A Quick Guide to Wire Gauge

If you've been making jewelry for a while, you're ready to expand your skills. For many beaders and stringers, that means moving into the realm of making wire jewelry. I know wire can feel a little daunting—I vividly recall my first class. You bend it which way? But remember when you first started with seed beads and you thought, no way am I going to work with those tiny things! Or when you started stringing and you thought, I really don’t understand how these crimps work. It’s just a matter of diving in and getting familiar with the materials and tools.

Cool Waters Bracelet
Steel wire beaded bracelet
Cool Waters
by Denise Peck

Wire Gauge

Gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the wire. The smaller the number the thicker the wire. For instance, to bend thick wire into a bangle, you might use 4 gauge, which is a little over ¼” thick. But if you want to knit with wire, you might use 28- or 30-gauge, which are almost like thread. Use a wire gauge tool by slipping the wire in a notch to determine the gauge.

Here are some common wire jewelry-making components and the best wire gauges to use:

  • 12g-14g – heavier clasps
  • 12g-18g – links, medium clasps
  • 16g-20g – jump rings
  • 18g-22g – ear wires, simple loops
  • 20g-24g – coils, wrapped loops
  • 24g-30g – knitting

If you want to learn more about wire, check out my original post where I also cover wire hardness and buying wire: How to Choose the Right Wire Gauge

For those of you who are looking for beautiful wire projects, order the Easy Wire CD Collection, available in the Interweave store. Discover more than 350 pages of easy wire how-tos, beautiful wire projects (including my Cool Waters steel wire beaded bracelet pictured above)  from expert wire artists, along with tool buying advice and jewelry-making tips!

Is there a wire gauge you find indispensable? Share your tips and comments below!

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