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Using Cold Connections To Make Jewelry


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Wire Wrapping Basics
Using Cold Connections To Make Jewelry

Fire opal necklace with wire wrapped turquoise pendant

Maire Loughran

I am a big fan of cold connections. After using this method for many years, I have found there are few types of soldered jewelry that can't be re-created using cold connections. Wire work is one of the top cold jewelry making methods.


Wirework is the second most popular jewelry making method for beginner jewelry artists (beading is in first place). Wirework is done by using two different types of wire, wrapping them in such a way to create very durable pieces of jewelry, including incorporating beads and gemstones.

Wire Tutorial

Wire comes in different shapes, gauges and flexibility. Most popular in shape is round, half round, twisted and square. Round and square are self-explanatory. Half round is flat on one side and rounded on the other - it kind of looks like a hill on the horizon. Twisted looks like a braid.

Purchase wire by the foot in coils. The shortest coil is usually sold in lengths of five feet. However, I've purchased wire in 50 foot lengths and I wouldn't be surprised to find it available in longer lengths. The longer the coil, the cheaper the price.

Gauge refers to how thick it is. The lower the gauge, the thicker the wire. And flexibility indicates how easy it is to bend. Flexibility ranges from full-hard to dead-soft. The top two wire wrapping metals are sterling silver or gold-filled wire.

Beginners to this method of using cold connections should use half-hard, half-round wire as the main framework. Use soft, round wire for the wrap.

Wireworking Tools

This is a very cheap and portable type of jewelry-making. Wire-cutters and a few different types of pliers will do it. If using gold-filled wire, I recommend buying pliers with plastic tips so you don't scratch the wire.

Federal Trade Commission guidelines require gold-filled wire has 1/20th of a layer of karated gold over the base metal. So you don't want to wear away the karated gold by removing imperfections cause by metal pliers marring the surface of the wire. Any scratches on sterling silver wire can easily be smoothed out using a flexshaft or Dremel tool.

The pendant on this page is a turquoise gemstone, wire wrapped using two pieces of foundation wire wrapped in several different places with round wire. The foundation wire is separated to form a cradle for the gemstone.

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