FREE Simple-Chic Chain Maille Jewelry Project: Make Handmade Earrings in 5 Minutes!

Roller Girl chain maille earrings by Sara Richardson

Sara Richardson’s Roller-Girl Chain Maille Earrings. Photo by Jim Lawson.

One of my favorite things about working in an office full of jewelry makers is the daily jewelry-related “water cooler” chats we invariably have. I love having the chance to see so many interesting designs and to have so many experts available to help me with my own projects. I’m constantly inspired by what others wear and am always learning new tips or techniques. In fact, our jewelry talks often lead to impromptu classes in the office kitchen or conference room!

Not long ago, my colleague Sara Richardson, associate editor for Step by Step Wire Jewelry and Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, came into the office wearing the most delightfully simple chain maille (chain mail) earrings. They looked very colorful and fun, and I just had to compliment her on them. It turns out the project for her creatively named Roller-Girl Earrings is included in the latest issue of Interweave’s Easy Wire. And since I loved them so much, I thought we should share them with the Jewelry Making Daily community! They’re a great introduction to making chain maille jewelry if you haven’t tried it yet!

chain maille earring supplies

Make a pair of simple-chic earrings with minimal materials: a few jump rings, ear posts, and ear nuts. Photo by Michael Richardson.

The materials you need for the two-inch earrings are:

  • 18-gauge 6mm ID aluminum jump rings, 10
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID purple enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID green enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID red enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID aqua enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID orange enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID pink enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID yellow enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID peach enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 20-gauge 3.2mm ID silver enameled copper jump rings, 4
  • 3mm silver-plated ear posts, 2
  • Silver-plated earnuts, 2

The jump rings in the image are from Blue Buddha Boutique, and the ear posts and nuts are from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. But you can find these materials in any of your favorite bead shops. You can switch the colors of the enameled copper jump rings as you see fit . . . you can come up with several different variations to make the earrings uniquely your own!

jewelry making pliers

You’ll only need two tools for this easy project: two pairs of flat nose pliers (or use chain nose or bent nose pliers if you like them better). Photo by Michael Richardson.

For the project, like most chain maille jewelry projects, the only tools you’ll need are two pairs of flat-nose pliers. The complete project took just five minutes! Here are the step-by-step instructions:

1. Close a 6mm jump ring and add two purple and two green 3.2mm jump rings. Close all the jump rings.

2. Open another 6mm jump ring and thread it through the purple and green jump rings. Close the ring.

how to open jump rings

When working with jump rings, grasp them with two pairs of pliers and twist to open and close You can find more on working with jump rings in the August issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Photo by Jim Lawson.

3. On the bottom of the 6mm jump ring just added, add two red and two aqua 3.2mm jump rings. Close the rings.

4. Open another 6mm jump ring and thread it through the red and aqua jump rings. Close the ring.

5. On the bottom of the 6mm jump ring just added, add two orange and two pink 3.2mm jump rings. Close the rings.

6. Open another 6mm jump ring and thread it through the orange and pink jump rings. Close the ring.

7. On the bottom of the 6mm jump ring just added, add two yellow and two peach 3.2mm jump rings. Close the rings.

8. Open another 6mm jump ring and thread it through the yellow and peach jump rings. Close the ring.

9. On the top of the 6mm jump ring with the purple and green rings, add one 3.2mm silver jump ring and close. Add another 3.2mm silver jump ring to the one just added. Do not close yet.

10. Thread the last jump ring onto the loop of the ear post. Close the ring. Add an earnut to the back of the post.

11. Repeat Steps 1-9 for the other earring. Before adding the post, flip the jump rings over so you have a mirror image. Add it to the post and add the earnut.

The Roller-Girl Earrings are a great project for anyone who wants to try their hand at simple chain maille–or who just loves gorgeous, colorful jewelry. If you like these earrings, you’re bound to find even more simple and fun wire projects in the 2010 issue of Easy Wire. ┬áMake sure to order a copy from the Interweave Store and try your hand at some (or all) of them. Wear your new creations to your office, and see how many “oohs” and “aahs” you get from your co-workers. And then you can tell them just how easy they were to make.

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