Making a spiderweb neck piece

What Metal is Strong in Small diameter? Making a spiderweb neck

A client is working with me on a spiderweb sort of neckpiece, a web
laced with fine gauge wire and with “dew drops” of tiny moonstones
scattered about Gold is not a choice for this client. White is the
desired color. I tr= ied heat treating argentium silver to see if a
small gauge could be strong enough to avoid kinks and bends but the
spring is not there to take a bend and return to original form.

After considering all sorts of possible metals and technically
determining if these can first of all be assembled neatly into a web
form, then have a silvery look to work with silver bezels. My
results said this: Too much time is spent considering exotics in
metals and the right grade of stainless steel might be the wire to
use. Still, it will be a trick to make the stainless work well with
silver bezels visually to please my client. (That part is my design
communication responsibility.)

Stainless steel will work well in small gauge when joined with
laser. I can do that and laser is the only method I have available
to join it neatly into the desired web form. Silver bezels will
laser joined to the stainless, although not so neatly in my limited
laser experience.

Do you know of another material to use for the web form? We need a
spring to the material, strong enough to hold the bezels securely and
if possible have a color which can be made to blend pretty well with
silver. I am not limited to metal wire but so far have not thought
beyond that.

The neckpiece will hopefully be a piece of art as much as it will be
high crafts work. Any suggestions are certainly appreciated.


Do you know of another material to use for the web form? We need a
spring to the material, strong enough to hold the bezels securely
and if possible have a color which can be made to blend pretty well
with silver. 

OK. You tried heat treating argentium. Why? heat treating to harden
silver is an improvement in hardness over a fully annealed state. But
it’s no where near as hard as you get with work hardening.

You’ve got a laser, so you can join the wire to bezels and parts,
etc, without annealing anything in assembly. So that means you have
no reason not to harden your argentium wire by work hardening. The
result is far superior to heat treating, in both strength and
hardness/stiffness of the wire. And argentium laser welds much more
easily than does standard sterling, so assembly with the laser should
then be relatively easy to do.

Get yourself a good quality carbide drawplate, some larger size
argentium wire, and draw it down. Way down. If you chose a beginning
size such that by the time you reach your desired size, you’ve
reduced the cross sectional area by around 90 percent (that will be a
finished diameter a bit less than a quarter of the starting
diameter), you’ll have fully hardened wire. That will be stiff and
springy. That should work just fine, and the carbide plate will have
given you an excellent finish on the wire.

Peter Rowe

Your main challenge here is durability. I don’t believe fine round
wire will hold up regardless of material. Think about knife edged
wire. Polish the sides and put a satin finish or milgrain on the top
edge and the bulk seems to disappear. My preference for this would
be 18KW for the wires, 18K Palladium White for the bezels. Yup, laser
it. Not to start a fight but rhodium that puppy too. Depending on
the scale of the piece it might be good to design in some
flexibility…hinged panels. I would suspect that something like a
rigid collar of fine round wires would get scrunched sooner or
later, and then you have to fix it. Far better to do it once and
never see it again.

Hi Tom,

You’ve got a laser, so the obvious answer is hard drawn wire as Peter

The not-so-obvious answer might be nitinol memory wire. It’s a
nickel- titanium alloy that’s really springy. (It’s what those
“bend them into a pretzel” eyeglass frames are made from.) It’s
nearly impossible to join without a laser, which is why it doesn’t
get much use in jewelry, but you’ve got a laser…

Last I checked, Small Parts carried it. (

If you need it done yesterday, draw some wire and work with that. If
you’ve got time to play, try the memory wire. It can do some wild


What Metal is Strong in Small diameter? Making a spiderweb neck

Tom, I have always used white or yellow gold wire. I have made
several of these over the years with spider body parts being
anything from garnet to emeralds & diamonds. I anneal the wire
before I start… make the web, add the spider, Heat and pickle the
piece several times to put all the hardness back into the metal I
can… then set the stones and polish. Polishing is hardest &
dangerous for the piece.

