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Have Some Fun with New Wires to Use For Wire Jewelry
Wire, Wire and More Wire
The Current Dilemma With Using Sterling for Wire Jewelry Making
I used to prototype all of my wire jewelry pieces in sterling silver......that's how inexpensive it was when I started making jewelry. Of course, that dates me many years but I wrote that to underscore how much has changed over the years for we art jewelers. Wire jewelry making, if you've been used to using sterling silver, will leave you in a bit of a bind these days with sterling now at an astronomical cost per ounce. When I sent my last bit of sterling silver wire scrap to my refiner (the guys who melt down precious metals) couple weeks ago, sterling was resting at a whooping $42/ounce. One foot of 14 gauge wire cost me roughly $7, yikes!
The good news is that I got a lovely check for all that sterling scrap since I turned in many old prototypes. The bad news facing many of us is though, what do we work with now that silver prices have skyrocketed? At least for me, having worked almost exclusively with fine silver, sterling and copper, this is a dilemma because those metals are relatively soft to work with plus, well, I'm just so used to them and I really like working with them.
Nugold For Wire Jewelry Making
When I first started metalsmithing, I was introduced to jeweler's gold, or something called, Nugold. A non-sulphur or phosphorus based bronze, apparently Nugold has been used for some time by jewelers as a good substitute for real gold. The coloration of Nugold is quite similar to real gold (as opposed to the harsh yellowy coloring of brass). Nugold is also superior to brass in that it is far less difficult to work with.
I had forgotten all about Nugold over the years and as I said, preferred fine silver or sterling for my wire creations. I prototyped in copper and executed in silver. Well, loving the color of Nugold and a bit desperate to find workable alternatives to silver, I've started working with a lot of Nugold. For neck rings, it's fabulous. For pieces with no hammering or typical metalsmithing fabrication, it's great and again, the color is great. For pieces with a lot of hammering and working, it's definately more difficult than silver. It's not as forgiving a metal and dingies can take up to twice as long to work out. Knowing that, however, I'd still recommend you give Nugold a try for your jewelry pieces or at least until the price of silver starts to drop and becomes affordable again.
Aluminum Wire For Wire Jewelry Making
Have you ever thought of using aluminum wire to make wire jewelry with? Seriously, with the high cost of silver today, all you need to do is oxidize (blacken or darken) aluminum wire to get a similar look to oxidized silver. While certainly, it's not the same, it can look very much like the real thing.
In addition to that, anodized or colored aluminum wire is currently a big hit in the marketplace and easily available online. There's a gorgeous color selection: magenta's, reds, greens, mints, blues, lavendars and purples......oranges, pinks, teals, you can pretty much name it.
Now, given all that, I've always found that these kinds of wire work best, look best, when combined with a bit of silver or brass or even bronze. That's probably because we're so used to seeing real metal in jewelry that somehow adding some of in with these non precious metals, just makes the jewelry "read" better.
Best Site For Wire Jewelry
Go to Beadifferent Press for some great wire jewelry making ideas and how-to tutorials for making wire jewelry.