Daily Wire Tip May 16: The Best Wire Temper for Prong Rings

By on May 16, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
May 16, 2011

Question:

I recently purchased some beautiful faceted stones from Wire-Sculpture, and now I want to wrap them into a ring using gold filled wire 22-gauge dead soft. Everything goes together well (thanks to your DVD lessons), but when I get to the prongs, they don’t stay where they are supposed to be, and the stone slips out easily. Do you have any hints as how you get your prongs to stay in place? Thank you for your answer.

-Gloria in Kettle Falls, Washington

Answer:

Hi Gloria, the reason your prongs will not stay in place (or possibly in shape) is because you are using dead soft wire! Please use half hard when making prong rings. In a small gauge like 22, half-hard wire is really not that hard to work with and actually will behave much better than soft because it will keep its shape after you have bent it, where you want it to be bent! Some folks teach and work in nothing but dead soft, however it will not hold up to a serious geometric design like the prong ring.

Ladies' Prong Ring

Think about it this way – yes, the soft wire will work harden where you make the prong bends, but the length that runs from the ring construction to the pronged end will still be soft; as such, it will have the tendency to bend where it wants to. Also, when you use the side wires to lock the prongs around the stone, these connections can easily pull a soft wire out of place.

I can’t speak for other instructors, but I know that when I specify a wire gauge and temper for a project, it is for very this very reason – they work! Now, try the design again using half-hard wire, and see if your prongs don’t stay where you would like them to be – and let me know how it works for you!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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3 Comments

  1. avatar

    Sue Beck

    May 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Since I generally like to use dead-soft wire for most applications (and prefer not to need to stock different tempers), I sometimes twist the wire segments that will form the prongs before assembling the wire bundle. I’ve also lightly hammered the prongs before bending them if the size of the stone is large enough to have a slightly wider prong.

  2. avatar

    mary

    May 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Oh goodness, does this bring back a flashback from the past. Years ago (and I won’t say how many)when I was taking a ring wire seminar class with Dale in Nashville I managed to somehow grab dead soft square wire instead of half hard. I was working along, having a good time at it till we got to the prongs. No matter what I tried, it wasn’t working, and I was really getting frustrated with the whole mess. I told Dale my “snake heads” don’t want to hold…lol.
    Dale walks over, I hand the bundle to her and she gives me the funniest look and says…”Mary, where did this dead soft come from?”
    When I grabbed the zip lock bag and read the label on it I felt so stupid at the time. But, we had a good laugh, I and everyone else learned a lesson from it and I quickly got the right wire and started over.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      May 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      Oh Mary, I remember that day clearly. Your next ring came out just fine, using the right temper wire! Thanks for the memory :)

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