When it comes to jewellery-making, it’s important to understand the different types of wire used for beading purposes, as not all wire is created equal. In the following blog post, we’re going to take a look at different types of wire used for beading, and what to look out for when selecting wire for a variety of different items. Let’s take a look!
What is wire for beading?
Wire for beading is a type of flexible, yet sturdy, metal wire specifically designed for creating jewellery items, such as bracelets and necklaces. Beading wire is typically composed of multiple strands of fine stainless steel wires that are twisted together and coated with a thin layer of nylon or other protective material; this blend provides the wire with strength, durability, and resistance to kinking, while also remaining pliable and easy to work with.
What to consider when buying wire for beading
When buying wire for beading, it's essential to consider several important factors to ensure the success of your crafting project. Here are some key aspects we’d recommend that you keep in mind:
When it comes to beading wire, the gauge refers to the thickness of the wire itself, and the thickness plays an important role in the final piece: thicker wires are stronger and more suitable for heavy beads or designs that require more support, while thinner wires tend to be more flexible and ideal for delicate designs.
The flexibility of the wire is crucial for creating intricate designs and ensuring the finished piece is comfortable to wear. Consider the number of strands in the wire; more strands typically result in greater flexibility.
The strength of the wire is necessary for ensuring your finished jewellery pieces are durable and can withstand daily wear and handling. Stainless steel and other strong metals are recommended for beading wire, especially when working with heavy beads.
Beading wire is typically made from stainless steel, but other materials like silver, gold, copper, and brass are also available. The material you choose will depend on your design preferences, budget, and any potential metal allergies.
Beading wires often have a nylon or plastic coating that provides protection against wear, kinking, and fraying. This coating also helps to maintain the wire's flexibility and can add an additional layer of colour.
Beading wire is typically sold in spools or coils of varying lengths, so consider the size and scope of your project when determining how much wire you’re going to need. It's always a good idea to have extra wire on hand for unexpected adjustments or additional projects.
Compatibility with beads
Ensure that the wire you choose is compatible with the beads and findings you plan to use in your project. For example, the wire should be thin enough to fit through the bead holes and strong enough to support their weight.
What’s the best wire for beading?
So, once you’ve considered the above factors, all that’s left to do is pick the right wire and get beading! But if you’re still not sure how to proceed, here’s a general guide on what types of wiring work best with various jewellery pieces:
When crafting jewellery, don’t forget about the practical side of things; you need to ensure that your chosen wire will be able to be strung through your chosen beads or stones. This means that diameter is going to be one of your first points to consider:
If you’re crafting something lightweight - for example, a dainty bracelet embellished with Sterling silver beads or Bali beads, you’d be best opting for 0.10-0.15 inch wire. This will be able to support the beads (while also being small enough to let the wire pass through the bead holes) while still offering enough pliability and flexibility.
Crystal and stone beads
For pieces adorned with heavier beads - such as precious gemstones and stone beads, you should opt for wire with a medium-sized diameter, around 0.15-0.21 inches.
For heavier items, you’d likely be best opting for a heavier wire, ideally between 0.24 and 0.36 inches in diameter.
Budget is another key concern for any craftsman or jewellery maker, especially if you’re looking to sell your products commercially. Here’s what we recommend, based on your budget restrictions:
If you’re looking to create a handmade item for gifting purposes or personal wear, you can easily get away with using 7-strand wire.
If you have a bit more to spend, you could opt for 14-19 gauge beading wire for enhanced durability and flexibility, although this still isn’t ideal if you’re looking to sell your crafts commercially.
If you’re looking to sell high-quality crafted items, we’d recommend opting for beading wire with a gauge (or strand count) of between 19 and 49; this offers maximum draping and elegance.
Weight of beads, charms and crystals
Don’t forget that your wire has to be able to support any charms or beading that you add to it, and the type of beads you’re going to be using should be factored into your decision-making. For example,elegant Swarovski crystals andSwarovski crystals beads should be strung on wire with a heavier weight tolerance, of around 25-40lbs.
When it comes to gauge (aka the number of strands in a piece of wire), a higher strand count = more draping. With this in mind, here’s how to pick wire for different necklace styles:
Chokers, stiff pieces: 7 strands.
Pieces with drape potential: 19-49-strand.
Visibility of the wire
Finally, don’t forget the visibility of your piece’s wire - if you’re going to be adding just a few beads or findings, you want to make sure that you’re buying a colour that a) matches the beads or charms being used, and b) won’t distract from the vibrancy or refraction of your chosen crystals, gemstones, or other details.
Check out our most popular Swarovski Crystal Beads