Daily Wire Tip Mar. 23: Ear Wire Temper

By on March 22, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
March 23, 2011


What size and hardness wire should I use to make pierced earring wires? I want to make some to hang dangles on that will be interchangeable. Also, how do you harden wire? I’m very new at this.

-Virginia in Tullahoma, Tennessee


Personally, Virginia, most of the Wire-Sculpture Faculty and I prefer to use 21-gauge full hard wire to make the actual ear wires, because ear wires take a lot of abuse, and the extra spring in this temper is more forgiving than a half hard would be.

If you wish to harden the wire even more and not change the shape, put the wire between pieces of leather and use a rubber mallet to gently pound on as a way to work-harden it.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks Dale for the info on this. I never would have thought of the leather and while I am not currently making earwires, this idea helps me greatly with some wire designs I am practicing on! Thanks again for your expertise!!

  2. avatar


    September 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I’m not seeing 21 gauge full-hard wire on the website. Am I missing it? I’m really curious about using this for my sterling, brass, and copper handmade earwires. Thanks!

    • avatar


      September 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Jacquelyn, because there is not a lot of demand for full hard wire in our precious metals, we don’t usually stock it. However when it comes to brass, in my opinion half-hard is about the same temper as full hard sterling, so it would be fine to use for ear wires, as long as you make the customer aware of the fact that they may find they are allergic to the alloys in brass (going through their ear). As for copper, well even half hard is not the temper you are looking for. It is the nature of pure copper to be soft. With regards to precious metals like, sterling, Argentium and 14/20 gold-filled, if you would like more ‘spring’, I often twist square half hard wire to make ear wires with, not only does the slight twist add spring but twisted ear wires are also “slipless”!

      • avatar


        February 2, 2012 at 9:02 am


        I’m very interested in trying the twisted square wire to make earwires. What gauge of square wire would you use to end up with a 21-gauge wire? 28-30 gauge? I tried to find the answer to this online, but was unsuccessful. I will need to order the wire, so I’d really appreciate an answer to this question.


        • avatar


          February 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

          Hi Sheryl, Simply use a piece of 21g square half-hard wire, twist it for a ‘slipless’ ear wire, with much more spring (therefore more forgiving for the wearer); if you’d like a larger result, use 20g square half-hard.