Chain Maille Jewelry Design
Chain Maille--Jewelry with a History
Like many current trends in fashion and jewelry, one of the most interesting both due to design and history is chain maille, also spelled chainmail, chain mail, and chain maile. Chain maille was originally used back in the Middle Ages for protection for knights and other warriors when they fought with swords. The finer the chain maille, the more expensive, and usually the finest chain maille was only worn by the royalty.
The best chain maille was made from very fine but extremely strong metal because the finer the metal links, the lighter weight it was. Also, the smaller the holes in the chain maille, the harder it was to get a sword through it.
Chain Maille Now
In the Middle Ages, knights would wear chain mail under their uniforms to literally protect their body from harm. Although they still got lots of bruises. Since we have advanced from the sword fighting days, chain maille is no longer a good defense against weaponry, and we now have much lighter armor that can be worn against bullets.
However, the intricacy of chain maille, created by fastening individual links or jump rings together, has now moved from defense to fashion. Chain maille is fast becoming one of the newest styles of jewelry, made for both men and women.
Chain Maille Jewelry
Chain maille jewelry, when made correctly starts with a single wire. The artist takes the wire, and wraps it around and around a cylindrical object to create the jump rings. Each ring has to be the same size for the chain maille to come out properly.
The next step is to saw through the entire line of rings so that the cut is straight and even. This is a lot harder to do than it sounds. Once the rings are made, then the fun begins.
Chain maille jewelry designers create their works of art by patterning the rings in different repeating patterns over and over. There are many styles of chain maille patterns. One of the most popular is called byzantine--pictured to the right.
Jump rings, the most important component of of chain maille, can be made by hand or purchased from a manufacturer. Jump rings are available in most metals, although sterling silver and copper are the most common. Annodized aluminum is aluminum that has a colored metallic coating on it, and it comes in a rainbow variety of colors. This is a very cheap metal to buy, and a good metal to learn on. Most other metals are softer and easier to bend than the annodized aluminum, but if you break it, or mess it up, you don't have to feel guilty for wasting a precious metal.
Once you are finished with your main pattern, the finishing step is to attach findings. Findings are the clasps, ear wires, and hooks that attach your pieces together. Findings also come in a variety of metals, although I recommend that people use sterling or at least silver coated ear wires to alleviate allergy worries.
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