List of Metals

There are a lot of metals that are used in making jewellery. Some are more popular than others. Below is a list of metals with descriptions of what they are made of, their benefits, and other useful information. 

Aluminium Wire

It is made from aluminium.  Natural aluminium wire can have a black residue, so the wire used for jewellery has been cleaned; however, this residue may build up again over time.  A simple clean in warm, soapy water will usually do the trick, or use an ultrasonic cleaner.  

Aluminium wire is lightweight and naturally very soft - you can usually use your fingers to shape the wire.  It is available in various colours, which may vary between lots, so consider this when buying for a particular project.

The coloured aluminium wire is anodised to create the colour, and an anti-tarnish coating is applied to help protect it. Silver aluminium has no coating.

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Argentium Wire

Argentium is a variation of Sterling Silver with a higher percentage of Silver. It contains Silver (94%), Germanium, and Copper. Argentium does not tarnish as quickly as Sterling Silver, making it an excellent alternative for those who like a beautiful, bright silver finish.

Due to its lower copper content, it can be heated and soldered and rarely develops fire scale (fire stain), making it quick and easy to clean up. There is less pitting when making balled headpins (due to the reduced copper content), leaving a nice, smooth, finished ball.

It can also be hammered, wrapped, shaped, tumbled, polished and soldered, just like Sterling Silver. It is recommended to use Argentium-based solder to maintain the same tarnish-resistant properties.

Argentium has its own stamp available from the trademark owners (registration is required); it can also be stamped as 925, a minimum silver content notation.

Like Sterling Silver, it is available in multiple wire gauges, shapes and tensions. To keep it clean, rinse in warm, soapy water or use a polishing cloth; it can also be tumbled with stainless steel shot.

The wire we stock is made in the US.

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Brass wire

Brass is an alloy made from Copper and Zinc, typically 70% Copper and 30% Zinc.  It is quite heavy in weight but has a very golden colour. The gold colour is determined by the ratio of copper to zinc.   Brass does tarnish but can be easily cleaned by placing it in a bowl of lemon juice for a minimum of 10 minutes.  

Brass wire can have a clear anti-tarnish coating.  

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Copper Wire 

Copper wire is made from 99% copper (the purest available). It comes in different gauges, tensions and shapes. It makes a perfect practice wire and is a popular alternative to precious metals.  It will tarnish quite quickly, depending on the environment.  Referred to as natural, bare or uncoated copper wire. 

Copper wire can have a clear anti-tarnish coating.   Go to top

Coloured Copper Wire

This is one of the original non-precious wires used in jewellery making; however, be aware that this product has quality differences. The wire has a copper core and can then be silver-plated, enamelled, and coated with a clear anti-tarnish coating. The quality differences are in how thick the layers are in each process. If you scratch this wire, you will see the copper core.

It is available in various wire round wire gauges and colours. Square and half round shapes are available in limited gauges and colours.

This wire can not be soldered as the coating will be destroyed.

One exception is Tinned Copper. This wire has a copper core and is then coated in a layer of tin. There is no anti-tarnish coating, and tinned copper can be soldered. It is used in lead lighting. Go to top

French Wire

Also known as Bullion wire.  This wire is a coil, so it is hollow in the centre.  Usually available in silver and gold and in different sizes.  

It is traditionally used in jewellery making to protect find threads or cords - you thread the cord through the wire, and it sits over the cord, protecting it from rubbing, which may weaken the cord.  It can be used as a spacer, as a wire, or coiled into beads.

It can be made by coiling a very fine wire around a thicker wire; remove the thick wire and cut to the size desired.

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Gold Wire 

Gold is a beautiful metal with a timeless look and a warm feel. We stock 10K and 14K solid gold wire. K refers to the purity of gold content. Pure gold is 24K or 99.9% gold and is usually too soft for most jewellery items.

Gold is mixed with other metals to form alloys, making it more suitable for use in jewellery. The amount of gold in each alloy is represented by a karat value. 10k is the equivalent of 10/24 or 41.7% gold content and approximately 58.3% Silver with traces of Copper. 14K is the equivalent of 14/24 or 58.3% gold content and approximately 41.5% Silver with traces of Copper. The higher the Karat, the more gold content, the softer the metal, and the more golden the colour.

Rose Gold has a higher copper content, giving it that pink colour.

All the Gold wire we sell is made in the United States and conforms to all ISO standards.

