and that I would be using in its place if I didn’t have it would be…a shower caddy!! You can simply line up your tools all around the outside and then store any other things for convenience in the center (like your spooks of stringing wire, perhaps – or just any item you find you use far too frequently to merit filing away!)

I hope these tips were helpful, friends!! Until next time:

Bead on, Bead Buddies!

-Leah

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