Spelunking: Jewelry-Making Supplies Organization, Pt. 1

Part One: Findings

No matter how much you think a single container is going to do it – you always outgrow this type of organization solution. Just this morning I noticed that someone had ‘pinned’ a post about my findings storage on Pinterest. Timely, because I was in the midst of re-organizing these bits! I used to have everything for findings in one convenient little bin. It was your basic, divided Plano storage box. Then I started adding charms, metal beads, etc. and the findings were getting lost in the container. They were also slipping under the dividers in the bins. It was time for an update.


If you are new to jewelry-making, findings are typically metal, components that are used to make jewelry. These include:

  • wire and thread for stringing beads
  • crimp beads, and crimp bead covers
  • jump rings
  • head pins (which are used for making bead dangles, or also stringing together multiple beaded pieces)
  • finishers: toggle/clasp, lobster claws – the pieces that you use to close and open a chain
  • Earring wires
  • and I also include ‘stopper beads’, which is what I call the tiny beads that are great for plugging the large hole beads so that they will stay on a head pin.

If I am to expand upon this organization topic, my mission was to seperate out all the beads and charms from my findings, but put other basic supplies within reach as well, such as fine and medium chain, bracelet ‘blanks’ in wire and leather as well as finished necklace cords.

Besides outgrowing their compartments in the Plano box, the different sizes and metal finishes were stored in mostly little ziploc bags. So I was always hunting for the right thing instead of having it at my fingertips. So the first thing I decided to do was divide and conquer: put different finishes and sizes into seperate containers so that I could see them.

I had recently outgrown an inkpad storage unit, which was simply an unfinished wooden cassette tape holder. Since that was now sitting empty, I wondered how I might use it to put my jewelry findings closer at hand. This cassette tape holder is hanging to the right of my main work table; below counterheight – but still a very useful piece of real estate space in my studio.  The perfect place to put the findings!


These 100 cassette tape holders are super easy to find. Surprisingly, because you would think cassette tapes are completely a thing of the past – but they are still in use.  Still, I didn’t want the compartments of my unit to be so constrained, so it is easy to cut out (it’s balsa wood) the dividers and leave some more generous openings behind.

Then I measured the space and decided upon two types of containers. The first were clear vials, 2″ high. Some of my tinier findings came packaged in these. For the rest, you can purchase empty ones here. I chose 2″ high and bought in bulk – but you can get smaller quantities and varying heights as well.


These have a small ‘footprint’ but can hold a might amount of tiny things. And even when it’s a tiny amount – it still doesn’t take up a lot of room on the shelf and is super VISIBLE. The lids are a ‘friction fit’, but they are tight; so you don’t have to worry about these tiny bits getting out of hand, unlike the ‘tic tac’ style containers whose lids just fall right out at inopportune moments…

Second, I needed something larger in diameter, but I still wanted height. So many jewelry organizers are squat little bottles. I can outgrow those just looking at them… my inspiration was the headpin. If a long headpin could fit in it, it was my perfect fit. With that height in mind, I chose these coin bottles. These are made to fit a roll of quarters. Who knew?? I just found an eBay listing for 90 of them for only $19.95. That’s an insanely good price. You can find these all over eBay. Here is a link for smaller quantities, etc..


They also hold a good amount of chain, or large findings like big jump rings and connectors. And the lids screw on top, with lots of threading if you fill it up to the top, you can still get it sealed. Perfect.



So with these two containers in hand, I started the work of sorting all my findings by type and metal finish. And voila – they are in their new home.



The five ‘pillars’ divide up by metal finish – although sometimes things like copper chain (for me) overflowed a little bit into the silver bin and so on – it’s just a guideline! The finishes I decided upon were:

  • Copper
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Antiqued Silver, Gunmetal Silver and Black
  • Antiqued Bronze

And along the bottom I put stringing wire, thread and leather as well. Along the side, I hung ready-made bracelets and necklace blanks on cup hooks.

Each shelf was divided by type, including:

  • head pins
  • chain (medium and fine)
  • jump rings, stopper beads, crimp beads, crimp bead covers
  • closures, clasps and bales
  • stringing supplies

Now all my basics are at hand.

Next up it’s time to get the beads under control…and I have found the most wonderful system for doing it!

Have you found any amazing solutions for keeping your jewelry-making supplies organized?

See you next post!

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