Wire is one of the essential supplies in my jewelry making business because it gives me the ability to take the jewelry beyond the normal beading limits. One of the questions I get asked regularly is do you know which is the right size and what material is best?
At first when I started working with wire, it was difficult and it much of a ‘trial and error’ method and to some degree it still is when trying out new techniques or creating new designs. But what I do is that once I have down what I’m trying to do with wire, I then write down how I did it, which gauge works best and how much wire I used. You also need to look at durability, malleability, style, color and manufacturer when working with wire before designing.
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 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 for your design, you will find that working with wire brings out the artist and craftsman in every design.
Browse our collections that incorporate metals including wire working on our website.