How You Can Store and Organize Your Beads

by Lisa Yang.
(Lisa Yang Jewelry – West Hills, CA)

labeled bead containers - Lisa Yang

Containers with type, size and price

Beginning Beaders, Beware

From the day you start beading, you need to consider what to do with the beads, gemstones and findings that you start collecting (or in my case, hoarding).

Those little plastic baggies the beads came from the store in seem fine at first, since they are usually labeled, and you can write additional information.

But pretty soon, you need a box to store the bags of beads – and then there are more and more bags of beads, and bags of wire and bags of findings to sift through.

Soon, you spend more time trying to find the beads and supplies, than you do actually making the jewelry!

But, keep reading, because there are solutions!

My Bead Storage Solution:
Clear, Individual Labelled Containers

The cases I use to store my beads are from Darice. They are officially known as Darice 6-1/4-Inch by 4-1/4-Inch Bead Container with 24 Flip Top Canisters.

You can see two of them stacked in here:

stacked bead containers - Lisa Yang

Two of my bead containers

I have a lot of these – for gemstones, spacer beads, small findings and seed beads.

These are superior to my old storage containers because I can see everything without ever opening the case.

I also like the consistent size of the containers and how snugly they fit in the box.

No, not everything fits in them, but I use a lot of rondelles and rounds in smaller sizes or focals that are purchased in smaller amounts, so my guess is at least half of my beads will fit into these cases.

(I haven’t finished sorting and moving my collection yet though).

All of the individual bead containers are labeled. I use a Brother PT-70 Personal Handheld Labeler to label the individual containers with the type of bead, size and cost.

I love this P-Touch labeler! The label tape lasts forever (well, not really, but it lasts a long time), it is small and portable, provides multiple different fonts and font sizes, and has all the options I need.

It is an organizer’s dream.

When I am working on a project, I can either take the entire bead case with me, or I can just pull out the individual bead filled containers I am working with.

full bead case - Lisa Yang

Easy to see through containers

On the review of these cases on Amazon, someone said they find the lids come off the cases easily. I have never found that to be a problem. They stay closed.

Sometimes, I need to pull the entire top off to get the beads in and out, but I think that is a plus rather than a minus.

If the lids didn’t pull off, I could only use them for the really small beads that fit through the ‘pour spout’.

If you are trying to picture the top of these containers, just think of a package of Tic-Tacs. They are the same.

You can find these containers at Amazon.com and also at Michael’s craft stores. There are probably other stores that carry them too.

I hope you find my bead organization and labeling information helpful.

Good luck and let me know what works for you!

Lisa Yang
Lisa Yang Designs
Lisa Yang’s Jewelry Blog

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Comments

  1. Sherry says:

    I have used the Tic-Tac boxes for my beads and they’re great, plus I’m glad to be up-cycling. Once in a while I’ll find a lid that comes out easily, but all I do is put a strip of tape across the top.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this great bead storage / organization system, Lisa! I especially like your idea for labeling the containers!

  3. I reuse as many household things as I can…so…don’t laugh…

    I use the round plastic gum containers to hold my beads. I wash them and they’re ready to go. They’re big enough to hold larger beads. The top flips open to make pouring out the smaller beads easy. They stack nicely. And they’re very secure…I can drop them on the floor and they stay closed and don’t break. I find they work perfect :)

    I also use my dog and cats small food containers. Again, I wash them out, peel off the labels and they work the very best. The lid is see through so I can tell at a glance what’s in them, and they stack beautifully! They’re also great as holding dishes while I’m actually doing my beading. And because of the bit of a lip on them, they scoop up the leftover seedbeads very nicely. I love them :)

    Two cheap and free beading containers that work perfect!

  4. Ann Lynda says:

    I find the tic tac boxes wonderful particularly separated by color. Do you have
    various jewelry projects in different stages of production? Well, I recently started to use an item called “clip it up” that has a base and top unit, providing 2 levels of rotating rings with swivel clips on which to hang your goodies. I eliminated bunches of storage containers and now have everything in front of me for easy visual storage. Tabs/labels allow you to personalize each section.

  5. If you love to go to garage sales as I do, you can find lots of great ideas for bead containers.
    One of my favourite are those revolving wood spice racks with clear glass containers. You can see the beads, you can put perfectly visible label on the plastic cap, you can spin them around to browse your bead selection……
    There is almost one at every garage sale in Canada!
    Maria

  6. Marcia Etheridge says:

    I also use these containers (or tic-tac containers) to separate all my Swarovski crystals. Since I have so many of them I keep bicones separated by size and color. In other words, 4mm siam goes into a fliptop box with a label, 4 mm erinite goes into another fliptop box with label and so on. These all go into a clear storage box. Then all 6 mm are separated out the same way. I don’t have many 3 mm or 8 mm bicones so they are separated into their own fliptop boxes but stored together in the clear box. Other shapes I keep in separate labeled fliptop boxes and then in a clear box. This method helps me find the color, size and shape crystal I need when I lay out a project.
    One thing I might add is that my clear boxes got broken when I had to ship them but I found a clear storage box (used for storing craft supplies) that works really well. It doesn’t have dividers but I made some from colored cardstock that keeps the bead sizes together.

