You know you're strung out on beading and jewelry making supplies when your supply costs rival your car payment or can buy groceries for a family of eight. Knowing your budget, supply list, and style can narrow down the best places to look.
If you're new to jewelry making or want to try a new technique, big brick and mortar chains like Hobby Lobby or Michaels are a great place to start. Most of their supplies are reasonably priced, prepackaged and ready to use. However, once you start making more sophisticated jewelry, the selection and quality of jewelry supplies at general craft and hobby stores will no longer cut it.
Try visiting a bead boutique. Many towns have a jewelry supply store/design studio chock full of gemstones, beads, findings, tools, and - most important - salespeople who can advise you on the best supplies for your needs.
Once you are hooked on making jewelry or even selling your creations, the best place to get jewelry making supplies is a trade show or expo. To find one near you, just open up a jewelry making magazine and start flipping pages. A bead show is not only a great place to find inspiration, it's a great way to see the largest possible selection of jewelry making supplies. There are vendors that sell beads and findings in bulk, and others that sell tools at a fraction of a storefront's price. Usually, several vendors sell the same item. Try bargaining and making deals with them.
Once you're familiar with the brands, vendors, and supplies you like, try searching for better deals on the internet. Firemountaingems.com is one of the biggest jewelry-making suppliers on the internet. In addition to selling every jewelry making supply under the sun, their bulk order discounts and easy-to-use interface makes searching for supplies and splurging on beads fun! Many independent jewelry supply stores and vendors like fusionbeads.com advertise their e-commerce websites in jewelry making magazines. They are worth checking out too. One final website to visit is etsy.com. Etsy is an online marketplace comprised of independent vendors and crafters similar to eBay and Amazon.com. Many designers will set up shops for findings they don't use, and jewelry supply vendors sell jewelry supplies globally.
Don't forget to include sales tax and shipping when calculating costs. Making jewelry should be an inexpensive way to express your creativity. Don't break the bank to make something you can buy elsewhere for less!