Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's in a Ring?

Chainmaille jewelry is made out of jump rings and there are many aspects to these rings that determine the quality of these rings.

These rings can be made out of many types of metals. You coil wire and cut the coils into rings. Many maillers who make armor make themselves armor very cheaply this way by using fencing wire. Jewelry on the other hand is a bit more complicated.

Before you buy chainmaille jewelry, you should know what it's made of. Don't be afraid to ask if that information isn't readily available. If your mailler doesn't know or wont tell you, move on.

The most common metals used in chainmaille jewelry are bright aluminum and anodized aluminum, stainless steel, copper and enameled copper, bronze, jeweler's brass, niobium and anodized niobium, titanium and anodized titanium, sterling silver, argentium silver, gold-fill, gold and rubber. I'll get more in depth on these metals in my next article.

These rings are wound into coils and cut into rings. The rings can either be saw cut with a jeweler's saw:

or pinch cut with pliers.

I prefer saw cut rings as they have less snags and povide a more smoothe and even closure. This is especially important with softer metal as they can snag and then come open. A chain really is only as strong as it's weakest link. it is important to examine the rings on your jewelry and make sure they have a proper closure. this means both sides of the ring meet smooth and flush.

Here are some examples of poorly closed rings:

Most chainmaille jewelry is not soldered closed, this makes good closures especially important, you don't want jewelry that's going to fall apart right away. Here is some jewelry I've made with good closures, you can zoom in to get a good look at the closures:

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, that's some good information you shared about rings. Which reminds me I need to ask my local bead store exactly what the rings they sell are made out of. The packages list the AR, ID, and gauge, but not material. I'm pretty sure they are anodized aluminum.