I'm attempting to make some earrings using 0.8mm hard sterling silver wire & antique buttons - a simple enough design but actually making it look good is proving tricky.

The main problem is threading the wire neatly enough. I've managed to get an almost matching pair but its taken a few wasted attempts with mis-shapen & marked wires and its more by luck than refining the technique that I've got an almost matching pair, though the balled end is still noticably longer on one than the other. It probably wouldn't be obvious when worn but when you look at them side by side (like you would on a craft fair display) its not the level of quality I'm aiming for. (Wrinkly balls will be avoided by switching to argentium wire when I restock.)

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So, the balled end adds a neater finish to the wire and makes it look a bit more 'crafted' rather than something you could do at home yourself (which is often what I'm guilty of thinking when I wander round craft fairs!) but it doesn't fit through the button holes.
If I thread the wire before balling the end that creates two potential problems - 1) risk of melting the antique bakelite buttons and 2) i don't know how they'd cope with a pickle bath.

If I used softer wire it would be easier to thread but compromising on the strength of the earring.

So, what do you think might be the best approach? Use softer wire? Anneal part of it when balling the ends? Maybe a different technique for finishing the wire ends?