Guide to Jewelry Making Wire

Many people have questions about which beading wire to use for what project.  “Should I use the 19 strand, .015” or the 49 strand, .018”?  How do you know which wire jewelry supplies work best?  Well, after many years of playing around with beading wire—and many mistakes along the way—I may have learned a thing or two.

7 Strand Wire is composed of 7 tiny strands of wire coated in nylon.  When I first started beading, I exclusively used 7 strand wire for two reasons.  First of all, it is very economically priced. Secondly, it comes in fun colors so it is great for illusion necklaces or any other jewelry creations where your wire will be exposed.  It is stronger than Tiger Tail (which is what you may find at local craft and hobby stores) and it is pretty flexible.  This wire is perfect for beginners or for simple beaded projects that are relatively lightweight.

19 Strand Wire is made of 19 tiny strands of wire coated in nylon.  The thing I love about 19 strand wire is that, while it is stronger than 7 strand wire, it also tends to be more flexible.  I use 19 strand wire for every beading project that involves seed beads, as well as for any beaded jewelry designs that require weaving or passing through the same bead more than once.  This wire is the perfect combination of flexibility and strength—and the price is reasonable, too!

49 Strand Wire is made of 49 tiny strands of wire coated in nylon.  This is the wire the pros use.  The most expensive of the Beadalon wires, it is also the most flexible and durable.  It lays wonderfully and never kinks.  It is strong enough to hold gemstones and will not be frayed by crystals or glass.  This wire is great for just about any beading project you can imagine!

Diameter is a relatively simple concept once you understand the difference between 7 Strand, 19 Strand, and 49 Strand wire.  The diameter number actually refers to the millimeter measurement of the wire.  For example, a .012” wire is .30mm while a .015” wire is .38mm.  Most designers will probably use a .018” wire for stringing the majority of the time.  This diameter—whether you are using a 7, 19, or 49 Strand wire—will work with just about any bead.  An exception to this rule would be stringing pearls; generally speaking, a 19 Strand wire in a .015” is best when working with pearls because the hole is so small.  Another exception to the .018” rule is stringing very large beads or beads with larger holes.  49 Strand wire comes in a .036”, which is perfect for those larger, chunkier, heavier beads.

Click to view project examples using different types of wire…
19 Strand wire with a .012” diameter
19 Strand wire with a .015” diameter
49 Strand wire with a .015” diameter
49 Strand wire with a .018” diameter

Shanna Steele
Designer, Auntie’s Beads

Shanna Steele

Shanna Steele is a product manager and occasional jewelry designer for Auntie's Beads. When she is not playing in the beads, she enjoys reading, listening to music, cooking - especially baking - and good times in the great outdoors.

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