Wire gauge is a measurement of the diameter of wire and for electrical wire this determines how much current can safely be carried depending on the thickness or the gauge of the wire. For jewelry making, wire gauge changes the outcome of the project significantly. For example, certain wire gauges would be better for making earrings as opposed to bracelets. Some thicker gauges are best for hammering into bangles and necklaces and other thicknesses of wire work best for wire wrapping. Here’s one thing all beginners need to remember: The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire; therefore a 10 gauge wire is larger than a 20 gauge wire.
Some jewelry artists use a wire gauge tool to measure the diameter and determine the thickness of the wire for projects. This tool allows you to place the wire in the measuring holes to find out the gauge. There are different standards of measurement for wire so this may be helpful to bring when purchasing wire.
What wire gauge works best for different types of jewelry projects?
28 to 30 Gauge:
This is a large number so the wire is very fine and the hardness is not important because it will not be suitable for hammering at this thickness. These gauges are the most pliable and work best for projects involving weaving, coiling, knitting, crocheting, fine wire wrapping of small beads or stones. * this wire diameter is subject to breakage so it is best to experiment before deciding to finish a project with this gauge.
This wire is not as fine as 28 to 30 gauge, but it is still fine enough for weaving, coiling, knitting, crocheting but can be used to wrap larger beads, loops, briolettes, and making balled headpins.
This size of wire can be used in most projects and is a good wire to start out with. It is very versatile and can be used to make headpins for necklaces and earrings and small jump rings, coils and wire-wrapped links that can be used to attach beads to necklaces, earrings and bracelets. I recommend making your own findings as opposed to buying them. This wire can be used for projects involving spirals, weaving, binding and wrapped settings for stones.
22 and 21 Gauge:
Although this wire is starting to become larger, it is still able to be manipulated by hand or by using wire tools. This dimension is best for ear wires for hoop earrings, and is ideal for small clasps and prong settings. It also can still be very effective in fabricating headpins, eye pins, jump rings, frames and spirals.