Daily Wire Tip Oct. 8: Different Metals, Different Results

By on October 7, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 8, 2010

Question:

I have been using square copper and brass wires to try out a design before using the good stuff. It may be my imagination, but even though the copper and brass are said to be half hard, it seems more difficult to bend and wrap than silver or gold. Am I nuts?

-Junius in Houston, Texas

Answer:

No, Junius, your mind is very clear.

With regards to square half hard wire, in my opinion and experience, gold-filled is the easiest to work with, sterling silver has hard edges, Argentium has more "spring," copper is still kind of soft, and brass can be brutal on your fingers due to its harder temper.

Even though you order and receive the same gauge and temper in each of these materials, they all have different properties.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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7 Comments

  1. avatar

    Nikki

    October 8, 2010 at 6:28 am

    With regard to the question posed by Junius of Houston, Texas, perhaps you could help and advise, in your opinion, which of the copper, brass and Argentium wires would equal the half-round-half-hard Gold Filled wire in both 18 and 21 guage. Of course I mean “equal” as in similar to bend and wrap. This would certainly help for beginners like me who, like Junius, prefer to try out a design in the lesser priced wires before using the good stuff!

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      October 8, 2010 at 10:32 am

      Nikki, in my personal opinion, of the three half-round/half-hard choices you mention, copper is the easiest to work with and Argentium would be the closest in temper. Again, brass is much harder and can damage your ‘good’ tools (specifically cutters).

  2. avatar

    Dharlee

    October 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I totally agree. I started out on Copper and when I started using silver I noticed the difference right away. Then when I tried gold it felt closer to the softness of the copper, and brass! wow that was a toughy! But pretty so I still use it from time to time! And I think it’s nice to know how to work it all!

  3. avatar

    Brandi

    October 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    You’re right about the copper and brass, Dale! I completely concur. I have stabbed myself more times than I can count working with brass wire lol, and I don’t use sterling and gold yet.

    Dale, do you think that non tarnish brass and gold filled look very very similar, or is it just me? I think it looks very similar to the 14kt gold plated findings I have too.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      October 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm

      Yes Brandi, I agree that some types of brass wire look very similar to gold-filled and will go well with the plated findings – just be sure to advise your customers as to what they are buying. (As some of them may not know the difference by price alone.)

  4. avatar

    Krister

    October 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    I made the cutest earring, necklace, and bracelet set using dark brass jump rings. I must say it was very satisfying to put each j-ring together to make each piece. I was going to enter them into a jewelry making sweeps of brass purchased from a website, but my creative juices flowed so much I added findings I had on hand. Working with the brass was very rewarding. I like the stability and strength of the dark brass. Over time it gets an even darker patina and brings out reddish colors in the metal. I’ve received so many compliments each and every time I wear the set. I enjoy working with brass. I noticed the lighter color does look very much like 14kt gold and goes well with almost any color stone or gems. I have several pieces. Some I have sold at work to coworkers.
    My most favorite metal is silver. I purchased some Argentium to try out on some of my pieces, but I find the metal so fine and easily breakable. I think I may need a lower gauge, or I’m a bit too tough on my wires. Ideas and advice are very welcome. Thanks for the comments, they help a lot.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      October 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      Krister, thanks for sharing your ‘brass experience’ with us. As far as using Argentium, you haven’t told us exactly what you are making with it, so it is difficult for me to give serious advice as to what gauges you might try.

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