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How to Choose Wire for Jewelry

Proficient jewelry making requires the use of wire and a number of tools, along with materials like beads, glass, clasps and more. The wire used for jewelry making is created in a number of materials and sizes. There are two important aspects about wire that you need to know before choosing wire for jewelry; They are wire gauge and wire hardness. In general, wire gauge simply refers to how thick the wire is, and the wire is thicker as the number is smaller. And of course, Hardness means how hard the wire is, it mainly includes full hard, half hard and dead soft.


Depending upon the material type and size, you can choose wire for different jewelry projects. If you need to decipher what jewelry wire to buy for your next project, then read on to find out how to choose wire for jewelry.

Steps

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    1
    Choose your project. Different jewelry projects require different wire, so choose wire anew each time you begin a new type of wire jewelry creation.
  2. 2
    Choose what material you want to use. Wire comes in aluminum, iron, copper wire, craft, colored, French wire, gold-filled, memory wire, sterling silver wire, silver plated and tiger tail. The price largely depends upon the material used to make the wire.
    • Tiger tail wire is a very common wire in jewelry making. It is a braided stainless steel wire that is coated in nylon. It is very strong and comes in a number of colors. It cannot be used for wire wrapping, but it can be used to give the look of an "invisible" setting, where the beads look like they are floating.
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    • Other standard, inexpensive choices for skilled jewelry making are copper, aluminum and niobium. Copper wire comes in gold and silver colors and it is coated with enamel. Color coated aluminum wire comes in many colors and gauges and often has the color inside the wire, so you don't have to be as careful when working with tools. Niobium is light, comes in many colors and is not delicate.
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    • French wire is a coiled wire that is great for accenting jewelry. It comes in copper, gold-plated, silver-plated, sterling silver and vermeil. The smaller the coil, the more precious the metal, and the more expensive.
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    • Gold filled wire has 100 times more gold in it than gold-plated wire. It comes in dead soft, half-hard and full-hard, which is a scale from very delicate to extremely tough. This is an expensive wire, so it should probably be saved for special projects.
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    • Memory wire is made from carbon steel or stainless steel. It is great for bangles or other loops because it returns to the loop it was made into in the factory. It cannot be used for any projects that require wrapping.
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    • Sterling silver also comes in the strength scale of dead soft, half-hard and full-hard,
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    • Gold and silver-plated wires are great for creating a fancy look, but they can be easily ruined by tools.
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  3. 3
    Choose the size of wire you want to use for your project.
    • Use 30-gauge or 28-gauge (0.25 to 0.32 mm) wire for delicate jewelry making. It is great for wire weaving, rings, bead work and making small chains. Use fine jewelry making tools for this gauge.
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    • Use 26-gauge (0.40 mm) to wrap beads and make smaller chain loops. This is the beginning of the finer gauges of wire. Also use fine tools with this gauge.
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    • Use 24-gauge (0.51 mm) wire for most beading projects. The gauge fits through most beads but isn't too bulky. It has a tendency to get kinks so you may need to buy a wire-straightening tool.
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    • Use 22-gauge (0.64 mm) wire for stone settings, earrings and pendants. It is a medium-gauge wire, which is commonly found in a number of materials and colors.
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    • Use 20 to 18-gauge (0.81 to 1 mm) wire for average clasps, jump rings and pins. This medium gauge wire can also be used for thicker chains or for stringing glass beads.
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    • Use 16 to 14-gauge (1.3 to 1.6 mm) wire, best used for large, heavy jewelry construction. If you use heavy beads or you are experimenting, this thick wire will make a statement. You can also use it for napkin rings or lampshade forms.
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Tips

  • You may want to stay away from jewelry wire containing nickel. It often causes an allergic reaction. The average colored craft wire is nickel-plated, so be aware before choosing it. Sterling silver often has a small percentage of nickel in it.
  • Finding out which wire is best for your jewelry project may take some experimentation.
  • To choose wire for jewelry making, you need to pay attention to the metal type of wire that you are looking to use.
  • Gold-filled wire which is less expensive and looks and wears like gold is probably for special projects that have fancy look,
  • Memory wire is great for bangles, copper wires can be used in making earrings, necklaces and many different jewelry projects as it is available in a number of thicknesses.

Article Info

Categories: Crafts