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Wire Gauge Guide

A Cheat Sheet for Jewelry Makers

If you find the whole wire gauge thing confusing, you're not alone.  I almost pulled my hair out about it when I was starting out with making jewelry. 

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Here's my cheat sheet:

Wire Size
Diameter in Millimeters
What It's Good For Making:
14 ga
1.65 mm
  • clasps
  • thick jump rings
  • chain maille jewellery
  • neck rings
  • bangle bracelets
  • substantial formed links
  • eye pins for beads with very large holes
16 ga
1.3 mm
  • clasps
  • thick jump rings
  • chain maille jewellery
  • neck rings
  • bangle bracelets
  • substantial formed links
  • eye pins for beads with large holes
18 ga
1.0 mm
  • more delicate clasps
  • jump rings
  • formed links
  • eye pins, head pins
  • wire-wrapping
  • ear-wires (though 20 gauge is more common)
  • fits through most bead holes
20 ga
0.8 mm
  • jump rings
  • delicate formed links
  • eye pins
  • head pins
  • wire-wrapped links
  • split-rings
  • earwires
  • fits through most bead holes
21 ga
0.75 mm
  • many people buy this odd size gauge specifically for making earwires
22 ga
0.65 mm
  • wire-wrapping
  • wire-wrapped head-pins
  • wire-wrapped eye-pins
  • fits through almost all bead holes
24 ga
0.5 mm
  • standard size for wire-wrapped bead links and head pins
  • wire-wrapping
  • fits through all but the smallest bead holes. Semi-precious gemstone beads and pearls often have smaller holes than other beads. This gauge fits through almost all of these.
26 ga
0.4 mm
  • for wire crochet
  • wire-wrapped bead links and head pins
  • wire-wrapping
  • fits through all but the smallest bead holes. Semi-precious gemstone beads and pearls often have smaller holes than other beads. This gauge should fit through all of these.
28 ga
0.32 mm
  • for wire crochet
  • wire-wrapping
  • wire-weaving.

Wire Sizing Systems

Important: Give this a quick read before you shop for wire

Just to confuse us, the wire gods have created two similar but different wire sizing systems.  They are the AWG (American Wire Gauge) system, and the SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) system. Both are in regular use, though in North America, AWG is more common.

So now I have to figure out not one, but TWO systems?

Take my advice - don't stress about the different systems, just know that there are two, and that you need to check out diameters. Any supplier worth his salt will list the wire both by gauge and by diameter in millimeters.

Tip: Before you buy, double-check the wire diameter in millimeters.

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Did you enjoy this article? Please give it a "like" to let us know ~Christine

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