Did you enjoy making the introductory 1 x 1 chain bracelet and necklace projects?
They were easy to assemble, provided repetition for good practice, and resulted in a cute set you can enjoy wearing for years. All because there were some key choices I made when choosing the materials.
Now that you have had some positive experience with these projects, you may be thinking about how you can get creative and make your own variations. And that awesome!!! This is exactly what I am hoping you want to do. But keep reading so you can avoid making bad choices and wasting your $$ and time.
My job as an instructor is to design projects where you can experience success. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t help you to understand why I made particular choices about the materials I suggest you use, because the decisions I make help you to avoid having issues. So here are the parameters I was taking into consideration for these very first intro projects:
Jump Ring size for strength and durability…
A jump ring has to be strong enough to endure the normal wear and tear of the piece of jewelry it’s used to create. Because you are just getting started with the art of making jewelry, you aren’t ready to solder the rings closed, therefore the rings need to be made from a wire thick enough to withstand the average stress a bracelet or necklace is likely to encounter. I recommend using rings made from 16 gauge wire for this reason. 16 ga rings are not as commonly found as 18 or 20 ga, but you can get them from me or they can be sourced online. If you want to use finer rings, you will need to double them up or solder them closed. (Both of which are techniques which will be shown in future lessons.)
The Unicorne glass beads I used have some specific qualities that lend them to these projects:
Shape – they dangle from the loop which is smaller in width than the bulb of the bead, making them appear as drops from the chain.
Size of the hole – the 16ga rings comfortably fit through the opening of the bead and they can dangle freely.
Weight – the beads have enough heft to help the chain drape well (especially important for the necklace).
360 degree appeal – This is important for the bracelet in particular. The beads jostle as you wear this bracelet and are not going to stay situated. Therefore, beads which look great from all views work the best. (It also helps that they are nice and bulbous, so as they move around on your wrist, there’s no points jabbing you or getting caught on things.)
Jump Ring size for ease of assembly…
When you are opening and closing jump rings (especially when you are just starting) it’s important to have enough space left on the rings, once you add your beads, to be able to grasp them well with the pliers. It is fairly easy to close a ring with nothing attached, but once you attach a bead and another ring, the access can be limited – making it much more difficult to get the leverage you need. When I began designing this project I tried using 6/32” ID rings instead of the 7/32” ID, but found it was a bit challenging even though it looked nice when it was assembled. I will also caution you about choosing too large of an inner diameter, because the larger the circumference of the ring, the weaker it becomes. In this project, there’s a good amount of pressure added to the bracelet as the beads jostle around. So I really feel the 7/32”ID rings are the “Goldilocks” choice providing both access and strength.