I have been purchasing the wire at the hardware store in the
building supply section. I wonder what I should do to aid in rust
prevention. Some of my pieces have begun to rust while they are
just sitting around with no water exposure apparent.
All steel is not created equal. Inexpensive, hardware store steel
wire is usually mild steel with high iron content. As you’ve found
out, it rusts. Stainless steel is alloyed with chromium, and provides
resistance to corrosion. Most jewelry made with steel is stainless
steel. Otherwise, you can try paint or other corrosion inhibitors,
but it’s a losing battle.