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Ear wires gauge

What gauge wire do people use for ear wires? I’ve used 20 gauge, but
it seems so flimsy.

Cathy Campbell

What gauge wire do people use for ear wires? I've used 20 gauge,
but it seems so flimsy. 

for me, those wire guage numbers seem spaced way too far apart. What
do you do when you want “in between”. And digital or dial calipers,
or micrometers, don’t measure in guages… So at this point in my
career (several decades since I last paid attention to those guages,
I prefer metric measurements.

In that measurement, I’d say that the wire size depends on the
metal. Softer metals might need heavier wire to avoid bending. And
the size also depends on the earring itself, with thinner wires being
not as good with heavier earrings. And it depends on the type of
wire. Straight posts might need to be slightly stiffer and thicker
than a kidney wire or french hook style which doesn’t need to be
nicely gripped by a friction back.

So with all that said, I generally use about.75 mm wire as a sort of
standard size. I seldom go thinner than that, but depending on the
situation, might go to .85 mm or more if it seems appropriate (and,
in the case of friction posts, if I’ve got or can modify a pair of
backs for thicker than standard posts)


Cathy: I pull 18 ga round sterling wire, dead soft, to 19ga, and it
seems to be just about right for ear wires.


I’ve used 19 ga before but amazingly few people can accommodate this
gauge - so I pretty much stick to 20 ga. It’s not so flimsy as you
think. If using it for hooks, a bit of hammering at the curve and it
is quite sturdy, for posts, twisting it after soldering assures it is
sturdy. And I have a few customers who can only deal with 22ga for
their ear hooks - so there you have it. Unless you are getting
earrings back with problems of the ear wires being too flimsy, I’d
not worry about it.

Hi Cathy,

Have you tried work hardening the ear wires them by hammering them
on a steel block? If you don’t want to change the shape use a nylon
or plastic hammer, although I think that hammering the top curve of
the wire with a metal hammer is a good way to keep their shape and I
like the hand forged look.

I find that any gauge above 20 is too thick, and uncomfortable to
wear. Here’s a video demonstrating the technique with a chasing

Hope this helps!

20 gauge ear wires are standard. However, some of my customers have
small ear holes and for them I use 22 gauge.


What gauge wire do people use for ear wires? I've used 20 gauge,
but it seems so flimsy. 

Personally, I use 0.81mm wire which I work harden by twisting if it
has been annealed by soldering or whatever. I really don’t know what
gauge that is, and don’t know what you mean by 20 gauge. Why don’t
people use a universal measurement standard, such as metric or
Imperial? Here are four “standard” 20 gauge sizes with their metric

SWG 0.9144mm
BWG or Stubs 0.889mm
W&M 0.8839mm
AWG or B&S 0.81mm

Regards, Gary Wooding

Have you tried work hardening the ear wires them by hammering them
on a steel block? If you don't want to change the shape use a
nylon or plastic hammer, although I think that hammering the top
curve of the wire with a metal hammer is a good way to keep their
shape and I like the hand forged look.

If you want to work harden round wire without flattening it, try
twisting it. A pin vice will hold round wire securely enough so that
it can be twisted. The technique also works very well for brooch
pins after soldering the hinge. The slight “unicorn horn” twist is
both decorative and more secure than a plain pin, but can easily be
filed away if required.

Regards, Gary Wooding

For French hooks the industry standard for factory made ear wires is
21G, for kidney type wires its 22G. On softer metals like silver and
gold the shank of a French hook is often flattened a bit to increase

We make niobium French hooks from 20G - they seem plenty strong.

Jon Daniels

Metric measurements make more sense to me too. Never grew up with
gauges but like Peter I prefer a measuring system that allows
in-between sizes.

I make my earwires with 0.8mm sterling wire supplied to me as
’half-hard and shiny’, and for earposts I draw stg down to 1mm and
twist to harden the post near the join. I’ve never have to alter
these dimensions for customers [but then I have to add it’s my
outlets who deal with most of them].

