One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a jewelry instructor is “What gauge metal do I use for this piece?” I made up this chart a few years ago, and though it depends on many other factors (how much you are charging for a piece, your budget, restrictions by the wearer, etc.) they are basic, “not carved in stone” suggestions. Hope you find them helpful.
Earrings—22-26 gauge sheet. If you are going to roll them through the rolling mill to put a pattern on them, you can even use 20 if they will be small or 22 for larger earrings. 24 gauge does not have enough “give” to show a pattern.
Ear Wires—18-21 gauge. 20 gauge is my favorite. You can go up to 18 gauge, but it may be too thick for some people. Any thinner than 21 gauge, and you risk the ear wire being too flimsy, and it kind of cuts into the ear.
Pendants—18-22 gauge. If you are doing overlays, (2-3 layers) you might want to stick to 22 gauge so the piece does not get too heavy. However, I like my pieces to have some heft to them so people feel like they are getting their money’s worth.
Pendants—with cabs—20 gauge
Cuff Bracelets—with a wire backing, 20-22 gauge
Cuff Bracelets—simple with no wire backing, 16 gauge (all my copper etched bracelets are 16 gauge)
Cuff Bracelets—hammered, 18-20 gauge
Belt Buckles—14-16 gauge
Rings—half round wire ring shanks—8 gauge
Spinner rings—20 gauge
Lexi Erickson, President of Wubbers University, is an internationally-known artist and teacher based in Denver, CO.