General, Wire / Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Metal wire is a key ingredient in many different techniques for a an aspiring artisan jeweler. Deciding what metal to use is important, as it dictates everything from the wire guardian to beads and clasps. You need to have a variety of findings in the metal of your choice.

I invested in copper at first, with a range in wire gauges and a collection of findings. I love copper. The warm tone, it`s softness, the look and feel of it. But, no matter what you do with it – it will always give this rustic impression. Which is fine – if that is all you want to create.  I added some sterling silver and gold filled as well, both have what copper does not have. But it is expensive working solely in silver and gold of course. So what to do ?

Then you have jewelers brass. According to Rio Grande where I buy all my metal, it is also called red brass, NuGold, Jeweler’s Bronze or Merlin’s Gold. It has a rich yellow tone to it, and works well with goldfilled.  It is still copper, with a twist. An alloy of copper and zinc, where the amount of zinc dictates the colour of the finished product. To me the yellow tone was a tad too distinct, so I ended up with bronze instead.

Wonderful and lovely bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. The one I use is a 92/8 mix. 92% copper and 8% tin. It has, according to one reviewer a much warmer, more elegant look than brass. And after seeing it in person now, I agree. I am so happy I decided to go for bronze as an addition to the copper.  It will give me exactly the look I was after, and much cheaper than using gold filled. It has the same price range as copper and brass. There is one downside though, it is not as mallable as copper and brass. When I buy copper for example I like to buy half hard – as I find it better to work with. You can only order bronze wire as dead soft, even the very common 20 ga. After working with it now I can see why, Dead soft bronze really behaves as half hard copper. Struggling with a 16 ga piece was a real work out.