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Is 22 gauge silver ok?

I have been using 22 gauge silver to make the bales for my pendants.
The body of the pendant is 20 gauge. I had switched to 22 g for the
bale after having a devil of a time bending the 20 g and making the
silver even and symmetrical on both sides of the bale. Recently
someone looked at my pieces and told me I should be using 20 g
because it is thicker and with the size of my pieces and the chains
that I use (they are not really thick) and with everyday wear, the
chain will start to wear through the silver. So back I went to the
20 g making sure to anneal them to make it easier to work with before
I start bending them with my pliers and hands into the bale shape.
Again I had one heck of a time getting them to look straight. I am
ready to give up go back to the 22 g. It was so much easier to work
with and I had not problems what so ever. My thinking is this, I
have been wearing my pieces for about a year (I realize that that is
not a long time) and have not seen any wear and tear. Also, most of
my customers will not be wearing my large pieces daily and not even
weekly, only occasionally. Your thoughts! Elle

Hello Elle, Re: making bales to last until the end of time. I am ready
to give up go back to the 22 g. to make bales.

    It was so much easier to work with and I had not problems what
so ever.  
I would think that 22 gauge sheet, properly work-hardened after

soldering, should be plenty durable unless it’s suspended from a
rough edged chain, worn daily for years. Here’s a thought, have you
tried using half round wire (sizing stock)? (I have no idea what
your bales look like and the suggestion may be unusable.) I find
heavy gauge half-round wire (10 gauge or so) makes a very durable
bale. Another possibility would be to solder some smaller gauge
half- round wire onto the edges of the 22 gauge bale you make, as a
decorative element that also adds strength where the wear is

On the other hand - you’re the designer here. Take suggestions, but
don’t think they all have merit… for your work. Judy in Kansas
where we ate fresh corn on the cob last night; mm-mm

Hello Elle, In my opinion 22ga sterling is too thin for a bale.
When you construct something you need to balance the inherent strength
of the material-- tensile, hardness, maleability-- against the demands
required of it, considering as well the design, weight and amount of
usage a piece will receive.

Sterling is a relatively soft material and a bale is one of those
places that receives a lot of wear and abrasion-- the action of the
moving chain-- compounded by the weight of the piece which is
concentrated at this one point. Moreover, it is the sides of the
bale, especially a wide one, that are worn the most, the chain rubbing
here the greatest.

20ga is about .8mm thick, 18ga is 1 mm thick and 24ga is about .5.
22ga is somewhere around .6 or .7, and depending on the weight of the
pendant is just not thick enough.

Bending and forming a bale in 20ga or even 18ga sterling shouldn’t
pose too much of a problem. I usually cut my bale blank from sheet,
file it roughly to shape and then bend it over, soldering the joint
closed before soldering to the pendant. Any defects are removed by
inserting a small awl, punch or old tapered bur into the bale. It’s
much like rounding up a ring. While I realize that the bale opening
is not round–like a ring-- the top curve is easily worked over the
punch and the rest of the bale can be worked w/ pliers.

Good luck, Andy Cooperman

Dear Elle, I am unclear whether you are soldering or wirewrapping,
but either way it would be better in my view to use the same gauge as
the piece you are working for looks if nothing else. You can try my
method if it works for you. Here it is: Bring both wires up straight,
place the handle end (not hook end) of a crochet hook behind the
wires. Bend the wires over the handle. Then take the righthand wire
and bring it around front on the right side of the handle. Repeat on
the left, bringing the wire on the left side of the handle. From
there you can do what you please. When I am wrapping a pendant, I
continue wrapping the wire in opposite directions and tie off
behind bail. Hope this helps, Suzanne