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A beginner metal inventory


I am going to order all my sterling silver metal soon and would like
to see if what I am planning on ordering sounds good for just
starting out. I am trying to budget and get only the necessities for
a beginner. The sterling silver I am going to start out with will be
used to practice with jump ring cutting, the bezel technique for
simple necklace pendants, and soldering.

For sterling silver sheet metal =96 24 Gauge (for the back of gemstone
pendants). Sound okay? Oh, there are two choices. .999 fine silver
or dead soft sheet? .999 is a little more expensive but I cant tell
the difference and what one would be best for me.

For Bezel Wire =96 28 or 30 Gauge Plain Strip. There are like 4
different options for the 28 gauge. I don=92t get it=85. The different
widths and thicknesses aRe: 3/32x.013, 1/8x.010, 3/16x.013, and
1/4x.013. Any recommendations? I obviously don=92t want too long or t=
short when it wraps around the stone. Is there a nice average size I
should get?

Silver Wire =96 20 and 18 gauge sizes. Do you think most beads from
the Rio Grande Catalog will fit one of these gauges? And if not=85 wha=
hole size should I be looking for? This may sound real bad but I
can=92t seem to match up bead hole size with the thickness of the silv=
wire gauge size. Any suggestions?

I also plan on getting hard solder. How much of this do I need? I
forgot to look for it in the Rio Grande catalog. Does it come cut up
or in tiny pieces?


LinZ, I find this is a chronic problem. I would guess that 18, 20,
and 22 gauge wire will fit many beads. I am personally fond of the
frosted agate beads which Rio Grande sells. They are made in Taiwan,
and the hole sizes are always dependable, i.e., the holes are
consistently well-drilled. Their 8mm agate beads will even fit on
16 gauge wire, the 6mm beads fit on 18 gauge wire, etc. Whenever I
buy beads, I test the holes with various gauges of wire to see
which gauge(s) fit, then I mark this on the package of beads, so
as to avoid disappointment later.

I have some 25mm stone beads which will only fit on 22 gauge
wire! It is too flimsy to have such a heavy bead on a single strand
of such thin wire. For those, I make an eye-pin of the type
shown by Connie Fox on her helpful site (

Sometimes, the bead catalog will give you the diameter of the hole
size – match that up with the diameter of the wire, and you
should be able to tell what wire you’ll need for that bead.
You can also buy bead reamers, but reaming out stone beads is
truly tedious. HTH

Judy Bjorkman


This is my personal suggestion -

Use 22 gauge sheet to back pendants, 24 gauge for earrings.
Sterling silver, not fine.

For bezel wire, use 28 gauge fine silver and the second to smallest
width will work for most stones. If it is too high, you can always
reduce the height with a sanding disc.

For jump rings, 18 amd 20 gauge round sterling wire. For chains, 16
gauge is a nice place to start. 16 also works well for very simple
bails. Ear wires are best at 19 gauge, but if you don’t have a draw
plate, use 18 and work harden it by stretching it a bit.

Solder - order medium, it comes in sheets and in wire. It’s easy to
cut up. Don’t forget to order flux. You can do all your work with
hard solder, but give yourself a break.

Judy Hoch