Understanding Wire Gauge

Wire gauge was a new concept to me when I first started making jewelry. I had no clue what “gauge” meant and why it mattered. Now that I understand it better, I realize why it’s so important and how it can help one order the right supplies and make sure that their design ideas will work.

Wire gauge is essentially wire thickness. It’s talking about how thick a piece of wire is. Now it might be a bulk spool of wire, a head pin, a jump ring, or even an earring hook, they all have a specific wire gauge. The larger the wire gauge number, the thinner the wire. A 26-gauge wire is much thinner and more flexible then a 14-gauge wire which is quite thick and stiff. A wide range of jewelry components are made of wire and have gauge listed. It’s important to know the gauge (thickness) because that will tell you two important things: if the considered wire item will fit with your other components (such as if the wire is thin enough to go through the holes in your beads) and how sturdy the wire is. For instance, a 2-inch 26-gauge wire head pin is ideal for wrapped wire loops but is not sturdy enough for simple wire loops, which might pull out if they have a heavy bead on the other end.

We have created a wire gauge guide to help demystify wire gauges. In it, we have listed out what the gauges are in both inches and millimeters. We have also shared some suggested uses for different gauges of wire, what they might be good for based on how thick and strong they are.

Often, we will buy supplies and forget what gauge wire they are. Perhaps you have found your favorite length and thickness of head pins and want to order more but cannot remember what you originally ordered. Thankfully there are wire gauge tools to help you figure it out. We offer several of them here at Beadaholique and have a video that will show you how to use them.

Featured Video: Product Demo: EuroTool Wire Gauge Measuring Tool

I hope this brief overview explaining wire gauges and the shared resources helps to expand your jewelry making knowledge and understand wire gauges more.

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Kristi - November 15, 2022

Great little video! Too bad I didn’t know this before I jumped into working with beads. As it us, I have many beads with various size openings, the same with wire and cording. Oh well, better late than never!

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