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If you are going to do a lot of split rings, I suggest a special tool called a split ring pliers. This kind of pliers has a tip that will hold the ring open slightly so that you can slip your clasp (or charm, or whatever part) onto the ring.
Split rings are particularly sensitive to being opened too far. Open the ring just enough to slip it over your jewelry parts. If the ring still becomes distorted, you are using too small of a ring for the application.