This is a list of sites that I recommend. I have purchased from most of these websites myself. Please bear in mind that this is not a huge, comprehensive list of wholesalers, but that it did take me a long time to find these sites. When I was just starting out, I bought items from other sites that were a lot more expensive than the same items in my recommended sites. This list is for those who don’t want to waste time and money like I did. These may not be the best sites in the world, but I haven’t found any that are better (yet). This list will be useful for resellers of beads and/or jewelry and also people who are serious about beading and jewelry making.
Some of the sites have wholesale prices but the general public can purchase from them as well. I give my own recommendations and my own views on each site, which I hope will help you decide whether or not these sites are suitable for you. At the time of writing, the pound sterling is quite strong against the dollar so it is a good time to buy for people in the UK. Please be aware that you may have to pay import duties if you purchase from overseas.
www.fusionbeads.com (US site)
I don't know how I missed this site since they always have an advert in my favourite beading magazine. Shipping to the UK is only $6 for orders up to $100! This is amazing as some US sites charge way more. Shipping is free within the US. It is a great site for findings (sterling silver) and Swarovski crystal beads and components. They don't have very many semi-precious gemstone beads though, the only shapes they have are chips and rounds. They have very good prices and also some hard to find items, such as sterling silver slide lock clasps. They have some of the same clasps as www.firemountaingems.com, but at lower prices (and lower international postage). Sterling silver wire is only about £12 per oz, while gold filled wire is about £20 per oz. Since postage is low, you could just buy a few items and it will still be cheaper than buying in the UK. I think that if you buy less than £18 worth of item(s) overseas then you don't have to pay import duties (though I'm not 100% sure, so don't hold me to that).
www.theearthbazaar.com (US site)
Online retail and wholesale store. They have a great collection of semi-precious gemstones and sterling silver findings. The retail prices are quite expensive, but they have frequent special sales where a certain group of products will have large discounts. Wholesale prices are reasonable and I found it quite easy to get a wholesale account with them.
www.beadaholique.com (US site)
A reasonably small site compared to the others. Good value sterling silver toggle clasps, chains and crimps. Beadaholique also sells gold plated, gold filled and vermeil items as well as semi-precious gemstones and crystals. They delivery charge is $5 for the first item and then $0.25 for each item thereafter, which is quite reasonable. They also have an eBay shop of the same name, but the prices are the same. They accept Paypal and credit/debit cards.
www.gems2behold.com (German site)
First of all, this site is quite expensive unless you buy in bulk and even then it is pricey (but the quality is worth it). I have included this site because they have superior quality items and absolutely gorgeous murano beads. They also sell ready-to-wear pieces of jewelry. If you reside in Europe you won’t have to pay import taxes, which you might have to do if you are in the US or Asia.
www.firemountaingems.com (US site)
When I first started making jewelry I came across this fantastic site, but found out that they didn’t offer overseas posting. So I was ecstatic when they finally did include overseas posting. This is a colossal site and it would take you a whole day just to look through everything they have. This is a great site if you want unusual clasps and beads. They have both cheap and expensive items and they sell to the public. Quantity discount pricing is offered as well as assortabilility. Quantity discount pricing means that the more you buy of one item the cheaper the unit price is.
|Quantity Discount Pricing|
1 - 9
10 - 24
25 - 99
Assortability is a little more complicated. Some items are sorted into categories, e.g.sterling silver clasps and beads are in one category, so if you buy 10 different sterling silver clasps you only pay the 10-24 qty price. This is great for resellers, especially since they have such a huge range of goods so you would never run out of things to buy. This site has almost everything a jewelry maker would need. Jewelry making tools, chain, findings, semi-precious gemstones, pearls, precious metal beads, charms, Swarovski crystals, sterling silver and gold filled wire, beading wire and threads, and many more. However they don’t sell murano beads (unless I just haven’t found them yet, their site is massive) and some of their semi-precious gemstones aren’t as cheap as other sites like www.earthbazaar.com.
www.wholesale888.com (Chinese site)
They updated their site recently and it looks so much better than before, although the pages still take a bit too long to load. A huge selection of freshwater pearls. The quality of the cheaper pearls are poor, but they are only about £1-£1.50 a strand. This site is available to the public and not just for resellers, but there is a minimum quantity that you have to purchase for most of the items. For the cheaper pearls you have to buy at least 10 strands for each colour and size that you want. If you want to purchase cheap pearls I recommend buying the rice shape rather than the potato shape since the rice pearls are smoother, which looks better (in my opinion). They also sell coral beads, findings, jewelry and paintings (oddly). Postage is calculated at check out and is not cheap since it is all the way from China, but it is worth it. They accept Paypal for payment.
www.stores.ebay.com/pinnacle-beads.com (US site)
They sell mostly David Christensen cane glass (also known as furnace glass) beads at good prices. They post worldwide and have reasonable postage costs. I bought 3ozs of cane glass beads from them and the postage cost $6.00, which isn’t bad. This is the best US site I have found for David Christensen cane glass beads.