Which gauge is best?
Wire gauge is often abbreviated as "ga" (20 gauge = 20ga). The larger the gauge, the smaller the wire's diameter. This is because the numbers were originally determined from how many times a piece of wire had to pass through a draw plate before it was done being sized. The more times through the plate, the thinner the wire.
32 Gauge Wire for jewelry making is extremely fine (thin) -- it's 0.203mm, or .008". 32-gauge wire can be used for bead crocheting, and fine coils, and can be used somewhat like sewing thread, to "stitch" beads onto leather bracelets or metal blanks. 32 Gauge Bezel Wire can be used for setting cabochon stones, and is also great for creating no-solder resin bezels in custom shapes and sizes.
30 Gauge Jewelry Wire for jewelry making is extremely fine. 30-gauge wire is 0.254mm or .010", and can be used for bead crocheting, wire weaving, or to "stitch" beads onto leather bracelets or metal blanks.
28 Gauge Jewelry Wire is very fine -- it's 0.320mm or .013". 28-gauge wire is popular for wire weaving, and it can be used like stiff sewing thread, to "stitch" beads onto leather bracelets or metal blanks.
26 Gauge Jewelry Wire is very fine -- it's 0.406mm or .016". 26-gauge wire is popular for wire weaving and Viking knit, and it can be used like stiff sewing thread, to "stitch" beads onto leather bracelets or metal blanks. It's also a common gauge of wire to use with pearls and tiny gemstone beads, which normally have smaller holes than other beads.
24 Gauge Jewelry Wire is a good all-purpose wire diameter -- it's 0.508mm or 0.020". 24-gauge wire is fine enough to fit through most gemstone beads, and is durable enough to make good wire-wrapped loops.
22 Gauge Jewelry Wire from Rings & Things is a good general-purpose wire gauge. It's 0.635mm or 0.025". 22-gauge wire is a little too thick to fit through most pearl beads or small gemstone beads, but has excellent durability and workability for most other general jewelry purposes.
21 Gauge Jewelry Wire from Rings & Things includes 21-gauge square wire, 21-gauge half-round wire, copper practice wire, and more. Looking for 21-gauge flat wire? Please see links at bottom of page.
20 Gauge Wire (0.813mm or 0.032") is a good all-purpose, versatile wire size, thin enough to use with most beads. If you use half-hard wire (or you work-harden dead-soft wire), then 20-gauge wire is also sturdy enough to hold its shape for making handmade chain, ear wires, eye pins, jump rings, and lightweight clasps. When work-hardened, 20ga works well for bracelet and necklace wire.
18 Gauge Jewelry Wire (1.02mm or .040"): 18-gauge wire is used for making sturdy clasps, jump rings and other findings. Solid (not plated or filled) 18-gauge wire can be used to make rivets. 18ga makes good Eastern-style ear wires too, or can be pulled through a drawplate to make springy 20ga or 21ga ear wires, the traditional size for ear wires in the United States.
16 Gauge Jewelry Wire (1.30mm or 0.051") works well for making sturdy clasps and findings, and is a good weight for necklace and bracelet wire. Solid (not plated or filled) wire 16ga wire is used to make rivets. Depending on the metal, 16ga gauge may be difficult to bend.
14 Gauge Jewelry Wire (1.63mm or 0.064") is primarily used to create thick, extra-strength components such as clasps, rings, cuff bracelets and bangle bracelets. It can also be used to create frames for resin and mixed media projects, as well as structural support for many styles of jewelry. Solid 14ga wire can be used to make rivets. Depending on the metal, this gauge may be difficult to bend. 14 gauge wire is often only available in dead soft temper.
12 Gauge Jewelry Wire (2.05mm or 0.081") is fairly heavy. This is a popular size for making bangle bracelets and other wire bracelets. It's stiff enough that you'll want good-quality jewelry tools when working with it, but it's not too hard to shape. For soft wire such as copper, you may need to work-harden the wire to make sure bracelets and rings don't bend out of shape. Sometimes the process of forming your jewelry into the proper shape, work-hardens it enough. For other designs you may need to hammer-texture them or use a wire whacker on your finished design.
10 Gauge Jewelry Wire (2.56mm or 0.102") is a heavy-gauge jewelry wire. It's a great thickness for making wire bangle bracelets, but it's too stiff for some crafters' hands to work with.
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Projects Using Wire (roughly from thinnest to thickest gauges)