All About Jewelry Wire – Which Gauge Wire to Use for What?

All about Jewelry Wire - Which Wire Gauge for What? Choosing the right size wire is an important part of successful wire jewelry designs. This article covers the best uses for which wire sizes to help you choose the right wire for your jewelry projecs.

Welcome back to All About Jewelry Wire! This is Part 5 of a series unraveling all the important aspects of choosing the right jewelry wire for your projects. We have covered different wire gauge measuring systems, wire hardness, different wire shapes and materials for jewelry wire.

Today we’re going to cover which gauges of wire are generally used for which kinds of jewelry making projects. It’s important to keep in mind all the other factors as well – remember that not all materials behave the same way or are measured with the same wire gauge system.

And of course, these are not so much rules but general guidelines to follow if you’re just starting out. There usually is a good reason why certain sizes are used for certain projects so if you’re a wire working newbie this is a great place to start to avoid a little of the typical beginner’s trial and error frustrations :)

First, remember that the smaller the number, the larger the wire. Here’s our handy dandy wire gauge size chart for visual reference:

Jewelry wire gauge size chart (awg - american wire gauge)

Which Gauge Jewelry Wire to Use for What?

28 – 30 gauge

This wire is tiny and fine, like thread. It can become kinked and break easily, so it is best to work slowly with these small gauges of wire. At this size, the temper (or hardness) of the wire doesn’t really mean much as it is so fine that it’s easily pliable. 28 – 30 gauge wire is used for:

• coiling
• weaving
• knitting / crocheting / viking knitting
• 28 gauge wire can also be used for wire wrapping very small light beads, though the finished wraps will be very delicate and could bend and break quite easily.

These small wires are not suitable as structure wires (to wrap other wire around), nor should they be used for open loop links. Use regular or fine tipped jewelry making tools to shape and cut.

Shop 28-30 gauge jewelry wire

26 gauge

26 gauge wire is still quite fine but is relatively strong. It is generally used for:

• coiling
• weaving
• knitting / crocheting
• wire wrapping (wrapped loops) small beads and briolettes
• wrapping around stones
• balled headpins

26 gauge wire can be shaped with the use of regular or fine tipped jewelry making tools. It should not be used as structure wire or open loop links.

Shop 26 gauge jewelry wire

24 gauge

24 gauge wire is a very versatile wire and is one I buy and use in great quantities. 24 gauge wire can be used for:

• coiling
• weaving
• binding
• spirals
• headpins
• wirewrapped links, wrapping briolettes and other stones
• frames*
• small jump rings
• head pins
• wire settings for small stones

24 gauge wire is not recommended for open link chains in most cases. It can be used as a frame to wrap smaller wire around in some applications* – like earrings, when the finished piece is not structural. It can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular jewelry making tools.

Shop 24 gauge jewelry wire

22 and 21 gauge

• wirewrapped links
• open link chains (for light or small stones)
• earwires
• headpins, eyepins
• jump rings
• spirals
• frames
• small clasps
• wire settings for small to medium stones
• 21 gauge is preferred by many for prong settings and earwires

21 and 22 gauge wire can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular jewelry making tools.

Shop 21 and 22 gauge jewelry wire

20 gauge

• earwires
• hoop earrings
• frames
• spirals
• headpins, eyepins
• open link chains
• delicate clasps, double wrapped hooks
• jump rings, split rings
• rings
• wire settings for medium stones
• bails for light stones

20 gauge wire is also good for a variety of other delicate handcrafted findings, like links or looped chandelier earring components. It can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular jewelry making tools.

Shop 20 gauge jewelry wire

18 gauge

• bails
• large jump rings, chainmaille jewelry
• frames / structure wire
• bracelets
• rings
• delicate clasps
• neck collars
• other handmade components

18 gauge wire can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular jewelry  making tools (for shaping and cutting)

Shop 18 gauge jewelry wire

16 gauge

• frames / structure wire
• clasps
• thick jump rings, chainmaille jewelry
• rings
• bracelets, cuffs, bangles
• neck collars

16 gauge wire may be available in either dead soft of half hard temper in some materials. It can require heavy duty jewelry making tools for shaping and cutting.

Shop 16 gauge jewelry wire

14 gauge

• clasps
• thick jump rings
• neck collars
• rings
• bracelets, cuffs, bangles
• frames / structure wire

14 gauge wire is often only available in dead soft temper in most materials. It may require some heavy duty jewelry making tools for shaping and cutting.

Shop 14 gauge jewelry wire

12 gauge

• neck collars
• bracelets, cuffs, bangles
• rings
• frames / structure wire

12 gauge wire is usually only available in dead soft temper. It may require heavy duty jewelry making tools for shaping and cutting.

Shop 12 gauge jewelry wire

Still want more information about choosing jewelry wire? This entire series is dedicated to helping you know exactly which wire you need for your project:

All About Jewelry Wire Part 1: Wire Gauge Sizes Explained

All About Jewelry Wire Part 2: Wire Hardness

All About Jewelry Wire Part 3: Wire Shapes

All About Jewelry Wire Part 4: Common Wire Materials

All About Jewelry Wire Part 6: What is Work Hardening?

All About Jewelry Wire Part 7: How to Work Harden Jewelry Wire

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  1. Thank you soo much for this useful information really appreciate it!

  2. Thank you so much for the info! I recently came into some heavy-duty scrap wire, and thanks to your post, I know the gauge and have some ideas of what to do with it. :D

  3. hello,

    merci beaucoup c’est super de mettre ces informations tres utiles ! bravo , continuez, je suis debutante et cela m’aide beaucoup.


  4. super useful thanks – my bullion dealer sells wire by mm – so it’s really handy to have your conversion too. Cheers!

  5. Love how useful this is for beginners and more experienced!

  6. Debbie Reaume says:

    What is the gauge on the picture that looks like the ? mark? It looks like stamped metal and I can’t seem to find this kind only rounded/smooth wire, thanks

    • Hi Debbie!

      Thanks so much for your question. The wire I used for the question mark is 14 gauge round wire that I formed into shape and then hammered to give it that look. Hammering wire is really fun – you should give it a go :)

      ~ Jessica

  7. melissa says:

    what type of wire do use to hammer flat. is it dead soft, half soft? thanks!!!

    • Hi Melissa!

      I almost always use half hard wire. You can certainly use dead soft, but you will have more hammering to do to harden it up (see my post on ‘work hardening’ wire if you need more info).

      The benefit to using dead soft wire would be if you are making intricate shapes with the wire before hammering it, so that it’s easier to bend into those shapes. If not, save yourself the trouble and go with half hard :)

      Thanks so much for your question!

      ~ Jessica

  8. Barbara says:

    What great tutorials. You answered so many questions I had. I hope to learn more from you as I explore working with wire to make jewelry.

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