Crimp Resource Guide - All About Crimps

By Jean Campbell, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

One hundred years ago, attaching stringing material to a clasp for even a simple necklace or bracelet was involved and time consuming. First, you had to string a short, coiled wire called bullion (or gimp or French wire) so the thread wouldn't wear against the metal. Then you'd pass through the clasp, back down into the beads, tie a knot, pass through a few more beads, tie a knot, and on, and on and on.

People still make jewelry the old-fashioned way, but at least now there's another option: crimps and beading wire. This no-muss, no-fuss way of stringing beads makes it easy for even the least dexterous of us to make beautiful jewelry.

The advance of this technique has made it possible not only for the jewelry industry to churn out affordable accessories, but it has also made it possible for everyday crafts people to easily create their own jewelry. The type of crimp beads initially used had a serrated hole that grabbed onto the wire when squeezed with chain-nose pliers. The wire primarily used, Tigertail™, was strong and durable, but pretty stiff and prone to kinking. This scenario was standard until about 15 years ago. Since then, the advance in beading wire technology has been phenomenal. The different wire colors, flexibilities, and thicknesses have increased jewelry design options incredibly.

The type of crimps available has also expanded. No longer alone is the crimp bead. Now we have the crimp tube, an item that won't bite into wire and weaken it. Also available are crimps with built-in loops and clasps, large cord crimps, and more recently, crimps with stamped designs.

Choosing your Materials

When deciding which type and size of crimp to use, it's important that you know the wire thickness you'll be using for your piece. You'll also need to have a general idea of your design. For instance, if you're making a double-stranded piece and the two strands will eventually be secured by the same crimp, the crimp will need to be wide enough, not only to take the first two strands, but also to accommodate the two strands when they pass through the clasp again.

When choosing crimps, you might also consider how you'll incorporate them into your design. For most projects you can use plain crimps to secure the wire, but the crimps will be in plain view. As an option you can end your stringing sequence with a large-holed bead. This way, once you secure the wire, your crimp can slip inside it and remain hidden. Or by using the latest innovation, you can cover your crimps with crimp covers.

Another way to incorporate crimps is to actually feature them in your design. With the various types of shapes, patterns, and uses of the new crimps available, you can treat the crimp as a creative, not just utilitarian, design element.

Crimping How-to

Most crimp beads can be secured simply by stringing them onto the wire and then squeezing them firmly into place with chain-nose pliers. For crimp tubes this technique works well, too, but the resulting square profile isn't always the most attractive.

To professionally secure a simple crimp tube you need crimping pliers. This must-have tool has two notches in its jaws. The back jaw, shaped like a "U," is for crimping, the front jaw, shaped like an "O," is for shaping the tube once it's crimped. The result is a professional finish with the tube resembling a small bead and incorporating seamlessly into the design.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Crimp Resource Guide - All About Crimps ," as featured in a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

''What fun it is to find your newsletters in my emails!! All of us have lots to do, and worry about ... and your photos and videos of beads and techniques are smile-makers. Been with you for years ... will remain for years: thanks :)"
- Natalie

''This is not a question, just a comment on your crimping article. I was very disappointed in it. The primary reason for my disappointment was that you don't mention crimp sizes. How does one determine which size crimp to purchase? There are so many kinds of stringing material on the market, how does one select the right type of crimp?I found this article to be a bit of a tease. The history is interesting but I wish it were more practical. If you have any information on sizing, I would appreciate seeing it. Many thanks,"
- Vanessa

''Thank god I subscribed to your newsletter. It was the best thing I could have done. Your emails are very informative. Please, please don't ever stop sending me info. Thanks."
- Maylene

''Question regarding resource 652R
Good morning! Fire Mountain carries an impressive array of types and sizes of crimps. I've often wondered why your enormously helpful catalogue doesn't suggest which crimps work best with each size of Accu-Flex® professional-quality beading wire, and even which crimps to choose when using multiple strands of Accu-Flex beading wire. Trial and error works, but can be costly and time-consuming, and I often find myself resorting to "test driving" my pieces to make sure some new type of crimp is going to remain secure before selling a piece of jewelry. The most frequent repair chore I perform for my customers BY FAR is restringing a piece where a crimp has failed. You have so many helpful charts and guides in the catalogue, which I have always greatly appreciated. Your catalogue is frequently my go-to source for resolving all kinds of different jewelry-making issues. Any crimping guidelines you could provide in your catalogue would be greatly appreciated by many, I am sure. Thanks for listening!"
- Lorna

''A very large gold star for all the folk at fire mountain--I enjoy your catalogue and informational articles. Thank you."
- Laurel

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