Stopper beads are great for holding other beads in place on your handmade jewelry creations. But, have you ever used one to create a lariat necklace or a slider tassel bracelet? We strung them onto chain to find out just how well they would hold up and we love them! The small beads look dainty, they’re super lightweight and they make it quick and easy way to create trendy, adjustable jewelry styles this spring.
What is a Stopper Bead?
If you’ve never heard of one before, let me explain to you what a stopper (a.k.a. smart) bead is. The bead itself is seamless and resembles a typical, nearly round sterling silver bead. However, what makes it special is the silicone lining inside the bead. When you place the chain through the bead, the silicone grips it so the bead stays where you place it and prevents the bead from sliding around. Thus, the name “stopper” bead. They are available in sterling silver and gold-filled.
When designing your jewelry, try to limit the length the slider bead will need to travel for adjustments. These beads are fairly durable but the silicone will wear over time, especially if they are used heavily.
Choosing the Right Chain Diameter
When choosing your jewelry footage chain, pay special attention to the chain diameter. See the image above for a few chains that work well with the SM5L. Or, select alternatives with the proper diameter and uniform links for the best results. Since the inside of a stopper bead is made of silicone, it can shred if a chain that is too large is passed through the bead.
If you have a bead hole size of 3mm on your stopper bead and you want to put a single strand chain through it, you would need a 3mm or slightly smaller chain diameter. If you are creating a tassel or lariat, you would run two strands through it and they would both need to be 1.5mm or slightly smaller. You want a perfect balance where the bead easily slides up and down on the chain and is neither too loose nor too tight.
Threading the Chain
Step 1: Fold the jewelry footage chain in half.
Step 2: Gently push the chain through with a headpin.
Step 3: Once you can grab it with your fingers, finish pulling it through until the bead is about 2 inches from the chain ends. Go slowly to minimize friction and wear on the bead. Now you have a handmade lariat or tassel bracelet.
Once you have the stopper bead with the chain through it and you’ve created a tassel, you’ll need to add “bumpers” to the chain ends to prevent the stopper bead from sliding off the chain. Charms and dangles work well. If the inner diameter of the chain link is wide enough, you can use jump rings to connect dangles on each end. If the chain is tiny, you’ll need to solder bumpers onto the ends.
For soldering small chain ends, check out our blog: Tips for Chain End Finishing. It has step-by-step instructions on soldering a jump ring to the end of a small linked chain. Whether you solder or not, this opens you up to finishing your tassel ends using all types of fun findings.
Have you used stopper beads in your jewelry creations? We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram #HalsteadMakers.