Wire wrapping – how to make wire jewelry

WIRE WRAPPING

Wire wrapping is one of the oldest methods of handmade jewelry. Examples of wire jewelry come from thousands of years BC. As history shows, wire jewelry has survived because it is the only known metal jewelry that can be made by hand, without the need for soldering or casting. For this reason, wire wrapping art was popular among ancient civilizations, because it did not need fire, electricity, or other modern technologies. What’s more, wire wrapping techniques has survived and to this day has not found application in the mass production of jewelry, because the machines are not able to form elements from wires faster, cheaper and more accurately. Handmade wire wrapped jewelry is made by wrapping thicker wires with thinner and combining them with other silver jewelry findings, stones, pearls or other decorations to create unique jewelry. Thanks to the precision and three-dimensional imagination, you can get intricate weaves and original forms that are impossible to achieve in machine production. In addition, wire wrapping jewellery is made by using mechanical connections between the elements, thus eliminating the need for soldering or other thermal treatments. Wrapping one wire with another makes silver jewelry more durable and precious. Thanks to the wire wrapping jewelry techniques, you can create practically any jewelry shape you want, from delicate intricate weaves to heavy and massive compositions. The main material in this technique is silver wire.

Silver wires — types of wires

Silver wire is one of the basic silver findings used in jewelry. Jewelry wire is created in production process called drawing, which results in higher hardness of metal. There is a wide range of wires on the market, so it’s worth knowing the difference between them. Silver wires differ from each other by their: fineness, hardness, size and shape.
1. Silver fineness is responsible for the purity of the silver alloy and is denoted in grams or percentages. Among silver wires, the most popular are 925 and 999. The fineness 925 means that in 1000 g of alloy — pure silver is 925 g. This measure is synonymous with the note that the alloy contains 92.5% pure silver, and the remaining 7.5% are mixture of other metals. The purpose of adding other metals is to harden the alloy because fine silver (pure silver) would be too soft and flexible to make jewelry. The exception is 999 silver wire, which means that 1000 g of alloy, contains 999 g of pure silver. However, such soft silver wire 999 is used only to decorate jewelry, not to make it, because silver jewelry made from 999 silver alloy it would easily be distorted. An interesting fact is that the 999 silver should be defined as the 1000 fineness, but 0.001 g is cautiously taken for unavoidable impurities, because it is not possible to obtain fully pure metal in any production process. In Poland, the most common silver admixtures are copper, zinc and cadmium. In other countries also germanium, platinum, silicon and boron.
2. The hardness of silver depends on three factors: the metal fineness (the higher, the softer and more flexible), the processes of production, and the size of the wire. For the production of silver jewelry wire, cold treatment is used, which results in hard silver wire for making jewelry. In order to soften it, the next process uses heat treatment in the form of annealing, leading to recrystallization of the metal, making it softer and plastic. The annealing process should not exceed a temperature of 600°C, because a higher temperature can lead to overheating and brittleness of the metal. The size of the wire, noted by its diameter, also affects its hardness. The thinner the wires, from 0.2-0.4 mm, the easier it is to wrap and bend them. In contrast, wires with a diameter of about 1 mm, are more resistant and limit our possibilities of creating complex swirls. Hard silver wire for wire wrapping with a diameter of about 1 mm, is often used to make main bases or frames, which are then decorated with softer and thinner wires. Hard silver wire is a common choice when making heavy jewelry, for example chunky silver necklace with large and heavy stones, where soft silver wire could be distorted under its weight. It is also widely used to make ear wires, head pins, jump rings, as well as connectors and clasps for bracelets and necklaces. When it comes to the thickness of hard wires, in the case of wrapping small stones in size about 3-5 mm, you can use jewelry wires with a diameter of 0.5 mm, while for larger stones, it is recommended to use silver wire for jewelry with a diameter of 0.6 mm and above. For creating bases and clasp, 1-1.5 mm thick wires are recommended. Usually, it is easier for beginners to start with soft wires, but depending on the purpose, you should choose jewelry wires so that they are not too soft and do not deform during use.
3. Wire shape. The most popular are round wires, however, some prefer other shapes, for example, half-round, triangular, rectangular, square, flat and twisted.
4. The wire size is denoted in millimeters of its diameter. Wire wrapping wire usually has diameter from 0.25 mm to 1.5 mm. Depending on the thickness of the wires, it is generally agreed that delicate swirls and small flowers or ornaments are made of 0.2 mm-0.3 mm. Connectors for necklaces, bracelets and grapes earrings: 0.4 mm-0.5 mm. Head pins for earrings and pendants, ear wires, jump rings, as well as decorative swirls: 0.6 mm-0.8 mm. The bases, frames, clasps for necklaces and bracelets, as well as the chainmaille: 0.9 mm-1.5 mm.
It is worth remembering that the wires are made of silver, which changes color due to external factors such as: polluted air, humidity, contact with cosmetics or detergents, so it is important to store them properly, preferably in dry rooms and in addition sealed containers or string bags.

