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As a jewelry maker, you have a wide range of materials literally at your fingertips. From beads and chains to bails, clasps and toggles, there are all sorts of supplies you can use to make any type of jewelry imaginable. One finding that is commonly used in all sorts of projects, though, is the humble jump ring. Simple plain jump rings are extremely versatile, and they have numerous potential uses. Keep reading to learn more about how to incorporate jump rings into your jewelry designs.
Jump rings are small metal rings. They can be found in silver, gold, copper, rose gold, etc. and they are intended to be used to connect two components–such as a chain and a clasp–together. They come in several different sizes, and while they are most commonly round or oval, they can be found in a number of other shapes, including squares, stars and triangles.
There are two distinct types of jump rings–closed and open. Closed jump rings are solid loops that can be threaded onto components or soldered in place. Open jump rings are cut so that they open.
While jump rings seem pretty simple, a lot of jewelry makers use them–particularly open ones–incorrectly. For starters, they need to be opened and closed using needle nose pliers. To open, grasp one side of the ring between your thumb and index finger and the other side with your pliers. Use the pliers to slowly and gently twist the ring to the side to open it. Place whatever you are attaching on the ring and then use your pliers to twist it back the way you opened it to close. If you find it difficult to open and close the rings while holding one side in between your thumb and index finger, you can use two pairs of pliers instead.
You should never insert the tips of closed pliers inside the jump ring and open it by opening the pliers. You also should not use the technique described to pull the ring apart rather than twisting it open. Pulling the jump ring open in this manner instead of twisting alters its shape. When you close it, you will be unable to get it back to the original shape, and the ends of the ring may not line up properly. In addition to not looking right, a jump ring that has been pulled apart rather than twisted may be weaker and more likely to break. No matter how large or small the ring is, always twist to open.
Jump rings are, of course, commonly used to attach clasps to necklaces, bracelets, anklets, etc. That is not the only way that they can be used, though. They work well for transforming gemstone beads into pendants and for attaching them to chains as charms. They can also be used for attaching a pierced fish hook ear wire to the rest of an earring.
If you are feeling really creative, it is possible to make entire pieces of jewelry using nothing but jump rings. Chainmaille jewelry is made by connecting hundreds of jump rings in specific patterns to create certain designs. Chainmaille has been around for thousands of years and was once the preferred type of armor. Today, however, many jewelry designers use chainmaille to create beautiful jewelry. Believe it or not, there are more than 1,000 known chainmaille patterns that can be used to create everything from simple chains to elaborate sheets of metal “fabric.” Chainmaille jump rings come in nearly every color of the rainbow, and they come in various sizes. If you are looking for a fun and challenging way to turn simple jump rings into something absolutely amazing, you have to give making chainmaille jewelry a try!