Tuesday 22 May 2012

Jump Rings - To Solder or Not . . .

I've recently been soldering a lot. I quite enjoy doing this, the method, routine and ritual. The concentration. The ever-present slight fear that everything will just melt if the concentration wavers. Hmm.

Soldered jump rings

But, specifically, I've been soldering jump rings, working the two edges carefully together and then filling them up with solder and heat, so they hold firm.

More soldered jump rings

As I was doing this, I started wondering whether I was being too fussy and creating a whole lof of unecessary work. Assuming they've soldered correctly, they then need pickling out. Then I have to check them to see if they need filing and generally tidying up. And then they need a polish to clean them up and make the silver shine again, even if I'm going to mattify them eventually. Something my tutor taught me, and a lesson worth following, most of the time anyway . . .

Jump rings waiting to be soldered

I know that for certain pieces of jewellery, soldering jump rings makes the difference between things staying together and things falling apart. But with many of the jump rings I solder, especially the small ones, they are then used as components for earrings and for pendants, fixing earrings to ear wires, and pendants to thread or chain.

Soldered and pickled

In the examples of my finished work shown here, I think with the earrings, pictured above, jump rings may work just as well unsoldered, and this may protect the ear more, should anything catch and pull on the earring.

In both these pairs of earrings, the smaller jump ring is unsoldered, the larger soldered, so I've kind of reached a potential compromise - under pressure the smaller jump ring would come open. But the larger jump ring, being soldered, should hold the earrings a little more securely to the ear hook. Larger jump rings also seem a little more likely to pull apart to me, whereas the smaller sized ones, in the same thickness of wire, have less movement and give to them, and are less likely to pull apart easily.

Soldered jump ring

With the pendant, shown above, the jump ring is, to my thinking, more secure when soldered, especially when threaded onto fine organza, and it holds the silver leaf firmly to the fabric. But would it be safer for the wearer if it wasn't soldered? Is it better for the necklace to just break, if under pressure, than for it be less likely to be lost?

So what I'm asking is, overall, are jump rings really any better for doing this extra work? Are they more dangerous, as should jewellery break easily if this is needed for safety reasons, rather than holding firm and potentially tear or trap someone. Is the best compromise one soldered jump ring, and one unsoldered? Or am I just worrying too much on all counts? I'd love to know what you think, and what you do?


  1. This is a really interesting post. As I don't have the tools to solder and have not learnt to do it, any jump rings I use are unsoldered, and yes, sometimes things do come apart. But I did read somewhere that with bracelets and earrings it is safer for the wearer if the jump rings are not soldered. Interested to see what other people think.

  2. Thanks for the comment. It's interesting to hear from someone who doesn't solder, as I've always tended to solder those rings automatically! I guess being able to solder made me think I should, and I was previously thinking more about the security of the jewellery, rather than the wearer. Thanks again :-)

  3. How fascinating to read about you process, you must have oodles of patience! I love your jewelery and found you on flickr to so i could peruse all your creations. Im only just getting round to catching up with folks so wanted to say thank you for the follow ;)

  4. Hi, and thanks for the comment :-) Have been very lax in updating flickr of late but glad you found my jewellery, and even glader you like it :-)

  5. Hi,
    I'm planning on making and selling pendent necklaces for children (over 5 years old) but have safety concerns over potential accidents caused by the necklace snagging on something. I'm considering buying loose chain to make the necklaces and then attaching un-soldered clasps so that should the necklace become snagged it would break easily.
    I realise this is an old post, but would welcome any thoughts and suggestions on this issue.
    thank you

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment, and sorry for the slow reply - it got a little lost! I would say definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to children's jewellery, and it might even be worth testing the necklaces yourself by trying deliberately to break them, to see how 'safe' they are.

      It might well be worth checking out some jewellery forums and asking the same question on those, to get a wide range of views. Hope that helps, and thanks again for the comment :)


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