Wire wrapping how to start?

The wire wrapping projects are not ones of the simplest handmade techniques, they require a lot of practice, patience and precision, because the carelessly wire wrapped jewelry becomes very visible. However, we encourage everyone to the adventure of making wired wrapped jewelry, because after capturing the basics of this technique, the effects are captivating, and the possibilities are practically limitless and depend only on your imagination. Artistic jewelry is unique and exceptional, and creating two identical items is almost impossible. It is worth noting that silver wire wrapping jewelry in the basic version does not require the use of any tools, and the wire wrapping materials are widely available. However, to facilitate your work with wires, we recommend getting few basic wire wrapping supplies such as:
– silver wires, preferably 925 and 999 of various thicknesses (0.25 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.6 mm, 0.8 mm, 1 mm, 1.2 mm) to be able to experiment and feel the difference, in order to match the appropriate wires for the future,
– silver jewelry components such as: bails, head pins, jump rings, ear wires — you can make most of them yourself (tips below),
chains or bases for necklaces and bracelets,
crystals, pearls, rhinestones or other stones,
round nose pliers for making wire wrapping loop,
flat nose pliers for holding a wire, straightening, bending, as well as making 90-degree bends in wire,
side cutter for precise cutting of wires,
– it is worth buying a jewelry mat,
– wooden wire wrapping mandrel, or steel or aluminum, but avoid plastic ones,
– a hammer, with a leather, teflon, rubber or acrylic tip, never steel — which may damage the metal surface,
– files — for rounding ends, as well as for matting and patterning wire surfaces, file wires only in one direction.

Jewellery wire 1,20 mm

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Which wire for wire wrapping?

For wire wrapping beginners, we recommend starting with a simple pendant, consisting of a base wrapped with small weaves and decorated with a Swarovski crystal or other stone. Our base is teardrop-shaped but we encourage to create different shapes according to your taste. The main (internal) base made of 925 mm wire, 1 mm thick, is hard enough not to deform and is connected to the inner and middle bases made of 999 wire with 0.8 mm thickness, by using a thin 999 wire, 0.25 mm thick, which is very soft and flexible. The stone is attached to the pendant with wire 999 0.4 mm thick. The main (internal) base was created by soldering, but this is not necessary, because it can be finished by bending and clamping the wire together (example shown in photo 5). Wire wrapping designs are so stable that it no longer requires gluing. To create the following wire wrapped pendant (photos 1-4) we used:
925 silver wire, 1 mm in diameter  — about 10 cm long, to form the main base (internal teardrop),
999 silver wire with a diameter of 0.8 mm  — about 40 cm long, to create a middle and external base,
999 silver wire with a diameter of 0.25 mm  — about 2 m in length, for wrapping and connecting all three bases together,
999 silver wire with a diameter of 0.4 mm  — about 6 cm long, for hanging crystal, pearl or other stone,
– crystals from Swarovski in the shape of almond or other pendant,
chain or other necklace base.

How to wire wrapping?

