I get asked all the time what wire to use for bangles, what gauge is best, and how to shape them properly. Today I am going to put all of that info in one place for you:-) First, what kind of wire? I prefer to use wires with a 1/4 hard or harder temper for bangle bracelets. You can use full hard, but you must be ready for the spring back! I like the 1/2 hard temper of my Fine Silver Copper Core wire, or 1/4 hard enameled coated copper best. Next, what gauge to use? This is dependent on what style of bangle you are making. 14 and 12 gauge are best for single strand bracelets:
12 and 14 gauge also work well for double wrapped bangles:
16 gauge should only be used for triple wrapped bangles, as it is a little too thin to hold up in a single or double strand:
Now to shaping bangles! I like to use a wooden stepped bangle mandrel as it is soft enough that it will not mark up your wire and light enough so it won’t break your floor if you drop it! If you do not have a bracelet mandrel, not to worry! Take a look in your kitchen and around your house for bottles and cups that have straight sides and are about the same size as your wrist or smaller, about 2 1/4 inch. I used a seasoning grinder to make the bangle pictured here, and it was a little on the small size for the bangle I wanted to make.
If all you can find is something undersized it can be made to work, you will just need to reshape it by hand. Just wrap around your bottle and then with 2 fingers on the inside and your thumb on the outside, gently squeeze all the way around the bangle to open it up to the correct size.
Last, and most important: Sizing bangles. It is important to remember that bangles cannot be sized the same as regular clasping bracelets, even if they are adjustable. A bangle must be able to fit over the hand comfortably, yet not fall off when the hand is dropped. To measure you hand for your bangle size, make your hand as small as possible, as if you were putting on a bangle, bringing your thumb and little finger together. Using a tape measure, string, or a long strip of paper, measure around your hand at the widest point — the tape measure/string/paper should be pulled taught, not loose. Make note of the actual circumference of your hand, then measure the length with a ruler to get your hand circumference.
Approximate sizing guide:
2 3/8 diameter = 7.46 (7 1/2″)
2 5/8 diameter = 8.25 (8 1/4″)
2 3/4 diameter = 8.6 (8 3/5″)