Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Earwire for heavier earrings?


#1

I’ve been making lightweight earrings and the earwires I’ve been
making have been fine for that.

However, now I’ve made a heavier design, and I find that the heavier
dangle is pulling the earwire down so that the tip comes up and
pokes you in the neck. It’s VERY annoying.

I use 22g Argentium Sterling. It’s a simple earwire with just the
shepherd’s crook and a small loop. I’ve tried 20g wire and found it
to be very uncomfortable for my ears and devilishly hard to even get
in. I’ve been told 20g is not uncommonly used for earwires, but it
doesn’t work for my ears.

Does anybody have any rules of thumb or advice for different kinds of
earwires for heavier earrings? Shorter, longer, different type of
hook, heavier guage (21g maybe?) not sure what I should change to
make this work. I wouldn’t even know what kind to buy, if I were
going to buy. I’d rather just make them anyway.

I know its probably a dumb question, but I never made much in the
way of earrings, I was big into bracelets and custom-setting cabs for
pendants. I actually only ever made one pair of earrings until just
the last couple of weeks.

Thanks
Sojourner


#2

Have you usually worn ear posts? That might be why 20 gage seems
heavy to you. I don’t like ear posts and find 20 gage earwires
comfortable. Sometimes a longer back on the hook will counterbalance
a heavier or larger earring front. Consider also, that the earring
might just be too darn heavy.

marilyn smith


#3

Hi:

What about trying lever backs for heavier earrings? Or you could
make your ear wires (which sound like French wires) longer (sort of
like a longer “U” shape). Another idea is to make a variation of the
old “kidney” style ear wire.

Rhona


#4

I’m not sure what kind of wire your using, but if it is dead soft,
you might try half-hard.

Murray


#5

Sojourner, I make a lot of earrings, mostly in sterling, and some
are relatively heavy. For years I’ve used 20 gauge wire for both
posts and French-type wires. I’ve never had anyone complain about
the thickness of these wires hurting their ears, although I have had
a few customers bring me earrings made in Mexico with 18 gauge
earwires or posts, which they complained of.

In my experience, there seem to be several factors that affect how
an earring hangs on an individual. First of all, earlobes like other
parts of us, vary a lot from person to person. Some are thin and
tender, some are stiff and beefy. Whether the piercing was straight
or crooked, healed cleanly or with surrounding scar tissue makes a
difference, as does the sort of earring the customer typically
wears. A long slender neck or a thick beefy neck will also affect
how earrings hang and I notice my heavier customers seem to have
more trouble with the end of French wires poking them in the neck.
(Being quite vertically challenged and horizontally gifted myself, I
know I have to modify commercial wires for my personal use for just
this reason.)

Another factor is the center of gravity of the earring and where on
the earring the hook or post is attached. At one point I made a
series of simple post earrings out of textured rounded silver squares
about 1" across with 12 mm cabs bezel-set in the center. I discovered
that if I soldered the post in the center back, the earrings spun
around on the post and tended to flop forward off the ear, so I began
to solder the posts a little higher up, about 1/3 down from the top
and they behaved themselves.

The shape and curvature of your hooks can also make a difference. You
may need to bend the curved part that goes through the earlobe into
almost 3/4 of a circle. In other words, imagine the earring ornament
at 6:00, the wire curving counterclockwise up past 3:00 and 12:00 and
over to 9:00, and straight down from there with just the softest bend
at the end to enable the wearer to slip the wire through their
earlobe.)

Another option is to make the earwires almost upside-down “V” in
shape, with the end connecting to the ornament offset back under the
center of the “V”. I hope that makes sense. Just think about
balance and gravity and sive yourself permission to play and
experiment.

Walk in Beauty,
Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Germanton, NC


#6

Hi Zen. First, my admiration and respect for your work ethic and
optimism under difficult conditions.

Hoefully I’ll be able to offer help with your earring wires.

   However, now I've made a heavier design, and I find that the
heavier dangle is pulling the earwire down so that the tip comes up
and pokes you in the neck.  It's VERY annoying. 

I’ve found that the shape of the hook has a lot to do with the way
the finished earring hangs and by making a few adjustments here, you
may be able to improve function in a couple of ways.

The smaller loop should be positioned well beneath the larger curve
of the earwire so the weight of the dangling portion will anchor the
wire in position rather than pull the wire forward in the ear.

Try hanging several of your earrings on a rod to see where the
center of gravity falls. If the back of the wire swings up, try
tucking the front loop in a little tighter under the arch of wire
that fits through the earlobe and making a bit more pronounced
reverse curve in the tail of the back of the wire. Just be sure that
there is good clearance for the earlobe between the large curve and
the small loop where your dangle is attached.

I have an illustration on my website that shows a French style wire
with the configuration I’ve described. Even with heavier glass beads
added, the wires will stay in position because the direction of the
pull is down rather than forward.