1. At the beginning, we connect the main (internal) base, (925 with a diameter of 1 mm) with the middle and outer base (999 with a diameter of 0.8 mm) by wrapping with thin wire (999 with a diameter of 0.25 mm).
2. Then the ends of the wires from the middle and outer base (999 with a diameter of 0.8 mm) are gently heated and melted with fire from a burner or lighter to form decorative balls.
3. In next step, we create decorative swirls around the main base from the long wires (999 with a diameter of 0.8 mm).
4. Once we have formed our pendant, we use a 999 0.4 mm diameter wire to hang our crystal or other stone on previously created swirls, making sure that the ends are hidden.
5. Mount the bail.
6. If you want to achieve the effect of silver aging, we recommend oxidation process. For this purpose, sink finished silver pendant in oxidizing solution, which causes blackening silver and gives the precious look of jewelry. Oxide is often used in the jewelry wire wrapping, because it extracts all the beauty of jewelry and emphasizes artistic silver weaves and wraps. Apart from visual advantages, oxidation also plays the role of protection and also makes jewelry more durable and resistant to external factors. After oxidations, use a polishing cloth to get rid of excess oxide and polish until you get the desired results. During oxidation, we recommend wearing safety gloves and glasses.
Our diy pendant is ready to hang on a silver chain making a silver necklace for women, but we can also use it for diy earrings. However, at the beginning we do not recommend making earrings, because in addition to making two pieces, they need to be symmetrical.
SILVER WIRE
WIRE WRAPPING ESSENTIALS
WIRE WRAPPING PATTERNS
WIRE WRAPPING TUTORIAL
WIRE WRAPPING JEWELRY KIT

Wire jewelry — how to make wired jewelry

In addition to the wire wrapping ideas, which involves the intricate wrapping and joining of thicker and thinner wires, you can also use jewelry wire to create jewelry semi finished products yourself. Examples include silver pins, ear wires, jump rings, chain extensions, as well as various clasps for bracelets and necklaces. In addition to sterling silver jewelry findings silver wire gives the opportunity to create handmade jewelry such as: earrings, pendants, rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, cuff links and even wedding combs.
One of the simplest elements created with the use of wires is a silver pin, which we insert into beads and close with loops, blocking the bead and protecting it from slipping.
For this purpose, we create a P-shaped loop with round pliers — this is an option for beginners and is based on bending the wire into loop, until it touches the wire again.
An option for the more advanced is the eye loop, with a full circle of wire centered over the stem of wire (like a lollipop). For this purpose, use flat-nose pliers and bend the jewelry wire at 90 degrees angle to one side (about 1 cm from the end of the wire), and then use round pliers to form a circle in the opposite direction than we bent the wire at the beginning.
Both loops are open, which means they are available to open mechanically, best by using flat-nose pliers, so we can connect them with ear wires — making silver earrings, with a bail — making a silver necklace, or with other connectors or beads — making, for example, Swarovski necklace. After connecting with other components close the loop — also with flat-nose pliers.

When making heavy jewelry or silver dangle earrings, when is a risk of the loop opening, it is worth creating a closed loop. In this case the end of the wire is wrapped around the stem of the loop three or four times, making the loop permanent, its called wrapped loop. However, in this case, wrap the wire only after combining it with another piece of jewelry. The exception is when the attachment has an open loop. To create silver head pins with loops, best is 925 silver wire with a diameter of 0.5 mm, 0.6 mm and 0.7 mm. It is worth adding, that regardless of the fineness and size of wires, all silver wires for jewelry have their durability, so the more we bend and tire them, the risk of breaking it increases.

SILVER JEWELLERY ONLINE
STERLING SILVER JEWELRY
WIRE WRAPPING BEADS
SWAROVSKI PEARL
WIRE WRAPPING EARRINGS

Pins with a loop can also be used as connectors for bracelets, on which we thread Swarovski crystals like bicone, scarab bead, pearls or other decorations.

STERLING SILVER BRACELETS
SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL
SILVER BRACELET FOR WOMEN
SWAROVSKI
SILVER ANKLETS

Earring bases are other elements we can create with wires. Below are some examples for beginners, without the need of soldering. For this type of element, 925 sterling silver wires with a diameter of about 1 mm work best. To create some shapes, in addition to flat and round nose pliers, you could get tools that help you form arcs or circles. In this case, wire wrapping mandrel set of various sizes and a hammer may come in handy, of course not steel, but finished with leather, teflon, rubber or acrylic.

