Stringing beads with tiny holes

I have a strand of emerald beads that I’ve tried several times to
string, and I can’t find anything suitable to string them on because
the holes are too small. I’ve tried size zero silk and my smallest
needles, and that was just barely small enough to string them, but
the emeralds always cut through the silk about halfway through the
knotting. I thought of using that beadalon-type cable, which would
be strong enough so the beads wouldn’t cut it, but I can’t find any
small enough to go through the holes. And I recently bought a strand
of rubies, only to find they too have tiny holes.

Any suggestions?
Janet Kofoed

When neither silk nor extra fine stringing cable will work, I use
wire. I have some beads for which even 28 gauge wire was too small,
and I had to special-order 30 gauge. With that fine of gauge you
pretty much have to do wire-wrapped loops to keep the piece together
because simple loops will come apart in a heartbeat.


Bead-reamers are your friend. I keep several sizes on hand for just
such problems, my last problem beads were garnets with tiny holes. I
couldn’t have strung that last batch without my bead-reamers.


Hello Janet,

I do a lot of stringing and use Softflex only. Even with Emerald,
Sapphire, Ruby, Tourmaline and such! Just go for the thinnest
possible, a diameter of 0.010 or 0.011, not thicker than that! Good

Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 813 9755

Hi Janet,

I’ve had this problem with rubies. Often you will find that not all
the holes are the same size. I usually begin buy setting out lengths
of wire, looped on one end, in 24, 26, and 28 gauge, then trying
the wire (thickest first) on each bead, until I find a size that it
fits on (if they don’t fit on 28, I put them aside for a wire
crochet project I keep hoping to get around to). When I find the
size that fits, I slip the bead down on the wire and go on to the
next bead-- tedious process, but at the end, all the beads are
sorted by hole size.

I haven’t used Softflex in a while (I much prefer it to Beadalon)
but, if I remember correctly, they make a beading wire fine enough to
string the “26 gauge beads.” If I want to use the 28 gauge beads, I
use wire wrapped links–a somewhat fussy process at that size and
gauge, and I’ve only used it for earrings.

Good luck!
Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments

Hi Janet, If your thread is breaking, perhaps you need to clean and
smooth the beadholes out with a tiny file. Next, if the holes are
really tiny, use an English needle size 15. Third, you can try using
waxed Nymo nylon thread (sized from OO) - or PowerPro (braided
nylon). Mail me offlist and I’ll send you the names and URLs of my
suppliers as well as additional thread info. Keep shining, D

Hi Janet Kofoed–I love the beautiful emerald and ruby beads as
well. The only way you can string these beauties without cutting
your silk is to use your Foredom (or other drill) equipped with a
small one mm. diamond drill (or diamond reamer) a small container of
water to dip your bead and/or drill bit in (to keep it cool) and
very carefully enlarge the holes. The holes are usually drilled
with a tapered diamond point so that one drilled end is smaller than
the other. By enlarging and smoothing the holes, your silk should
not be cut by the rough edges left by native drillers. This is a
slow process but the rewards are worth it. Another way to finish
the gemstone beads is to string them on wire, putting loops on
either end and connecting them with other wire components. Since
the emerald and ruby beads are so expensive–any way to stretch the
strand is cost effective.

Vi Jones in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where all my neighbors
are setting off fireworks

Janet, Usually with beads with tiny sharp holes like that I end up
wire- wrapping them. It’s very tedious, but I haven’t found
another solution. I’m interested to see what others think. -Amery Silverlake, CA