I am a jewelry designer (if you didn't know already) and learned to craft wire rings a few years ago. Wire is a great material which allows limitless imagination, is reasonably easy to work with, and is long-lived. But I did NOT want to make rings that turns your finger green! The only answer was my decision to make better quality pieces with sterling or gold filled wire. Rings like this would last years, and be a valuable possession:
Anniversary or Friendship Band in 14K gold filled wire weave
Adjustable ring with row of sparkling pure white swarovski crystal. Available
Notice the price? It reflects the increase in sterling and gold. Those commodities have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in the interim since I started ring design.
Though I am extremely careful not to waste my precious metal wire supply, there is no way to avoid bits of metal scrap completely.
Enter the inside jeweler's tip (which you can take to the bank, literally):
A particular company, well known to crafters, buys back sterling, gold, gold filled, and several other precious metal material. Not just wire scrap, they accept any manner of precious metals including damaged jewelry, natural bits (any gold panning hobbyists out there?), coins, etc. They buy at one of the best prices that I've seen around. The price fluctates daily with the market rate, but you can compare it for yourself. Go to Rio Grande Buy Back Page
A very good resource!