SILVER PRODUCER
SILVER FOREST EARRINGS
SILVER DROP EARRINGS
SILVER WIRE SHOP
TASSEL EARRINGS
Another example are ear wires. We recommend starting with the simplest ones, for example the hook itself, and once you get the hang of it, you can decorate it with a spring, a ball, and try to fasten it.
SILVER EARRINGS
BEST JEWELRY STORES
WIRE WRAPPING KIT
SILVER EAR WIRES
EARRINGS

For fans of soldering, we recommend silver stud earrings. You can create silver sticks yourself using wires or buy ready silver sticks and combine them with other findings by soldering.

STERLING SILVER STUD EARRINGS
SILVER HOOP EARRINGS
STERLING SILVER HOOP EARRINGS
JEWELRY SHOP
STERLING SILVER EARRINGS

Below are some more advanced examples of soldered jewelry:

STERLING SILVER CHAIN
BOHO JEWELLERY
SWAROVSKI EARRINGS
925 SILVER CHAIN
In addition to the bases for earrings and jewelry pins, you can also easily make jump rings using silver wires. Choose wires depending on the thickness of the diameter of the jump ring you need. The thinnest jump rings are usually 0.4 mm, thinner are very soft and plastic, which is too risky of opening and deformation, while the thickest links are about 2 mm. The most popular jump rings used to connect elements such as charms, pendants, chains and silver bracelet are made of wire with a diameter of 0.8 mm, with the size of jump ring around 2-3 mm. To create jump rings, handy are tools such as a mandrel, to wrap a wire on, and then cut to single rings. We offer jump rings in different sizes, thicknesses, shapes, single wired or double wired. They are all available, as well as all our jewelry findings in gold-plating, rose gold-plating or rhodium plating.
GOLD FINDINGS
STERLING SILVER RINGS
PINK GOLD
925 SILVER
925 SILVER RING

In addition to open jump rings, the offer also includes soldered rings in the form of small hoops, large hoops, as well as double hoops.

We use ready-made jump rings mainly for connecting elements, but you can also easily and quickly use them to create an extension for bracelets and necklaces, thanks to which your jewelry will become universal. For chain extensions, connect  jump rings with each other and end with a decorative silver ball, oval ball, crystal, other pendant or end cap for engraving.

SILVER RINGS
SILVER FOUNDRY
SILVER CHAIN FOR WOMEN
DIY BRACELETS
BODY CHAIN JEWELRY
Silver pins and jump rings can also be used to make necklaces.
 
GOLD NECKLACE FOR WOMEN
SILVER CHOKER NECKLACE
SILVER CHAIN NECKLACE
SMALL SILVER HOOP EARRINGS
SILVER HEART NECKLACE

Silver wire for jewelry can also be used for wrapping stones, creating weaves ended with loop — playing a role of bail for pendants, necklaces or earrings. When wire wrapping diy, it is important to carefully hide ends of wire to avoid injury or getting caught on the fabric.

For more advanced, silver wire can also be used when making jewelry from epoxy resin and ceralun. For example, after filling up the silicone mold with resin, insert wires in it, which, after the resin has solidified, act as studs for the earrings, or a hook for the pendant. Find out more “How to create unique DIY jewelry with epoxy resin”.

OXIDIZED JEWELLERY
EPOXY RESIN
EPOXY RESIN JEWELLERY
ONLINE JEWELRY STORES
EPOXY RESIN JEWELRY

Get inspired and make unique DIY jewelry with semi-finished Silvexcraft findings:

SWAROVSKI EARRINGS
WIRE WRAPPING PEARLS
FASHION JEWELRY
DANGLE EARRINGS
LONG EARRINGS
WIRE WRAPPING TOOLS
WIRE WRAPPING CRYSTALS
WIRE WRAPPING BEADS
SWAROVSKI JEWELRY
SILVER CHAIN BRACELET

Soldering — what is it?

