Silver wire is used in jewellery making. It is a soft wire that must be hardened so it will keep its shape. Silver wire is hardened by hammering with a plastic or rawhide hammer. These types of hammers do not dent the wire like other hammers would. Uses that require hardening include making ear wires and rings.
Once you have bent your wire to your required shape, lay it on a flat surface.
Holding it steady with one hand, begin tapping it solidly with your hammer. Silver wire has a large crystal structure. As you tap the silver wire with the hammer, it breaks down the crystal structure and causes the wire to harden.
Check your wire after several solid raps to see if it has reached the desired level of hardness. Do not over-hammer your wire, or it will become brittle. Three to five solid raps should do the job.
To hammer and harden rings, follow the same rules you did with hammering flat designs. Place the ring on a metal mandrel and prop the top of the mandrel against your table while holding the bottom in your hand.
With the other hand, begin hammering the ring while it is on the mandrel. Rotate the mandrel while hammering and make sure to hit all surfaces of the ring equally. Three to five strikes per section should harden the ring sufficiently.
Hammer your ring before adding any settings so you do not dislodge them. Most silver wire wrap rings require at lease two wraps in order to hold their shape after hardening. The one in the above picture has three wraps.
You can use the same technique to harden other jewellery wire. Experiment and adjust the strength of each strike depending on the wire.
Do not hammer silver wire before shaping it as this will make it brittle. Do not strike wire too hard as this may cause it to curl.