Wire Gauge Guide

Wire Gauge Guide

Understanding wire gauge (thickness) is important when buying craft wire or beading wire , or items made from wire such as jump rings , head pins , earring hooks and other findings. When comparing gauges, the lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire.

Unless otherwise stated, the gauge for products on our site is calculated using the Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) system (also known as British or Imperial Wire Gauge). Some of our manufacturers use the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system of labeling (also known as the Brown & Sharpe Wire Gauge) and this will be noted in the product's description. The difference between SWG and AWG is most noticeable at thicker gauges (16 and thicker).

GAUGE SWG DIAMETER (Inches) SWG DIAMETER (Millimeters) AWG DIAMETER (Inches) AWG DIAMETER (Millimeters) COMMON USES
10 Gauge Wire 0.1280 in 3.251 mm 0.1019 in 2.588 mm Very thick wire. Often used by silver smiths using forging or welding techniques. Good for chokers, stiff bracelets, rings.
12 Gauge Wire 0.1040 in 2.642 mm 0.0808 in 2.052 mm Still very thick wire, still hard to bend intricately by hand. Good for chokers, stiff bracelets, even wire-sculpted rings.
14 Gauge Wire 0.0800 in 2.032 mm 0.0640 in 1.626 mm Heavier Wire. Good for chokers, stiff bracelets, even wire-sculpted rings.
16 Gauge Wire 0.0640 in 1.626 mm 0.0508 in 1.290 mm Heavy Wire. Commonly used for chokers, heavy-duty clasps
18 Gauge Wire 0.0480 in 1.219 mm 0.0403 in 1.024 mm Med-Heavy Wire. Good for making clasps, chokers, wire sculptures.
20 Gauge Wire 0.0360 in 0.9144 mm 0.0319 in 0.8128 mm Medium wire. Size most often recommended for creating wire-jewelry using wire jigs and other wire sculpturing techniques. Good for making heavy-duty earwires and lightweight clasps because it’s still pretty easy to work with but strong as well. Dead soft is best, as thicker wire starts getting harder to bend. About 19 feet of 20 gauge wire to the ounce.
22 Gauge Wire 0.0280 in .7112 mm 0.0253 in 0.6426 mm Medium-Fine Wire. Very versatile size because it is pretty thick but most beads (like crystals and stone beads) can fit on it. Dead soft is a good way to go with this wire. Good for making earwires, headpins, and rosary style wrapped links. One ounce of 22 gauge has about 31 feet of wire.
24 Gauge Wire 0.0220 in 0.5588 mm 0.0201 in 0.5105 mm Fine wire. Good for beads that have small holes in them such as pearls. Half-hard is good in this size as it adds a little bit of body and strength to a slender wire. Good for making rosary-style beaded links. In an ounce of 24 gauge there is about 48 feet of wire.
26 Gauge Wire 0.0180 in 0.4572 mm 0.0159 in 0.4039 mm Very fine wire. Good for beads that have small holes in them such as pearls. Half-hard is good in this size as it adds a little bit of body and strength to a very slender wire. Good for making rosary-style beaded links. In an ounce of 26 gauge wire there is about 76 feet of wire.
28 Gauge Wire 0.0148 in 0.3759 mm 0.0126 in 0.3200 mm Extremely fine wire, not much wider than a human hair. Mostly used for wire crocheting and wire knitting. Hard to handle, tendency to get tangled.

Learn more about wire on our Wire Product Guide.

Previous article Weights and Measures - U.S. & Metric Equivalents Guide
Next article Wire Wrapping 101: Wire Wrapping Tips for Jewelry Making