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DNA chain mail earrings

Use two sizes of jump rings to create a simple pair of earrings with a natural twist.

DNA chain is a beginner chain mail pattern that uses two jump ring sizes to create a spiral reminiscent of a double helix. One appeal of this pattern: It naturally forms a spiral as you add links, so there’s no need to twist it. As with many chain mail patterns, there are several ways to assemble the DNA chain, but I find this method to be the simplest and easiest to understand. Experiment with the length of the earrings and the metals used for the jump rings to create a variety of styles.

MATERIALS

  • 18 Argentium sterling silver jump rings: 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 4 mm inside diameter (ID)
  • 32 Niobium jump rings: 20-gauge (0.8 mm), 2.4 mm ID
  • 2 Argentium sterling silver ear wires
  • 2 Sterling silver beads: 4 mm round, at least a 1.5 mm hole
  • Paper clip, twist tie, or scrap wire

SUPPLIERS

  • Jump rings (Spiderchain, www.spiderchain.com)
  • Sterling silver ear wires (Rio Grande, www.riogrande.com)
  • Beads (Foreign Source [wholesale only], www.foreignsource.com)
  • Complete kits (Bijoux-de-terre, www.bijoux-de-terre.com)

INSTRUCTIONS

DNA chain mail earrings_step 1
Step 1

Close one large 18-gauge (1.0 mm) 4 mm jump ring, and place it on a tail wire. Work from left to right to help make sure that you add rings in the correct orientation.

 

NOTE: A tail wire is any short length of wire -— a twist tie, paper clip, or scrap wire — used to identify the start of the chain; it also gives you something to hold on to while assembling the chain. 

DNA chain mail earrings_step 2
Step 2

Add two small 20-gauge (0.8 mm) 2.4 mm jump rings to the first large ring, and close them.

DNA chain mail earrings_step 3
Step 3

Insert a second large ring through both small rings and the first large ring, going from the front at the bottom to the rear at the top. Close this ring.

DNA chain mail earrings_step 4
Step 4

Flip the second large ring back, laying it on top of the first large ring.

DNA chain mail earrings_step 5
Step 5
Slide the two small rings apart so that they are on opposite sides of the pair of large rings.
DNA chain mail earrings_step 6
Step 6
Pull the second large ring toward the end of the chain to force the two small rings into position on each side of the connection between the two large rings.
DNA chain mail earrings_step 7
Step 7
Add two small rings to the second large ring. As in step 3, insert a third large ring through both small rings and the second large ring, going in the same direction as before. Close this ring. 
DNA chain mail earrings_step 8
Step 8
Flip the third ring back, laying it on top of the second large ring.
DNA chain mail earrings_step 9
Step 9

Slide the two small rings apart, and place one at each side of the pair of large rings. Pull the large ring toward the end of the chain to force the small rings into position.

 

NOTE: The orientation of the third large ring with respect to the previous two has changed and has begun to spiral. You’ll know you’ve inserted a large ring in the wrong direction if the spiral doesn’t continue in the same direction.

DNA chain mail earrings_step 10
Step 10

Repeat steps 7–9 until you have used nine large rings and 16 small rings. 

DNA chain mail earrings_step 11
Step 11
Open the last large ring on the chain, and add a sterling silver bead to stabilize the end of the chain.
DNA chain mail earrings_step 12
Step 12
Remove the tail wire, and add an ear wire to the first large ring in the chain.
DNA chain mail earrings_step 13
Step 13

Construct the second earring as a mirror image of the first. In step 3, insert the second large ring through both small rings and the first large ring going in the opposite direction you did for the first earring: Add the ring from the rear at the bottom to the front at the top. 

 

You can burnish the finished earrings in a tumbler with stainless steel shot and burnishing compound for 15–20 minutes, or leave them as-is.

Earrings full

You can also make these earrings with graduated sizes of jump rings to create a taper. Follow the same steps as for the regular DNA chain earrings, but replace the large rings with rings of graduated sizes according to the following list. The small rings are all the same size as they are in the main project. 

  • Begin with one 18-gauge (1.0 mm) 3.6 mm ID ring
  • Add one 4 mm ID ring
  • Add one 4.4 mm ID ring
  • Add one 4.8 mm ID ring
  • Add one 5.2 mm ID ring
  • Add one 5.6 mm ID ring
  • Add one 6 mm ID ring
  • Finish with one 6.4 mm ID ring

NOTE: The tapered earrings use eight large rings and 14 small rings per earring.

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