Jewelry soldering is a permanent joining of metal elements, based on heating the solder, which fills the gap between metal components, joining them together. The key moment before soldering is the use of soldering liquid, because without it, you will not be able to join the elements. The heating process itself is simple, but be careful not to overheat the metal, as it may melt or even burn. To avoid damaging the metal, heat the element evenly, so that its surface is fairly hot in all places. Heat the element to obtain a slightly red color, then apply solder, which fills the joint gap and then sink soldered element into the acid to get rid of oxides.

Soldering – what we need?

– refractory plate (e.g. skamolex or honeycomb soldering board with holes releasing the heat from the burner),
– propane butane gas burner or soldering torch,
– lighter,
– a glass bowl with water for rinsing the soldered element,
– citric acid or nitric acid, there can also be water-soluble acidification powder,
– tweezers, preferably with a wooden handle, so as not to burn your fingers,
– silver elements for soldering, such as: wires, posts, chains, etc.,
solder – silver with admixtures, thanks to which it reaches a lower melting temperature than silver. Solder is used not only to connect elements, but also to fill and repair jewelry.
– soldering liquid or abdeck. In the case of a soldering liquid, we usually only put a bit on the connection point. It should be applied every time, even when we add more solder or improve bonding, because during heating and cooling, the solder layer is removed. If you use abdeck, sink the whole element in it and set it on fire. When the fire disappears, proceed to soldering. Unlike soldering liquid, abdeck protects metal against oxidation, thanks to which its surface looks better than after using soldering liquid. Thanks to the use of soldering liquid, solder melts on the metal and solidifies in the place that we will heat the most – the place of joining. If we forget to use a solder liquid, the solder will not stick to the surface or will form a ball instead of melting and filling the joint gap.

Soldering – step by step

1. Let’s start by cutting the solder into small pieces, for example 2-3 mm.
2. Put the element for soldering on the refractory plate then put some soldering liquid on soldering place using a brush or stick.
3. Start heating the element with small flame and after burning the soldering liquid — increase the flame, however, remembering to heat the whole element evenly. If a place becomes too orange, move the burner away.
4. When it obtains a slightly red color, apply solder and make sure it fills the joint gap.
When using abdeck, sink the whole element in it, then set it on fire, and when the fire disappears, put solder in the place of joining.
5. When the solder melts, and fills the joint, turn off the burner and sink the soldered element into the acidification using tweezers, then rinse it in water.

Silver soldering — tips

– Soldering liquid is a must for the soldering process.
– Sometimes the solder liquid swells and throws the solder into the air, so we start with a small flame, increasing it after burning the solder liquid. This process can be alleviated by diluting the soldering liquid with water.
– Avoid using too much solder at once, it is better to add it in the next approach.
– Never touch the soldered element with your fingers, use tweezers that do not heat up, for example with a wooden handle.
– Jewelry at the soldering point is the weakest.
In our offer, you will find basic elements for soldering such as: sterling silver posts with a length of 11, 13 and 16 mm, jump rings with solder and silver soldering balls of various diameters. An alternative to buying wires and solder separately is silver wire for soldering with a diameter of 0.5 mm to 1.5 mm. However, if you do not find the product you need, we encourage you to contact us, because as a silver factory we are happy to design and make individual products.

Summary

As a jewelry manufacturer, we have unlimited possibilities, which is why we create jewelry findings to facilitate the work of jewelry makers. They are mostly made of silver from Polish mines, which is why the products are of high quality at affordable prices. We offer both retail and wholesale jewelry. Check out our wide offer and delight your customers by choosing semi-finished products for jewelry, creating unique designs and increase their value, adding timeless Swarovski crystals and pearls. Join the group of our satisfied customers, and if you cannot find the product you need, contact us, and after discussing the details, we will produce customized jewelry findings specially for you.

If you have any questions, please ask in comments below. We are more than happy to help!

Do you want to find out more?
Find out more about jewellery findings: Wholesale sterling silver jewelry — Silvexcraft
Explore jewellery trends for Spring 2020: Spring 2020 jewellery trends

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