We have been using and selling Beading Wires for around 15 years, so we know a thing or two about it - and we hope this article will you decide which is the best wire to use for your project.
To choose the correct wire, we need to move away a little from art and think of wire in engineering terms - one reason why there is such a vast and confusing amount of wires to choose from. Beading wires are made from multiple strands of wire (like miniature cable) and the more strand you have, the more flexible the wire is, the better it drapes, the stronger it becomes and the more it resists kinking - and sadly, the more strands it is the more expensive it becomes. We supply 7, 19 and 49 strand wire. We would recommend avoiding less than 7 strands (often known as tigertail) since this is not very strong, it kinks and does not drape well.
There are four factors to think about when choosing your wire;
- Your budget
- How strong does the wire need to be?
- How well do you wish the finished piece to drape?
- Can you see the wire?
As is usual, with beading wire you get what you pay for, so decide how much you want to spend. Bear in mind though, that the most common spool of Beading wire comes on a 9.2m spool - enough for around 15 necklaces, so if you divide the ticket price by 15, the price per necklace between 7 and 49 strand is not a huge amount. The better quality wires (19 and 49 strand) can often be purchased in 3 or 4.5m spools - worth looking out for if you just want to try it or you wish to make a special piece of Jewellery. And, think about the quality of the Beads you are stringing - why spend a lot of money on wonderful gemstone beads if you are going to string them on a cheap beading wire - particularly if you are going to sell the finished piece.
2. How strong does the wire need to be?
Use the thickest wire that will comfortably fthrough the hole of the beads you are stringing to give maximum strength. Pearls will need thin wire, heavy semi-precious beads, much thicker. The thinnest wire is about 0.25mm in diameter, the thickest 0.91mm. The number of strands also makes a difference to the strength. As an example, 7 strand 0.38mm diameter 'Bright' colour wire has a breaking strain of 6.8 Kg and 49 strand in the same diameter has a breaking strain of 9.1 Kg. Now, even 6.8Kg is heavy and you may think "I do not want to have something as heavy as that around my neck" BUT the breaking strain is at-rest. If you think back to school science lessons, and levers, then the force applied to a swinging long necklace is much more and therefore the breaking strain can be exceeded with thinner or fewer strand wire.
If you wish to have the best possible thread-like drape, then 49 Strand is the best - particularly for lighter weight beads such as Pearls. However, there are times when you want your wire to have more shape - for instance if you weave with wire or want to form a design with multiple strands - then 7 strand may give a better effect. The weight of the beads can make a better drape - but do not be tempted in such cases to use a cheaper where if you can afford the better wire. 7 strand - and to a lesser extent 19 strand - will kink, so the article will not drape as well.
Another factor to take into account is the length of the piece - drape is not so important on a short bracelet.
4. Wire Colour
Beadalon supply wire in a range of colours - and all of them are coated in a clear nylon.
.925 Sterling Silver
24 K Gold Plated
Metallic Gold Plated
Metallic Silver Color
Metallic Copper Color
Metallic Silver Gold
Antique Satin Brass
Clear Colors Blue
Clear Colors Green
Clear Colors Pink
Clear Colors Purple
Clear Colors Red
A special note though on Sterling Silver Beading wire. Use it for special pieces, but we do not recommend it for everyday Jewellery. Sterling Silver beading wire is not as strong as stainless steel and has a breaking strain of only 3Kg (7 strand). If your piece is going to be in everyday use, then we would recommend the much stronger Silver Plated wire in 19 or 49 strand.
We hope this article has been useful - we would love to hear your feedback and answer any questions you might have.