How To Use French Wire & Wire Guardians in Jewellery Making

Damaged-Wire

Wire guardians give your designs an extended lifespan.

General wear and tear eventually gets the better of all our favourite jewellery. Bracelets and Necklaces are particularly prone to this and will, over time fray and snap.

The breaking point almost always occurs at points of high stress, somewhere near the end, were the thread meets the clasp.

So when making jewellery at home or producing items to sell, it’s worth considering ‘extra measures’ of security, wire guardians give your designs an extended lifespan.

The most commonly used material for bead stringing is unquestionably Nylon Coated Wire. Nylon Coated Wire is by design a pretty hardy material and will go the distance on its own without reinforcement, but once the Nylon wears off and the wire is exposed it will most certainly rust and break.

The inclusion of a wire protector will give you the reinforcement you require, thus lengthening the lifespan of your jewellery.

Wire protectors come in a few different guises and are referred to by different names depending on who you are talking to, so when you come across names such as French Wire, Wire Guardians or Gimp, all are referring to the same products and all will essentially do the same job.

French Wire or Gimp is a continuous coil of fine metal.

French-Wire-2

The coils are extremely delicate, so much so, that they are virtually weightless. This means the material should be handled with care, as once pulled or kinked, the wire will never return to its original shape.

Aside from this, French Wire/Gimp will protect your stringing materials like an invisible force field.

Simply snip off 1cm of wire and insert your stringing material into the centre.

 

The wire is designed to sit at the point where your stringing material loops, forming a section from which you attach jump rings and clasps.

This barrier of wire will take all the impact of the jump ring, reducing the risk of fraying or damage. French Wire/Gimp comes in a variety of different thicknesses depending on the thickness of your wire.

It is worth bearing in mind, that the thickness of your wire is NOT defined by the strand count, but of the dimensional thickness of the individual cables ( .010in, .015in etc)

The great thing about French Wire/ Gimp is, it’s an economical safe bet. A 2gram/1meter pack will easily see you through 50 necklaces.

Wire-Guardian

Wire Guardians serve exactly the same purpose, the only difference being, they come in individually ‘horse shoe’ shaped pieces.

To use a Guardian, simply insert your stringing material up through one side and back down through the hole in the opposite side.

Your stringing material will rest neatly and safely within the grooved section at the top.

Wire Guardians work especially well with alternative stringing materials such as Silk thread, cotton or nylon or any other material that is easily frayed.

They are slightly hardier than French Wire/Gimp, due to their solid structure. Guardians are more costly than French Wire/Gimp but are an equally good alternative depending on what you prefer.

Kerri McKenna In House Designer

Kerri McKenna
In House Designer

Which do you prefer to use & why?

Helpful Links

Gimp Wire/French Wire/Bullion Wire
4mm Wire Guardian – Silver Plated
Beadalon 7 Strands
2mm Round Crimp Beads – Silver Plated
Griffin Silk Bead Cord
Nylon – 0.4mm
The BeadSmith Nylon – White

2 Comments

  • Rosemarie

    I always use wire guardians, & have done so since I started beading several years ago. I find that they greatly reduce the chances of breakage, and as I make quite heavy jewellery that can be important. They are very easy to use, and for me at least, easier and better than gimp. Good that there are various colours available, so they blend in with the clasps very well.
    I would certainly recommend them to anyone starting out with beading, especially people who like to use larger beads and pendants.

  • youngagain

    Hi. Being rather a novice at beading I found this article really interesting and helpful. Thank you and more tips please?