First of all, I was VERY skeptical about pace count. I'd say I have pretty good "internal compass" and I rarely got lost. Worked for me quite long time, just map, sometimes compass (suunto M9 rocks) and GPS... And it sounded stupid to me to keep some count while I should be scaning/ embracing the suck and scanning tips of my boots on ruck march.
...until I got properly trained on it, and had a chance to run few land nav evaluations with nothing but compass, protractor, pace-counter and map. While searching for exact grids I was amazed how precise this technique can be, even over long distances or at night. Since then I always have my pace-counter on my greenside kit... Never know when my GPS my get damaged/ shut down.
Construction-wise we usually use cord locks instead of beads. Bigger ones with round button. Makes it more secure and tactile (but not as cool as the skulls and spartan helmets though )