Wire jewelry artists love sterling silver jewelry making wire. But, more metals exist for jewelry making and beading. Discover them today!
Use these guidelines and helpful information when making wire jewelry with beads.
A copper and zinc alloy, raw brass is golden yellow in color. Antique it and it turns greenish brown. Great for making vintage style jewelry!
Brass jewelry components are very popular today. Why? Maybe because it is a cost effective alternative to sterling silver and gold-filled wire.
But, it looks great too!
Pure copper is very malleable or soft. It's reddish color is warm and earthy, a natural complement to turquoise.
Copper wire for jewelry making is a cost effective alternative to sterling silver and gold-filled wire.
And, guess what? Copper jewelry wire is the same wire used to bring us electricity. No kidding!
It's name is somewhat of a misnomer as the wire is not actually filled with gold, but rather the gold is pressure bonded to another metal.
Gold-filled wire has an outside layer of 12K gold, making it much more durable than plated wire.Karat Gold Wire
Of course, wire is available in solid karat gold too.
Common karats are 14K and 18K. However, it is very, very expensive. It is primarily used by very experienced jewelry makers.
Niobium wire is a naturally hypo allergenic base metal, niobium in it's natural state is grey. It is anodized (coated) to create various colors. Niobium wire can be pricey.
Made of stainless steel, memory wire is available in stainless steel color and silver or gold color (plated). Always use memory wire cutters to cut it.
Finish the ends of a memory wire necklace or bracelet with memory end caps or a simple wire loop.
Memory wire is available in necklace, bracelet and ring size coils and is relatively inexpensive.Stainless Steel Jewelry Making Wire
What is that you say? Stainless steel wire in beaded jewelry. Yes, it's becoming the happening thing.
You can find it in your local hardware store or try bead stores and shops. It will look black, not a stainless steel color.
For making wire jewelry, silver wire is commonly available in three different alloys (a mixture of two or more metal types).Argentium Silver Wire
A new type of sterling silver, Argentium wire contains an additional material (and less copper) that helps it to resist tarnish better than standard .925 sterling silver. However, it's usually more expensive than sterling.Fine Silver Jewelry Making Wire
Of course it will cost much more than sterling silver jewelry wire, but will not tarnish. Fine silver wire contains 99.99% silver so there is no copper to cause it to tarnish. It can also be fused to itself, which means that you won't need a torch or solder.Sterling Silver Jewelry Wire
Though its cost have skyrocketed over the past few years, sterling silver wire is still very popular. It's relatively inexpensive if compared to wire made of gold.
Sterling silver wire contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, which causes it to tarnish over time. You will need a torch and solder to fuse it together or to other metals.
This is usually copper colored wire. The color can wear off and if the wire is scratched, the copper can show through. It's available in small spools of various gauges. It makes a great wirework practice wire and is fun.
Personally, due to its temporary nature, I would not use it to make jewelry that I make to sell. However, if you make these disclosures to your customers and they still want it, go for it. Sell it as costume jewelry, which is always popular.
It is the copper in wire that causes it to tarnish when it is exposed to air for long periods of time. To help prevent tarnish, store jewelry making wire, or your jewelry, in plastic bags to keep air out.
Wire is malleable or pliable. Temper gives an indication of the malleability of the wire, its ability to hold its shape and to bend fluidly.
Wire is most commonly available in three tempers: dead soft (most malleable), half hard (less malleable) and full hard (least malleable).
The more you need to work the wire the more malleable you want it to be.
As a beginner, look to a project's supply list for which wire temper to purchase. As you gain more experience, you'll decide which temper of wire you want to use in a project.
When in doubt, half hard wire is the best all-around choice for making wire jewelry. I use half hard wire most often and have never used full hard wire.
Wire gauge measures the diameter or thickness of wire.
The smaller the gauge, the thicker the wire. Twenty gauge jewelry wire is thicker than 22 or 24 gauge wire as you can see in this picture of sterling silver jewelry wire gauges.
For at-a-glance gauge to millimeter equivalents, see this wire gauge chart .
When you know a little about wire, what it is and what it can do, making wire jewelry is fun and easy. Enjoy!
Ready to begin some wire jewelry projects? Try these beginner to intermediate wire and bead jewelry projects by Marlize Kasselman.