At least three gauges of jewellery wire are necessary for jewellery makers to accomplish a variety of tasks: 16, 20 and 24 gauge. Jewellery wire is used to make chains and findings, such as jump rings and ear wires, as well as for wire wrapping. The gauge of wire describes the diameter in millimetres, with the thicker wires having smaller gauge numbers. Copper, silver, brass and gunmetal are available in all gauges, as well as .925 sterling silver and 14 carat gold.
16-gauge is a 1.3mm diameter jewellery wire. It is a thick, sturdy wire that works well for any jewellery piece requiring some strength to hold weight. Use 16-gauge jewellery wire to create thick jump rings and chain mail. Eye pins are created with 16-gauge wire; however, the pins only fit into large-holed beads.
20-gauge is an 0.8mm diameter jewellery wire. It is the most versatile wire for making delicate findings, such as jump rings, eye pins, head pins and split rings. 20-gauge is the most common size for making ear wires for earrings. This mid-size, delicate wire fits into most bead holes.
24-gauge wire is a 0.5mm diameter jewellery wire. This very thin, delicate wire is used for wire-wrapping necklaces and bracelets. The thin wire wraps well to create semi-precious stone pendants. It is also used for making wire-wrapped head and eye pins. This wire fits through almost any bead hole.