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Types of Jewelry Making Wire
There are numerous types of wire that are used to make different pieces of jewelry, depending on their gauge and hardness.
- Memory Wire - rigid, pre-coiled wire for making rings, bracelets and necklaces.
- Beading Wire - twisted wire made of stainless steel wire with a nylon coating. It is good to use with abrasive beads. Used to make beaded jewelry.
- Super-thin Beading Wire - a 34-gauge wire used for lightweight beaded jewelry.
- Color-Coated Copper Wire (aka enameled copper wire/magnet wire) - soft, crafting wire that is used to to make jewelry designs.
- Precious Metal Wire - commonly made of sterling silver, fine silver, or gold and used for wire-wrapping, chain-making and other jewelry construction.
The type of jewlery maknig wire we offer will be color-coated copper wire.
Jewelry Making Wire Specifications
Jewelry making wire can be made of both non-precious metals, such as copper or brass, and precious metals, like sterling silver or gold.
Copper and brass wire have good flexibility which makes them easy to shape. Brass wire is a bit stiffer than copper, but it can still be shaped very easily. Copper wire is able to be hammered very thin. Sterling silver is also soft, but is still able to hold its shape fairly well.
12-karat gold is fused to another material to create gold-filled wire. The gold and the other material will have a permanent bond.
TEMCo offers jewelry making wire made of copper.
Wire Size (Gauge)
American Wire Gauge (AWG) is used in the United States and Canada to represent specific standard of round wire, including diameter, resistance and current. In total, there are 44 standard wire gauges that range from 0000-40. Diameter decreases with higher gauges.
Different types of jewelry will use varying wire gauges. Jewelry will mostly be made out of 12-28 gauge wire, and the type of jewelry made will depend on the thickness of the wire. Bangles and chokers, to give an example, use a 12 or 14 gauge wire. Jump rings are made of 16 or 18 gauge wire, which is also used to make links for necklaces and bracelets. 18 or 20 gauge wire will be used to make earrings.
All wire have a hardness, which will determine the flexibility of the wire.
Currently, wire comes in one of three designated hardnesses: dead soft, half-hard and full hard.
- Dead soft wire: very flexible and can be bent into different shapes, including spirals. Dead soft wire doesn’t hold its shape at points where stress is put on the wire, such as clasps.
- Half-hard wire: less flexible than dead soft wire, but can hold its shape under stress better and is useful for weight-bearing parts of jewelry. It is used for making wire loops, and for wire wrapping.
- Full hard wire: very good at holding its shape. So rigid, it springs back after being bent. While it can be difficult to make jewelry from full hard wire, it is the most durable kind of jewelry.
At one point, hardness was graded on a scale of 0 through 4. This was based on the number of times the wire was pulled through a draw plate, with the wire becoming harder each time it was drawn. This system no longer used, though, due to annealing, where the hardness of the wire can be altered by being heat treated.
When a jewelry making wire needs to be fused to another wire or a finding, like a head pin or a clasp, the process is known as soldering. It involves a third metal, which will have a lower melting point than the wire or finding, which will be melted and then used to filled in the gap between the wires, in order to to join them together.
Not all jewelry requires soldering. One technique for making handmade jewelry is wire wrapping, where wire will be connected without being soldered or heated up. To avoid this, the jewelry making wire is connected to findings by a wire made into a decorative shape, such as a loop, and which is then wrapped around itself.
Where can I purchase my Jewelry Making Wire?
View TEMCo's selection of color jewelry making wire below. All of the wire offered by TEMCo is made in the USA.
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