Product Guide: Choosing Wire for Wire Wrapping, Wire Looping, and Wire Jewelry
The choice of craft wire is a personal preference for most jewelry makers. Much of the decision is connected to the type of jewelry and the desired artistic results, but there are a few general rules of thumb that you can follow when first starting out. Then, as you start to work with wire, feel free to experiment because these rules are often made to be broken.
Wire comes in three different forms of hardness: dead soft, half-hard, and when not specified, standard full-hard wire:
- Dead Soft Wire: As the term indicates, this wire is very soft and can be bent with your hands. It is often used for wire-sculpted jewelry.
- Half-Hard Wire: It is a little bit harder and a little bit stronger than dead soft wire because it has been pulled through a draw plate (a tool with holes in it the same size and shape of the wire). It, too, can be bent with your hands unless you are using a very thick gauge.
- Full-Hard Wire: This wire is harder and a little stronger than half-hard wire because it has been pulled through a draw plate more times than half-hard wire.
Wire comes in a variety of shapes such as round, half-round, square, and twisted. Round wire tends to be the most versatile. Half-round and square wire are good for wrapping around stones, because the wire has a flat side that will not roll off the wire-wrapped object. Twisted wire is simply square wire that has been held straight and twisted lengthwise to create a spiraling twisted surface effect, which creates a fancy decorative effect in jewelry.
In the US, the size or thickness of wire is measured in gauge (also spelled "gage") while in most European countries they measure it in millimeters. To see a list of the different sizes and common uses for each size, along with some other helpful information, see our Wire Gauge Guide.
Learn the fundamentals of selecting and working with wire with our instructional videos.
Featured Video: Overview of Wires for Jewelry Making
- How to Choose Wire for Your Wire Wrapping Project
- How to Make Wire Loops Correctly
- How to Make a Simple Hook and Eye Clasp
- How to Make Wire Hook Earrings
- How to Straighten Bent Wire