For those new to jewelry making, the seemingly simple task of selecting beading wire can quickly turn into an overwhelming experience. With so many types, sizes, and manufacturers, how can you find the right one? The tips that follow offer general guidelines (not rules), and are meant to help those new to beading avoid trial-and-error frustrations.
First Things First: Understanding Beading Wire Measurements
To make an informed decision, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with beading wire terminology and how it applies to measurements and durability:
• Beading wire diameter
Wire diameter determines the overall strength of the beading wire. The smaller the number, the wider the diameter and more durable the wire. Wire diameter will also determine what types of beads will fit on the wire. Measurements are typically given as a fraction of an inch.
• Strand number
Beading wire is actually a cable composed of multiple strands. The more strands in the wire, the more flexible it is. The smaller the number of strands, the stiffer the wire will remain. For example, 19-strand wire is more flexible than 7-strand. This is a classic more = better scenario. More flexible wire feels higher quality, whereas less flexible wire will be prone to kinking. The tradeoff is in the expense.
• Pound test strength or “break”
This number is sometimes displayed on beading wire, denoting weight tests surrounding the maximum pounds of pressure beading wire can take before breaking. The higher the number the stronger the wire.
Tips for Selecting Beading Wire by Design
Considering these aspects of your project can help you determine the best beading wire:
• What diameter are bead holes? How small/large are the beads?
– Small, lightweight beads, such as sterling silver beads and Bali beads, work well with .010-0.15-inch wire.
– Light to medium crystal and stone beads work well with medium diameter 0.15-0.21-inch wire.
– Heavy beads are best with heavier 0.24-0.36-inch wire.
• What’s your budget (or your client’s)?
– Affordable & durable for gifts, crafts: 7-strand.
– Middle-of-the-road: 14-19-strand.
– Higher-end jewelry for sale: 19-49-strand.
• Will you be using oversized beads or large crystals?
Large, heavy beads and multifaceted crystals such as Swarovski crystal beads and Swarovski crystal pendants are best strung on beading wire with a pound test strength of 26-40-pounds.
• Necklace style:
The more strands, the more wire will drape. Seven-strand wire holds its shape; whereas 49-strand is supple like string, allowing for elegant draping. Here is a general rule of thumb you can use while choosing the number of strands for your beading wire:
– Stiff, choker-style: 7-strand.
– Artful drape/movement: 19-49-strand.
– Unsure: 19-strand.
• Visibility of the wire.
If beading wire will show between beads, carefully consider the color of beading wire. Bead wire now comes in an array of colors and finishes. Carefully chosen, your wire color can showcase or enhance your bead colors.
Looking for high quality beading wire and beading supplies? Shop the wide selection of quality jewelry making supplies at Crystal Findings today.
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