What "gauge" and "hardness" or wire should I use for bangle bracelets?

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Original Post

Hello wonderful Etsy community!

I have been soldering now for the past month and have had great success making small, strong, loops and hoops with half-hard, 20-gauge wire.

I am now in the process of trying to create simple soldered bangle bracelets, and made one with 1/2 hard 18-gauge wire that I hammered to make stronger. Yet this type of bangle really isn't up to the strength or quality of standards I want for my product.

I don't want to go out and spend lots of money on various wires of different gauges and hardness, and I'm battling whether or not I should buy full hard 14 gauge wire (which I've read is often used for bangles, but can be hard to manipulate by hand), or stick with half-hard in 12, 14, or 16 gauge?

Can anyone advise me on what they would use? I don't want to have to hammer the wire to make it stronger, so what wire gauge and hardness will work for what I want to do?

THANK YOU so much and sorry for all the details! I tend to jabber on, and on, and on, and on...


Posted at 8:51pm Jan 24, 2011 EST


you want one of these (so do I):

"Correct guage" all depends on what you are trying to do with your bangles. You could do lots of strands of 24 guage wire twisted together then saudered, or one big band of 12 guage. Depends also on the shape of the wire you are using.

You don't want dead soft, but then again, to shape it you dont want it totally hard, either. half hard is what i use for alot of things, its not hard to anneal it if i have to, but not so soft im constantly denting it either. Often times when you sauder the metal together you anneal it a bit, so you will probablly have to hammer a little as you will to get the shape. a bracelet mandrel and a rawhide mallet is a great way to do this without messing up you metal too much.

Posted at 9:55pm Jan 24, 2011 EST

Thanks for the help, Erika!

I'm really looking to make plain, simple bangles, just a circle of wire soldered closed, and with the 18-gauge bangle I made, I'm afraid that if I hit it or such by mistake, it will easily bend.

I have some soldered bangles I bought years ago that are very sturdy and take a lot of force to bend (they are not hammered at all); do you suggest 12-gauge 1/2-hard sterling silver wire to mimic this? Remember, I'm looking for a single, thick ring of silver or gold, probably for stacking on the wrist.

Thank you again!


Posted at 12:36am Jan 25, 2011 EST

If you don't want to hammer it, get a tumbler filled with shot. Use half hard wire, so you can get a good shape, then stick it in the tumbler and it will harden it without leaving hammer marks like a hammer, shines it up nice too.

Posted at 12:44am Jan 25, 2011 EST

I agree. A tumbler is whats required.

Posted at 12:53am Jan 25, 2011 EST

Tangocatgems, your work is simply lovely!

Posted at 1:01am Jan 25, 2011 EST

It doesn't matter what hardness you buy, as soon as you solder the wire it will be dead soft. Once it's soldered round it up on a steel mandrel with a plastic mallet, unless you want a hammered texture...just remember that metal on metal will enlarge the bangle.

Posted at 1:04am Jan 25, 2011 EST

If you didn't know the Techniques and Materials forum is going away very soon. Here's a link to a metalsmith thread on the Unofficial Etsy Forum (UEF)


Posted at 10:51am Jan 25, 2011 EST

Great info, Thanks! I have been looking at tumblers.

Posted at 1:56pm Jan 25, 2011 EST

I was going to say, start with something like 12 or 14ga dead soft, then hammer with a mallet to harden.

Posted at 2:41pm Jan 25, 2011 EST