Wire wrapping techniques in jewellery making are vast and range from making basic loops to producing intricately stone set, wire wrapped pendants. There are many designs you can create using wire wrapping techniques, so if you’re just starting out and experimenting with different wire jewellery designs, you’ve come to the right place.
Read our guide on the fundamentals of wire wrapping for beginners. And don’t forget to take advantage of our top 4 wire wrapping tips below, to help you quickly get to grips with wire wrapping techniques that will refine your jewellery making skills.
Wire wrapping supplies you’ll need to practice the fundamentals:
- Wire cutters
- Round nose pliers
- Flat nose pliers
- Wire of your choice or headpins/eyepins depending on your project
- The Complete Guide To Making Wire Jewellery
Your wire gauge conversion chart
Some basic principles about jewellery wire before you get started:
Jewellery wire materials
You can buy jewellery making wire in a variety of different metals, all of which have their own properties and varying levels of hardness. Avoid using craft wire or aluminium wire. This will be too soft to hold its shape, whereas stainless steel wire will be too hard to work with.
You’ll notice that most reliable jewellery supplies providers will only carry those wires in alloys that are perfect for wire wrapping such as copper, brass, sterling silver, and gold. When you’re first starting out, practise on the cheaper alloy such as copper and brass.
Hardness of the metal
Wire hardness (sometimes referred to as wire temper) is the stiffness of the wire. Wire hardness can range from very soft to soft, to half hard and hard. For your wire jewellery designs to be formed and stay in your desired shape, work with half hard wire. Soft wire will lose its shape as you work with it and hard wire will be incredibly difficult to form into the shape you want. Half hard wire is just right.
There are many different diameters of jewellery wire. Generally, most UK suppliers will list wire diameter in millimetres, but most jewellers in the US refer to wire diameter as the gauge. Having said that, you’ll often hear a lot of UK jewellers using the term ‘gauge’ as well. This can make converting wire diameters a little confusing! So to make the process of choosing jewellery wire fit for purpose we’ve put together a wire gauge conversion chart that will make buying wire supplies simple.
Jewellery wire shape
There are several pre-cut wire shapes you can choose to work with: round, D-shaped, square and twisted wire. Start out with round wire until you’re comfortable with the wire wrapping techniques you’d like to perfect. Then you can freely experiment with other jewellery wire shapes for a different take on your designs.
Our top 4 wire wrapping tips and tricks
Top tip 1: Make sure you file the ends of your wire
Whatever wire jewellery patterns you’re working with, it’s important to make sure that you finish off the ends of your wire by filing. Often when you snip your wire with your wire cutters some sharp edges can be left behind.
The last thing you want is for your customers to scratch themselves, so using a flat file, or flat needle file, smooth away any sharp edges. That way, the end of the wire will be professionally finished and completely safe to wear.
Top tip 2: Keep your round nose pliers close!
Your round nose pliers will be invaluable when you’re perfecting your wire jewellery designs, so make sure you keep them close. When you first start producing jump rings or other tight loops for your designs it can be difficult to keep them uniform.
One way of conquering this is to mark a specific point on your pliers using a marker or perhaps with your scribers. This will ensure that when you start forming loops with your pliers there’s no need to guess. Simply use the mark in your pliers for a consistent loop every time.
Top tip 3: Don’t forget to work harden your wire when finished
To ensure your wire wrapped jewellery stands up to everyday wear and tear, you’ll need to work harden it. Work hardening is the process of forcing wire into a harder state, giving it strength and therefore allowing it to hold its shape.
How do you work harden your wire wrapped jewellery design? This can be done in a number of ways. One of the most common is to hammer the wire with a rawhide mallet, although there are numerous other methods including twisting wire with a pair of pliers, pulling the wire straight multiple times and more.
Work hardening can be done before and after you have completed your design. Using a rawhide mallet and a steel bench block to hammer your wired jewellery once completed can work well however be aware that this may not work for all cases.
Top tip 4: Remember to close loops to keep your gemstones in place
Wire wrapping gemstones? Your main concern will be making sure you close all loops in your wire so that your gemstone remains firmly in place. The great thing about wire wrapping jewellery is that you can close loops in a creative and functional way. So, practise different ways of keeping gemstones firmly in place with your wire until you reach a design that works with your jewellery making style and works functionally.
Now you’re set to put all of the above wire wrapping techniques into practice, you’re ready to stock up on your chosen wire jewellery supplies. Choose from copper, brass, silver, yellow and white gold wire depending on your signature jewellery making style.