Split the Difference with Split Ring Pliers

Split ring pliers help take the fiddle out of jewellery making. This week Kat has been helping to save her friend’s fingernails by giving her some useful advice on these handy tools.

A friend in need

Split rings from Beads Unlimited

A secure alternative to jump rings

A good friend of mine has recently started to make her own jewellery, she seems to have quite a flair for it as a number of shops in her locality are already stocking her designs. Needless to say she orders lots of things from the Beads Unlimited website, which might help to explain her instant success! Most of her pieces are made up of lengths of chain and ribbon, with charms attached. She was using jump rings to add the clasps but mentioned her concerns that the finished pieces weren’t as secure as they might be.

Split the difference

“Why don’t you use split rings instead of jump rings?” “Oh I can’t get on with split rings, they’re too fiddly to use.” “Not if you use split ring pliers.” “I don’t have any, I never use split rings.” Therein lies the problem! Now I’m certainly not going to say a word against jump rings. They’re pretty much indispensable to any beader worth his or her salt, in fact even I have a small collection of them in a tin at home. There are, however, times when a split ring is going to do the job a little better. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt a necklace slither down the front of a T-shirt because a jump ring was misbehaving!

Split rings and jump rings – what’s the difference?

Split Rings: Heart and star shapes

Split rings in different shapes

For anyone who isn’t clear, a jump ring is a single circle of wire with a split. This is gently pulled apart to join two other pieces together, such as a pendant and a chain. A split ring is a double circle of wire; coiled tightly together without a pesky gap for anything to escape through! The larger variety of split ring is most commonly seen forming part of a keyring. The smaller variety is just perfect for important tasks such as attaching the clasp to your latest creation – but lots of people won’t use them. Why? Because it’s rather tricky to hold the tiny loops apart whilst adding a clasp with the third hand that sadly, most of us just don’t have.

Split ring pliers – what are you waiting for?

Split Ring Pliers from Beads Unlimited

Take the fiddle out of split rings!

That is why split ring pliers were invented. They look much like half-round nosed pliers, with the tip of one side bent inward to form a hook. The split ring is braced against the flat surface, the handles are squeezed and the hook is forced between the coils. It then very kindly stays there, allowing you to add pieces to the split ring with the free hand you now have! It really is that simple, why not give them a try and give your fingernails a break?

Win a pair of split ring pliers

Sorry, this competition is now closed. Congratulations to Theresa Thrussell who posted her comment on 12th October 2012. We hope you find your tools very useful Theresa!

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  1. I would like the split ring plyers very much because I am just starting up my on my own making and selling my jewellery and would love to add them to my tool collection, which is not very large! I have been using jump rings and would like to try the split rings. I could do with all the help I can get with this venture and my fingernails can get in the way of things and my hands wobble a bit, so I’m better off using tools rather than my fingers! Besides that all I can say is please, please could I have them as I would be very grateful and afterall I have said ‘please’.

  2. Jayne Hussey says:

    What an interesting article, when I first started making jewellery nearly two years ago I didn’t trust jump rings and used split rings. Unfortunately I didn’t have this handy tool and soon learnt to trust jump rings following lots of broken nails etc. Hence I have lots of unused and unloved split rings waiting to be used by a very handy tool! :)

  3. Helen Bowen says:

    I have had split ring pliers on my mental shopping list for about 3 years but whenever I go beady shopping, I never remember I need them as there is always something more exciting or tempting to spend my pennies on. Needless to say, I then end up kicking myself the next time I try to use a split ring and it pings across the room as I try and hold it open with my nail!
    Help me or I fear they will never reach the top of my very long shopping list!

  4. Lisa Marshall says:

    Having only the basic tools for jewellery making, this these will go great, and also get experiment with split rings, has I never really liked jump rings, as I don’t feel they are that supported for necklaces, especially heavy, chunky necklaces.

  5. Sarah Brice says:

    I would like to win these split ring pliers as have broken lots of nails trying to get apart enough to put clasps on. Plus today 15th October 2012 is my birthday and hoping my luck is in to win a pair to add to the rest of my tools I am slowly putting together to expand my collection.

  6. Roisin O'hagan says:

    Split Rings are taking over the world and refusing to be prised apart!!! There are countless communities of beads and charms waiting to be allocated a split ring on which to dangle yet the means to encourage Split Rings to embrace decoration does not yet exist in my workroom. By sending me a pair of split ring pliers you are promoting the inclusion of decorative beads and charms, forming partnerships with jump rings and clasps and moving the attitudes of Split Rings ahead by decades. Thank you!

  7. Colleen says:

    I battle to grip jump rings with my normal pliers, I use the teeniest one there are Split rings are normally beyond me with one semi dud hand, these would be great to “get to grips” with my beadwork and jewellrey making…I might get something done in under a day without having to ask any number of people to open/close and secure rings for me.

  8. Carol Martin says:

    I Would love to win a pair of split ring pliers as I dont have any. Ive only been beading a year, so Im slowing building up equipment, but it takes time & money. In the meantime my nails get split, so these would be fab :)

  9. Maggie Jones says:

    Split ring pliers are BRILLIANT! I already have a pair, so I’m not entering the comp – just telling everyone what an incredibly useful addition they are to your toolbox. :)

  10. kirsty says:

    Been experimenting, learning chain mail jewellery and this sounds like exactly the tool I need!

  11. Sharon says:

    . . . . .so I was making this lovely bracelet for my best friend, and adding sterling silver charms, and I was thinking ” I should be using split rings for maximum security here, but I have such shaky hands and weak nails that it’s nigh on impossible to use these pesky little rings, so I will chance it with normal jump rings. . . . .” Anyway, my BFF loves her bracelet so much that she wears it every day (result!). . . .but alas only 2 months down the line, one of her precious charms has come off and been lost thanks to the jump ring pulling open! Arghhhh! Boy do I NEED this tool!! (Pretty please?) xxx

  12. Charley says:

    Would LOVE these pliers!!! Am recovering from a fractured spine & just starting to think about resuming my jewellery making hobby to keep me sane! I can’t sit or use my arms for very long so anything designed to help things along would be a fantastic addition to my tool set :-)

  13. Gill Colling says:

    My biggest nightmare with jewellery is jump rings that open just enough to allow things to slip through, only the other day a jump ring failed this allowing the necklace to slip down my frontage (thankfully resting in my bosom rather than the salad I was plating up for a customer). So yes I really do need these pliers…

  14. Kym samways says:

    I’d love to win some, on a budget at the moment and with very sore fingers lol!

  15. leanne brunning says:

    I would love to win these!!! I have just started out at making jewellery and have been usng jump rings to secure fasteners i have a craft fayre soon and my biggest fear is someone will try on my jewellery and it will fall off, the pliers will be tge perfect solution,to my biggest fear

  16. Gill Colling says:

    I really do need a pair of these… got the mini ones but they are a little TOO small

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