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Wire for Jewellery Making

Updated on May 2, 2013
Wire for Jewellery Making.   Use wire to make ear wires, or entire bangles, bracelets and necklaces.
Wire for Jewellery Making. Use wire to make ear wires, or entire bangles, bracelets and necklaces. | Source

There are many wires available for making jewellery,, but what is the best wire for making jewellery?

This question is asked by many jewellery making enthusiasts and I hope the information below helps you to understand which is the best wire for making jewellery for you - as there are many ways to use wire in making jewellery, so you'll need a few different types as you explore making jewellery as a hobby or a new business venture and income.

As your skills improve and increase you'll start to discover that the wire you have isn't the right type of wire for the next rung on the ladder of making jewellery, so it's a good idea to have a good range of wire in your craft box so that you've always got the right wire for the job!

Many jewellery makers will experiment with lesser/cheaper wires, before committing to a design and producing the final piece in the best material possible.


Memory Wire

Memory Wire is used to create very quick bracelets, bangles and collars. It is made from rigid, pre-coiled wire that keeps its shape. When you buy memory wire, it's in a coil and you buy the size you need.

With memory wire you can create quick and easy finger rings, toe rings, wine glass charms, bracelets and necklaces/chokers.


When buying memory wire, instead of having to know the length you want, it's sold by the "loop". For the best prices, you'll be looking to buy 100 loops or more. You then simply snip the wire to split it into the length you need. A 100 loop pack of memory wire would make 20 5-loop bracelets.

Note: Memory wire is very strong wire and memory wire retains its shape. Because of this you'll need special wire cutters, called Memory Wire Cutters. If you use regular wire cutters you'll blunt them as memory wire is very strong.

Simply add your beads onto the memory wire and choose a method to stop them falling off the ends - and voila! Instant jewellery.

Memory wire is not made from precious metals, it's just steel.

Beading Wire

Beading Wire is used to make bead jewellery - it is what the beads are threaded onto. Beading wire is made from stainless steel wire that has been twisted together, with a nylon coating so it doesn't rub.

Beading wire comes in a variety of thicknesses. Thin wire is used with smaller beads, thicker wire is needed for larger beads to carry their weight and because the holes in the beads are bigger. You should aim to have the least slack possible because each time a bead moves it has the potential to wear at the beading wire. Although the beading wire is protected with a plastic sheath, if you use large beads on thin beading wire it won't last very long.

The more strands that beading wire has, the more flexible it is and the more "fluid" it makes an item such as a necklace appear.

One of the biggest brand names in beading wire is Beadalon.

Sterling Silver Beading Wire

Some people like to make the wire an essential part of their jewellery making, creating illusion necklaces for example, or suspending a small and simple pendant. For creating impressive, unique and stunning jewellery you'll need the right wire to produce a stunning effect.

Sterling silver beading wire is excellent for this - combining a high quality look at an affordable price in a very usable form.

Although it is solid sterling silver, you use sterling silver beading wire exactly the same as any other beading wire, it simply happens to be made of 925 sterling silver, coated in a very thin plastic sheath to protect it. No special extra skills or tools are needed, making it the obvious choice for making either higher quality pieces, or even just a few flagship items to display on your website or at a craft stall to catch people's eye.

Note: This is solid sterling silver beading wire, not to be confused with silver plated wire at all.

If you're used to working in beading wire, by simply changing your wire from regular beading wire to sterling silver beading wire you can transform your work and enhance the value of your jewellery. Your work will have that high quality and sheen that draws customers towards buying from you!


Colour Coated Copper Wire/Enamelled Copper Wire

Colour-Coated Copper Wire is sometimes known as Enamelled Copper Wire. The core of this wire is copper and it has a soft, flexible coating.

Colour-Coated Copper Wire is what is known as a crafting wire and when you bend it it keeps its shape quite well. A good quality crafting wire can even be hammered, adding a further dimension to your jewellery making efforts.

Many people use colour-coated copper wire for wire wrapping because it's so easy to bend and keeps its shape.

The biggest advantage of using this type of wire, rather than 100% copper wire is that the outer coating comes in a myriad of colours. Adding colour to your jewellery making is one of the cornerstones of good design.

Colour-coated copper wire is also available in a whole range of thicknesses, so can be used for many different elements of your jewellery designs.

Wire for Jewellery.  Use Copper Wire to make findings, bangles and rings.
Wire for Jewellery. Use Copper Wire to make findings, bangles and rings. | Source

100% Pure Copper Wire

100% Pure Copper Wire is what professional jewellery designers use for making clasps, jump rings, bangles, rings, loops and for wire wrapping.

100% pure copper wire comes in three shapes: Round, half round and square. If you're wire wrapping then it's most common to use half round wire as the wire sits flat against the item you're wire wrapping.

In order to work with copper wire, you also need to think about how hard it is. 100% copper wire is sold as dead soft, soft, half hard and hard. If you're wire wrapping you'll want dead soft or soft copper wire, if you're making a simple clasp you might want to be using half hard. The more you bend and work wire the harder it becomes - once it's become hard you can soften it again by a simple process known as annealing, which simply means heating it up until it glows; it's possible to anneal copper in the flame of your home gas cooker, or by using a standard kitchen blowtorch, the same as you'd use for creating creme brulee for your dinner party.

Sterling Silver Wire, Fine Silver Wire, Gold Wire

Professional jewellery makers are most likely to use precious metal wires:

  • Sterling silver wire
  • Fine silver wire
  • Gold wire

Any of these can be used to create jewellery findings, such as jump rings or connectors, chains, bracelets and ear wires, or even to make clasps. Rings are made from silver wire and gold wire; these wires come in a variety of widths, with 3-4mm being a popular width for this purpose. To make wire rings you simply cut the wire to size, bend it round, solder it then shape it round a mandrel, so wire is the easiest way to do this!

If you want to do wire wrapping, then the best wire for this is precious metal wire - usually sterling silver wire.... it's common to do a couple of practice pieces in cheaper wire first, then use sterling silver wire once you're confident of what you are making.

The most common shapes to buy sterling silver wire and other precious metal wires in are:

  • Round,
  • Half-round
  • Square

No Waste!

Because of the cost, it is possible to buy these wires in shorter lengths than other wires. As they are precious metals, there's never any waste as your scraps can be sold for cash, or you can melt them down and have a go at casting your own ingots and making your own wires...

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    • ayliss08 profile image

      ayliss08 5 years ago from Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

      Hi, this is an informative hub. You have made a nice work on various wire for jewelry making. I am a lover of handamde jewelry. Really appreciate your sharing. Thanks and voted up!

    • Making-Jewellery profile image
      Author

      Making-Jewellery 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Ayliss

      Thank you for your comment. Although I am exploring most things about making jewellery, wire work is definitely my favourite.

      At first I struggled with wire for jewellery making as there were so many different types - and at first I was trying to use the wrong type of wire for jewellery to the sort I needed. Craft wire was available at bead shops, but I really needed 100% copper and sterling silver wire.

      Whas has surprised me since I started making jewellery was just HOW large the subject is. When I started I lumped it all into one category of just "making jewellery" and now I realise that this term usually means silversmithing (with silver, copper, bronze, gold). I then discovered lots of other exciting ways of making jewellery, that had different names, e.g. using silver clay (PMC), wire work, beading .... not to mention looking at glass fusing (I didn't get on too well with this as I discovered a fear of cracking glass).

      This week I made a Russian Bangle - which I must photograph and write up as a tutorial.

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