Jump Rings

These are the little rings of metal that chain maille is made out of, clasps are attached with and earrings hung from.

Types of jump rings

As you can see in the picture (left), jump rings can come in many different metals, colours, sizes and even types of wire. Which one you choose will depend on the project you’re making, what you’re going to use them for and the finished look you want. You can also buy jump rings that have been soldered so there is no gap in the ring. These are perfect for replacing split rings in project so you get the security they would offer combined with the look of a plain ring.

Split rings and key rings

How they’re made

Jump rings begin as metal wire which is coiled around a metal rod, called a mandrel. You can buy mandrels especially for this purpose or substitute them with knitting needles or any other metal rod you can find. The coil is then cut along its length so each loop of the coil turns into a jump ring. How they’re cut depends on what they’re made of as well as the manufacturer and affects not only their finished price, but also the quality of the finish achieved.

Base metal and plated rings are usually cut with wire cutters, which is quicker but gives a rougher, less sharp cut. This is reflected in their price and whilst these rings are perfectly acceptable to use you will find that when closed the cut is more obvious and less secure. Precious metal rings are produced by cutting the coil with a fine jewellers’ saw, they are then tumbled to remove any burs. This extra care is reflected in the price but is also reflected in the better, more secure finish to your work.

Buying Jump Rings

Once you start buying jump rings you may enter a whole new world of ID, OD and aspect ratios. Don’t be baffled; whether or not you come across these terms will depend on the material the rings are made of.

Rings made of base metals, or plated, are generally sold simply by size, and this size is the Outer Diameter (OD). So you may find yourself buying 6, 8 or 10mm rings. The thickness of the wire, or the gauge, is not usually specified with these rings, instead the wire gets thicker and grows in proportion with the size of the ring.

When buying Sterling Silver or gold rings you’ll find the sizes, and choices, can vary a lot more with the wire gauge now being taken into account. You will also find that some sellers sell their rings sized by the OD, whereas some sell them by Internal Diameter (ID). It is important that you know what measurement the seller is quoting as you could end up with a different size than the one you wanted. So if you see a ring advertised as 6mm/ .8mm you may find it is 6mm ID and .8mm gauge, or .6mm OD and .8mm gauge.

Using Jump rings

If this has inspired you to use jump rings in your work, learn more about them in our ‘From My Toolbox’, article on pages 54-55. Here you’ll learn all about opening and closing rings. You can then move on to try our ‘Carnival Necklace on pages
25-27 and the ‘Carnival Earrings on pages 38-39, both of which mix jump rings and drop beads.

Split rings and Key Rings

Split rings and key rings are the same item, just at different sizes. Similar to jump rings, but with more loops of a coil, these give a much more secure finish as they cannot be easily pulled open.

Like jump rings, split rings are available in different metals and sizes. Which ones you choose will depend on the project you want to make and what you want to use them for.

Using Split and key rings

Split rings can be used by opening one end of a coil and winding items onto them – just as you would put keys onto a key ring. See the project on pages 46-47 to see how this technique can be used to create a decorated key ring or bag charm.

You can also make wire loops around the coils to add drops or dangles – thread your flexible beading wire through them as a clasp or bead onto them.

Because of their coils, and therefore their strength, split rings can be used to add an extra element of security to a bracelet. Using one to attach your clasp instead of a jump ring means you can roll your bracelet on and off your wrist without the jump ring popping open.

In this bracelet the jewellery designer Julie Smallwood has linked together solid twisted jump rings with plain rings that she has threaded Double Delica beads onto.
Split rings can even form part of the actual clasp, as shown here on the Carnival necklace. Combine them with a bolt ring, lobster clasp or S-hook to finish your beaded or strung jewellery
For this bracelet Julie has used exactly the same technique as the one above but this time using all plain rings, some of which have disc drop beads threaded onto them.
For a great, modern, wearable belt, add large seed beads to a chain of key rings and use a large clasp to secure.