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:
- 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.