  7. I have used these as well – found mine at Walmart. I found, like Marcia, that the outer boxes are not quite as strong as the inner “Tic-Tac” ones, but since I have a LOT of beads, I have actually used the little boxes separately from the outer container, and lined them up within other containers that will hold more. Sometimes I will gather up my supplies needed for a particular project, and it is nice to be able to grab whichever beads I need. The tic-tack containers are great! I’ve also had some tops come off easily, but like the earlier poster, a bit of tape and they are good to go.

  8. I recently discovered the Iris Photo Storage boxes. The inside boxes have their own slot. they are large enough to store those bigger beads that won’t fit in the flip-tops (which I love). My only quarrel with these photo storage boxes is the outer box. It is strong and sturdy –but where the handles belong one is the “Latch” and the other the handle.

    All mine are now labeled in large letters, however, I am thinking of using colored plastic tape (is red and green too prosaic?) Another plus is they fix in my cubes. Available at Amazon and Michaels under photo storage. Direct sales are also avail from Iris I had to google this one.

  9. Great tips! There are several types of containers at Hobby Lobby and Michaels that work great for bigger beads and allows for viewing when closed. I like putting my findings in the round stackable containers. Problem is that containers get expensive.

    I try organizing my beads by theme- holidays, animals, metals, foods, travel, etc. Those that don’t fall into a specific category will get grouped by size or style.

  10. I still use all different sizes of ziplock bags. BUT, I buy beautiful shoe boxes from AC Moore and Michaels when they’re on sale cheap. I’ve bought coordinating colors so they look good stacked on my shelves.

    Then, I decide what “category” of beads each box will hold and make a pretty tag identifying the categories – Solid Colored – Earthy; Solid Colored – Glitzy; Multi-Colored – Earthy; Multi-Colored – Glitzy; Vintage Solid Colors…. Use whatever categories work for you.

    My inventory changes so quickly that I really like using plastic bags and bigger boxes. It works with the “ebb and flow” of my inventory. And it’s cheap (more money to spend on BEADS!).

  11. I use the tic tacs containers also. I go one step further and use them INSIDE the compartments of larger containers. (3 compartments by 6). Three tic tacs fit in one compartment quite nicely. My larger containers are organized by color for swarovski crystals, pearls, jump rings, clasps, wood etc. Right now I have over 160 of the larger containers. It’s a sickness, I know but what fun !

  12. Hi! Did anybody try baby food? Yes, that’s right! I buy baby food – like fruit and vegetables puree in small plastic containers (about 3″x2″ each), they have a lid and made from clear plastic. I eat this delicious puree first, then I wash it and – voila! – I have new storage container for my beads and findings. It cost about $1 for one or two of them. Also I found good deal for small clear plastic containers at the dollar store. They selling pack of 10 storage containers with lids for sauces, but I use them for beads. Then I sorted beads by colors and put them in to big clear plastic bins which I bought from Target ( they are not expensive, about $2.50 each, 17″x13″x9″ in size). And on this storage bins I put a tags with the name of its content. I don’t have separate room for my studio, but I organised part of my kitchen for me to work. My table is by the window, and by the wall on the left from my table we put storage shelves like rod and tiers shelving units, and I keep all my stuff over there. So, everything infront of my eyes!

  13. Sarah Faison says:

    I enjoyed the tip and I too use the same system and it works for me. Using coupons from AC Moore and Michaels I found good deals. Also Walmart prices are great for these storage items. Yes the clear ones are my favorite.

  14. Don’t forget to check at your big box hardware stores. In the Midwest we have Menard’s that always has wonderful sales on assorted storage for misc. (nuts, bolts, screws…) items/tools in many assorted shapes & different sizes – great deals if you keep your eyes open. Hardware Plano boxes, while not pretty pink or purple…, are half the price of the identical storage for jewelry.
    Good Luck.

  15. How long will the beads and other jewelry findings stay when stored before it becomes dull or looses its beauty?

  16. Marilyn says:

    I love to use the fisherman’s tackle box. I can make the spaces any size I need and I can take them with me anywhere. The ones I like the best are the ones that have two compartments, top and underneath. Of course the ones I can’t take with me are on the wall and those are the ones the guys/gals use for screws, bolts, nuts etc. They work great for all kinds of beads etc. And I label mine on the outside of the little drawers.

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