Every once a while, I would have a customer asking me the thickness of my ear wires.One customer said she bought from another artisan a pair of handcrafted earrings using wire that was too thick for her piercing and she eneded up being unable to wear them.I thought I would write a simple post here explaining how we jewelry artisans decide the thickness of the wire we use for our jewelry.
The wire gauge numbers tell you how thick the wire is.The smaller the number, the thicker the wire is. Commercial earrings usually use 20 gauge(0.032", or 0.81mm) or 22gauge(0.0254", or 0.65mm). Occasionally 24 gauge ear wires(0.02", or 0.51mm) are also used for girls' jewelry or more delicate(and expensive) solid gold jewelry.
The standard(most common) earring wires are 22 gauge.
If you wear a lot of thicker gauge earrings or heavy earrings, your piercings may have been streched and can allow thicker gauge wires to go through(18 gauge, or even thicker than that).Otherwise, you probably can only wear 20 or 22 gauge ear wires like me. Any wire thicker than 20 gauge simply won't go in my ear. Sometimes, if I have not worn earrings for some time, even 20 gauge can feel a little tight for me.
All pearl hook earrings(see the picture above) on my website use the standard 22 gauge wire, because the drilled holes in the pearls will only allow 22 gauge wire to go through.
I do use 20 gauge wires for forged wire earrings such as the geometry fun earrings and all hoop earrings . The reason to use thicker wire is so it can create an illusion of volume when the wire is hammered flat.
Some artisans use 18 gauge wire as ear wire, either because they have larger piercings, or because thicker wire gives more volume when being forged (hammered flat).Even though I love the look of these 18 and 16 gauge ear wires, I have decided to dedicate my works to average piercings like mine.