Sterling Silver-Filled Wire and Findings Performance Results

by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Test results provided by Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Designer and Instructor
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Sterling silver-filled wire and findings are a high-quality precious-metal alternative that gives designers great results in their finished jewelry, as well as offers a tremendous value. Sterling silver-filled wire is available in all three tempers: dead-soft, half-hard and full-hard, and ranges in thickness from 30 gauge (the finest) to 18 gauge (the thickest). The findings include jumprings, earwires and hoop earrings all in gauges ranging from 18 gauge to 23 gauge, which brings great versatility to you and your designs.

Sterling silver-filled wire and findings are fabricated with an outer layer of sterling silver (.925/20) over a copper-alloy core. The findings have additional silver plating for uniformity and then each, the wire and findings, are finished with an anti-tarnish coating to preserve the beauty and luster of the silver. This fabrication and plating process yields a metal that is great to work with as well as has the look and feel of sterling silver at a fraction of the cost.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads worked for over two years with one of the largest precious metal fabricators in the world to develop this product line. They have also tested to see what the limits and attributes are of this metal product. Test results are in and here's what we discovered:

Highlights from Forming Round Wire Testing

  • 30-gauge through 26-gauge dead-soft wire work well for crochet, Viking knit and for wire twisting
  • 22 gauge through 18 gauge tested for forming spirals--22 gauge through 18 gauge performed well with tight spirals
  • 22 gauge through 18 gauge tested for forming shapes--22 gauge through 18 gauge performed well with all shapes tested
  • Half-hard and full-hard wires in the same gauges as the above performed equally as well. They were also tested against their sterling silver counterpart of the same tempers and performed the same in ''springiness'' and in holding their shape.
Results of the most asked question ''Can this wire be soldered?''

Yes--sterling silver-filled wire can be soldered and pickled just like sterling silver.

All Test Pieces Were Tested Further in Patination and Polishing

Each piece took a patina from liver of sulfur just like sterling silver and each piece polished and tumbled just like sterling silver. The sterling silver plating showed no visible wear and the net results looked just like sterling.

Highlights from the Testing of the Sterling silver-filled Findings

The earwires outlasted the testing and proved to be durable, non-allergenic to the wearer who is typically allergic to plated findings, and overall are just like sterling silver earwires.

The loop on the earwire was opened and closed several times and retained its "springiness." The earwires also took a nice patina and polish.

The jumprings are accurate in measurements, had no burs, opened and closed well and retained "springiness."

Further testing will be done with this wonderful new product and a new report will be issued to keep you completely informed.

Shop the selection of sterling silver-filled wire and findings and see for yourself the tremendous value and workability of this innovative product line.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Sterling silver-filled Wire Performance Results," featured in the January 18, 2011 newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Not a question; but a comment. I find your articles intriguing as well as informative. I even read the ones for which I have no project - with a result of initiating a new (to me) product or technique. I especially enjoyed the article on silver-filled items. Now THAT is a timely introduction! What a terrific idea--and great answer for this economy (and current silver prices)--for those of us who want the values of sterling. This will do the trick! Thank you. PS. Your How-To videos are a blessing! Some of us REALLY learn by watching. They give the learned more CONFIDENCE - often the ingredient that stops us from trying. Incredible valuable, and hope you keep adding to the library."
- Renee

"Thank you for sending me this information. I'm so glad that silver findings can be developed to be tarnish resistant without being rhodium plated (very costly). I've been hesitant to develop my designs with sterling silver findings and have the items not look as wonderful as when first made due to the silver tarnishing. I will definitely check this out! Thanks for your research and letting us know of your "findings." LOL!"
- Colleen

"Actually, I just wanted to let your company know that informational articles/studies like this one are very helpful. Thanks for putting these out there and available to your consumers."
- Bonna

" Your information on Sterling-Filled wire and findings was very well done. I would like to try these findings for myself and work with them to see that they do perform as stated. Looking forward to that experience. Thank you for the research and report. This has been very helpful."
- M J