This makes an ultra light, stong piece. I seen a custome a few weeks
ago that I made one for 25 years ago and she still wears it almost
daily she claims.

Try it! This is a FUN thing to make. Just relax with it and enjoy
the process. It will hone your soldering techniques too!!!


Hello, This is my first post to the Orchid Forums! I saw there was a
discussion about a spiderweb neck piece? Tom, have you considered
piercing the metal out of silver? I understand your desire to use
wire as it would make it look like a realistic web. I kept away from
that concept due to durability issues… and because I love to use a
jeweler’s saw!

These are a few pictures of the spiderweb pieces my partner Mark and
I have made. I’ve given photo links to two different pieces web


and I also provided a link to a spiderweb ring (with a detachable
spider) we made from a hand carved wax model~


I’ll be trying to keep up with these forum posts!

Jessica Dow
Different Seasons Jewelry

Dear Neilthejeweler,

The idea of hard drawn 18k white for the wire and palladium white for
bezels is a good one; yet I would have to put a little together to
see the actual performance of it all. I have no doubt the right
palladium white would do well and make for fairly easy setting.
Unfortunately, the client is backing away from gold for the web form.
I have not yet calculated the weight of metal needed but labor will
obviously be a large chunk of the production costs. Count the joints
in a small spider web and think of joins at each!

Peter, I was speaking from two points in time when I mentioned heat
treating the argentium silver and later of laser joining the
stainless wire. When the wire was heat treated I was not considering
using a laser for assembly and was looking for some way to find more
strength after torch soldering.

Now, certainly the approach would be the laser, even if I prefer
torch for a cleaner join and less clean up. (I do not have a lot of
laser experience but so far it has taken more clean up than with a
finely worked torch.) Obviously, what I cannot allow is annealing at
the joins. I will try hard drawn argentium silver to see if the
spring is really suitable for my design and if I can properly join
it with the laser.

Except for a few multi-metal arts items done fairly recently, silver
has played a very minor part in my jewelry work for many years and I
honestly have limited experience with the argentium variety. The
suggestions are certainly appreciated.

I am now also considering palladium white gold or perhaps palladium
bezels with a stainless steel wire web. just thinking at the moment
and the final material use is very open to experiment.

Thanks. Tom.

What Metal is Strong in Small diameter? Making a spiderweb neck

Have you tried Titanium or Niobium wire? I have some Titanium in a
rather thin gauge and I have yet to get a kink in it. It’s a very,
very strong wire and, in fact, I have a little bit of difficulty in
just getting it into the shape I want. I have yet to learn how to
solder or fuse Titanium so most of my pieces are just gently shaped,
the end made into a loop and connected. That stuff is hard. So is the
Niobium I have but not as hard as the Titanium in small diameters.

MikiCat Designs

Jessica, the design for my client must be much finer lined, closer
to wire.

There is a small multitude of tiny moonstones to go on the “web”. If
a pierced design would work, believe me, I would like to go that
direction : ) Thanks for the photo links to the pierced ones you have
done. The jewelry is quite nice and the carved matrix opal is
wonderful as a spider.


I’ve been dealing with the spider web issue too, so this has been a
very interesting discussion. I decided to pierce my web in gold and
solder it in place in a silver framework cast from twigs. I thought
at first to have a gold-wrapped pearl hanging from the web by a fine
gold chain, like a trapped bug. But I’m rethinking that. My husband
tells me I’m too literal-minded.

Janet Kofoed

Janet, your spider web between twigs is gorgeous! I love the idea of
a “caught” pearl… I don’t think it’s too literal at all.


What about the possibility of chain in place of the fine wires? The
drape would be beautiful.

Pam Chott

Pam, to use chain in place of some of the wires is a new direction
for the web. This is some time into the first thought of the piece
yet far from the actual beginning in metal and stones. Some
experiment has been done for technical value and beauty. I believe a
combination of chain and wire will be a possible answer, maintaining
form and allowing a soft following of the body. Great thought!


I’ve had success with large gauge wire and small snake chain, very
clean with drips of solder are water droplets.

Blue Buddha Studios,