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.
In Post 3, you learned how to make a simple loop. When I first learned to make a simple loop, I couldn’t wait to make a charm bracelet. I made all the dangles out of head pins and added them to a chain. It was not too long before the dangles started falling off. I had used a fairly thin headpin, and the wire just could not stand up to the wear and tear.
SOLUTION: Use wrapped loops instead of simple loops for constructions that are going to take a significant amount of wear and tear, or if you are going to be using wire thinner than 20 gauge (see the Tipspage at the top of this blog for wire gauges).
Wrapped loops are much more secure, even though they are more tedious to create. After you have made a number of them, they become second nature and can be executed fairly quickly. The most difficult part is learning how to hold the wire as you wrap it. Practice, practice, practice (and use cheap wire for your practice).
TIP: The second most difficult part is deciding how much wire to use. As you practice, measure the wire before creating the wrap and then keep track of the lengths of wire that are most successful for a particular use.
Here is a link for how to make a wrapped loop, courtesy of ArtBeads.com. The tutorial includes both a video and photos.
WARNING: When connecting the wrapped loop to another component (such as a charm bracelet), do not forget to attach the loop to the component before wrapping the wire. Otherwise, you will have to use a jump ring to attach your wrapped loop! The photos at the ArtBeads link have a section called Attaching a Wrapped Loop, which explains this process.
Hereis another tutorial for making a wrapped loop, from TheBeadsKnees.com.uk.
Have fun, and as always, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the Comments.
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.