I often get asked the question, how delicate is this piece or I hear "It's beautiful but I can't wear wire work jewelry because I am to rough on my jewelry." Whether it is because there is a misunderstanding about wire work, it looks too delicate or because you have been unfortunate enough to purchase a piece that did not hold up to normal wear, you may feel this way as well. So I thought perhaps it was time to help you understand just how wire work jewelry is made and what makes one piece more sturdy than another. It is truly be a matter of materials used or the process it was created under.
Some jewelry artists that work in wire will simply say wire work is in general delicate and that can be true if you do not understand as an artist how to make it less so. Wire comes not only in different metals and thicknesses but also in different softness. Meaning the softer and thinner a wire is, the easier it is to shape and bend. Now each time a wire is bent and shaped it gets slightly harder. We call this work hardened. You can also tumble a finished piece to harden the finished product therefor making it more sturdy. If an artist understands this they will use a softer wire to created more intricate work that requires lots of bending and will use a harder one for more simple designs that do not get as work hardened. The most important piece here is the knowledge of an artist and the materials they use in their designs.
Another factor that is important to understand is how an artist finishes the ends of the wires into a piece. If there are lots of pretty swirls to end the wires it will be slightly more delicate simply because they are not locked down, but this can be combated by the wire hardness to minimize the possibility of it being caught and warped. Some artists will wrap a spiral down to anchor it onto a frame when possible. Also any ends that are tucked under another element makes a more sturdy piece than one where the end is just left unfinished. When this is necessary for design it should always be cut, smoothed and place on the inside or underside where it will not catch on something else, ie the underside of a ring or hoop. Always the edges and finishes should be smooth to be comfortable and prevent catching. I like to tell my customers flip it over feel the edges and make sure it is smooth and clean. It is a sure sign of a sturdy piece and a talented artist if it passes the touch and flip test. Or if it is on line, ask the artist to show a picture of the back.
Does this mean every piece is sturdy, absolutely not, but if you buy from a artist who is well known for quality than you are sure to get the low down from the artist on each piece. Every piece is different in materials, stones, metals and design so be sure to always ask if there is anything special you need to do to keep your unique piece looking amazing for years to come. All fine jewelry should be cared for whether wire work or silver/gold smith. It should be boxed alone, or hung and polished regularly.
Wire work just like any other jewelry can be made as fine jewelry or it can be made as costume jewelry, it all depends on the artist and the materials, so never be afraid to ask an artist about their product and materials.
So is wire work sturdy? The true answer is yes and no. It all depends on the artists and the design, so my advice would be get to know a few and ask them about their work. There are just as many costume jewelry artists as there are fine work jewelry artisans. It's all about your wish as a consumer and finding the right match.
If you have any questions or suggestions for a fine wire work jewelry artist, I'm all ears. Shoot me a message or make a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
I am a self taught jewelry artist and designer. My blog is the door to all the new things I learn, the stones I use and love, the pieces I created and the events I participate in as well as my thoughts along this journey. I hope you enjoy the ride with me.