Silver Wire

Written by Sarah Provost
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There are three factors to consider when choosing silver wire for your beading project. These factors are hardness, shape and size. Here is a simple guide to help you choose the best wire for your needs.

Silver Wire Varies in Shape, Size, and Hardness

Silver wire comes in three levels of hardness. "Dead-soft" wire is extremely malleable and can be shaped with your hands. It is often used for sculpted wire jewelry. It does not hold its shape under stress, so should not be used for clasps. "Full-hard" wire is tempered and pulled through a draw plate. It holds intricate shapes well and maintains shape under stress. It is often used for wire wrapping of stones or beads. "Half-hard" wire, as the name suggests, falls between these two. It is easy to shape, yet holds up under stress.

Wire comes in several shapes, the most common being round, square and half-round. Round wire is the most versatile. Half-round is often used to wrap around other wires when joining them.

In the US, the size or thickness of wire is measured in gauge. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the diameter of the wire. A gauge of 26-24, for example, is best for pearls and other beads that have small holes. 22-21 gauge will serve for most beads, and 20 gauge is particularly good for making clasps. An ounce of 20 gauge wire is about 19 feet, while an ounce of 26 gauge will yield about 76 feet.


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