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A Caution about Jewelry Cable

There are at least two companies making heavy, flexible beading wires that take enormous force to break.  Beadalon (www.beadalon.com) makes these wires in many weights, as does Soft Flex (www.softflextm.com).  The heaviest of them seem to be the ones made by Beadalon called Jewelry Cable.  Jewelry Cable comes in various thicknesses, but the thickness that many designers are likely to choose is the .92mm size, since that size provides tremendous strength and also fits through a standard 1mm bead hole.  In an email from Beadalon, I learned that this wire has a breaking point of 175 lbs.  That is enough pressure to strangle a person should the cable get caught in machinery or on a moving object.  I am not suggesting that you not use Jewelry Cable indeed, by placing this warning here I am probably generating sales for Beadalon!  What I am saying is that your necklaces, lanyards and bracelets should be designed with a weak point, a spot in the design which is weaker than the cable and will break if the item is caught on something.  The obvious weak point is the jump ring that attaches the cable to the clasp.  Your average jump ring will bend open with a moderate amount of pressure.  Many clasps are sold with their own jump rings, so it may not be necessary to supply your own.  Please note that split rings, depending on how heavy the wire is that they are made of, may not open easily enough to provide a weak point in your designs.  Probably the best compromise is to use jump rings made of heavy wire.  A jump ring made of heavy wire will stay together under normal use, yet it will pull apart quickly in an emergency.

Jump ring
(enlarged)
Split ring
(enlarged)

I've borrowed two photographs from an online jewelry catalogue (I'm sure they won't mind!).  As you can see, the jump ring has a break in it which will allow it to bend open.  The split ring, which is coiled like a key ring, has no opening.  In the pictures above, the jump ring looks thicker, but that isn't always the case.  And even if it is, the jump ring will pull open more readily than the split ring.

Having a weak point near the clasp won't compromise your design.  Every designer has fears about her jewelry breaking and beads scattering all over the place.  But if you crimp the ends of the Jewelry Cable, forming a loop, and then attach the cable to the clasp with a jump ring, the beaded portion of the necklace will remain intact should the jump ring break.  The clasp would simply detach from one side of the necklace and any jeweler could put it back together again without re-stringing.  For the safety of your customers, I hope you will do this.

Another suggestion is that you use another stringing product.  Beadalon makes thinner wires with lower breaking points.  Heavy nylon thread is strong enough for most uses.

There is one use for which the .92mm Jewelry Cable should be perfect:  beaded pocketbook handles.  Pocketbook handles must be strong.  If the owner carries the pocketbook with her hand, she would simply release it if it got caught on something.  Of course, some danger still exists if she puts the handle near her elbow, or if the handle is a long, over-the-shoulder type.  But I guess it isn't possible to anticipate every eventuality.

In closing, I urge you to keep this safety issue in mind when designing your jewelry.  Let's not endanger our customers while we make them beautiful.