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Gold Filled Wire 

Gold Filled wire has a brass core with a layer of 14Kt Gold bonded to the outside using heat and pressure. It is similar to the old-style rolled gold (a slightly different manufacturing process) and is also referred to as gold overlay. Gold filled wire will wear like gold; it will not flake or rub off like gold plating and is naturally tarnish-resistant.

Yellow Gold Filled is available in 14k (which is coated in 14 karat gold), 12k (which is coated in 12 karat gold), and 10k (coated in 10 karat gold). The wire must contain a minimum of 5% gold content to meet international standards.

Gold Filled wire is a great alternative to solid gold as it is so much more affordable but looks and wears like solid gold. By default gold filled wire refers to 14k Yellow Gold Filled wire; however, we also stock 14K Rose Gold Filled wire to add a different look to your designs.

You have to be mindful of scratching the wire with your tools, but light scratches can be sanded out and can be hammered (gently) and soldered. It is available in multiple wire gauges, shapes, and tensions.

All of the wire that we stock is 14K with a jeweller's brass core; it is a high-quality product and made in the US.

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Gold Plated Wire

Gold plate means that the item has undergone an electroplating process, where gold is bonded to an alloy.  The gold layer is extremely thin (only microns thick).  The alloy is a mixture of metals, usually copper, brass and nickel.  Gold plating is prone to wearing off and chipping and can be easily marked.  Many wire products are called “gold coloured”, which can be an enamel coating, not gold plating.

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Fine Silver Wire

Fine Silver contains 99.9% Silver. It is a classic of the jewellery-making industry and is used in many ways. It can be fused, soldered, hammered, shaped and wrapped in various ways. This wire is made in the US. Inspire With Wire does not support the use of any product we sell being used for medical purposes. We do not accept orders of fine silver for any purpose that involves ingesting, injecting, implanting or applying it topically. Do not use fine silver for colloidal purposes.

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Jeweller's Bronze Wire

Is an alloy of Copper (85%) and Zinc (15%).  It is a variety of  Brass wire (typically 70% copper and 30% zinc) and is also known as Merlin's gold, Red Brass and Rich low-brass.  It is used mostly in jewellery making as it has a great gold colour.  The wire is harder than copper and will tarnish over time.  

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Memory Wire

Is a steel wire that is pre-shaped in coils. You can find it in sizes for rings, bracelets and necklaces. It can be natural (looks like steel) or coated. Due to its hardness, you must use special cutters designed for cutting Memory wire; otherwise, you will quickly blunt ordinary pliers.  There is also no way to straighten the memory wire; it retains its shape, hence the name!

We do not stock memory wire at this time.

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Nickel Silver Wire

Nickel is silver in colour and contains 65% Copper, 18% Nickel and 17% Zinc. It is a solid metal that can be polished to a high shine. Also known as German Silver. Some people are allergic to Nickel.

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Niobium Wire

In its natural state, it is silver, but it can be anodised for colour.  It is a hard metal, and some cutters are unsuitable for cutting Niobium wire (due to its strength); follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your tools.  It is available in a range of colours and gauges.

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Sterling Silver Wire

Is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.  Copper makes sterling silver harder than fine silver; therefore, it is better suited for a wide range of purposes.  It is a solid metal and will tarnish over time. It is available in various wire gauges, shapes, tensions and sheets.  It is a classic wire that has been used for generations and can be cut, hammered, soldered, shaped, wrapped and twisted, to name a few.

This wire can be stamped with 925 as this is the minimum silver content. Our sterling silver wire is made in the US from recycled or reclaimed materials.

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Silver Filled Wire

This wire is new to the market (late 2011). It comprises a Brass or Copper wire coated in Fine or Sterling Silver.  I only stock the 10% variety, so the minimum weight of the wire contains 10% Fine or Sterling Silver.

This wire is a great alternative as it is cheaper than the solid product but still gives that great shine and colour that Silver provides.  It can be lightly hammered, twisted, bent and patinated.  If you hammer too hard or damage the coating, you may expose the core.  It is available in different gauges, shapes and tensions.  The version of wire we stock is made in the US.

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Stainless Steel Wire

Stainless Steel is a strong, versatile wire. It is great for wire designs that need to bear weight. Remember that this is a naturally hard material, so Dead Soft Stainless Steel is harder than Half Hard Copper.

We stock 304 and 310L stainless steel. Both are marine-safe, meaning they are great for salty environments, and the 304 is softer than the 310L wire.

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For information purposes only and may change or be updated at anytime.  Every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate and up to date. However, Inspire With Wire will not be held accountable for any inadequate, inaccurate or misleading information.

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