~ Choosing the right diameter of Soft Flex® Beading Wire for your jewelry designs ~
(Taken from our blog)
More and more, I'm talking to designers who are frustrated and confused about how to pick the best diameter of wire for their jewelry making projects. With so many copycat beading wire manufacturers out there and no standard way of marketing or labeling wire, it can be very hard to decipher what is the most important information. I can't speak for every brand, but I can certainly speak for ours.
Choose the thickest diameter that will fit under your beads!
That is right. It is that simple. Just choose the thickest diameter that will fit under your beads in Soft Flex® Beading Wire. You don't need to memorize number of strands or look at tensile strength. I will talk a little about those things later, but you can make it very easy and very simple and just look at the diameter.
Most common usage for each diameter of flexible beading wire can be found right on the label:
Very Fine (.010 in) – sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving and embellishment
Fine (.014 in) – pearls, seed beads, small gem and stone beads that will not fit on a thicker diameter
Medium (.019 in) – most commonly used, all-purpose diameter, will fit most pearls and seed beads but can also handle more abrasive materials such as crystal, glass and stone beads
Heavy (.024 in) – best for bracelets, eye glass holders, lanyards, watch bands (designs that get a lot of wear and tear), also good for lampwork, trade beads, bone and stone (heavy and abrasive beads)
Construction of beading wire & number of strands:
Most flexible jewelry making wire is strands of steel that are braided together and then coated in nylon. The variations on this basic recipe can include different numbers of strands, thickness of nylon, colored nylon, plating with gold or silver, etc. From manufacturer to manufacturer, there are variations in quality and origin of the steel, types of nylon as well as braid and weave of the wire. All in all, every beading wire is not created equally. For quality assurance, we touch every inch of Soft Flex® Beading Wire as it is being spooled. We are particular about our product from beginning to end, only using the best products in the interior of the wire so that the exterior can look, feel and be "simply the best" beading wire. So you will hear that a wire is a 7, 19, 21 or 49 stranded product. This refers to the number of strands that are braided within the wire. We currently make Soft Flex® Wire in Fine - .014 - 21 strands, Medium - .019 - 49 strands & Heavy - .024 - 49 strands. We have never strayed from that same construction in our core product, Soft Flex® Beading Wire. Any time we have tinkered with the construction to create something more flexible (Soft Touch), less flexible but craft friendly (Econoflex) or plated (Extreme), we have put a new brand name on the product so that it can easily be spotted as different and not the same.
So, tensile strength is another confusing bit that is on all beading wire labels. Tensile strength refers to the breaking point when the wire will snap under the stress of weight. How does this apply to making jewelry exactly? Um, I don't think it does. However, it is a standard way of talking about wire. Unless you are using this wire for fishing or lassoing a little one (not recommended by me - of course), there is no reason why this part of the label should trip you up. It is there if you want to look at it, but it is not important in any way shape or form in choosing your beading wire diameter.
Quick guide to our beading wire brands:
Soft Flex® and Metallics – original 21 & 49 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (6 colors + steel), .019/Medium (22 colors + steel) & .024/Heavy (4 colors + steel)
Soft Touch™ – premium 7, 21 & 49 stranded beading wire, available in 4 diameters: .010/Very Fine (2 colors + steel), .014/Fine (steel only), .019/Medium (steel only), .024/Heavy (steel only). Soft Touch is more flexible with the same strength and durability as Soft Flex Wire.
Extreme Steel – 19 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (only silver), .019/Medium (only silver), .024/Heavy (only silver).
Extreme “Green Product” Alloy (look for green logo) – 19 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .014/Fine (silver, gold & champagne), .019/Medium (silver, gold & champagne), .024/Heavy (silver, gold & champagne). The NEW Extreme “Green Product” is more flexible than Extreme Steel with the same durability.
Econoflex – 7 stranded beading wire, available in 3 diameters: .010/Very Fine (7 colors + steel), .014/Fine (7 colors + steel), .019/Medium (7 colors + steel). This is our ONLY wire manufactured in China. It is for beginners and crafters not for typical stringing projects.