All About Jump Rings

by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Jump rings are an essential finding for your toolbox--not only do they hold things together, but you can also use many of them to create your own chain. Here are the answers to your commonly-asked questions about jump rings:

Which tools do you recommend using with jump rings? Some books I've seen recommend round-nose pliers and some recommend chain-nose pliers. Which tool is best?

Jewelry-making tools are my favorite subject--and in my mind you can never have too many. There is one very handy tool that works great with jump rings. It's the jump ring closing tool--it works without fail and never tires! This tool was created to do repetitive jump ring opening and closing. It fits on any finger. Just insert the loop or jump ring into the appropriate sized slot and bend to open or close. Click here for an instructional tip on how to use this tool.

If you want to use pliers to open and close your jump rings, I have found the best tools to use are flat-nose or chain-nose pliers. They offer a better surface to grip the wire, yet mar it the least. When creating chains from jump rings, I like to use two flat-nose pliers--the wider tips hold the jump rings stable and leave fewer marks on the wire.

When purchasing jewelry-making tools, don't compromise quality over price. Quality tools are an essential part of good jewelry-making. It's also good to remember to only use tools without ''teeth'' for jewelry-making--which usually rules out any tools you might find in your household toolbox.

The first pair of pliers I bought for jewelry making cost $4--and they lasted all of about one day. I now use Lindstrom® professional pliers and have found I have less hand fatigue no matter how long I'm working wire and have truly greater results in my wirework. I will have these tools forever!

What is the best method for opening and closing a jump ring?

Jump rings are formed from a coil of wire. The coil is cut apart and the rings are formed with a slit where the ends of the circle meet. The slit will remain unless you solder the joint. If you don't want to solder, but want to have a securely closed ring, you need to build up tension in the wire and maintain the round shape. Heavier gauge sterling silver or gold-filled jump rings are recommended for the best results.

    To open a jump ring, place a pair of chain-nose or flat-nose pliers on each side of the opening, with one pair positioned at 1 o'clock and the other at 11 o'clock.

To close a jump ring, move one pair of pliers away from you and hold the other one steady. To build up tension, repeat this motion a few times, overlapping each end of the ring slightly as they pass each other. Finish by lining up the ends so they meet.

When the ends are lined up, they will actually push against each other, keeping the ring closed. A jump ring is never truly closed unless you solder it closed, so use jump rings in areas where there will be less wear and tear, like on earrings or a necklace or use multiple in one connection.

When creating chain from jump rings, the patterns typically have multiple jump rings at each position which link to many more jump rings--so jump ring chains hold up really well. It is very important to make sure your jump rings are tightly closed, so you don't catch your chain on your clothing.