I love to make chainmaille jewelry. I want to start making my own jumprings but I don't know if I should use full-hard or half-hard wire. I like 18 and 20 gauge and I know you carry both.
Either dead-soft or half-hard wire is easier to form and can give you a tight coil. Full-hard wire is tempered to resist forming so it might be difficult to wind wire tight enough around a mandrel to form a consistent coil of rings.
Use a good flush-cutter to cut clean flush ends; this will help the jumprings to close better. Once formed and cut, jumprings made from softer tempered coils can be hammered lightly to harden and make springy for opening and closing. You can also harden the rings by running them in a rotary tumbler along with stainless steel shot for about 20 minutes.
Both 20-gauge and 18-gauge wire coils make strong jumprings. It is important to choose sizes of outside/inside diameters that allow rings to be as sturdy as possible. For example, if you chose to use 20-gauge, your diameter range should be smaller than those that would work well for 18-gauge wire, otherwise the ring will be too large and not hold up as well under stress. It is also important to choose the right gauge wire and the proper diameter ring to create rings that weave well together--this knowledge comes with practice or by reviewing tried and true project instructions such as those found in ''Chain Mail Jewelry.''
- Sandra Lupo, Jewelry Designer and Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador