Much of the wire that we use in jewelry making is one of the copper based alloys.
An alloy is a metal that is made up of two or more individuals metals. These are most usually formed by smelting (or melting) the metals together to form a new metal. For the purposes of jewelry making, these alloys are made to give a specific appearance to the metal.
Copper alloys are referred to by their CDA designation. CDA stand for Copper Development Association and they publish specifications for copper alloys. The best way to know exactly what metal you have is to know the CDA number which will tell you what the metal is made of. Here are some examples:
- CDA 110 – Copper (99.9% copper) This is bright shiny copper used for all forms of copper jewelry making.
- CDA 230 – Red Brass (85% copper & 15% zinc) Red brass is also called golden brass and nu gold.
- CDA 260 – Yellow Brass (70% copper & 30% zinc) The addition of more zinc to this alloy gives it a more yellow color than red brass.
- CDA 752 – German Wire (65% copper, 18% nickel & 17% zinc) It is sometimes referred to as nickel-silver wire which refers to the silver color, not the metal.
All of the above alloys are 100% lead free and are safe to use in all jewelry making.
If wire is specified with it’s CDA designation, it is an alloy. An alloy is 100% pure metal that is NOT coated or plated. This is the best kind of wire for jewelry making.
Coatings are sometimes applied to help resist tarnishing, but they will also keep you form “antiquing” the wire with heat or chemicals. Antiquing will give wire the appearance (or patina) of being old and vintage.
All of the copper, brass and german wire that we sell at Thunder Moon Supplies are pure alloys.