0.8mm = 20.67ga
1.0mm = 18.70ga

Terms for state of temper/hardness of stg wire are probably an
inexact science, but I once asked for my.8 stg ‘hard and shiny’ and
though it made nice strong earwires, the bunch of wire was too
springy and difficult to handle. So I’ve stuck with ‘half-hard and

New Zealand

I use 20g for ear wires. Any thicker and they may not comfortably go
through the wearer’s ear holes. To make them stiffer, I work harden
the curve with my hammer and block.

Mara Nesbitt-Aldrich

I would use 0.8mm hard drawn. I prepare the ear piece, making a small
depression for the wire and after soldering I always twist the post
to tension it with smooth pliers along the ear-wire length to
straighten it up. I use the same technique for brooch pins if

David Cruickshank Australia

Cathy - I tumble all of my ear wires but 20 gauge seems to be just
right. If it is round wire it needs to be work hardened or your
customer will return them because the curve distorts with a couple
uses. I now almost always use 20 guage square wire. It seems to
really keep it’s shape nicely and have nice clean lines to the ear
wire itself. The fact that it is square is un-noticed by the
customer. You cannot tell in your ears and the earrings don’t hang
any differently. When I first started out I used a small inexpensive
tumbler for just my earwires so it is a pretty inexpensive way to
workharden alot of wires at one time instead of manually doing it to
each pair. I now make hundreds of ear wires a year and the square
wire is really a nice touch as well as very durable

I make tons of ear wires for sale on my web site and in my shop. I
have some customers who buy them in bulk again and again, so I guess
they must be working out. I use 20 gauge half hard wire. I think if
you make them with dead soft wire, they certainly will be too

Sun Country Gems LLC

I use 20 gauge, which is around.81mm. After work hardening by both
burnishing and then tumbling, I guess it’s slightly smaller, and
quite sturdy. Though I did just repair a pair for a friend who
mangled a custom pair of ear wires by leaving them in when she was
brushing her hair. Hope she removes the earrings next time, or
figures out how to brush her hair without brushing the ear wires.

The diameter of earwires must be a cultural thing. I was given some
pretty enameled gold studs made in Turkey. The posts must have been
16 ga and there was no way I could put them though my ears. Had to
file them down and make new clutches.

Early on, I tried 18 ga wire and had several customers complain that
the wire was too big. I now use 20 or 21 ga wire for earring
findings. No customer complaints. The comments about work-hardening
by hammering the bend on earwires and twisting posts are right on.
Follow that with tumbling in steel shot to burnish and slightly
toughen them.

Judy in Kansas - that’s in the USA. Our cultural standard for ear
piercings must be smaller than other part of the world!

Cathy, I use 21 Gauge round wire. I file down the end that goes in
the earlobe then I use a cup bur on an electric adjustable speed bead
reamer to remove the burs from the end that will go into the earlobe.
I usually slightly flatten the curve where the wire hangs from the
ear so that it maintains it’s curvature and then I work harden them
by tumbling them in stainless steel shot. It also removes any burs
that my wire rounder may not have gotten. I usually make a batch of
20 to 40 pairs of ear wires while watching tv or a movie. I use a
wood dowel in multiple sizes depending on the shape I want. I usually
use about 2" of wire for your average ear wire and up to 2 3/4 for
the longer more dramatic style. I experiment with shapes and sizes
with copper wire until I get the look I want.

I use 20ga or 21ga for my ear wires. Any larger and they’ll be too
large and hurt people’s ears, but any smaller and they’ll be too
weak and fall a part.


Hi all. I’ve been smiling at this conversation, with many saying that
anything larger than 20 gauge is too big. On the hoop earrings I make
with a hook and eye closure, the hook is rountinely over 18 gauge. I
just eyeball it generally, but I rarely have a problem with that
being too big. Maybe my customers are looser than yours?


Another jewelry artist friend of mine made me some earrings that
happened to have 18 gauge posts. I can’t wear them because they won’t
fit in my ear holes. I always use 20 gauge for my earrings. It’s not
a problem if I harden them.