Getting Started - Jewelry Measurement, Helpful Charts

When you're working with jewelry, you're working in MM (millimeters) most of the time. What the heck is a millimeter and why do you need to know? It's a unit of measure that is important if you are looking to sell your jewelry. Plus learning the lingo doesn't hurt if you're shopping for custom or handmade jewelry and need to visualize the size of a stone or wire. MM most often speaks to the 'size' of the stone or cabochon. Gauge is speaking about the 'thickness' of wire.

In Gauges, the SMALLER the number, the thicker the wire.
The 'LARGER' the number, the thinner the wire.

Keep that in your perfectly twisted memory. :))
MM and gemstone sizes do not work this way. The larger the number, the larger the size.

  • Wire comes as 'Dead Soft', 'Half Hard' and 'Hard'.
  • Use Dead Soft wires for wire wrapping.  Wire hardens as you work with it. Use Half hard or Hard wires for things such as findings or jump rings where more strength is needed in a single bend or loop.
  • Wire also comes round, half round, square, twisted, imprinted with design.
  • Wire also comes 'bare' (no anti-tarnish coating), or comes coated to prevent the development of a patina.  Bare wire, can be oxidized (antiqued) but coated wire will not take to oxidation.

~click the images to enlarge
Chart from

How does one measure a MM? I would recommend that you get the inexpensive, no frills, uncomplicated brass Caliper.  They are about $6 or $10 from the local hobby/jewelry store or online.

These are what I use for measure in addition to standard rulers, over the counter grid paper and my eyeballs.

Enjoy - I hope this helps.

These images are can be found pinned on my Pinterest board:
Wire Jewelry Patterns, Information and Tutorials


Designed for Time said...

I know everyone needs to or should be watching expenses but for about 15 dollars you can get a nice steel calipers that will give u a display readout. This can come in handy if like me a lot depends on getting just the exact size. Just a thought.

Perfectly Twisted said...

I agree, if you are into the jewelry making or needing of exact measures, then yes, do invest in something more. I started with these brass ones and for beginners, this works well until you have a better idea of your needs. I started with beading and ended up doing more cab wraps, so needed them then. Thanks for the suggestion too, it is worth the extra few bucks for sure. Hugs! :)