We have been using and selling beading wire for around 15 years, so we know a thing or two about it. There are many different types of beading wire to choose from, including material and colour, and it can be difficult deciding which beading wire to use. We hope this article will help you decide which is the best beading wire to use for your project.
Choosing Which Beading Wire To Use
When it comes to choosing the correct jewellery beading wire, we need to move away a little from art and think of wire in engineering terms. How the wire is engineered is the main reason why there is such a vast and confusing amount of beading wire to choose from.
Beading wire is made from multiple strands of wire, like a miniature cable, and the more strands you have the more flexible the wire is, the better it drapes, the stronger it becomes and the more it resists kinking. Due to the improved quality of the wire, the more strands beading wire has, the more expensive it becomes.
At CJ Beaders we supply 7, 19 and 49 strand beading wire. We would recommend avoiding less than 7 strands (often known as tigertail) since it is not very strong, it kinks and does not drape well.
There are four factors to think about when choosing your beading wire;
- Your budget
- How strong the wire needs to be
- How well you wish the finished piece to drape
- If the beading wire can be seen
1. Beading Wire Budget
As is usually the case, with beading wire for necklaces and jewellery you get what you pay for, so it’s important to decide how much you want to spend. It’s also good to bear in mind how much use you’ll get out of the wire. The most common spool of beading wire comes on a 9.2m spool, enough for around f necklaces. If you divide the ticket price by 15, the price per necklace between 7 and 49 strand is not a huge amount.
Better quality jewellery beading wire (19 and 49 strand) can often be purchased in smaller spools such as 3 or 4.5m spools, which is worth looking out for if you wish to make a special piece of jewellery or want to try it out.
It’s also good to consider the beads you are stringing. Why spend a lot of money on wonderful gemstone beads or high-quality glass beads such as Miyuki 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 Beading Wire Need To Be?
Use the thickest beading wire that will comfortably fit through the hole of the beads you are stringing to give maximum strength. Pearls will need thin wire whereas heavy, semi-precious beads will require a much thicker beading wire.
The thinnest beading wire is about 0.25mm in diameter and the thickest is 0.91mm. As well as improving the overall quality of the beading wire, the number of strands also makes a difference to the strength. For example, 7 strand beading wire 0.38mm diameter 'Bright' colour has a breaking strain of 6.8 Kg and 49 strands in the same diameter has a breaking strain of 9.1 Kg.
Even though 6.8 Kg is heavy and you may think; "I do not want to have something as heavy as that around my neck", the breaking strain weight is at-rest. If you think back to school science lessons, force applied to a swinging long necklace is much more and therefore the breaking strain can be exceeded with thinner or fewer strand beading wire.
3. Beading Wire Drape
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 when you weave with wire or want to form a design with multiple strands. This is when a 7 strand beading wire may give a better effect.
The weight of the beads you’re using can make a better drape but you shouldn’t be tempted in such cases to use a cheaper if you can afford the better wire. 7 strand beading wire and to a lesser extent 19 strand beading wire will kink, so the finished item of jewellery 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 or earrings. If you’re looking to produce an item of jewellery for the first time and aren’t sure what beading wire to choose, why not try one of our beading kits with all you need to make a stunning piece of jewellery.
4. Beading Wire Colours
Beadalon supply beading wire in a range of colours - and all of them are coated in a clear nylon.
So, why not incorporate the coloured jewellery beading wire into your designs? If your design just uses opaque beads and the wire is hidden, then go for the 'standard' colours of Bright (raw stainless steel), black or bronze, the latter adding a nice shine to designs. If your beads are translucent, then a metallic colour can help reflect the light inside the bead. And of course, any of the wires can be used to enhance your design, so why not put the beading wire on display?
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 beading wire.
We hope this article has been useful. As experts in beading art and jewellery beading wire, we’re here to answer any questions you might have and help you choose the right beading wire for your project. Contact us today on 01202 798151 or fill in our online contact form – we’d love to hear from you.