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Closing Jump Rings: Primer
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Categories: Instruction and information; Jewelry

Word count/read time: 529 words; 2 minutes

Part one of this three-part series deals with the theory behind closing jump rings and the inherent problems that work against you.

FACT: The biggest causes of poorly closed rings are laziness and junk rings (anything that's not saw-cut). Only a fool with cognitive defects would say or think otherwise since the math and science of a properly closed ring are indisputable.

Beyond figuring out the weave, closing rings is essentially the only thing remaining. Everything hinges on this crucial step. Each alloy, temper, wire size/shape, and inner diameter jump ring will behave differently. By no means is it easy to close a 1/8" ring of 1.3mm hardened stainless wire!

Butted maille has visible seams which are unsightly no matter how perfect the closures. The other stuff that accompanies "seeing the seam" should be judged instead: misaligned ends, gaps, burrs or jagged edges, damaged rings, etc. Also, anyone concerned with quality would only use saw-cut rings.

The nature of coiling-and-cutting makes imperfect rings. The inner edge is compressed while the outer edge is stretched. There may be visible stretch marks or a dull appearance as a result. It becomes more pronounced with smaller aspect ratio rings.

Wire becomes a helix when wrapped around a mandrel - helices aren't straight or flat. The cross-section of a cut ring slightly varies from the true wire profile. Round wire is negligibly affected but other profiles aren't. The ends can't be aligned perfectly causing sharp edges unless they're filed smooth (lots of extra work but gouging your client's skin will not be remembered fondly).

Then there's the taco effect. Since the ring is a helix, no amount of reasonable bending will "flatten" it so accept the minor warping. Truly, it is all but impossible to correct this flaw. Just don't make it worse. The primary concern is getting the edges to align and the other factors are what they are.

 
Since the ring is a helix, no amount of reasonable bending will "flatten" it so accept the minor warping.
 
Without corrective measures, the gap will basically be the size or width of the saw blade (kerf). Normal metal blades can remove enough material to change the aspect ratio on some rings so the thinnest jeweler's blade should be used.

Marred rings are bad. Pliers with smooth jaws help prevent them. Many jaw shapes and configurations are available: chain nose, needlenose, snipe, flat, etc. The more surface contact the pliers have on the ring the less likelihood for damage. Parallel jaws are ideal. They must be strong enough to do the job so micromaille rings will need precision plies whereas 10ga stainless will require the big guns.

If you are wondering about the quality of your closures, use 0.999 fine silver jump rings and fuse weld them closed. If there is a visual hint of the seam or any imperfection whatsoever then your closures are bad. Once you've mastered that, try fusing 18k green-yellow gold. Those seemingly "perfect" closures that worked for silver just won't cut it here.

"Real" jewelry has no compromises; the devil is in the details. To get a clean solder or weld joint and a beautiful closure in general, rings have to be worked as much as possible to ensure a high-quality product. A college try isn't good enough.


Posted by M: February 16, 2021


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