Daily Wire Tip Sept. 1: Wire for a Versatile Beaded Necklace

By on August 31, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
September 1, 2011


I would like to use a strong wire, not too heavy to make a beaded necklace that you could twist into the shape you want. Every time I twist the wire I use now it breaks. Is there some wire that won’t break if you twist it several times?

-Cami in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan


Well Cami, when you describe the desired project as being able "to twist into the shape you want," do you mean that the customer will be able to shape the piece as they desire, or as you the creator being able to bend it as you go? Also, you didn’t specify the gauge, temper or metal of wire you are having challenges with, so I have to give you a generalized answer.

If your wire is half or full hard, twisting it will make it more brittle; then add bending and the possible weight of beads and it will break. Most wire will be more forgiving if you begin with dead soft. Perhaps you can plan your design so you will twist only certain areas of the wire and those places where you know you will be doing a lot of manipulation, you don’t twist?

Personally, I have found that gold-filled wire is incredibly pliable and it will hold up to a good deal of abuse while working out a design. Yes I know it is expensive, but you did ask! Maybe some of our fellow wire artists have a different "twist" on this subject?

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I do a lot of twisted work and the best things to use are fine silver wire or 14kt gold filled wire. They are both soft enough to allow you to twist, or weave whatever you desire with very little breakage.

  2. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Just to be clear, all wire will break if continuously manipulated without annealing. If your intent is for the customer to be able to change the configuration of the necklace, make joints. This can be done with wrapped loops connecting sections, or by adding multiple clasps so that sections can be added, removed, or rearranged.

    Hope this helps.

  3. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I’m not sure how you meant twist into shape either. But if its a beaded necklace, and you want to twist it to a shorter length one or even two times, you could use a very strong string like nymo, and use a twist clasp wich allows you to twist and shorten a long say to your knees necklace and then clasp it and you can use various lengths with one necklace.

  4. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Fine silver is a bit tolerant, also. The only way I know of to soften wire again is annealing, (heating the wire with a torch, usually right to where it glows or a little before). No metal likes bending, the molecules shift. Only annealing will reposition them.

    My own personal silver collar has gotten brittle over years of use and I torched that recently. It’s the nature of metal. It’s physics. It would be nice if we could bend and bend. Think of all the scraps we could reuse!

  5. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Afraid, like Dale without more information, this is a hard question to answer. I am assuming it is round wire instead of square but without more information regarding the design, it is hard to say. So, starting with a dead soft wire and especially the gold-filled wire is about all I can add as well.

    Scrimshaw Mary

  6. avatar


    September 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I also do a lot of twisted wire necklaces and bracelets and find that 26 gauge craft wire works just fine. I use a good quality craft wire. It is nice because it doesn’t tarnish since it would be hard otherwise to keep it bright. I twist, pinch, and braid, all using beads and fibers, and rarely have breakage. I’d love to use fine silver, but it isn’t in my budget these days!

    • avatar


      September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks so much, for sharing your experience with us Carol!

  7. avatar

    Kate Dohi Awi

    September 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I agree with annealing . . . but as a silversmith, the rule of thumb (that I learned) is that four bends and you’re done. It will weaken after that. Dale is correct about the temper of the metal, too.

    This is something I face often not only with wire (which I have recently taken on) but with larger pieces of silver AND gold (and not always filled). Fine silver might be more forgiving but might it be a little weaker? That has been my experience although I love its qualities and I love to be able to put that .999 stamp on it. I recently was working on some 16 gauge fine for a ring and it just snapped on the ring mandrel–no real explanation. I was able to melt it back together but I did not feel good about it and kept the original for myself and made a new one for the client. I counted that as a practice piece, albeit an expensive one. I think for so many of us, practice and experience tells us the limits of the metal–and we know not to push past that or it will break when the client is wearing it. That is bad indeed. I aim to make jewelry that, however fashionable, can be handed down for generations. Quality is first. If you’ve made too many bends in a piece of metal, toss it into the recycle bin. Otherwise, before you make a bend of any kind, think. I’m only passing along some things learned form experience! Best to you all!

    • avatar


      September 2, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Kate, I really appreciate you sharing your metal experiences with us. As you confirm, it doesn’t matter what form or type of metal one works with, it can be temperamental and “quality” is the most important factor when making items for customers. Thanks!!