Wire is one of the essential supplies in my jewelry making business; why? Because it adds that little bit of ‘flare, spice, or spark’ that I’m looking for when working with natural stones, crystals, or any metals. How do you know which is the right size and what material is best? You need to look at durability, malleability, style, color and manufacturer.
Wire is measured in gauges, from 16 all the way to 34; with 16 being the heaviest/thickest and 34 being the smallest/thinnest wires. Typically, the thicker the wire, the sturdier it will become. However, the type of material used for the wire also affects how flexible a particular gauge will be.
Rules of Thumb
*For bracelets, heavy necklace pendants designs or winding wire around very large beads, making charms or creating chain links, a 16 to 18 gauge is suggested.
*Gauges 20 to 24 are considered medium to thin thickness and are good for wire wrapping beads, as well as for constructing findings, headpins, and ear wires. This is typically the gauge used for making earrings and 20 or 22 are the best for ear wires.
*The smallest, skinniest wires are 26 to 34 gauges. They are easily manipulated and flexible, perfectly for use with small beads in embroidery and stitch projects.
You can find wire in brass, copper, pewter, or artistic non-tarnish are inexpensive and typically soft wires to work with; while sterling silver and gold filled are more expensive and typically vary in hardness’s from dead-soft to half-hard.
*Sterling Silver is great looking and made soft or hard. The only thing to remember is that silver will tarnish.
*For wire that will not tarnish and will retain its beauty and luster, try working with non-tarnish wires; it is very inexpensive and usually made from a copper core; covered with a silver, gold, or colored coating that has been treated so that it will not tarnish.
*While the others run the spectrum of price; the most expensive wire to work with is gold or gold-filled, which does not tarnish. Some wire works will substitute gold-plated wire for cost effective designs.
Whatever your choice, you will find that working with wire brings out the artist and craftsman in every design.
To browse and purchase wired natural gemstone jewelry, visit Timeless Designs.