Working With Wire - Top Tips, Techniques & Inspiration

Metal wire is a huge part of jewellery making and where many jewellers start their journey. With it's importance in mind we thought we would pay a little attention to the fundamentals of working with wire and explore a few key areas. These include what metal wire to use and when, what tools to use for wire jewellery making and the different wire jewellery making techniques. 

SELECTING YOUR WIRE

Ever find choosing the best wire for your designs a little tricky? Here's a run down of our different varieties of wire - their different shapes and sizes and our best advice on when to use them.

TYPE OF METAL...

Perfect if working with a flame as fine silver will not get firestain when heated. Fine silver is softer to work with than sterling silver, so often people prefer to use this for wire wrapping designs. 

Precious metal wire adds value to your design as well as a quality that will last. We recommend using this wire once your have had a little experience with other, cheaper wires. Our precious metal wire is sold by the cm.

Eco Sterling Silver round wire is produced from recycled scrap silver in a totally traceable and fully audited process. It is still sterling silver so feels and works just the same - all whilst being good for the planet!

Plated wire has a copper core with a high level plated coating. Plated wire allows your design to have the same look as sterling silver and gold but for less cost. It's good to practice with this wire, but you may find the sterling silver easier to work with as it has been softened.

We recommend using copper wire when practicing your designs or just starting out as it is very cost effective and malleable. Copper still creates a great look with it's rich red colour and works nicely for rustic looking designs with patina.

Brass wire is a lovely rich golden colour and can work beautifully in many designs. Brass is a little stiffer than other wires and therefore a little harder to get a high quality result as kinks are more prone. However, it does give a beautiful finish.

Top Tip

If you choose to work with copper or brass, over time these metals can tarnish. Midas finish seal lacquer is a water-based acrylic lacquer which forms a clear, hard, abrasion-resistant, protective finish to your jewellery. It is perfect for preventing tarnishing on metals. To view our Midas finish seal lacquer click here.

Click here to browse our Metal Wire category for all jewellery making wire.

WHAT SIZE WIRE DO I USE?

Wire is measured in either mm - which is the UKs measurement guide, or in gauge - which is Americas measurement guide. We provide up to 10 different sizes in round wire. Starting at 0.2mm (32 gauge), ranging to 4mm (6 gauge).

0.2mm, 0.3mm & 0.5mm - Great for wrapping gemstone beads with small to medium sized holes or for intricate wire work. Very easy to manipulate and work with. The higher you are able to go within this size range the stronger your design will be.

0.6mm, 0.8mm & 1mm - Good sizes for making your own findings and creating larger wire shapes.

1.5mm-2mm - Good for rings, bracelets, bangles and cuffs as well as for creating frames and structure wire.

3mm-4mm - This very thick wire can be used for bangles or cuffs. It is also perfect for those that like nice chunky, statement jewellery, or for creating men's jewellery with a strong look. This wire is obviously much harder to work with and takes a some extra working.

Tool Tip

If you would like to use a a thicker wire when working with beads but the holes are not big enough, a bead reamer is a great tool to easily enlarge bead holes. To view our deluxe diamond coated bead reamer set click here.

THE DIFFERENT SHAPES OF WIRE

Round wire is the most commonly used wire. It comes in the largest variety of sizes and is the most versatile of wires - you can use it for what ever your heart desires. It It is used in all popular wire jewellery making techniques, as well a for making your own findings. To view our varieties of round wire click here.

This wire can be used for a variety of silversmithing projects and is also perfect for making rings and bangles. To view our 9ct gold D-shaped wire click here or to view our sterling silver D-shaped wire click here.

Square and rectangular wire has a multitude of uses, many use it to make bangles and rings. It is very strong and often used when a thicker, sturdier frame is required. Kernowcraft supply both shapes in Silver and square in Gold. These come in a variety of sizes.

This wire is ideal for stacking rings as well as using it to make your own jewellery findings such as pretty toggle clasps or hook and eyes. It is also a great wire to incorporate into other designs that require silversmithing i.e adding as decoration around a bezel. To view our beaded wire click here.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR WIRE WORK

We find it really useful to have a good selection of tools on hand to help simplify the design being created. Here's the tools we think make wire jewellery making a whole lot easier...

ROUND NOSE PLIERS: A staple! Great for bending wire smoothly, making loops and creating jump rings and other findings.

SNIPE / CHAIN NOSE PLIERS: Good general purpose pliers for bending metal sheet and wire. Their tapered jaws narrow to a fine point, making them them really useful for closing crimps in awkward to reach places.

FLAT NOSE PLIERS: Ideal for gripping wider surfaces, bending angles in wire and sheet and holding small beads.

NYLON FLAT NOSE PLIERS: Amazing when working with wire and findings as they will not damage, mark or scratch your wire. These pliers are particularly useful for straightening out wire.

SIDE CUTTERS: An essential for cutting and trimming metal wire with a neat finish and minimal effort

HALF ROUND PLIERS: Also known as ring bending pliers these are a great way to quickly and easily bend curves in metal sheet and flat and D-shaped. Often used for thicker wires when making rings.

PREMIUM PRECISION PLIERS: Our range of German-made premium quality pliers give you that extra ease of use, accuracy and comfort.  

To view all of our pliers and wire cutters for jewellery making click here.

BALL-PEIN HAMMER: A great all round hammer that works well when flattening and texturing metal wire. Wire can be completely transformed with a few hits using this hammer.

STEEL BENCH BLOCK or ANVIL & BENCH PIN: It's important to have something to put your wire on whilst you are flattening it with a hammer as to not ruin your own surfaces. An anvil is a great start but to achieve a smoother finish the steel bench block is the best choice as it has a polished surface.  

THING-A-MA JIG: Allows you to form your own elaborate wire designs buy placing pegs within slots.

HAND VICE: A versatile tool which is ideal for holding and supporting jewellery items during working. This tool is great fun and create really good results.

TRIBLET: Perfect for forming, shaping and re-shaping wire rings. 

DIFFERENT WIRE WORKING TECHNIQUES 

WIRE WRAPPING

When we use the term wire wrapping we refer to techniques that involve wrapping stones and components into part of a design. It is also a technique used to make connections and findings. For step by step instructions on how to make the leaf drop donut earrings featured above click here.

WIRE WEAVING

Wire weaving involves weaving a thinner piece of wire between two or more thicker pieces of wire. Weaving creates dimension and a lovely textured effect. It requires soft malleable wire. The beautiful wire weave marquise pendant necklace featured above is by Kian Designs.

COILING WIRE 

Coiling refers to wrapping wire around a wire frame. The frame is usually a thicker wire than the wire being using to coil. It can be used to simply make loops and jump rings, or it can be a feature within the design. Coiling can look very effective and is also often used with weaving techniques. For step by step instructions on how to make the gorgeous aquamarine plated cuffs click here.


If you have any questions regarding wire work or any other type of jewellery making, please feel free to get in touch. Either give us a call on 01872 573888 or send us an email at {~80|85|77|86|39|82|76|89|85|86|94|74|89|72|77|91|21|74|86|84~}. We would be happy to hear from you. 

If you have any further questions, feel free to call our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you some advice through Facebook, Twitter, Email or simply calling us on 01872 573888 8.30am-4.30pm.

Alternatively, for more information and how to's on all areas of jewellery making visit our other Gemstone Setting Advice pages.