I recently made a necklace for the Fall issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine using 24-gauge gunmetal wire. As I was sifting through my box of wires deciding which to use for this project, I realized it might be useful to discuss wires...especially the wires I couldn't bead without. If you're a beginning beader, I would recommend purchasing the following wires.
MEDIUM (.018 or .019 diameter) FLEXIBLE BEADING WIRE
This is a must-have wire. It's stainless steel wire that's been covered with clear nylon. A go-to material for any stringing project, this wire is won't kink and is strong enough to support most beads (use heavy wire for heavy beads, such as chunky gemstones). I like 49-strand wire--the greater the number of strands, the greater the flexibility--so 49-strand is super flexible compared to, say, 7-strand or 19-strand. Soft Flex, Beadalon, Accu-Flex, Flexrite, and Acculon are just two of the many beading wires available.
STERLING SILVER 24-GAUGE ROUND, HALF-HARD WIRE
Let me explain. Sterling silver is the type of metal, of course. While sterling silver has long been my favorite wire to use, recently I've purchased silver-plated wire instead due to the high price of sterling. The gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the wire. 24-gauge is about .025" in diameter. This is considered fine wire, but I find it's a great size to fit most of the beads in my stash. "Round" refers to the shape of the wire, and "half-hard" refers to the temper. Temper is the hardness of the wire. Half-hard means the wire it's soft enough to be malleable but hard enough to hold its shape. This is the wire I turn to for my wireworking needs--it's perfect for making wrapped and simple loops.
While I use the above two wires the most in my jewelry-making projects, I've also accumulated several other wires that have served me well:
- Heavy (.024) and fine (.014 or .015) beading wires: I string heavy gemstones on the heavy and pearls with tiny holes on the fine.
- 22-gauge silver wire: For projects when I want my wireworking to have more heft
- Gold 22- and 24-gauge wires: For projects I make in gold tones
- Antiqued brass or gunmetal wire: Because I've been using more and more brass in my work
What wire could you not live without? Tell me below!