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Tips for Making Your Own Ear Wires

  • Most people can wear a variety of ear wire gauges. The best gauges for ear wires, those that will work for the most people, are 20- and 22-gauge (0.8 and 0.6 mm) wire. These wires are thin enough that they easily fit through a pierced ear, but can be hammered and work-hardened to hold their shape. 18-gauge (1.0 mm) is fairly large, and only those who wear ear earrings on a regular basis will be able to wear this size: 24-gauge (0.5 mm) wire may work for very light earrings, but it’s too thin for most, as it is easily deformed. I prefer to use half-hard wire. You can also use thicker gauge wire for posts than you can for hook-style ear wires.
  • Make sure that earrings with no catch (gravity earrings) hang at least ¾–1 in. (19–25.5 mm) down behind the ear. This helps balance the ear wires and prevents them from tipping forward and exiting the ear lobe. You can also add small, plastic ear nuts for added security.
  • Practice making your ear wires with copper wire before moving on to silver or gold.
  • I recommend you always make ear wires out of sterling silver or other precious metals (not base metals). You’re going to spend the same amount of time and effort making base-metal ear wires as you will finer metals, so use better materials to begin with. The cost for such a small amount of wire isn’t prohibitive, and you’ll end up with a more versatile, valuable ear wire!
  • Keep in mind that many people are sensitive to base metals (especially nickel) if you want to sell your earrings.
  • If you want to make two earrings that match, tape the wires together and form them around a mandrel at the same time.
  • Use a fine-tip permanent marker to mark your wires, pliers, and mandrels so you can easily line up the marks and make matched pairs of earrings.
  • Stepped forming pliers (or other cylindrical mandrels) make it easier to form matching ear wires since you don’t have to worry about the taper of traditional roundnose pliers.
  • Finish your ear wires properly. The cut ends should be smooth, and should be able to easily slide through the ear. They should be work-hardened, or springy, so the shape doesn’t distort. Sand the ear wires to remove all plier marks.

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