A jump ring is a circle made of wire that is used to connect components together or to serve as a holder for dangling components. Jump rings are one of the basic building blocks in jewelry making.
To use a jump ring, you must first make the opening wide enough to insert whatever components you are trying to link together. To keep the components in place, you must then close the jump ring. How you open and close your jump ring is important! Doing it the wrong way will distort its shape and, depending on the gauge of the wire, it may also weaken it and make it prone to breaking.
Oh, you may get away with doing it the wrong way a few times and think, “Pish! Posh! It really doesn’t matter!” Trust me, it does. And if you want to make good quality jewelry that will last, you will take this tip to heart.
Figure 1 shows the wrong way to open or close a jump ring (pulling it apart horizontally in a parallel plane). Notice the arrows, which show the direction of the pull.
Not this way!
Figure 2 shows the correct method of gently twisting the cut ends in opposite directions. Actually, you are only going to twist one side away with one set of pliers as you hold the other side stable with a second set of pliers.
Can’t quite see what I mean? Go hereand herefor two short videos from the Instructables and The Alchemist’s Vessel websites that are much clearer than my typed instructions.
Oh, and remember simple loops from Post 3? This method, and the reasoning behind it, also applies to opening and closing simple loops.
Next to jewelry making, saving money is my favorite hobby! Although ready-made jewelry components like ear wires are easy to find, you will want to purchase wire and make your own if you need a quantity. By doing this, you will save about half the cost.
I hope one day to learn the skill of making leverbacks (see photo), but for now creating a variety of French hooks and kidney wires satisfies me. This week, I am going to point you to a tutorial for making your own simple French hook ear wires. For those who love gadgets, I am also recommending a great tool to make mass production easier.
TUTORIAL. Barb Macy’s excellent tutorial for making the simplest of ear wires uses a pencil as a mandrel. I really like these because they are so streamlined that they do not detract from the design of my earrings. See Barb’s tutorial here.
Easy Ear Wire™ by MP Products
GADGET. If you are a Tool Girl (or Guy) like me, you’ll love the Easy Ear Wire Maker. This gadget is fun to use and easy on your hands, especially if you plan to make a large number of ear wires. YouTube has a great video on how to use the Easy Ear Wire Maker here.
This gadget is easy to find on the internet but the price varies widely across suppliers. Try not to pay more than $20.00. Type “Easy Ear Wire Maker” in the search field of your browser and comparison shop before you buy.
TIP: Some people (like me) lose a lot of earrings when they wear French hooks. To prevent this heartbreak, buy rubber ear nuts (also called earring stoppers) and use them every time you wear your French hook earrings. They work great, and they are available at almost all jewelry suppliers.
Nothing seems to befuddle beginning jewelry makers more than making a well-executed simple loop. These loops are essential to earring design. This first photo show’s what I mean by a simple loop:
This loop is not quite complete, however, because it is not completely closed. Look at the diagram below. It shows how a simple loop creates a dangle for an earring. Notice how round the loop is, how it is centered above the bead (and centered on the straight part of the head pin), and how snugly closed the loop is. This is a well-executed simple loop.
There are many videos on the internet about making simple loops! An easy to understand technique is at this link, listed as Techniques 3 and 4. Look at the video and then look at the techniques. Then grab your round-nosed pliers and a head pin or a straight piece of wire, and try it yourself.
TIP: Once you have made a loop of the size you like, use a permanent marker to mark your pliers head at the point at which you made the loop. Then all of your future loops will be the same size!