Jewelry making wire


Selecting the right type of jewelry making wire for your projects is essential. Working with wire means that you have to acquire the basic wire techniques. When you’ve mastered the basic techniques you’ll be able to create a big variety of designs. There are a few things to consider when working with wire:

Wire sizes
In America wire sizes are measured in gauge. This will help you to convert gauge to diameter:

gauge sizes approx. diameter
26g 0,4mm
25g 0,45mm
24g 0,5mm
23g 0,55mm
22g 0,6mm
21g 0,7mm
20g 0,8mm
19g 0,9mm
18g 1,0mm
17g 1,2mm
16g 1,3mm
15g 1,5mm
14g 1,6mm
13g 1,8mm
12g 2,0mm

Here is an indication of the wire sizes I use for my jewelry projects:

  • for making earrings: 20g or 22g
  • for making clasps and hooks: 18g-20g
  • for making earring wires: 20g or 22g
  • for making single loops in bracelets and necklaces: 18g-20g
  • for making wrapped loops in bracelets and necklaces: 20g-24g
  • for making spirals: 17g-20g
  • for making jump rings: 18g-20g

Wire hardness:

Jewelry making wire comes in three hardness categories: dead soft, half-hard and full hard.

  • Dead soft wire is very flexible and you can manipulate the wire easily. It is mostly used for wire wrapping and sculpting projects.
  • Half hard wire is a bit harder than dead soft. It is still easy and flexible enough to be bent by hand. Half hard wire holds the shape it’s formed in. I use half hard wire for most of my projects.
  • Full hard wire is extremely stiff and not flexible enough to be bent by hand.

Types of jewelry making wire:

Copper: This is a great inexpensive practise wire.
Plated wire: Gold or silver plated wire can wear off easily. It is a good practise wire as well.
Coated colored wire: This wire has a layer of enamel color over the base metal. It is available in a range of colors.
Galvanized: It has a dull silver color. This wire is available in hardware stores and it is an economical practise wire.
Sterling Silver: It is 92.5% pure silver. Sterling silver wire is the most popular wire for wirework. It is easy to coil, texture, hammer and bend sterling wire in many ways. I prefer working with sterling silver. It is durable, economical and looks fabulous in beaded jewelry.
Fine silver: It is softer than sterling, but it is 99.9% pure silver.
Gold-filled: This wire has a thin layer of karat-gold over brass, copper or silver wire. Gold-filled wire gives you the choice to work with gold in your design at a fraction of the cost.
Gold: Few people can afford to work with real gold wire.

Wire jigs:

Another way of working with wire is using a jig. Jigs are wooden, aluminium or transparent boards with little holes and pins. You can make your own jig with a wooden block and small nails, or you can purchase a jig. If you're only going to make one or two components then this will be cost effective, otherwise it will be worth investing in a jig. Jigs are used for making patterns and repeatable shapes to get uniformity in your design. You can arrange the pins in any pattern of your choice in order to create your own designs. You can make a variety of designs with a jig including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, clasps and many more. Wigjig® is the most well known manufacturer. They have a range of jigs available.

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