Jumprings make the world go ’round! Well, maybe not, but they are are important in jewelry making! There are a few things to consider when it comes to choosing the right jump ring. Purpose, material, size, shape, quality of cut, quality of closure, etc. Next time you ask yourself what kind of jump ring to get, run though this checklist for some great starting points to narrow down the choices:
Purpose: For hanging charms, the heavier the charm obviously requires a heavier jump ring, but it also has to be thin enough to fit through the hole. If you’re trying to hang a heavy pendant with a small hole, wire wrapping may be a better choice. In most other cases, a jump ring is probably the way to go.
Material: You need to choose something that matches your design, but some materials are stronger than others. For example, a stainless steel ring is stronger than copper, but it only comes in shiny or matte, not colors. I recommend my enamel coated copper rings for a good price point and a wide range of colors. If you need colors, but copper is too weak, then I’d recommend niobium or titanium
Size: The thicker the wire gauge, and smaller the diameter, the stronger the ring will be. I often recommend my 18 gauge 3.75mm ID rings for charms. If 18 is too thick, then I’d try a 20 gauge 3.0mm ID. If 18 gauge is too thin, then I’d try a 16 gauge 4.5mm ID. You need to hit the right balance between diameter and gauge to have the strongest ring for your project, and these sizes are a good starting place, tried and true.
Shape: An oval shaped jump ring is stronger than a round ring, but costs significantly more as they are terribly difficult to make. Wire shape also plays a factor. A square ring is going to be stronger than a round ring of the same size, because it has 30% more volume. A square twisted ring will have about the same strength as a square ring, but a twisted round ring of the same gauge will be weaker, since it is made from two thinner strands twisted together.
Quality of cut: All of my rings, both handmade and commercial, are saw cut. A saw cut ring results in a larger area of contact between both sides of the cut, strengthening the ring. In addition, it minimizes the kerf (area removed from the blade), keeping the ring closer to it’s original shape. Another consideration is a soldered joint, which is a very strong option. However, if you’re using this for charms, you’d probably have to solder the ring after having putting the charm on. I do not recommend this, unless you are very experienced with soldering.
Quality of closure: When everything else is said and done, it comes down to how well the ring was closed. Did you use two, smooth jawed, flat nose pliers? Did you follow the A, B, C’s, of opening and closing a jump ring? Was the joint approximated well? Was the jump ring saddled? and so on. Having the right tools and technique can make or break your jewelry(literally!)