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How to Make Chainmail Jewelry

This is an updated take on the classic European 4-in-1 Chainmail jewelry pattern. The beads are optional, but they add distinction. Once you are comfortable with the basic pattern, try varying your wire and ring size for dramatic changes in the appearance of the chainmail jewelry. The bracelet shown in the tutorial is about 2″ wide, but you have complete control over your finished dimensions so that you can make a bracelet, anklet, necklace, or even belt of any width and length you choose.

 

Skill Level Beginner
Time Required weekend or a few hours for a bracelet or anklet, longer for a necklace

 

Materials Comments
Jump Rings or Wire This pattern requires only one size of the ring. The look of the piece will be determined by the gauge of wire and size of the rings. You can buy rings or make your own. I prefer 18 or 20 gauge wire for jewelry. You could use 22 gauge as long as your rings are very small. If you are looking for a more authentic mail look, try using larger 16-gauge steel rings. You can find a table of metric/English gauge conversions here. I used dead soft wire to make my own rings, which are about 5-mm internal diameter.
Beads Optional, but really adds flair. I used size 5 Miyuki triangles. Use whatever you want, but be sure the beads will fit on the rings! As your wire thickness increases your bead options decrease.
Flatnose or Chainnose Pliers Preferably two pairs. You are going to open and close a lot of rings!
Clasp Buy one or make your own.

This is an easy, easy project and a great way to decide whether or not you enjoy making chainmail jewelry or jump ring jewelry. The European 4-in-1 pattern is the chainmail jewelry pattern many people learn first (another good beginner option is the Japanese 6-in-1 pattern). All you need are rings, beads, and pliers. Let’s get to it!

People who make mail for a living use speedy techniques, which tend to involve making strips of mail and then joining them. Although you will probably work with mail strips as you gain experience (and speed), this tutorial makes the mail from one end to the other. I did this because the rings are relatively small (so it’s harder to line up a pattern to join sections) and because I like to add beads as I go (you could open the edge rings and add them all at the end if you prefer).

chain mail jeweleryYou can easily vary the width of the pattern by altering the number of rings used to start (or by using different sized rings). I have 5 closed rings lined up in a row. I opened the end rings and put beads on them before closing them again. This is the first row of rings.
chain mail jeweleryOpen 4 rings (um…. save yourself some time and have them all open at this point). Run an open ring through the first two rings of row 1 and close the ring.
chain mail jewelryUse another ring to join the 2nd and 3rd ring of row 1. Use another ring to join the 3rd & 4th ring of row 1. Use another ring to join the 4th and 5th ring of row 1. (Note: you could have simply joined 9 rings together to make a chain, with beads on the outer rings). Now smooth the rings out as shown. I like to tack the first, third, and fifth beads of row 1 down onto a piece of cardboard with pins in order to keep the rows smooth and even. At this point, you have two rows of rings consisting of 5 rings and 4 rings. If you are new to making jump ring jewelry, it may take some practice before you can easily distinguish separate rows of rings. If you have your rings nicely lined up, you will see that rows consist of alternate rings.
chain mailAdd a bead onto an open ring and attach it to ring 1 of row 2 (if it all looks like one long row to you, ring 1 of row 2 is the second ring in the row… did that make sense?). Close this ring and push it to the side of the work.
chain mailUse an open ring to join rings 1 and 2 of row 2. Use an open ring to join rings 2 and 3 of row 2. Continue to the end of the row. The last ring to be added will have a bead and will only join to ring 4 of the row. Smooth the rings out as shown. You have alternating rows of 5 rings (end rings have beads) and 4 rings. The pattern continues in this manner until the piece is your desired length. The only ‘trick’ to making the pattern is to make sure your rings are smoothed out before starting a new row.
chain mail jewelryYou can attach a clasp at any point(s) of the strip of mail. However, I like to taper the mail at the ends (which could be done starting the piece just as easily). To taper the strip, reduce the number of rings in a row. From a row of 4 rings, add only 3 rings (bead on rings 1 and 3), then 2 rings, then a single ring with a clasp.
chain mail jeweleryHere’s an example of how changing the gauge of the wire affects the appearance of the weave. The piece on the left was made with 20 gauge copper, while the piece on the right uses 18 gauge wire. In both cases, the rings are about 5-mm. Also, this shows how raw copper changes over time. See how bright and shiny the new mail is? You can keep that appearance by either using coated wire, to begin with or by dipping your finished jewelry in a sealant, like Future floor coating. The copper will ‘green’ your skin as it makes a transition from bright to oxidized, but once it has changed to the darker color, it tends to stop causing the color reaction with skin. Some people have strong preferences regarding the color of their metal… a similar process is seen if you use sterling silver instead of copper.

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