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 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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  • 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.

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

  • Nancy says:

    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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Pam says:

    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.

  • JoAnne says:

    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.

  • Whitney says:

    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.

  • Lianne says:

    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!).

  • Laurie says:

    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 !

  • Irina says:

    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!

  • 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.

  • Jeanne says:

    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.

  • Nithya says:

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

  • 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.

  • Kelly says:

    I’m starting to store my jewelry stuff, but planning on getting those tool storage, usually for nuts and bolts, instead for beads. I also have a roll door desk top mail desk with little drawers. I picked up a spice containers with a spice holder, that my nieghbor was going to throw out outside next to her door, so I snatch that for my odds and ends and for jump rings and clasps.The town we live in has very good town with really good garage sales and estate sales. So come next spring I will be scrouging around the garage sales. 🙂

  • gabriel dragon says:

    I need something to contain organized rough gem stones. I’m a collector of gem stones.

  • I organize and label everything by content.

    For my rough gem stones I found plastic pencil boxes with different colored lids that I use to store them in, the different colored lids help with the organization.

    For my beads I use the plastic pill cases. I pick these up at the thrift store for pennies. I like these because they come in different sizes some with 7 compartments, others with 28. I look for the clear ones so I can see what is in them. Also at the local dollar store they have these pill cases with much larger compartments that I use as well.

    I have a rolling stand with 12 plastic file drawers. I then store my pill boxes in these drawers according to color or findings.

    And like some others have mentioned I use the plastic fishing tackle and lure boxes. I organize the boxes by content and label them, then stack them, where they are stored on bookshelves.

    Whatever you come up with, as long as you create an organized system that works for you, it will make finding the beads you want easy.

  • I’ve got a couple hardware organizers, the kind with the small plastic drawers that are used to store nuts and bolts and screws and such. I put a little label on each drawer with the type of bead/finding inside. One organizer is for gemstones and pearls, another is for findings, chain, and whatnot.

    I have some of the small flip-top containers just like Lisa’s and they’re great for seed beads and small things. For specific product lines, each has its own set of containers so I always know where the needed parts are.

    My glass and “other” beads, as well as cabs, are more randomly organized into tackle boxes, stacking containers that screw together that I picked up at the dollar store, and those cute little tins with clear lids that you get from David’s Tea.

  • trish says:

    I use vintage jars. Usually jelly size. Found an old barn board outside and screwed lids on bottom. With antique scroll work on ends forming a shelf. Scrollwork has hooks to hang springs with all the ribbons, wires, and metals. Beads organized by color. I use the plastic boxes that large assortment screws or nails are sold in. Larger boxes are adjustable. All the tools findings and such are organized in various sized jars and wicker baskets. All jars and baskets labeled with silver metal ductwork tape. I use an antique metal lunch tray to separate, organize and work on projects. And I have small repurposed drawers that I use as project boxes. Gather all items and put in drawer. The drawers can be stacked on the shelf. In each project drawer is a tart dish or small ceramic small and a grapefruit spoon. The spoon is necessity for me. The end of the spoon comes to point and has fine serrated edged. Its my must have. Glad I stumbled upon this!

  • Jane says:

    I have a beautiful old wooden shop card (type) drawer unit, and keep my seed beads in baggies in these, a drawer for each colour, which I love, until I find they are all out in their own box, bowl, anything that will hold each of those damn lovely UFOs, which of course upsets the organisation totally, so now I’ve given myself a month to finish or deconstruct the blighters! Oh to be organised again, with a place for everything and everything in it, one day!
    I also have 2 small chests of drawers with 2 small drawers at the top and 3 larger drawer below, I have all kinds of shaped recycled clear boxes, (I especially like Ferrero Roche choc boxes, yum) I write what’s in each, on the open edge of the drawer, so you can see easily. My best idea though, I keep all my thread rolls on 2 very slim chopsticks from Thailand!
    Oh and old small clutch or handbags are used for fabric storage, as I’ve usually needed their handles as necklace parts, you should try it. OO must away now to write down a post that has just come to me.
    It is a sickness, but the only one, I know people love having!

  • Pam says:

    I think it’s so funny how we have all strived so hard to organize our beads and how many ways I’ve tried it myself, I think I spent more time reorganizing them and trying to display them to be seen, than I ever did doing the actual beading. I like your suggestion and haven’t tried your ideas yet, but who knows, I may have to organize again. My suggestion to new beaders is to take pictures of your first beading process and how it looked when it was all new to you, because it is going to change very fast! I started off with a small wood box that would hold everything I owned and it was so nice and portable and easy. However it didn’t take long for it to grow to epic proportions and now I have a 30 foot Airstream trailer that has been totally gutted and turned into a room with shelving on both sides. I bought it that way. it was set up for a vendor in Quartzsite, AZ and is actually kind of cool although very vintage. But guess what? The beads and all that goes with them still spill out of it and into my house…where I have a pantry area, turned into my studio. But guess what else? They are also taking over my living room! lol. People are not kidding when they say beading is an addiction. And you know the real sick part of it all? I haven’t done any serious beading for several years as my eyes aren’t what they used to be and it’s turned into a chore rather than a pleasure. But when I start to try to thin things out it’s very tough because beads are so incredibly beautiful and I still just get totally mesmerized by them each time I touch them. I have given tons of them away to kids that I have taught and such but the problem with giving stuff away is that for some reason when you give stuff away it has this habit of coming back to you even bigger! lol. So now I am doing my art through polymer clay and a bit of wire work and we won’t even go there other than to say that sometimes I do manage to incorporate beads into my clay projects. And to sum it all up, it is a wonderful hobby but it can take over your life! lol *hugs* Pam

  • Pam, thanks for sharing your great comment here! Cool idea to photograph your beginning stash storage system – and would also be great to photograph each time you evolve your storage. I chuckled several times while reading your comment, because it’s all so TRUE for bead addicts! 😀

  • Tammie says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your site here Rena. Thank you so much!

  • Tammie, thank you so much! You made my day. And thanks for asking the question that led to so many creative bead organizing tips! 🙂

  • Anita says:

    Great and wonderful ideas to store gems and components! I’ve used pill bottles that are amber and mark the outside. However, the contents are not discribable. So i ‘ve been thinking of cluing or taping a gem to the top and shoring in a shoe box. Any recommendations? Will the stone eventually fall off. What should I use to stick the gem or stone on with?

  • Hi Anita! I store all my beads in small, clear jewelry ziplock baggies. Each baggie has one type, color, shape and size of bead (for example, a baggie holding just 8mm round picture jasper beads). I use a Sharpie marker to write the size and type of beads on the baggie. (If you like, you can write extra info on each baggie – like the price per bead, and the supplier you got the beads from.) You can easily see every bead in the baggie. This system has served me very well for many years. Most jewelry suppliers carry these little baggies – I usually get mine from Fetpak ( ). You may want to get a variety of sizes of these baggies, to store various sizes and quantities of beads. I hope this helps! 🙂

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