Topics: Wire, Metal Allergies, Durability

Which wire is best for people who have allergies to nickel? Also, which wires hold up the best with wear and tear?
- Ronda
Karat gold, sterling silver, gold-filled, stainless steel, niobium and titanium wires are best for persons with allergic reactions to nickel. Plated base metals (brass or steel) can be used for wrapping and wire components, such as earwires.

Any of the precious metal wires will hold up with wear and tear as long as they are work-hardened in the process of being wrapped or formed as components. Use steel tools to wrap or work the wire for best results. For niobium and titanium use nylon jaw pliers or coat your tools with Tool MagicĀ® so the tools do not alter the finish of these beautifully colored wires.

When you make your wire selection, consider temper as a major determinant of the degree and speed the wire will become work-hardened. To help choose the right temper, factor in the wrapping that will be done or the component that will be formed. Specific tempers for sterling silver and gold-filled wire are dead-soft, half-hard and full-hard. Dead-soft is the most malleable, and will shape and wrap easily. Dead soft is followed by half-hard which has a bit of spring to it, and will offer a bit of resistance when forming or wrapping, yielding crisp clean bends and smooth wraps. After half-hard there is full-hard which can be worked into sturdy wraps or components but has the least malleability and cannot be manipulated as much as the other two tempers once it is in place. Refer to ''Forming Basic Wire Shapes'' how-to video and instructions for tips and techniques when working with wire and its tempers.

- Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Artist and Instructor

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