Discover the various types of drilled beads and the best way to use each one.
I guess it should go without saying but you can’t make beaded jewelry without beads. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some have holes and others don’t.
The holes in beads are actually drilled a number of ways. These drilling styles result in very different looks when the beads are added to jewelry.
In this post, I’ll give an overview of the various ways that beads are drilled.
6 Types of Drilled Beads
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These beads have holes drilled through the middle at the longest part. This is probably the most common way to drill holes in beads.
These beads typically have a shape with a definite top and bottom e.g. a heart-shaped bead and their holes are drilled vertically from top to bottom. This style is also known as top-drilled.
Vertical-drilled beads make great dangles and look lovely in earrings.
If you plan to make earrings using beads like this, check these out first:
Non-spherical beads, that are drilled from one side to the next, are referred to as side-drilled. Often, these beads have a front and back.
Beads that are designed to hang e.g. a drop bead and have been drilled across the top from side to side are also referred to as top-drilled.
Beads that have an obvious front and back and are drilled from one of those sides are known as front-drilled.
You don’t necessarily need to string these beads together. Instead, use them as pendants or dangles and attach them to jewelry using bails or jump rings.
If these beads are drilled near the top, they may also be called top-drilled.
Some bead holes don’t extend the full width or length of beads. These are known as half-drilled. The hole can extend in either direction — vertical or side-to-side.
You may be wondering how to use half-drilled beads. Well, these beads are perfect for earrings, pendants and brooches. You’ll need to glue them to a finding with a peg to secure them to your jewelry.
Here’s how to glue half-drilled beads to peg ear studs.
These refer to cube or square beads that have holes drilled diagonally from a corner to the opposite one.
As you can see, there are many methods of drilling holes in beads.
The next time you purchase beads, make sure you pay attention to the placement of the bead holes. Some of these styles dictate the way in which you use the beads in jewelry.
Need a drill for jewelry-making? Take a look at these!
Barbara Bella says
Good morning. Another great article. This is information that is needed for beginners and novice a like. It is great to have all in one place. Blessings
That’s great to hear. Thanks for taking the time to read it and leave a comment.
Prof Cecilia Kachelhoffer says
Thanks Maria for all the information. It really helps a lot. God bless
I’m glad to hear that. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
Bulk Gemstones says
Thanks Maria for the very interesting and useful and great article.
I have a question. I have a bead that is side drilled and has a top drill. What do I do with it?
Hi, depending on the size of the beads, you can use the top drilled ones as pendants or charms. You can also incorporate them into a Spiral Stitch or Peyote Stitch to add interest. Hope that helps!