Wire for Jewelry
Sterling Silver and Copper

Wire for jewelry - learn more about the properties of sterling silver and copper wire in jewelry making. Find out how these metals differ?

Hardness of Metal
Softness of metal (and in this case wire) depends on how much the wire has been work hardened after being annealed. If you buy soft, then you can work harden your metal into different stages of hardness.
How do you work harden wire for jewelry?
Work hardening happens with hammering, tumbling and bending. There are more ways, but these are the generally used techniques for wire jewelry making.

Copper and Sterling Silver Hardness
Copper is generally softer than sterling. If you start working with dead soft copper it's more difficult to get harder. People complain about the softness of copper, but it can still get really hard if it's work hardened.

Working With Harder Wire
If you start with harder wire you don't have to work so much to get it hard, but you loose other properties if you start hard. For instance, if you want a soft bend in an earwire... it's not easy to make a soft bend with hard wire free hand.

Is Sterling Silver Easier?
Before I started working with sterling silver, I read somewhere that it's easier to work with sterling silver than copper. I was only working with copper at the time.

What did I think of sterling silver once I started working with it?
I didn't find it easier to work with! The bending and shaping process in heavier gauges is easier with copper.

Now, I can say that it's often easier to get a harder  product when working with silver. In general I can also say that it's easy to work with thinner soft sterling silver wire... say thinner than 1 mm or 18 ga, but it's only my opinion.

I can go on and try and compare copper and sterling silver even further, but in the end I'll have to say that it all depends what you are doing.

What did I use when I started?
My thinner copper wire (less than 1 mm or 18 ga) was hard and the thicker wire (thicker than 1mm or 18 ga) was soft. Now that I write this I realize it was a good thing that it work out this way. It's a good combination if you can't have it all when you start out. At the time it was certainly not my own cleverness.

I also have to add that if you know what you want to make, it's better to get what your tutorial suggests.

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