Try Nugold and Copper as an Alternative to Silver Wire

As I prepare my new line of art glass and wire jewelry, I have been appalled, as I'm sure many of you have, at the price of sterling silver wire. Although currently, I'm seeing it start to drop. The last batch of scrap I sent to my refiner saw silver at over $42 per ounce. Man.

So, just like many of my collegues, I've been hard pressed to find alternatives to my lovely sterling wire. I've used sterling with abandon for many the early days, I even used to do all my prototypes with it! Hard to believe. So moving on to using other metal types for my wirework has been challenging. Since I'm combining art glass cabachons in the jewelry pieces, using sterling for both the pendant and the neck rings is out of the question. I'd just end up driving the retail price for this new jewelry into outer space.

Fortunately, I also love copper although price are starting to shoot up on that as well. My refiner just told me to start saving my copper scrap, wow. At least for the moment, however, I am considering copper as one of the next best substitues for silver wire. Here's the thing about copper wire: you can patina it (change the color) in any number of ways. Of course, you then need to seal the patina on the wire but I've just found a great, green product that will help you do that: it's called, "Smart Coat" by Sculp Nouveau. This spray resists humidity and is fast drying. Available in both matte and satin finishes, this is the best spray sealer I've found for my metal wire. My only problem is that since my pieces are art glass and wire, I have to patina and then spray the wire before I work with it.


Steel is another appealing wire to work with and I've been playing with 19 gauge black annealed steel wire that you can find at Ace Hardware. Since I haven't been able to find different gauges (and I have a show coming up), I decided to stick with copper wire for those pieces and just blacken the heck out of it, simulating the black steel look. To do this, you'll want to use steel wool or sandpaper on your wire first to give it some "tooth" or abrasion to give the patina something to stick to. The best brand I've found to date is Jax: Black: Brass, Bronze and Copper Darkener.   Go to the Supplies section on this website and just click thru on the Amazon link for Jax products.


I'm also going to try a few experiments with patinas on copper and will share the results with you in another blog post.

Nugold is another fascinating wire to consider for your wire jewelry projects. Nugold is also known as "jeweler's gold" and has a lovely, gold coloration and can indeed substitute for real gold and coordinate for your wire jewelry that needs that gold coloration. I'm sourcing that for you shortly so you can find it and will let you know what I find shortly.

Be sure to follow this thread as I continue to inform you of as many alternative to silver wire as I can think of!