Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jewellery Know How - Opening and Closing Jump Rings

Have you ever experienced the dreadful moment when your trendy store-bought jewellery has fallen apart and the beads have SCATTERED ALL ACROSS THE FLOOR?  

Was that a YES?!

I can see it now... you're scrambling to the floor trying to gather all the beads before they roll into every unreachable nook and cranny in the room. All the while, you're worrying that someone will slip on the beads and fall... crunch! to the ground. 

You never want to experience that moment, especially when the culprit was probably a poorly closed jump ring. 

So let's take a look at the jump ring, the humble jewellery finding that connects all your components together.

Jump rings are used in all sorts of situations in jewellery making:

Use them to:
  • attach dangling elements such as charms;
  • connect two components together, like a stringing material to a clasp
  • link a number of them together to form a chain
They are the workhorses of jewellery making... they might not be the focal point of your jewellery designs, but jump rings are functional and strong.

In this tutorial, I'll show you a simple and NIFTY TRICK that will help you make (or repair!) jewellery so that it doesn't fall apart.

But firstly, what's the most common reason that jewellery falls apart?

Well, it's often a poorly closed jump ring!

Jump rings hold your jewellery together, so paying special attention to them is essential.

When you purchase round jump rings, they need to be, well...... round!  Mis-shapen jump rings will not close tightly and therefore won't make your jewellery secure. 

So first, you need to find a good supplier.  
And second, you might need to pay a little more for them. 

I usually use Beadalon jump rings because I've found them to be consistently round-shaped. 

Another option is to make your own. You can see how to do that here.

How to Open and Close Jump Rings

The first thing you'll need are two pairs of chain nose pliers


one pair of pliers and a jump ring open/close tool that fits on your finger. It's a ring with slits in it that you place the jump ring into.

I prefer to use two pairs of chain nose pliers. If you don't think you can manage a pair of pliers in each hand, choose the jump ring open/close tool instead.

How to Open a Jump Ring

With pair of pliers in each hand, grip the jump ring with the join facing upwards. When you hold the jump ring, use the numbers around a clockface to guide you - hold the jump ring somewhere between the 9 and 10 in your left hand and the 2 and 3 in your right hand.

Pull one hand towards you and one hand away from you. This keeps the jump ring in its circular, but open shape.

Open the arms of the jump ring far enough to hook on your components, then you can close it up again.

How to Close a Jump Ring

You will do the opposite action, but as you close the jump ring, you will use a small amount of inwards pressure to push the two open ends together slightly as they pass each other in the centre. 

Continue a little past the centre and then back to the centre again.

You will hear a "CLICK" as you bring them back together, indicating that the jump ring is properly tensioned.

When you hear that magical click, you can be sure that your jump ring is closed, and no matter how fine the chain or other connecting links are, they will not fall off

NOW TEST IT. You shouldn't be able to get your fingernail in that gap. In fact, there should be no gap!

No, this is NOT a special jump ring. It is just a well-formed jump ring. That's why it's worth paying more to buy quality jump rings.


Q. What if there's only a tiny gap in the jump ring?
A. Your components will probably work their way off your jewellery while you're wearing it. Remember to push in slightly as you're bringing the two sides of the jump ring back together.

Q. What if my jump ring gets out of shape when I'm trying to close it?
A. It will look unprofessional, and your jewellery will probably break. It's best to start again with a new jump ring until you get it right.

Q. What if I don't hear the jump ring click?
A. Sometimes, especially when you're learning, you might not hear the click. 

Instead, you might feel the metal grinding as the two sides of the jump ring pass each other in the centre. 

That's OK too because you'll notice that you can't see a gap between the two ends. With more practice, you will hear the click.

Q. What if I open my jump ring sideways (in and out), instead of backwards and forwards?
A. The metal will become stressed, and the jump ring will end up mis-shapen and lose its strength. 

Open and close jump rings in the same way that you open a door, not as you would open a book.

Now that you know how to open and close jump rings properly, you'll be able to fix all those broken jewellery pieces that you have stashed away in your jewellery box and all your jewellery will be wearable again. No more excuses for not wearing them now!

If you want to hear the "click", watch this short video on how to open and close jump rings.

Pin This Tutorial!
A jump ring being opened with chain nose pliers. Text overlay reads Learn How to Open & Close Jump Rings Perfectly

'Til next time.....

Want to learn jewellery making? Click here to learn how

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