Why do I care about diameter?Have you ever looked at beading wire an wondered just what the heck all those numbers mean? I did, so I had to find out.
The first number you need to know is the wire diameter. In wire (as opposed to beads and needles) the larger the diameter number, the larger the wire. A small diameter such as .014 would be great for small items such as freshwater pearls and tiny gemstone beads. The larger the diameters work well for larger and heavier pieces or those that might be abrasive. Remember, though, if you are working with a particularly rough stone, you'll need to have a wire with a larger "strand count" because those beads can cut through wire eventually. You'll have better quality and longer life in your designs if you use a high strand count wire in the correct diameter for the hole on the bead or stone.
So what's with the "strand count" thing?Accu-Flex Professional Quality Beading Wire - Platinum Quality is made up of many tiny strands of wire. It consists of seven strands of seven wires per strand, giving the Accu-Flex Platinum Quality Beading Wire a total 49 individual strands of wire, twisted together and coated with either clear or beautifully colored plastic. This creates a tough and resilient wire with the beautiful drape and "hand" one usually finds in pieces strung on silk!
Accu-Flex Professional Quality Beading Wire is also available in "Silver Quality", which is made up of 3 strands of seven wire bundles. This is great wire for any very lightweight pieces or those items that do not get much wear. The "hand" on the Silver Quality wire is a bit stiffer but it is still very nice wire.
So how does this affect my beading designs?I've been reworking a number of old items I strung together way back when, when all I had was Tiger Tail and a couple of other types of wire. One thing I noticed right away is that in many of these pieces, the plastic coating on the wire seemed to have just disintegrated, leaving the bare wires open to the elements. I think if I had not been re-stringing, it may have been a disaster waiting to happen! Plus, many of these necklaces, while containing lovely beads, were stiff looking and had kinks in a few places. Accu-Flex Professional Quality Beading Wire does not kink easily and has survived a few "damage tests" I conducted, including melting, sanding and twisting. While I do not have an actual laboratory in which to determine the difference between Accu-Flex and other wires on the market, I can say that it does seem to hold up very well to heavy beads, heavy wear, water, soap and other daily abuse. It takes a crimp well and looks lovely, The colors stay clean and lovely and the pricing for the product is excellent.
So which wire sizes do I need?My vote for "Best All Around Wire" would be the 49 strand .019 diameter clear coated wire, as this is a good all-purpose size wire for most stringing needs. Next on my list would be the 40 strand .014 diameter clear coated Accu-Flex, as this is terrific for light weight materials such as pearls and gemstone beads. The high wire count is great, as gems can be abrasive and the more wires present in the strand, the better the wire will hold up to abrasion.
Of course, I must have some 49 strand .024 diameter Accu-Flex on hand, too, since I like to work with big beads occasionally and this wire it the best, by far, for heavy beads that may have rough hole edges.
These three wires are the three for me - but I would add colors such as blue, green, red and olive to this basic collection, just for the fun of it and would keep a spool of black on hand as well.