Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chain Reaction

Today's topic is actually a continuation of yesterday's topic regarding jewelry wire. Before I started designing jewelry, I often would find myself in a jewelry shop trying to explain what type of chain I wanted, and stumbling through a description because I didn't have a clue as to what the chain was called. I'm guessing, from my discussions with my customers, that there is still some lack of knowledge out there on the subject.

Variations on jewelry chain are as myriad as the imaginative ideas that their designers can come up with. Twisting a link, adding a link, mixing types of links - all of these processes can create unique and beautiful variations on some very basic styles. I'm going to provide you with some of these basic styles in this post.

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1) Curb Chain - A type of chain in which the links are oval and twisted so that they lie flat.

2) Ball or Bead Chain - Bead chain is a family of chain characterized by small round silver balls, which form a continuous strand of beaded chain

3) Figaro Chain - combination of three curb links followed by an oval cable link and has a repeating pattern.

4) Rolo Chain - A rolo chain is made up of symmetrical links (usually round) that are connected together.

5) Omega Chain - Unlike most chains which are a series of linked rings, an Omega chain is made up of rectangular smooth rounded metal plates set side by side and crimped along the ends onto a strip of metal mesh. The end result is a fairly stiff, yet flexible, circle which looks best worn high around the neck.

6) Venetian Box Chain - Venetian Box chain (also called simply Box Chain) is a continuous linking of interconnected six-sided, three-dimensional, miniature boxes. It is a strong and sturdy chain that holds pendants and heavier charms well.

7) Snake Chain (Sometimes referred to as Brazilian chain) Like the omega chain, the snake chain is also not made up of traditional linked rings. It is instead of made up of round wavy smooth metal plates joined so that it forms a flexible tube. The end result looks like a smooth, sleek snake skin from the wavy joins. The distinguishing difference between the snake chain and the Omega chain is that the Omega chain is made up of non-wavy smooth metal discs or plates.

8) Byzantine Chain - Two pairs of oval-shaped links are linked together. Each pair is then parted to allow a large thick oval link to be attached to the other pair, resulting in an intricate, sturdy design.

9) Cable Chain - Cable chain is comprised of flat oval interlocking links with alternating links turned 180°. This chain comes in a range of widths with the smaller ones generally more favored by females .

10) Twisted Cable Chain - Twisted Cable Chain is contructed the same way as regular cable chain, however the individual links have a twist to them.

11) Herringbone Chain - A chain made up of short, flat, slanted parallel links with the direction of the slant alternating row by row resembling the spine of the herring.

12) Rope Chain - The rope chain is made of twisted and braided fibers. Known for its strength, integrity, classic pattern, and simplicity, the rope family of chains is very popular.

13) Wheat Chain - To make a wheat chain, oval and twisted oval links are connected and intertwined together. The result is an intricate chain with a great deal of visual texture.

14) Steel Cable - Technically not a chain, but this usually thick, stainless steel cable is a favorite for creating chokers and bracelets. It is also found in most other jewelry metals.

There are many considerations to make when selecting a chain. Will it be worn alone? Will it be strong enough to support the weight of a pendant? Is it flexible? Will it tangle easily? How does it drape? Is it heavy? Does it match the "feel" of the rest of the design? These are only a few of the questions you should ask yourself when shopping for jewelry. Keep in mind that when it comes to buying a chain for a pendant, most sellers are open to swapping out the existing chain for something more to your liking. The best thing to do is ask! Happy shopping :)

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