About Jewelry Chain Oct. 10: About Ball Chain

By on October 10, 2012
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by Rose Marion, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Idea for
October 10, 2012

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What is Ball Chain?

Ball chain, sometimes called bead chain or pelline chain, doesn’t have links made completely out of wire lik e other jewelry chains. Instead, ball chain is made of 2 parts: wire rods, and hollow beads. Each wire is inserted into the hollow bead, and then given a bend, so that the end of the wire is bent and won’t slide out of the bead hole.

While ball chain is usually associated with non-high end jewelry, often made from steel in items like key chains and dog tags, there is ball chain out there in sterling silver and silver plate. It will give your jewelry a distinct look and finish, and if you make fun and playful jewelry, not concerned with looking like serious traditional jewelry, this would be a great chain to use.

Our chain profiles typically don’t mention clasps, but the clasp on a ball chain is worth noting: there are two types of clasps typically used on ball chain, and one is significant because it cannot really be made by hand. You’ve seen this clasp on your keychains before: it looks a bit like a tube with a C-shaped bit taken out of it. The advantage of ball chain using this clasp is that it can be cut to any length, and the clasp will still fit on: you don’t need to attach a finding to the other end. The clasp simply accepts the wire link and snugly holds the ball of each end of the chain, and this clasp is usually very secure. The clasp is also very low-profile, just a hair bigger than the chain itself, so the jewelry-maker can hang pendants with small bails on this chain.

The second style of clasp is a typical lobster claw clasp, as you can see in the pictures below. Each half of the lobster clasp is attached to the balls of the ball chain with a crimp cover-like finding, that has a hole in it.

Pictures of Ball Chain

Ball Chain, or Pelline Chain
Diagram of Ball chain or Bead chain

Hint: You can click the above picture and right-click > Save to save it to your computer, or click on it and Print. There will be more diagrams coming!

Next week, we’ll talk about Snake chain and Omega chain. See you then!

Resources & Further Reading

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  1. avatar


    October 10, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Lately on eBay, I’ve begun to see jewelry with a stone called Royal Ruby. I’ve tried looking up the stone, but can find no information. Can you tell me exactly what type of stone Royal Ruby is, and if it is natural or man-made.

    • avatar


      October 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Hm, I think I found the items you’re talking about. I would guess that that’s just the name the seller is using to sell the product – I haven’t heard of it before. Looking at the jewelry, it looks like the rubies have some “imperfections” like inclusions, dark spots, etc, so I would guess that they’re not glass. You might ask the seller what country the stones come from or if they’re manmade, and that should would shed some light. Good luck, Michele!

  2. avatar

    Lynne Sinan

    October 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

    This question came to mind, and I never thought to ask it! Thank you for clearing this up. I like the ball chain and would use it, had I known the ‘mystery’ of the clasp.

  3. avatar

    Renee PG

    April 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Do you know where I can get the supplies to recreate this type of clasp (The lobster on ball chain)? I love the crimp findings but not sure if there is a specific name for the piece? Any information is much appreciated!