Understanding Beaded Jewelry Sizing

One of the most common questions I get about my jewelry is about sizing.  Bead size…wrist size…mala size/length.  And for good reason!  I mean, what regular person knows the difference between a 6mm bead and an 8mm bead?  Who knows their wrist size off the top of their head?  I sure didn’t before I started making gemstone jewelry! 

So here is my VERY basic breakdown on mala bead and bracelet sizing with a few recommendations for you.  This is truly just to give you working knowledge of these terms so you can browse my shop (or another) and feel like you know what you are getting.  Should you wish to dive deeper, there some amazing resources online. 

    Beads can come in many shapes and sizes.  For the most part, I will be referring to ROUND beads (smooth or faceted).  The size of a bead is based on the diameter of the bead.  If you put a bead up against a ruler or tape measure, you can double check its size by measuring its width (in mm).  There are also excellent size guides all over the internet if you need to get clarification on a range of bead sizes.

The beads used in mala necklaces will traditionally be 6mm to 8mm in size.  Of course, each artist will have their own interpretation on tradition, but in general, you will see mala bead necklaces using these range of sizes.  I recommend choosing a mala with beads that fit what your intended purpose is.  For example, some folks prefer meditating and doing mantra counts with larger beads, while others like to wear their malas as beautiful healing jewelry and so the smaller beads are more versatile and easy to wear.  Its up to you!

When it comes to bracelets, the bead sizing will depend on your preference, style and comfort.  Mix & match!








This is the biggest issue I face in selling gemstone bracelets in my Etsy shop: wrist sizing! GAH!  Here is the deal...we often think our wrists are SMALLER than they actually are!!  Stretchy bracelets are designed to fit snug against the wrist.  We don't really want them to move around and dangle; we want the healing gemstones to be flush up against our skin.  If you can get a finger comfortably between the bracelet and your skin then you are good...if they leave deep deep dents in your skin or if you can see any of the stretchy string while it is on your wrist then it is too small.  Keep this in mind when ordering a stretchy string bracelet. 

This is me begging...PLEASE, do me and all other jewelry-makers a favor...DON'T GUESS!  If you are not certain what your wrist size is, find a way to measure your wrist before ordering.  It will save everyone time and energy.  Here is what I recommend:

  • Find a tape measure (or string) and wrap it around the wrist you will be wearing the jewelry on.
  • Measure your wrist size with a tiny amount of wiggle room.  IF you want your bracelets to be a bit on the loose side, add up to 1/2 inch to your wrist size.

Below is my bracelet for a 5.5" bracelet using 8mm beads.  If I wanted to size up, I could add another bead or two, but I prefer to wear mine snug as a bug in a rug. :)

Every Mala necklace should have the traditional 108 beads plus some kind of guru bead at the center and then a tassel or pendant of some kind.  So because there is a wide range of possibilities with style and finishes, the size and length of a mala necklace will vary greatly.  It is important to keep in mind that the bead size will play a huge role in mala length.  In general, you will see that 6mm beads will make for a shorter necklace length, while 8mm beads will make a longer piece.



There you have it, very basic sizing information for beaded gemstone jewelry.  As always, PLEASE comment or contact me with any additional questions, requests, suggestions or for more clarification.  You can find all of my jewelry at www.etsy.com/shop/lightthewaymalas.

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