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 Gauge Chart
If testing the beads isn’t an option, follow my general 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 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.
New Jewelry Newsletters and Drawing Reminder: If you sign up for one of the two new jewelry newsletters, you could win a $500 gift certificate from National Jewelers Supplies. (Drawing is open to U.S. or Canadian entrants only.) If your friends sign up, you can get extra chances to win. This is optional--you can just sign up yourself if you prefer. Sign up for either Jewelry Artist's Flashcard or Colored Stone's GemMail today. Deadline for drawing is October 16, 2008.
Making Wire Jewelry: 6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily
Create 6 stunning wire jewelry projects (2 wire necklaces, a wire bracelet, 2 pairs of wire earrings, and a wire ring) with this free eBook that contains step by step wire jewelry instructions for each project. Jewelry designs range in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and use a variety of wire work techniques, including spirals, coiling, wirewrapping, hammering, and twisting wire. Download Making Wire Jewelry: 6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily
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!
Filed under: Gemstones, Pearls, Bead Making, Wire Jewelry, Wire Wrapping, How To Bead, Beading Tools, Step by Step Wire Jewelry Magazine, Beaded Jewelry Design, Beads, Jewelry Making, Beading Daily