Jump Rings and Split Rings
Jewelrymaking Basics: What is a Jump Ring?
Jump rings are basic components of jewelry design and construction, whether for simple purposes of attaching charms to necklaces and bracelets or for making elaborate chain mail (chain maille) earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
What is a jump ring?
Jump rings are loops formed of wire. The two most common jump rings are:
- open, round-shaped and made of round wire with a single cut that lets the rings be opened and closed
- closed (soldered), round-shaped and made of round wire
Other jump rings shapes include:
- triangular wire rings
- square wire rings
- twisted wire rings
Large and Fancy jump rings are more likely to be used as earring drops and other decorative components.
Quality open jump rings
Well-made open jump rings will have ends that are saw cut at 90 degrees to the \"plane\" of the rings. The ends will \"fit\" together well without showing a big gap. Inexpensive pieces are often \"chisel-cut\", meaning that both ends of the wire have a point. Chisel-cut rings are often made of thinner wires that lack the strength for a well-made piece of jewelry.
How are jump rings used?
Connect Charms and Findings with Open Jump Rings
Plain round and oval open rings are often used to connect charms to chains and bracelets. To connect charms and findings this way, use two pairs of pliers. Flat nose pliers maximize the jump ring area grabbed in the pliers jaws. Grab the ring with both pliers to either side of the cut. Move the ends away from each other along the ring\'s \"axis\" -- not in the ring\'s \"plane.\" Put the open ring through the two pieces that need to be connected. Then move the ends of the jump ring back toward each other, wiggling the ends back and forth until the cut is hard to see and too small for the pieces to come out of the loop.
Open oval rings are many times better suited for hanging charms than open round rings because the cut is along the long side of the jump ring. Gravity tends to pull charms into the closed small part, so they cannot even accidentally escape the ring if the cut is open.
Use Closed Rings with Lobster Claw Clasps
Closed rings make an ideal target for lobster claw clasps on beaded necklaces, bracelets and anklets. A crimp fastens the bead wire to a closed ring, which has no gap that will let the bead wire \"escape\" from the ring.
Open Jump Ring Bracelets
Some 5/o triangle seed beads and 6/o round seed beads will fit onto a 1mm diameter (18 gauge) jump ring. These rings with beads on them can be connected together to make triangle seed bead jump ring bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
Chain Mail (Chain Maille)
Open and closed rings can be combined into strands and sheets. This type of jewelry is called chain mail (or chain maille). Chain mail armor was worn in Europe in the Middle Ages. Chain mail jewelry takes the idea of chain mail and applies it to earring components, necklaces and bracelets. Some of these patterns go by names like \"Byzantine chain\", \"Tryzantine chain\", \"Box chain\", \"European 4-in-1\", \"Foxtail\", \"Queen\'s Link\" and other romantic names.
Jump rings, whether simple or fancy, are basic components that every jewelry designer needs to understand, whether trying to make simple connections, making flashy, open earrings or creating complicated chain maille pieces.
Jewelry-Making DIY Basics - What is a Split Ring?
Knowing the terminology of basic jewelry findings will help the novice jewelry designer to make quality jewelry pieces faster. Split rings may look similar to jump rings, but they are not interchangeable.
What is a split ring?
A split ring is a round jewelry finding made of wire that does not have a gap through the ring, so jewelry components do not fall through a cut.. The wire curves over almost two whole circles -- 720 degrees. At the first circle, the wire makes a bend, then the second circle is right next to the first. If you have ever purchased a plain key ring and "wound" your keys onto the ring, then you have already used a split ring.
Uses of split rings
The description above gives an obvious use for split rings -- as key rings. The key rings themselves can be decorated with charms or pendants if their holes are big enough to fit directly onto the key rings; if their holes are not big enough to fit directly onto the key ring, then first "wind" them onto a smaller ring, then "wind" the small ring onto the big key ring. For putting charms on bracelets, choose rings with diameters smaller than the beads on either side if you want the charms fixed in place. Lobster claw clasps and toggles may be attached to either bead wire projects or chain projects using small split rings.
Some people will use split rings as the target for a lobster claw clasp on bead wire projects -- crimping the ring into place at the end of the jewelry piece. However, the "transition" point from the two wires of the ring to the one wire may damage a stranded bead wire. The "transition" point does not matter quite as much when using a split ring with metal chain. The author prefers recommends closed (soldered) jump rings for lobster claw targets on crimped bead wire projects, either heavy gauge open jump rings or link locks to connect clasps and toggles to chain, and heavy gauge open jump rings or a closed jump ring/link lock combination for lobster claw targets on chain projects. Closed jump rings and link locks have a more "professional" for terminating bracelets, necklaces and anklets.
Split Ring Materials
Split rings will most often be made of the following materials:
- Gold: 18 karat, 14 karat, 12 karat in yellow gold, white gold, green gold, rose gold
- Gold-Filled: base metal with karat gold mechanically and thermally bonded to visible and wear surfaces; 14/20 kgf or 12/20 kgf
- Silver: sterling silver (.925 silver) including argentium silver and blackened silver
- Surgical Steel
- Lead-free Brass, usually plated with gold, silver, copper, imitation rhodium, and gunmetal, optionally antiqued or oxidized
The temper of most sterling rings does not allow them to return to shape after having jewelry components "wound" onto them. Plated and gold-filled split rings do not have as much problem "springing" back into shape. As long as a jewelry designer discloses using plated rings with sterling silver, many buyers will accept the use if the overall design attracts the eye. However, the Federal Trade Commission frowns on those who present or imply a piece as sterling silver when it uses lesser metals.
Wire diameter and overall diameter of a split ring will influence the effort needed to use them. Small rings with thick wire will be difficult to open. Large rings with small diameter wire may not be strong enough for the application. Many jewelry-makers will use split ring pliers to aid in opening split rings; these pliers have a "hook" jaw bent toward a flat jaw that makes these pliers more safer and easier to use than teeth or fingernails.
Basic jewelry-making components include split rings which have recommended uses and permissible uses. Experience making jewelry will help teach how and when a jewelry designer should use split rings for best effect and highest quality.