Make Wire-Wrapped Bezels for Stones: 6 Ways to Perk Up Your Wire Jewelry Making
It’s those extra little details that can really make a project shine, make it stand out, make it unmistakably handmade. I’ve written about those details as lagniappe before, and most everyone knows it’s often a great idea to add a little extra something to your work, be it metal or wire jewelry making.
But what if you’re in a rut? What if you can’t think of a bit of flair to perk up your design? It happens to all of us, so here are some friendly reminders and six ways you can change up your wire jewelry making by altering the wire you use to make them.
6 Ways to Make Wire Bezels
1. Draw balls on the ends.
I’m just going to say this again: I think I could draw balls on the ends of wire all. day. long. I love watching the metal turn red, watching it turn shiny and molten. And I love waiting for just the right moment to move the wire from the flame to keep the ball from falling off. Most of all, I love that balled ends of copper wire turn red if you quench them fast enough!
Ball-end wires are the happy polka dots of wire jewelry making. They add an interesting bit of whimsy that I (you guessed it) love. See how cute they are on the rings, below?
2. Use square wire (or triangle or half-round wire).
The flat faces on square wire pick up light better than round wire, illuminating your work. Square and triangle can even look faceted if you twist it. I like to use half-round wire for ring shanks, of course, but sometimes I use it inside out; that is, I put the flat side out and the rounded side in, in ring shanks as well as other wire jewelry-making projects.You can also hammer round wire a few blows on a steel block, turn a bit, hammer, turn and hammer until you’ve gone all the way around, turning your round wire into square or nearly squared wire with textured, flat faces that also sort of look faceted and add a bit of oomph to your work. Square wires also fit together nicely when you’re using two or three together, like Kate did in her ring band above. And speaking of using two or three wires together . . .
3. Use double, triple, twisted, or braided wire as if it was a single wire.
I recently made a Chinese knotted necklace for a friend using leather cord, and while I was doing research on knots and how to do them, I got hooked on a technique I’ve never really given much thought to before. Now I’m making notes and saving ideas for knots to make using leather, silk cords, and wire. I learned while doing that project that using two leather cords together was just right; in this particular case, one strand didn’t show off the knot very well, and three strands were too big (in leather) and feminine for this guy’s necklace. But look how attention-getting the triple wire looks in the pendant above!
4. Wrap a heavier-gauge base wire with very fine wire neatly (or haphazardly, up to you!).
This not only provides a type of texture and the interest of coiled wire to your projects, but the finer wire strengthens the base wire, allowing you to substitute this combo when you don’t have wire in a gauge as heavy as you’d like. You can wrap the entire base wire or use these coil wraps randomly as design accents or attractive cold connections, as shown above.
5. Flatten round wire.
Flattening wire is so easy–just hammer it on a steel block as evenly as you can. For the most even results, hammer a bit on one side and then flip the wire over and hammer the reverse; repeat. Flatten all or only some strategic areas of the wire; in the project above, the loops are flattened on the tops alone.
6. Texture the wire.
If you’re using heavy-gauge wire, hammering or filing can add interesting texture (as shown above–note that the bail portion of the wire isn’t textured or flattened) or the look of facets to your wire. You can also saw lines in the heavy wire to give it that watch-band effect, just be careful not to saw too deeply or you’ll weaken the wire and risk breakage. (Heavy-gauge wire cut in that manner can help it curve better, too, such as when used like bezel wire to surround a stone.)
So there you go–nothing earth-shattering, just some reminders to wander off the beaten path a bit. I bet if you make some of your favorite standby wire jewelry-making designs using one or more of these ideas, you’ll find a fresh design is the result.
Make Wire Jewelry and Save Money
You can see all of these ideas in use in our wire jewelry making project compilation eBook, 10 Wire Bezels and Cages for Stones. I like our project compilation eBooks because they feature up to 10 different designers’ projects on a related topic. So you can see how up to 10 different designers do the same or similar tasks and combine the techniques into one that works best for you! Plus they’re a great value.
Originally published May 25, 2016. Updated March 20, 2019.