Nancy LT Hamilton
Last Updated: 8/26/20, 10/1/19
I have a Pinterest board, called not-so-surprisingly: Chains, with a lot of great chain inspiration on it. Take a gander!
Please see my videos:
- How to Make Chain: The Fly-Eye and Loop-in-Loop Chains.
- Jewelry Tools: Making the Most of Your Jump Ring Maker
- Wire Working Basics – Learn how to create links.
- Wire Working Intermediate – Learn how to create even more links.
Don’t miss out on my HUGE Google Doc that contains a ton of information on chains and chain making. To see that information, click on this link to CHAINS. You’ll find written directions for the Fly-Eve and Loop-in-Loop chains too.
In metalsmithing, the chain is usually seen as a stand-alone necklace, holding a pendant, keeping a bracelet on your wrist, dangling elements off of earrings, or wrapped around a waist. They hold pocket watches, keys, act as safety clasps, hold glasses, decorate your ensemble. They also lift heavy weights, hold prisoners, pull conveyor belts, etc.
The type, size, and design of the chain will vary depending on the amount and type of stresses that the chain will experience, where/how it will be worn/used, the artist’s/designer’s vision, and host of other criteria. As I have tried to convey, the chain is a busy little beaver.
Byzantine, gold, pearl, garnet, and emerald earrings – Christie’s. A woven chain.
Chains are made of interconnected links or rings. The system of interlocking links creates a (usually) flexible mechanism.
Some chains appear to be composed of strung beads. Those that involve a linking system are considered chains but, those where the bead is just strung, are not. See the following examples:
This 2nd-1st century B.C. necklace is not a chain as the beads are strung. Christie’s.
While this 2nd – 1st century B.C. necklace is a chain. Note the links. Christie’s.
Chains have been around longer than me! So, that makes them ancient! Excavations at the Royal Cemetery at Ur yielded evidence of chains some 4500 years ago (2300 -2550 B.C.E.). Also, Priam’s Treasure from the excavations at Troy (Trojan) date from 2200 – 2400 B.C.E.
The chain pictured is from the backside of a diadem found in the tomb. (2300 B.C.E.)
This chain is from Queen Puabi’s tomb at the excavation site: the Royal Tombs of Ur from around 2550 – 2450 B.C.E.
Jewelry Chain Types
In the jewelry world, there are many different types of chains.
- Box or Briolette
- Frog Eye
- Inca Puño or Box
- Spiga (which means “wheat”) or Wheat chain is composed of oval links, twisted
- Trace – a simple link chain with uniform links.
- Twisted Link
- McCarthy, Cathleen. A Short History of the Chain, The Jewelry Loupe. 1/1/13. http://thejewelryloupe.com/a-short-history-of-chains/
- Sumerian Shakespeare. Jewelry from the Royal Tombs of Ur.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. What Does it Mean to Be Human: Jewelry.
- Lange Antiques, Antique Jewelry University. Ancient Jewelry.
- Bass, George F., Penn Museum. Troy and UR: Gold Links Between Two Ancient Capitals (PDF).
- State Museum of Fine Arts (use Google Translate). Here’s the article with good images of the back of one of Queen Puabi’s diadems: A Great Diamond (sic – think it should have translated as Diadem!) with Suspensions.