Working With Wire
When selecting your wire, the basic rule is the higher the gauge the thinner the wire.
26 - 24 Gauge:
Good for delicate jewellery items with small beads, and for making designs that do not require tension to create the shapes.
22 - 21 Gauge:
Good for creating intricate designs that will withstand some tension as well as thread through smaller beads.
A versatile and study wire that is great for making findings and holding most shapes and designs.
18 - 14 Gauge:
Good sturdy sized wire that can cope with tension and is perfect for making sculpted shapes such as filled pendants or jig designs. This wire is thick so it would need to go with larger holed beads.
Top Tip: A metal wire gauge is a great addition for the toolbox if you need instant confirmation on the thickness of your wire.
Craft Wire Overview
Much jewellery making wire is copper or copper coated. Copper is pliable and soft in its thinner state and is also very durable. (However, please note that once between 18 - 14 gauge this wire becomes hard to manipulate.) Copper can also be highly polished with a jewellery cloth.
Silver and Gold Plated Wire:
These wires are normally copper based with silver or gold coating on the outside.
20 gauge wire is versatile and holds its shape through manipulation, however the thicker softer aluminium wire is highly pliable and easily dented by your pliers if they don't have rubber protectors between the arms. I recommend the thick aluminium wire for jig designs.
The more you work with wire the more ideas will form, you will find that some wire snaps, some coated wires fray and others are unforgivingly hard to bend, whilst some different wire gauges and colours complement each other well.
Once you have this knowledge under your belt Jig work is a great way to progress by adding decoration to any jewellery item.
This website is good example of some of the many patterns you can try: http://www.jagwearjewelry.com/wirewrap.htm
Top Tip: If you want to make a new design on your jig, push a flat piece of paper over the top of your pegs in your current design until their tips punch through the paper. This is a really quick and easy way of keeping a record of your patterns!
Attached is a brief look at wire gauge sizes and what these convert to in millimetre thickness, as well as some projects which I hope you enjoy following.