Daily Wire Tip Sept. 20: Wire Temper for Wrapped Rings

By on September 20, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
September 20, 2011

Question:

Which wire temper should be used for making rings (in general), dead soft or half hard?

-Barbie in Girard, Ohio

Answer:

Hi Barbie, this is a tricky question! Most traditional wire rings are made using half hard wire, but as you will read below, soft is perfect for some designs.

The classic Pharaoh’s cabochon ring is generally made using half hard wire, however when using a fragile stone like an opal or malachite it is smart to mix the tempers, using soft wire where the wire crosses the top of the stone.

The traditional Prong Ring is best made using half hard wire because the wires the prongs are made of must be able to keep their “spring” to hold the stone in its setting. (No, in my opinion soft wire cannot be substituted for the creator’s “ease,” because it will not hold up!)

My personal designs, both the Anything Cocktail and Filigree Pearl rings are best made using half hard wire, again for construction stability in the artist-created filigree as well as for locking in the snapsets.

When working on ring designs such as the Crystal Wave ring, soft wire is necessary because the design process depends on the shape being “stretched” as the ring is created (which also hardens the project while it is being made).

Simple single or multiple bead rings created for children or as adult pinkie or toe rings can easily be made in soft wire, as well as button ring designs.

In my personal opinion, I guess the easiest way to determine which temper of wire should be chosen for a ring design is to think about the “reason” for the ring. Will the ring be worn on a regular basis? Is the design large and/or ornate? Is it to be worn by a man or a woman? I am sure that there are many wire artists who have their own preferences, however I have been making and selling wire rings for about 18 years and the above is based on my experience and many happy customers. Properly made and sized wire rings are very popular. Have fun with them, but make sure when you sell one that it is a “stable” product.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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