Wire Gauges Size Chart: How to Find the Right Size

I recently redesigned a pair of earrings using a different gemstone colorway. I found out pretty quickly that the new stones I was using had very small holes. So, with my stash’s head pin box before me, I started trying . . . 22-gauge? Nope. 24-gauge? Nope. (I was starting to feel like a toddler with a shape sorting ball!) Wow—26-gauge? Yes! Luckily I have all those gauges on hand—how frustrating it would be if I didn’t.

By the way, if you’re totally confused by all this talk about gauges, check out Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey’s book, Getting Started Making Wire Jewelry. It’s a book geared toward beginners, but covers the wire gamut.  Buy Getting Started Making Wire Jewelry.

How to avoid this dilemma? The best thing to do, if you’re buying your beads at a bead shop, is to test the bead holes right then and there. If you don’t happen to have a selection of wire gauges in your pocket, just ask one of the employees if you can borrow a few for testing.

General Wire Gauges Size Chart

If testing the beads isn’t an option, follow my general wire gauge chart. As illustrated above, these sizes aren’t written in stone—just suggestions for both fit and strength. Keep in mind that the higher the gauge number, the thinner the wire. 

Another Option

Another option for many beads is to physically enlarge the holes. Use a diamond-tip bead reamer for gemstones and a pearl reamer with a fine corkscrew tip for pearls.  (See my earlier post “How to Fix Too-Small Holes in Beads.”)

Do you have tips about gauging wire gauges? Share them on the website.


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Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!


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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

8 thoughts on “Wire Gauges Size Chart: How to Find the Right Size

  1. Jean,
    I need your help, desperately! I found this great site for buying copper colored wire & sterling wire. They are in England & measure the wire in mm.
    They do however, provide 2 conversion charts but now I’m really confused. Do I use The American Wire Gauge?
    Or The Standard Wire Gauge?
    I have a show coming up & would really like to use their products. Please advise!
    Thanks,
    Paula
    pgreengarden@yahoo.com

  2. GAUGE DIAMETER (IN) DIAMETER (MM)
    10 gauge 0.1019 in. 2.588mm
    12 gauge 0.0808 in. 2.052mm
    14 gauge 0.0641 in. 1.628mm
    16 gauge 0.0508 in. 1.290 mm
    20 Gauge 0.0320 in. 0.8128mm
    22 Gauge 0.0253 in. 0.6426mm
    24 Gauge 0.0201 in. 0.5105mm
    26 Gauge 0.0159 in 0.4039mm
    28 Gauge 0.0126 in. 0.3200mm

    Greetz Myrthe

  3. GAUGE DIAMETER (IN) DIAMETER (MM)
    10 gauge 0.1019 in. 2.588mm
    12 gauge 0.0808 in. 2.052mm
    14 gauge 0.0641 in. 1.628mm
    16 gauge 0.0508 in. 1.290 mm
    20 Gauge 0.0320 in. 0.8128mm
    22 Gauge 0.0253 in. 0.6426mm
    24 Gauge 0.0201 in. 0.5105mm
    26 Gauge 0.0159 in 0.4039mm
    28 Gauge 0.0126 in. 0.3200mm

  4. I really want to follow the procedure, but I do not know the names of the wires to buy, if i need copper wires, plain wires, or whatever is their name.

    Please help me know the names of the tools.

    Thank you.

    Cy

  5. This guide is very helpful. I’ve recently started learning wire wrapping techniques and love it. But I’m still learning so I practice with less expensive Artistic Wire. I like the idea of getting a Bead Reamer tool. I could have used it on one of my projects. I was making wire wrapped components with some Bloodstone nuggets and gold Artistic wire. I ran into the problem of the wire not fitting the bead holes. I luckily ended having enough beads that would work, but the tool would have saved me a lot of frustration! Are there any type of beads that you shouldn’t use a reamer on?
    Thanks, Lori

  6. Jean,

    I just bought the most beautiful 2mm pearls. Would a 28 gauge wire be appropriate for adding them into a necklace? I want to make them into links on a cable chain necklace. I just to know that this will hold up. I wouldn’t be wearing it daily.

    Thanks,
    Sarah

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