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Break the pattern easy chain earrings

Intersperse plain jump rings with a forged link to create a high-contrast spin on chain mail.
 
These earrings spotlight the dramatic combination of 14k yellow gold-filled and oxidized sterling silver wire. The simple yet striking chains can serve as a jumping-off point for those who want to expand their chain mail designs with forging and patina techniques, or for jewelry makers who want to incorporate chain mail into their work.

You’ll master the simple one-in-one linkage quickly — then, feel free to improvise. Try working with different metal combinations, such as polished sterling silver and copper, or consider pulling back the dark patina on the silver to evoke a chrome effect. Create an even more dramatic design by hanging a second chain from the focal link, or adding more forged links. Shorten or lengthen the earrings by removing or adding links. Whatever your experiments, you can put your own personal stamp on this basic chain.
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Key
KEY

SUPPLIES

  • Sterling silver jump rings:
    • 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 10 mm inside diameter (ID), 
    • 12-gauge (2.1 mm), 5.5 mm ID, 8
    • 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 5 mm ID, 4
  • 14k yellow gold-filled jump rings:
    • 12-gauge (2.1 mm), 5.5 mm ID, 6  
    • 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 4 mm ID, 4
  • 14k yellow gold-filled ear wires, 2
  • Utility hammer
  • Steel bench block 
  • Scrap copper or brass wire, approximately 10 in. (25.4 cm) 
  • Liver of sulfur
  • Chain mail toolbox

INSTRUCTIONS

Create the focal link
Use both flatnose and bent chainnose pliers to open  two 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 10 mm inside-diameter (ID) sterling silver jump rings.
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Step 1
PHOTO A
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Step 2
PHOTO B

Grasp the left open end of one jump ring with the pliers in your right hand and the right open end of the jump ring with the pliers in your left hand (PHOTO A).

Gently pull the pliers apart so that the jump ring ends cross and create “wings” (PHOTO B). The inner measurements of the link should be about 1/4 in. (6.5 mm) wide and about 3/8 in. (9.5 mm) long. Repeat with the second 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 10 mm ID jump ring.

Break the pattern easy chain earrings Step 3
PHOTO C
NOTE: This maneuver can be tricky, so you may want to practice on less-expensive copper rings. 

Place one of the shaped jump rings on a steel bench block, and use a utility hammer to lightly hammer the end closest to the bench block to create a flat, flared shape (PHOTO C). Flip and repeat to ensure that the wings are even. Repeat to flatten the second focal link. 
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Step 4
PHOTO D
Patinate the sterling silver components

String all of the sterling silver jump rings, including the focal links, onto a piece of scrap copper or brass wire and twist the wire closed. Prepare a liver of sulfur solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dip the jump rings, alternating between the liver of sulfur and cool water until the rings are dark black (PHOTO D).

TIP: Building up a patina gradually helps you control the level of darkness and prevents the patina from flaking off. 

Rinse the jump rings in fresh water, and place them into a tumbler with stainless steel shot and a drop of mild dish soap. Tumble for 5–10 minutes. Remove the rings from the tumbler, rinse them thoroughly, remove them from the scrap wire, and set them on a paper towel to dry. 

NOTE: Thoroughly rinse your tumbler and steel shot after tumbling patinated pieces.

 


 
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Figure 1a
FIGURE 1
Assemble the earrings

Open three silver 12-gauge (2.1 mm), 5.5 mm ID jump rings (B in the KEY, above) and two gold-filled 12-gauge (2.1 mm), 5.5 mm ID jump rings (C).

Create a short one-in-one chain, alternating B and C rings.

The chain should begin and end with silver B rings (FIGURE 1). 

Break the pattern easy chain earrings Figure 2
FIGURE 2
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Figure 3
FIGURE 3

Open the top link on the short chain and pass it through the bottom of one of the silver focal links (A) (FIGURE 2). Close the jump ring. 

Open one silver B ring, and pass it through the other end of the focal link so that it is between the wings. Close the jump ring. Open a gold-filled C ring and pass it through the silver B ring (FIGURE 3). Close the jump ring. 

 
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Figure 4
FIGURE 4
Break the pattern easy chain earrings Figure 5
FIGURE 5

Open two silver 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 5 mm ID jump rings (D), and pass them both through the gold-filled C ring (FIGURE 4). Close them. 

Open two gold-filled 18-gauge (1.0 mm), 4 mm ID jump rings (E), and pass them through the two silver D rings.  Add the ear wire and close the rings (FIGURE 5). Repeat to create the second earring. 

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