Mermaid Bracelets

   Several years ago a colleague of mine started buying beaded stretch bracelets from a lady in Annapolis , Maryland. She sells them at the Museum Store for about $35.00. They are very pretty but the cost seemed high so I decided to make my own variation of these bracelets. I call them Mermaid Bracelets– (I like to think that mermaids would gather all sorts of little treasures that they have found at the bottom of the sea and fashion jewelry from them). I make them with any variation of beads (usually 10-14mm) on 1mm thick elastic . They are very pretty and quite durable. The cost of materials varies from $6.00-10.00.
   It can be difficult finding beads with holes large enough to accommodate the sturdy 1mm elastic cord. I always heat the end of the elastic using a wood burner (available at most craft stores for $8.00-$14.00), this seals the nylon thread that encases  the elastic and makes it easier to feed through the beads.  Frequently I have to enlarge the existing holes using a bead reamer.  At first this was very slow going but after researching different small drills I have now found  efficient ways to make most beads fit the cord (I  will post an article about bead reaming in the near future).
   I have made hundreds of these. I give them as gifts and have sold them at craft fairs and on Etsy. In a future post I will write about different ways to sell jewelry.  Below are  some  example of  my Mermaid Bracelets.
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Basic Beading Tools

Here are images of the basic tools you will need to start making beaded jewelry. All of these can be purchased at your local craft store . Prices range from $5.00-$10.00 per item.

Flat Nose Pliers

Bent Nose Pliers

Round Nose Pliers

Light Weight Wire Cutters

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Buying beads and beading supplies

Making your own beaded jewelry can be fun, relaxing , and economical. You can usually make costume jewelry for a fraction of the cost that it sells for in retail. When you make your own jewelry the sky is the limit. No more searching for something that matches, you can design whatever you want in any color that you want. You just need to know where to get the right supplies.

There are several basic tools you will need to get started. These include needle nose pliers, curved nose pliers, round nose pliers, wire cutters, and a crimping tool. With these basic tools you can make most beaded jewelry. These can be purchased at your local craft store.

There are numerous places that sell beads for jewelry making. For the novice I suggest going to the local craft store. Stores such as Joanne’s, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and A.C. Moore offer many options for the beginner. Most of these stores sell everything the ambitious crafter needs to try one’s hand at making jewelry. They sell in small quantities making it easy to explore different products. The problem with buying from these stores is the mark up on bead prices. I have seen beads sold for 5 times what I have bought them from other sources. If you buy from any of these stores on a regular basis I suggest waiting for sales. Most of these stores will have sales on beads and findings every 2-3 weeks. The bead prices are typically reduced by 40-50% during sales.

After becoming totally obsessed with making jewelry buying supplies from the craft stores became very costly I started looking for more economical ways to buy beads and findings. So I went on line in search of other bead shops in my area. I live along the Washington, D.C. / Baltimore corridor and found several bead stores in my vicinity.” Beadazzled”, on Charles St. in Baltimore and Dupont Circle in Washington,D.C. offers a much larger selection than any of the craft stores (but the prices are still quite high) they also offer jewelry making classes and the staff is very friendly and helpful. I also found a place called,” The Bead Warehouse”, in Silver Spring, MD. which offers a huge selection of beads and supplies. This establishment is opened to the public several weekends every month is owned by Marvin Scwaab and his wife. Marvin has been making jewelry since the 1970’s and he is very knowledgeable about beads, gems, and precious metals. He is always willing to give one tips as to how to improve one’s craft. His prices are better than the craft stores and smaller bead stores but since he has the overhead of renting a warehouse there still is some markup. At times if you are buying larger amounts he is willing to barter. They also have a website

I started shopping on line for beads when I started making my stretchy Mermaid bracelets (Pandora’s poorer cousins). I needed beads that could accommodate sturdy 1mm diameter elastic. I found that I was unable to thread the elastic through most beads I had purchased craft stores and local bead shops so I did online research searching for beads with 2-4mm diameter holes. This took a fair amount of time. There are many web stores that have large selections. Several of my favorites are “Artbeads” (,” Rings and Things” ( )-one of my favorites, and “Shipwreck Beads ( for less than craft stores and smaller beads stores and the discount usually increases if you buy larger quantities. Beads are also for sale on sites like Ebay, Amazon, Overstock, and Etsy. you can often purchase smaller amounts for very reasonable prices the only problem is that the stock is inconsistent.

If you can afford to buy in bulk you can really save a lot of money on beads. There are many wholesale sites that will sell to crafters. Most of these sites require minimum orders usually about $150.00 and it is also necessary to place large orders to offset shipping costs. There are several sites I really like to work with. Mykonas Beads, ( is a favorite of mine. I love the large hole ceramic beads and metal castings, they are high quality and a good price for the quality however there is a $150.00 minimun order requirement and shipping fees are moderate. Two other wholesale sites that I like are “Beads in Bulk” and “Panda Hall”. “Beads in Bulk”
( has a large selection of beads and findings. You have to buy at least 100 of the same bead or 5 strands. They also bead mixes by the pound and have volume discounts. They have a flat rate shipping fee of $4.95 within the US and international shipping starts at $12.95. “Panda Hall” ( sells out of mainland China. Their prices are very reasonable and their selection is almost limitless but you need to place larger orders since the shipping costs are so high (approximately $25.00-30.00 for land freight and even higher rates for air).Also it takes 30-45 days to receive your order it you opt for land freight. Neither Beads in Bulk or Panda Hall require a minimum order but with larger orders you save money on shipping costs.

Whatever stage you are at in the jewelry making process there are many options for purchasing the supplies you need. I hope you have found this information useful.

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