How to Use Split Rings and Jump Rings

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How to Use Split Rings and Jump Rings

For someone looking to start a new hobby in jewellery making, mastering the techniques required to work with jump rings and split rings is an important first step. The techniques for opening and closing jump rings need to be understood if a new hobbyist wants to create jewellery that can be relied upon. Incorrect opening and closing of these important links weakens the integrity of any jewellery items they are used for. Split rings offer greater levels of security but require a different technique to open them successfully.

Tools play a part in successfully using both types of rings, and whilst they are not expensive learning about them is also important. There is a wide range of highly specialised jewellery making tools to learn about, as they are important additions to a jeweller's toolbox. Once the simple techniques are mastered, an individual who is new to the jewellery making craft can look to apply them to their own personal creativity.

Jump Rings

Most jewellery components are joined together and, in many cases, the join is created using a jump ring. Jump rings are small enough to avoid affecting the integrity of the design of a piece of jewellery yet have to be strong enough to avoid being bent or opened so that a piece of the jewellery is lost. A jump ring is a small round ring made from a variety of metals. This ring is cut very finely to ensure the join between the two halves is difficult to cut. Jump rings should always be made from work hardened metal, as this ensures that the ring is unlikely to be separated accidentally.

It is possible to purchase closed jump rings and to create a cut manually. This is a delicate technique that requires specific jewellery making tools such as saws and cutters, but is be useful if unusual jump ring designs are required. However most jump rings are sold with a narrow gap, and this is the key to opening the jump ring to use as part of a jewelry piece. Closed jump rings are also used with jewellery clasps, such as S clasps, to make a very secure joining mechanism. They also work well with trigger clasps to join bracelets and necklaces.

Opening a Jump Ring

A jump ring is opened with two pairs of pliers. Firstly a pair of bent-nosed pliers is used to hold the ring close to the cut with the cut side towards the body. A pair of chain-nose pliers is then used to hold the cut side of the ring, and to gently but firmly twist it towards the body to create an opening. A jump ring should never be opened by pulling the ring apart, as the integrity of the metal can be damaged, and the two sides of the cut might not join together closely enough.

Once the opened jump ring has been used for joining other jewellery elements together, it is closed quite simply. Again, using the bent-nosed pliers to hold the jump ring as close to the cut as possible, use the chain-nosed pliers to twist the cut back into place. It may be necessary to over twist the ring due to the tensile strength of the metal. A correct join is often felt or heard when the join clicks into place. The better the quality of jump ring the better the quality of the join achieved at this stage.

For jump rings to be effective when making jewellery they need to be precision cut. The wire they are made from should be cut, by machine, so that the join is a perfect as possible. They should also be cut from work hardened wire. Work hardened wire means the metal requires more effort to shape. Any joins are made stronger and less likely to separate accidentally. Jump rings can be work hardened very simply by hammering them against a metal block two or three times. They can also be purchased pre-work hardened for convenience.

Split Rings

A split ring is the type of ring traditionally used to retain keys on a key ring. It is a ring, made from a variety of metals that have been tempered to ensure they retain tensile strength. It is a circle of wire that is two turns in length but is not joined in the same way a jump ring is. The open ends of the wire are at either end of the ring, creating a spring like mechanism. The tensile strength of this mechanism is what makes split rings preferable to jump rings when more valuable jewellery components are being joined together.

Opening A Split Ring

Split ring pliers have one very fine point that is perfect for prising open the parts of a split ring. The narrow nose of the pliers is pushed between two of the outer rings. This creates a gap between the two rings so that the jewellery piece can be threaded between the gap. The split ring pliers are then removed and a pair of chain nose pliers is used to complete threading the jewellery piece onto the remainder of the split ring. For much smaller split rings, bent-nosed tweezers are often easier to manipulate the rings with.

Learn What Are Jump Rings and Split Rings Made From

Jump rings and split rings are widely available made from a range of different materials. Gold and silver rings are popular for classic jewellery making, and expense can be lowered by using gold and silver plated versions. Copper and aluminium are popular with artisan jewellery makers, as they are both made in a range of colours. Anodised aluminium or copper jump rings are popular for making chainmaille jewellery. Bright colours are electrochemically added to the surface of the aluminium. Aluminium is pitted on the surface with sulphuric acid, and the pitted surface then accepts a wide range of colours using organic acids in electroplating.

Sizing Jump Rings and Split Rings

When purchasing jump rings, there are several measurements that may be quoted. Sizing of jump rings and split rings is usually determined by the thickness of the wire. Traditionally, American Wire Gauge standards are used, and they measure the thickness of the wire in millimeters. The inner diameter of the ring is determined by the machine used to manufacture the wire and the tensile strength of the wire itself. The kerf width is the measurement of the gap between the two ends of a jump ring after it has been cut. The outer diameter of a jump ring is the inner diameter plus twice the gauge of the wire used.

Determine What Tools Are Needed to Work with Jump rings and Split Rings

There are a wide range of tools that help when working with split rings and jump rings. A beginners kit should include items needed to manipulate small jewellery components. Small pliers with short handles make manipulating small pieces quite difficult, so longer handles should prove easier to use.

Tool

Purpose

Relative Price

Flat nosed pliers

Securely holds pieces close to desired point without obstruction

£

Chain nosed pliers

Useful tool for general manipulation of piece

££

Split ring pliers

Specific tool for opening split rings

££

Bent-nosed tweezers

Alternative to split ring pliers

££

Linking rings

Holds jump rings for easy opening

££££

Linking rings are worth considering when a large number of jump rings needs to be opened, such as when making chainmaille jewellery. The linking ring is worn over the finger, and has a small slot in it. The jump ring is inserted in the small slot and turned open in one move, using one pair of pliers only.

How to Buy Split Rings and Jump Rings on eBay

eBay is an ideal place to look to buy jump rings or split rings. Simply find the search bar that is located on every eBay page, and type in your search term. If you type in "jump rings", eBay presents listings with the words in their description. You can then narrow your search down by using the filters that eBay provides, based on your search phrase. They are designed to help you narrow down your search easily. If you select a category, choose from a variety of further filters, perhaps the metal the rings are made from such as gold, silver or bronze. If your original search was "split rings" the filter choices may be different. You can choose from a range of prices to help narrow your search down.

Once you have a selection of listings you can then review each one in detail. Look to see what the seller's returns policy is, and find out what other eBay shoppers have thought of trading with this seller. Their profile includes feedback from sales made by the seller over the last twelve months.

Conclusion

Opening and closing jump rings safely is an essential skill for a new jewellery maker, because jump rings are the means by which most components in a jewellery piece are joined. Using the correct technique ensures the tensile strength of the jumpring is maintained. This makes chance of the ring opening accidentally quite remote. Simple tools make the technique straightforward. Split rings are used in a similar way to offer even more security because of their structure. A different set of tools is required to make master this technique.

Both types of rings are widely available, specialist craft and jewellery stores offer a good selection but they may not be easy to get to. Using online retail channels allows a shopper to view a much wider range of products than they are likely to find in one traditional shop. They can also review those products from the benefit of their own armchair and at whatever time they want to shop.

 
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