GO 340 Gemstones & Gemology
ES 567 Gemstones of the World
Dr. Susan Ward Aber, Geologist & Gemologist
Emporia State University
Emporia, Kansas USA


Wire Wrap Jewelry

Wire wrap is a hand fabricated method of jewelry design and creation. It involves the use of tools to bind and twist wires together. Some of the tools used include pliers, pin vise, Swiss pattern file, wire cutters, ring mandrel, and a scale. Plier types include bent nose, flat nose, round nose, and chain nose, depending upon the look you are trying to achieve. Jewelry wire comes in many shapes, such as round, square, half round, triangular, flat, or patterned. Although square wire is used for many items, half round is used for wrapping ring shanks. Round wire is used for earring findings and bead rings. The wire metal type can be brass, copper, fine silver, sterling silver, karated gold, or gold-filled (brass core with karated gold on the surface). The gauge of wire refers to the thickness, which varies from 8-gauge (thick) to 26-gauge (thin).

The specimen shown to the right is burmite in gold. This amber is from Myanmar and was polished by David Lamb. The wire wrap design was by Mildred Moore. The specimen pictured below on the left is called root amber.

Burmite in gold.

Burmite in gold.
Some of the basic techniques include twisting the wire, wrapping a wire bundle, crimping or flattening the wrap, scrolling, and shaping. All of these techniques are visible on the examples shown to the right. Click on this image and the one at the top of the page to see image enlargements.

This jewelry making technique is possible to learn and perform in home studios because the needed tools are simple. It does not involve the use of solder, fire, chemicals, or complicated machinery. Advantages of this technique are unlimited design possibilities, fast turnaround from the design inception to jewelry completion, and the ability to incorporate any shape or finish of any material from gemstone to pottery shards.

Whereas this first example was talent from Canada, below is an example of local talent! Read on . . .

A wire wrap demonstration given to the gemstone class by Ruby Herrick and is portrayed below. Mrs. Herrick made both a ring and pendant, skills she learned from the William Holland School of Design.

It is important to straighten wire before starting, and to keep wraps neat and straight on the front side as the project progresses. The specimens used in wire wrap jewelry could be rough, tumbled shapes, faceted, carved or cabochon cut specimens. It is best to match the metal and stone in a complementary color. In addition to wrapping a gemstone, wire wrap designs can stand alone in rings, bracelets, brooches, and pendants.

Some type of eye protection is recommended when cutting wire. Also, these cut, sharp ends should be filed to remove burrs. Remember when cleaning the wire to consider the gemstone. Acetone or other commercial cleaners can damage stones and precautions should be taken with hematite, pearl, jet, amber, opal, turquoise, and malachite, to name a few. More of Ruby's creations can be Some helpful and interesting books and links are listed below.

Designs by Ruby

Silver and Petrified Palm Wood

Gold and Gold Dollar

Copper and Green Glass

Silver and Pearl

Gold and Cameos

Bead and Gold Ring

Silver and Blue Glass

Gold and Dichroic Glass

Gold and Aventurine Quartz

More of Ruby and Ernie's creations are available for viewing as well as information regarding burmite specimens from David Lamb.

References and Links

Return to the Syllabus or go on to more images, then onto the next lecture.

This page originates from the Earth Science department for the use and benefit of students enrolled at Emporia State University. The curriculum is © by the author, 2002-2006. For more information contact the course instructor, S. W. Aber, e-mail: esu.abersusie@gmail.com Thanks for visiting! Webpage created April 24, 2002; last update: 16 September, 2012.

2002-2012 © Susan Ward Aber. All rights reserved.