I have one question that the books did not address. Is there
a list or chart of some kind somewhere to give me a guideline on
what gauge wire or sheet you should use for different kinds of
I don't know of any one definitive book, but from my own experience,
these are the guidelines I generally use:
Bezel wire--30 ga. fine for thumbnail-size stones and under. The
height of the bezel wire should be a little more than the height of
the stone. Over thumbnail-size, I use 28 ga. fine, anything larger
than one square inch I use 26 ga. fine, and for honking big stones
that may be the top of boxes or buckles, I roll out my own from
sheet, but you can get housing strip.
Earwires and posts--18 ga. round sterling for regular sizes, 20 ga.
for little light earrings for little girls.
Jumprings--20 ga. and 24 ga. round sterling.
Decorative elements for tendrils, crescent shapes, outlining,
etc.--20 ga. round and half-round sterling. 20 ga. round is also good
folded in half and twisted for a decorative border.
Backing sheet for bezels--24 ga. sterling up to 3/4" square, 20 ga.
for up to 1-1/2" square, 18 ga. up to 2" square, 16 ga. for anything
larger. I tend to make my bezel plate heavier than most, but I found
it keeps it from warping when soldering and keeps the stones from
popping out when subjected to wearer stress.
Bracelets--cuff type, sheet, minimum 16 ga., 14 ga. or heavier if
etched or inlaid. 14 ga. is also good for tie bars and money clips.
Bracelets--cuff type, wire for a simple two wire split, 14 ga. round
or 12 ga. half-round, up to 6" in length. Longer lengths require
Rings--wire type, I use 8 ga. half-round wide mostly. It's heavy
enough for a forged and split shank as well, but comfortable, up to
about a size 12, depending on the stone. I also use 18 ga. and 16 ga.
When ordering for my students, I generally wind up with a lot of 28
and 30 ga. bezel wire (I make them stamp designs on them or file in
scallops for variety) 1/2 oz. each; a good selection of 14-24 ga.
round wire 14 oz. for the lighter gauges, 1/2 oz. for the heavier;
some 12-14 ga. half-round wire, 1/2 oz. each; some 8W half-round
wire, 1/2 oz. each; blanks in 6" strips in 14-16 ga. sheet for
bracelets, 2 pcs. each; sheet in 3" x 3" pieces in 16 ga., 20 ga. and
24 ga. each; and a $20 bag of odd lot stones split amongst the class;
and of course, about 1/2 oz. #70 solder and 1/4 oz. each of #65 and
They learn to design jewelry within those parameters, generally make
between 2 and 3 dozen projects before the class is over (with some
left over after the class is completed), and use any leftover scraps
from their cutoffs (clean scrap) for tufa casting later. When you
don't have a lot of variety to begin with, you learn how to design
with your creativity as your source, and in the process, learn you
can do more with creativity than you can with lots of fancy stock.
Hope it helps you to narrow down your purchases.