Updated: Jul 15, 2021
The ultimate list of stores, online sellers, and websites for all of your beading needs.
My work mostly consists of crystal/gemstone beads in a variety of shapes and sizes, seed beads, and chunky fun beads; I have different sources for all of them. When I first started out, I bought everything from Michaels because it was the most convenient for me and it was the only place I knew that sold beads. However, more experience taught me that certain retailers are better at providing certain beads.
In the following sections, I'll provide some ideas on where to buy beads and I'll dive into why I like each source. I hope this helps you find the right bead seller for you!
Michaels and similar large chain craft stores
Though Michaels has a large selection of gemstone beads, many of them are either dyed, heat treated, or fake. If you are okay with these types of beads, then you will definitely be happy shopping at Michaels. They are often on sale for less than $5, so this store is a great option for expanding your collection and getting started.
These stores usually have a pretty decent selection of different colored seed beads and sizes. From my experience, the quality has been okay for the cheaper brands. They do sometimes offer higher quality bead brands like Toho or Miyuki, but the prices for these brands are higher than with some retailers for the same product.
This is where Michaels excels. They carry so many different types of beads - I would be surprised if you couldn't find some that suited your purposes. There have been a few instances where my Michaels has been understocked and sparse, but overall their selection is pretty well rounded. And the prices are also unmatched when on sale.
Etsy is my primary source for all of my crystal beads. I find that they are reasonably priced, there is great selection, and there are many authentic and ethically sourced options. If I am looking for a specific gemstone, I will search up "(gemstone) beads (size)," then compare the prices, reviews, and quality. There will usually be quite a few options, which is great. When I find one I like, I will then take a look at what else they have to offer in their shop (and add too many items to my cart). Here are some of my favorite Etsy bead shops: JBC Beads, JL Dreamworks, and Daybeads. I have had great experiences with all of them and I love supporting other small businesses.
I have had a hard time finding decently priced seed beads on Etsy. However, many shop owners sell mixed seed bead bags with a variety of colors, which can be useful depending on your purposes.
Etsy is a great marketplace to find these types of beads. Some of my favorite types of beads to find on Etsy are polymer clay beads that come in so many fun shapes and colors. Etsy has endless options for beads that will add something unique to your jewelry. They also have tons of charms!
This is a large online store with thousands of jewelry products, ranging from tools, to wire, to beads. This is where I started the accumulation of my seed bead collection because they have many Toho beads options for decent prices when on sale. They have a section for gemstone and crystal beads, but they do not look very real to me - many of the beads are clearly dyed. This store sells a ton of beads that I would put in the "Fun" category, including wood, rhinestone, painted, and metal beads. My order from this website took forever to arrive, but everything that came was great quality!
Local Crystal Stores
Because these stores have to cover rent and other expenses, their prices tend to be much higher than small businesses that operate online. If you have a store in your area that you would like to support that sells crystal beads, the materials should hopefully be natural and real. Crystal stores are great for beginners because you can easily ask the employees about properties and quality, whereas it is harder to find that information shopping in a store or online.
I live in a city, so unfortunately I do not have ample access to flea markets (sigh), but I have heard that some markets sell a random assortment of beads and charms. If you have one in your area, maybe check it out!
I hope you found some value from this article on where to find beads for jewelry making! Finding beads you enjoy using is always super fun, so please leave a comment with your favorite place to buy beads, or your favorite type of beads to buy. If you are a complete beginner to jewelry making, or if you want to learn a little more, check out my other guides to building a basic jewelry toolkit.