Choosing copper wire for jewelry is largely dependent on the type of jewelry being made. Strands of different thickness, shape and temper are all used for making different types of jewelry. Items that must be sturdy and stable will normally require thicker versions that do not bend. Copper wire is available in a number of thicknesses and strengths to suit many different styles of jewelry.
The thickness of copper wire for jewelry is called the gauge. The necessary thickness will depend on the type of jewelry being made, and how the wire is used. Lower gauges are thicker and higher gauges are thinner. Thinner wire bends much more easily. Types used for rings typically range from 10 to 16 gauges, as the wire needs to be sturdy and stable to hold shape.
Earrings and necklaces that are made of beads may require copper wire for jewelry that will fit through the bead hole. Bead holes come in a range of sizes, with seed beads and pearls having the smallest hole. Very fine gauge is commonly needed to thread these beads.
Copper wire for jewelry can be made in three different shapes: round, half-round and square. The most commonly used is round. Half-round types tend to be used when wrapping, or for threading beads, as the flat side sits flush against the side of the bead. The square version has four sides. It is also used for wrapping and creates a very different look from typical round wire.
Another type of copper wire for making jewelry is twisted wire. Typically, twisted versions are made up of square wire that has been twisted. The final product is a round in shape, but with a much different texture than traditional round versions.
Solid copper wire will be labeled with a temper. This refers to the hardness of the wire. Of all jewelry wire, copper is generally one of the softest and most malleable, but it can also be tempered to a different hardness. Most craft wire uses copper as the base metal. Dead-soft temper results in a very soft product that can be knitted, crocheted or wrapped.
Half-hard wire is most commonly used for jewelry making. It is easy to bend but can harden if it is worked too much. Full-hard and spring-hard copper for jewelry are very difficult to bend and can be broken if pushed too hard. These are normally not used for making earrings, bracelets or rings.