How-To: Choose the Right Jump Rings for Chain Maille Jewelry


Welcome to Jewelry Making Daily's guest contributor, Jean Campbell! She's been part of the Interweave family for years, creating fabulous jewelry-making projects for dozens of magazines, books, television segments, and DVDs.

Jean began her jewelry journey in silversmithing, and now she specializes in mixed-media jewelry (among so many other things!), which you can see in her series of Mixed-Media DVDs, Steampunk-Style Jewelry and Personalized Jewelry. She has also written and edited over 45 books! Like most passionate jewelry-makers will, she dabbles in many mediums, and today she's venturing into wire and chain-maille snowflakes. Enjoy! – Tammy



Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a contributing editor to Jewelry Making Daily.

I've returned to a simpler lifestyle this year, and my holiday decor hasn't been spared the simplicity. No over-the-top lights and tinsel—just a simple tree cut from the yard of my brother's cabin in Northern Wisconsin. I've covered this Charlie Brown-style conifer with only the most heart-felt ornaments, such as my daughter's sparkly Popsicle-stick tree from kindergarten, the hot-pink impression of my son's hand when he was two, and my sequin-covered ball from second grade. After decorating the tree, I stepped back, put my hands on my hips, and thought, "Yes, less is good."


And then I received the December/January 2011 issue of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry, and that whole "Less Is More" thing flew right out the window. The chain maille (chain mail) snowflakes that grace the cover made the Dickens' Fezziwig in me bubble right up. They made me greedy for colorful foil-covered chocolate Santas pouring out of festooned stockings, the nutmeg-scented steam that rolls off a creamy hot toddy, and flickering candles on a pine-and-ribbon-draped mantle.

So I immediately went to my work bench to see if I had the proper materials to make what I envisioned to be a whole window full of these little lovelies. When I checked the materials list of the project, I realized there were some terms next to the jump rings that I didn't recognize, so I contacted Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry Editor Denise Peck to help me out. I learned a lot, so I thought I'd share some snippets from our conversation:


Q: Some vendors sell jump rings by the outside dimension (OD) and some sell by the inside dimension (ID). If I've bought rings by the OD but need an ID measurement, what's the easiest way to measure?

A: The most precise way to measure the inside of a jump ring is with digital calipers. It's not a tool everyone has lying around, I know! But I find them indispensable, not only for measuring jump rings but for the precise measuring of bead sizes. They're not terribly expensive. Brass calipers will work, too, I just find the digital ones easier to use.

Q:  I ran across the term "aspect ratio" (AR) recently when reading about jump rings for chain maille. What does it mean?

A: According to Blue Buddha, "Aspect ratio is a number that represents the relationship between the wire gauge and the inner diameter of a particular size jump ring. The exact formula to calculate aspect ratio is the inner diameter divided by wire diameter (WD), or in shorthand: AR = ID ÷ WD. Before using the formula, make sure to convert the wire gauge to millimeters or inches (to match the unit system used for the ring's ID)."


Q: Why would I need to know the aspect ratio?

A: The aspect ratio is important to know if you want to change the ring sizes in a project. For instance, say you want to make a weave with smaller rings to get a more delicate chain. You need to know the aspect ratios of the original rings and to make sure the smaller rings you use have a very similar ratio so the rings fit together properly.

Armed with all this great information from Denise, I'm ready to stock up on jump rings, because I think "More Might Be More" when it comes to chain maille snowflakes!

If you missed this issue, subscribe to Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry now so you won't miss out on great chain maille and other wire jewelry projects next time!

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