The humble jump ring is one of the most useful materials you will ever encounter in jewelry making, and it is second to none. While jewelry wires are necessary, jump rings solve not only problems with extending the body of what you are crafting, but also for connecting small parts to the main construction. If you want to understand how to open and close a jump ring and how to choose jump rings, read on.
Uses of Jump Rings
The main uses of jump rings are:
- Hanging necklaces and pendants, so the jewelry is secure, and the chain itself is suitable and durable for daily use.
- They are connecting two or three different parts of construction to a single point. Clasps and locks are attached to the main chain with jump rings.
- They are adjusting the length of a necklace or pendant. If the chain is too short and the wearer is uncomfortable, additional jump rings may be added to attain the perfect height.
As someone who might be dabbling in DIY jewelry making or repair, you must be fully aware of how to select the right type of jump ring, and you should also have the proper techniques for using them on different designs and constructions.
Using the wrong size of jump ring or the wrong kind may result in a weak construction or design that will easily break apart once worn. Remember – despite the small size of jump rings, they hold together the essential parts of bracelets and pendants, and they should be just as sturdy as the main chain or the pendant construction itself.
Selecting the Proper Jump Ring Size
There are two standards for jump ring sizes: measuring by the diameter of the jump ring or by using the thickness or gauge of the jump rings. The jump ring width is measured by how big the ring is, while the indicator measures the thickness of the metal used to create the jump ring. As a rule of thumb, the width of the jump ring should increase as much as its diameter. Larger jump rings with thin wires are a bad sign because the manufacturer used the wrong-grade wires to fabricate them.
Selecting the right kind of jump ring will depend on what you are loading onto the jump ring. You are free to choose the diameter size, but the gauge of the metal should be appropriate for the jump ring to fulfill its purpose correctly. To compare, a 4-millimeter jump ring with a wire gauge corresponding to 20 will be considered a lightweight and medium-duty jump ring. A jump ring with an identical diameter but was made of a gauge 18 wire will have a considerable strength benefit compared to the gauge 20 jump ring.
We recommend six millimeters, gauge 18 jump rings for most pendant and necklace constructions, while a 3.5 mm to 4 mm jump ring with a gauge 20 wire is more appropriate for earrings. The larger and heavier the project, the bigger the diameter and the thicker the metal should be.
Just so there is no confusion, some jewelry supply stores measure the internal diameter of the jump rings as opposed to the actual metal width. If you don’t know if they measure the outer diameter (OD) or the inner diameter (ID), it would be best to ask the seller for additional guidance.
Jump Ring Shape: Oval or Round?
Jump rings aren’t just perfectly circular. There are variations to the original shape and if you are worried that one or two links might slip through the gap of the jump ring shift to using oval jump rings instead. Oval jump rings have the hole on either side, so it is less likely for the links to slip through the gap because, under regular use, the links will be resting on the curves of the oval jump ring. The hole will be either on the left or right, safely away from the links.
Jump Ring Quality
There are several types of jump rings on the market, with varying qualities and usefulness in DIY jewelry projects.
- Ordinary jump rings – Regular jump rings are the ones that you can easily fin din jewelry supply stores and crafts stores. These are the jump rings that have been sawed, so the ends can be rounded and harder to close completely. With a bit of coaxing, you can master aligning the terms of regular jump rings so the links won’t slip off.
- Chain mail – Chain mails are considered the highest quality jump rings for use in jewelry. They are so-called because they are perfectly shaped and made of high-quality metal, and their shapes are as consistent as can be. Unlike regular jump rings, the ends of chainmail are smoothened out for a perfect closing. These are excellent for creating more ambitious designs that require utmost durability, such as head jewelry.
- Soldered jump rings – These are jump rings that have been soldered before releasing to the market. These can only be threaded onto a design or piece of jewelry, and they can be more challenging to use because there is no way to open them unless you cut open the soldered point of the jump ring.
- Snap-closed jump rings are somewhat rare jump rings designed with ends that latch on to one another and stay closed unless you exert tremendous force on the snap points. They are easy to use, and you can rest easy knowing that the links will not spring open. Since these are gapless jump rings, there is also no chance that a relationship will slip out.
Jump Ring Technique
Many people make the common mistake of grabbing both ends of the jump ring with pliers and twisting them apart. This may weaken the constitution of the jump ring and cause a more significant gap between the terms.
Instead of twist both ends, secure the jump ring with a pair of pliers or a clamp, and use another pair of pliers to twist just one end to the side. By doing this, the rest of the jump ring is untouched, and you don’t overstress the wire any more than you need to.