Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
by Leslie, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Jump rings are an essential finding for jewelry designers. These handy little components can seem a little overwhelming at first with the myriad of uses, materials, sizes and other options to consider. We're here to break it all down for you and get you fully prepared to design with jump rings.

The Basics

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 most typical use for jump rings is a connection. This includes simply linking a clasp to the rest of your design, a charm to a chain bracelet and other basic links.

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Charms, drops or focal connection

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Link or simple chain connection

Chainmaille

Jump rings are excellent as connection points, but their versatility is not limited to them. These little rings have been used in chainmaille throughout the ages and all around the world. These chainmaille pieces were for necessity rather than fashion and helped protect the wearer from harmful situations. Today though, chainmaille is known for being a brilliant use of these ancient techniques and the resulting jewelry is highly sought after. Some examples include ...

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Full Persian (there are also 1/2 and 3/4 versions)
Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Japanese 8-in-1

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
European 4-in-1

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Byzantine
Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Helm Chain

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Spiral
Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Box or Queen's Chain Mail

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
Roundmaille

And many more! Plus hybrids of chainmaille weaves provide new twists on old favorites. To learn how to create these chainmaille weaves, and others, look to available chainmaille books and online chainmaille resources.

Non-Traditional

We've covered basic connections and some traditional weaves, yet there are some not-so-basic typical applications as well. Jump rings have developed some non-traditional uses including use as spacer beads and creating new chains.

See full instructions on how to manipulate jump rings to form custom links and make more than a basic chain with jump rings in this exclusive tutorial: ''How to Create a Loop in Loop Chain''.

Everything You Need to Know About Jump Rings
New chain

Measurement

Now the question arises, how do I know which size jump rings to buy for which project? Jump rings range from tiny to huge and are measured by diameter. There is an outside diameter (OD) and an inside diameter (ID). Sometimes, certain chainmaille will require a particular diameter or combination of diameters (like in helm chain or dragonscale) to ensure all the interlocking pieces fit as they should. Gauge is another measurement, telling how thick the jump ring is.

At times, you may only know the OD, but you need to know the ID. There is a simple formula to find one diameter, using the other. All measurements need to be in millimeters before using the below equation. First, you'll need to find the gauge and convert into millimeters with our handy conversion chart. If you don't already know the gauge, the easiest way to measure this is using a caliper. If you have no calipers on hand, measure in millimeters with a ruler.

OD = ID + (Gauge x 2)
To find the outside diameter, multiply the gauge by 2, and then add the inside diameter.

ID = OD - (Gauge x 2)
To find the inside diameter, multiply the gauge by 2, and then subtract that amount from the outside diameter.

Note: Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' product descriptions provide American Wire Gauge (AWG) measurements.

Aspect Ratio
The relationship between inside diameter and gauge is called aspect ratio, and is often important to know for chainmaille. All measurements need to be in millimeters before using the below equation to determine aspect ratio.

ID ÷ Gauge = Aspect Ratio

What does the aspect ratio tell you? A smaller aspect ratio means you will achieve a tighter weave and a larger aspect ratio allows for a looser weave. Smaller aspect ratio jump rings also tend to be stronger. If two jump rings have the same wire gauge, but the inside diameter of one is smaller, that jump ring has a smaller aspect ratio.

If you want to make a smaller, or larger, version of a weave, your aspect ratio still needs to be a particular number for certain chainmaille weaves.

Aspect Ratios Necessary for Common Chainmaille Weaves
Weave Minimum Usual
European 4-in-1 2.9 3.3 - 6.6+
Box Chain 3.8 4.8 - 5.3
Byzantine 3.2 3.4 - 4.2
Roundmaille 3.2 3.3 - 5
Turkish Round 3.2 3.5 - 4
Inverted Round 3.5 4
Full Persian 5.5 5.5 - 6.5
Half Persian 4-in-1 4.4 4.7 - 5.9
Half Persian 3-in-1 2 3.9 - 4.8
Spiral 3.4 4 - 5.5
Double Spiral 4.4 4.6 - 4.9
Captive Inverted Round (C3) 4.7 5.3+
Materials

You know how to find the right size, so it's time to find the right material. What materials are jump rings made from? Traditionally, jump rings are made from metal, but have branched out into other fun variations.

