Accidentally Learning Something New

by Judy Larson
I don't often make chain maille designs because the jump rings are not generally fused or soldered closed to keep them from pulling apart. BUT I wanted a very simple chunky bracelet that had some dimension, especially since I planned on darkening it with patina.
I settled on a simple 3 in 3 chain (three rings connected to three rings connected to 3 rings) because connecting several rings together for each "link" makes a chain stronger and less likely to pull apart.

Sterling silver is a highly reflective metal. Argentium silver was chosen to make the rings because Argentium is brighter/whiter than sterling silver. Light bounces off flat surfaces so twisted square wire rings adds even more reflective surfaces, thus adding more dimension to the chain.
Judy Larson's Accidentally Learning Something New - , Chain Maille Jewelry, , chain maille learning curve
After making several sizes of chain mock-ups with plain round wire copper rings, I found I liked 16 gauge 5mm ID (Interior Diameter) rings the best. The rings were made with half hard wire to make them stronger instead of dead soft wire.

Half hard and full hard wire have a bit more spring than dead soft wire. That spring means that a coil made with half or full hard wire will probably have a slightly larger ID than a coil made with dead soft wire. Keep that in mind when making any chainmaille design.
I set about making 5mm ID rings in 16 gauge round wire. I own a jump ring cutting system so the only distance between jump ring cut ends is the thickness of the blade. If cutting rings by hand with a flush cutter, you may want to go up a half or whole millimeter in jump ring size.

Next, three feet of 16 gauge square wire was twisted, annealed because twisting hardens the wire making it difficult to coil, and made into 5mm ID jump rings. They were too big! What happened? It stumped me for a bit until I realized that the distance catty corner on square wire means the wire will become a larger gauge when twisted. The rings were 14 gauge in size! Thank heavens I used only three feet of wire to start and the rings could be used in other projects.

Back to the drawing board! 18 gauge square wire was twisted and annealed to obtain 16 gauge rings! Who knew?! It must be in a book somewhere, but I did not go looking. Remember, I was "flying by the seat of my pants" here to make this bracelet!

Always make more jump rings that are needed just to be safe. After all, mistakes happen! This chunky chain would be great for men, but it would have to be made longer. Since men's chains generally do not have extender chains, the wrist it would be worn on should be measured for size.


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7 Inch Coil Cutting Jump Ring Making Plier with PVC Comfort Grips - Pack of 1
  • G2-110
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
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  • Price: $29.95
  • Gold Club Price: $22.46
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The Quad Jump Ring Former
  • DUR-1312
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $380.00
  • Gold Club Price: $285.00
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  • Category: Chain Maille
  • Technique(s): General Education