Jewelry, the Gift of Love

The Process Of Making And Embellishing Chain Maille Jewelry

Chain maille is made by connecting metal jump rings to each other in a predetermined pattern to create a flexible rope, strap, or fabric. These different shapes are then connected together to make chain maille jewelry and clothing. Chain maille jewelry and clothing are typically made of gold, silver, titanium, argentium, copper, brass, bronze, steel, aluminum, and niobium jump rings. Colored chain maille can be made of enameled copper, titanium, anodized aluminum, niobium, galvanized steel, and rubber jump rings. Different metal and rubber jump rings can be combined together to create intricate chain maille patterns and designs. 

Chain maille jump rings are sold as soldered jump rings or split jump rings and are available in many sizes. You can also make your own jump rings from metal wire stock. You can use both solid jump rings and split jump rings when creating chain maille. To make chain maille jewelry and clothing, you place several solid jump rings into an open split jump ring, according to an established pattern. The split jump ring is then closed with two pairs of needle nose pliers. The next jump rings are connected to the first set of jump rings according to the pattern. This process continues on until you have created your desired shape and length of chain maille. 

Design elements made of other materials can also be combined with the woven metal and rubber jump rings to create original jewelry and clothing. Here are some of the other elements that can embellish woven chain maille:

  • Gemstone Beads - Precious and semi-precious gemstone beads can be interwoven or added as dangles to a chain maille rope or fabric. Gemstone beads are available in many sizes and shapes and can be transparent or opaque. Gemstone beads are most effective as dangles or embellishments. 
  • Glass Beads - Round and faceted glass beads can be interwoven within a chain maille pattern to create a transparent or opaque design element that catches and reflects light. These glass beads come in a vast array of sizes and colors and can be used to add interest and sparkle. 
  • Metal Beads - Metal beads can be added onto the metal jump rings themselves or strung on a metal head pin and wire wrapped to create a hanging loop and then attached to a chain maille base. The metal beads strung on head pins act as dangles when incorporated into a chain maille design. 
  • Metal Scales - Various sizes of metal scales can be hung from chain maille to create a fabric of metal with moving independent design elements. These metal scales can be made of plain and/or colored metals and are effective when used to create custom shirts, ties, belts, and other clothing. Metal scales can also be laser etched with classic or contemporary designs such as Celtic crosses, leaf patterns, skulls, dragons, trees, trefoils, and abstract designs.  
  • Metal Spikes - Various sized hollow spikes can be included in chain maille fabrics and ropes. These spikes are not heavy because they are hollow and made from thin gauge metals. They are most effective when made of a contrasting color to the base chain maille to which they are attached. 
  • Metal Tags and Charms - Other design elements such as tags and charms can also be incorporated into your chain maille designs. These items add interest and variety when they are made of a contrasting color or finish to the woven chain maille base. 

Chain maille is an ancient and very versatile process used to create necklaces, bracelets, earrings, chains, pendants, and clothing. The variety of colors and shapes that can be made in chain maille is almost endless. If you wish to learn about chain maille jewelry, it is easiest to start with a preassembled kit that will acquaint you with the process and flexibility of weaving jump rings into a predetermined chain maille pattern. Within a very short period of time, you will be designing and making your own chain maille patterns and jewelry. 

For more information, contact a business that sells chain maille materials and products, such as Bead Me a Story.