Metals:
Metal jump rings are available in smooth and some twisted versions, as well as soldered or open options. Colorful niobium and aluminum add vibrant pops of color. A soldered, or closed, jump ring is a solid piece of metal. Closed jump rings are often used at connection points where a little extra security is preferred. These soldered jump rings cannot be opened with pliers unless first cut open with flush-cutters. Open jump rings have a seam you can open.

Karat Gold Gold-Filled Plated/Finished Sterling Silver Sterling Silver-Filled
Karat Jump Rings Gold-Filled Jump Rings Plated/Finished Jump Rings Sterling Silver Jump Rings Sterling Silver-Filled Jump Rings
Steel Niobium Aluminum Brass Copper
Steel Jump Rings Niobium Jump Rings Aluminum Jump Rings Brass Jump Rings Copper Jump Rings

Other Materials:
Soft materials are handy to use for less rigid designs or adding to chainmaille for more flexible designs that are easy to put on or take off. All non-metal jump rings are closed.

Nylon Jump Rings
Nylon Jump Rings
Oh! Ring™ Rubber Components
Oh! Ring™ Rubber
Components

For more information about Oh! Rings, take a look at our explanatory article ''Life in Color: Oh! Ring™ Components''.

At times, other components with an open center are used like closed jump rings. These include metal, gemstone and acrylic donuts, crystal cosmic ring components, etc.

Shapes

While round is the most common shape, jump rings are made, and manipulated, into multiple options. Accenting designs with a different-shaped jump ring breathes new life into connection possibilities.

Round Jump Rings
Shop round jump rings
Oval Jump Rings
Shop oval jump rings
Triangle Jump Rings
Shop triangle jump rings
Heart Jump Rings
Shop heart jump rings

Tools of the Trade

You'll want to know about some tools that will make using jump rings easy. Typically, you'll want a set of chain-nose and flat-nose pliers when working with or opening and closing jump rings.

If you have a lot of jump rings, such as for chainmaille, the jump ring tool slides comfortably onto your finger and makes quick work of opening and closing. To see both of these techniques demonstrated in proper form, see our ''Opening a Jump Ring'' how-to video and illustrated instructions or the ''Secrets to Opening and Closing Jump Rings'' how-to video.

Curved chain-nose pliers, also called bent-nose pliers, are handy for getting into tight spots while still being able to see. Specific loop-closing pliers help ensure jump rings, bracelet links and other connections are fully closed.

Jump Ring Tools

When manipulating jump rings, especially precious metals, there is a chance of marring your metal. To protect against this, nylon jaw pliers are designed to prevent nicks or color chipping on wire. If the nylon-jaw pliers don't quite work for your application, Tool Magic® coats the metal jaws on pliers with a heavy-duty, latex-free rubber. This enables you to work with wire, jump rings and other metals without causing injury to finishes, platings, color or sensitive previous metals.

Make Your Own

What if you want to make some of your own jump rings, so you can easily create more of a certain size or shape you need? If you're in the business of jump rings, it may just end up saving you money, too. There are a couple ways to go about making your own, with necessary tools for each.

First, select your wire. It is recommended to use half-hard wire since dead-soft may not hold shape well and full-hard is difficult to coil. Next, wrap your wire according to the method you prefer, whether it's coiling on a mandrel, Wubbers® Designer pliers, etc. See the resources listed below for tutorials on each method. Lastly, cut through the coils with flush-cutters. Sometimes holding your coiled wire in a table vise or the EUROTOOL® coil-cutting pliers is handy for keeping wire in place while cutting.

View resources on creating jump rings: Design with ... Additional Resources ...