I don’t make enough chains. I always want to, but they are very labor intensive. Sure, I could make very large or long links to lessen the work time, but that doesn’t make for the type of chains I like for my pendants or for chains alone. I like a chain that is somewhat simple with a bit of flair. So, my favorite chain to make is this one, below. It makes a statement all by itself and also looks great with a medium to large size pendant.
This chain is made with 16 gauge argentium silver square wire. It can be made with regularly used round wire, but I like the bit of angular presence each link has. For a lighter, more delicate look, 18 gauge wire can be used. I would not go any thinner than that, so that the strength of the chain is substantial. Below are examples of square wire and round wire.
To begin, we cut the long links to a size where, when ends are curved, links will be about 3/4” long each, so they’ll be cut at 11/4” long. Most important here is to cut them all the same length and curl the ends all the same. See the round nose pliers below, used to curl the ends. They are marked to ensure all curls are equal size. Just before the curling, ends of each piece of square wire are filed flat. Because the 16 gauge wire is substantial, I won’t fuse them shut. If 18 gauge wire were used, I would fuse the ends closed. Links will be connected using fused 20 gauge, 5mm jump rings. I’ll need to make and fuse shut 38 of the 5mm jump rings to finish the necklace. Below is the needle nose plier, square wire cut to 1.25” and the link after ends are curled.
The chain will be 16” in length. So after enough long links and jump rings are made, assembly begins. Notice (photo on the left) how the ends are left a bit open to fit the jump rings into each curl. Then its shut using a flat nosed pliers.
I chose to make a hook and eye closure for the necklace using the same square wire for the hook.
Final steps include pickling (a chemical bath to remove any fire stain), cleaning and tumbling. Every jewelry maker has their own preferred methods for this final procedure. Since this is a chain and won’t do well with wheel type tools, I’ll use very fine steel wool along the chain, initially. Then I’ll put it into the tumbler, which will burnish the silver to a really nice shine. It took about 1.5 to 2 hours from start to finish.