Some people say that French wires always work out of their earlobes
and I have found that most of these have a piercing that slants
upwards from front to back. In severe cases like these, the use of a
silicone nut on the back of the wire will secure the earrings.

http://www.songofthephoenix.com/details.php3

. . . I've tried 20g wire and found it to be very uncomfortable for
my ears and devilishly hard to even get in.  I've been told 20g is
not uncommonly used for earwires, but it doesn't work for my ears. 

I agree that the 20g is a bit large and uncomfortable for many
people.

IMHO 21g is visually in better proportion for earrings and fits most
people comfortably. When properly hardened, 21g will have
sufficient strength for most earring assemblies.

For the wires with a balled end as on the website, I twist the wires
to harden them before shaping. When the wires have been shaped, they
are usually rigid enough for use but I like to tumble them in steel
shot anyway for the lovely burnishing it provides as well as the
additional hardening. For earrings using a twist for attachments, I
order 21g wire “half hard” as the dangle may not be suited to a trip
through the tumbler with steel shot.

Hope this will help you on your journey.

Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com


#7

Hello Zen,

You asked about an earring finding for heavier work. My preference
is leverbacks, but they are more expensive. Try what is essentially a
nearly closed circle. See Rio’s catalog, page 616, item #639-633. I
do use 20 gauge wire and have had no complaints; 22 ga will work but
is not as sturdy.

Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas


#8
    The smaller loop should be positioned well beneath the larger
curve of the earwire so the weight of the dangling portion will
anchor the wire in position rather than pull the wire forward in
the ear. 

Exactly! It’s a question of balance.

    Try hanging several of your earrings on a rod to see where the
center of gravity falls.  If the back of the wire swings up, try
tucking the front loop in a little tighter under the arch of wire
that fits through the earlobe and making a bit more pronounced
reverse curve in the tail of the back of the wire.  Just be sure
that there is good clearance for the earlobe between the large
curve and the small loop where your dangle is attached. 

Thanks, this is what I was trying to figure out. Balancing on a rod
to find the best configuration of the earwire for the earring seems
obvious once you point it out, but I surely didn’t think of it on my
own.

I’ll try some of these and some of the round style suggested by Judy
Willingham. Also some of the kidney style that John Burgess sent me
a diagram of a jig for.

I think I’ll stick with 22g wire for the lighter earwires and go to
21g (when my drawplate gets here) for the heavier ones. 20g won’t
go in my ears very nicely, so I imagine there are other people out
there who might have trouble with it as well.

To harden, I’ll try the twisting method suggested elsewhere and see
how that works. I buy all my silver dead soft because 'tis easier
to work harden than 'tis to anneal.

Judy Hoch’s tumble finishing book is on its way to my door as well.
And a new Lortone tumbler - since I got a donation of tools, I gave
away my HF tumbler. It was practically new and I only paid about
$20 for it. Passing on what I can, where I can.

Thanks.
Sojourner


#9

Hi Sojourner!

When I have encountered this problem, I usually put nuts on the back
of the earring. Nuts aren’t just for post earrings, you can slide
them on an earwire or shephard’s hook after you put it in the ear,
and it keeps the earring straight, and prevents loss too! I do this
with most of my dangle earrings personally because I have the floppy
lobe syndrome LOL. If you are really concerned about the flop forward
effect or just wanting more support, Stuller sells what I love to
call “monster nuts” (extra large) in silver and gold. Part #21362 or
2263. In silver they are quite inexpensive $.83/pair.

Just my 2cents
Mary Elizabeth Linford
mary@bluestarwaxcarving.com


#10

OK, here’s the pic. And his original explanation for how he does what
he does:

Courtesy of John Burgess from the Orchid list at ganoksin

  G'day; your recent post in Orchid  was asking about earwires. 

  I offer a photo of my jig which has made dozens of the things. 

  Firstly, forget the big black line down the page - I don't
  know what that was, but it isn't a part of what I want to show
  you. 

  The jig consists of a small copper or brass disc about 3 cm
  diameter (1 3/16") fastened to one end of a piece of
  broomstick.   

  The figures refer to the approx positions of small cabinet
  nails with heads removed and silver soldered to the disc. One
  however, is a piece of thin metal tube also soldered to the
  disc. You may use any size of wire which is reasonable; I use
  sterling 0.6 to 1.5 mm diameter. (US gauges 24 to 15!!!  I use
  22g or 21g for earwires) 

  It should be annealed (dead soft). 

  Starting at A the wire is wound around the tube, then around
  the pins as shown.   This takes about 15 seconds. 

  Snip the earwire as desired and you will find the final loop
  will be used as a safety lock. 

  I never felt the need to polish  but you could vibro polish
  them with steel balls which will also harden them.  But do use
  enough water to cover the balls and a drop of detergent. 

  They shouldn't tangle if they are 'tumbled' in the locked
  safety position. 

  You can make the jig in about an hour. If you haven't a vibro
  polisher you could use a small plastic watertight bottle with
  the steel balls and detergent drop, and walk around normally
  with it in your jacket or jeans pocket!   Yes, that does work,
  although the constant rattle might annoy you!