3. Byzantine Earrings

An introduction to chainmail

by Marilyn Gardiner


This is the third project in a series of chainmail earrings for beginners.

This month’s chainmail weave is called Byzantine. You may see references to some of its other names: Idiot’s Delight, King’s Link, Birdcage, and others. Byzantine is one of the most popular weaves & it is very versatile. Changes in the size of the wire and the rings can produce very different looks. As well, the basic byzantine segments can be linked together in different ways to make interesting bracelets, necklaces & collars. And Byzantine is perfect for adding beads!

Chainmail Weaves

This weave is part of the European family of chainmail weaves. Take a look at this website to see other weaves in this family.

Byzantine Windows Bracelet & Earrings
Once you have made the earrings, it would be easy to start a more challenging project such as this bracelet.


Many different metals can be used to make jump rings. You will see copper (plain & enameled), sterling silver, fine silver, Argentium silver, gold (in different shades), anodized aluminum, bright aluminum, brass, bronze, steel, niobium, titanium and even more. See Urban Maille and The Ring Lord for more information about these different metal rings.


One of the most interesting recent developments in metal for jewelry is Argentium Sterling Silver. it is still 92.5% silver, but the alloy used, Germanium, makes it slow to tarnish. You can anticipate seeing this product readily available in the future as refiners and jewellers become more familiar with it.


First, the wire used to make the jump rings comes in different “tempers”, from dead soft, through half-hard, to hard. I like to use half-hard wire because it gets harder as it is coiled and made into rings, and it gets harder still as the rings are tumbled to clean and polish them. My goal is to have rings that won’t pull open.


Wire comes in different thicknesses—and describing the thickness, or diameter is an “interesting” topic—or should I say a “frustrating” topic. The wire for this month’s project measures 1.0 mm in diameter. Here is a chart with some useful information about gauges. Look at the row for 18 gauge—under AWG you’ll see that the metric equivalent is 1.0 mm. Soooo, when you buy rings you need to clarify which system of measurement is being used (AWG, BWG, SWG), and whether the number is in inches or millimeters.

Jump Rings

The size of the ring is typically measured by the Inside Diameter (ID). If you think about it, the wire was coiled around a metal rod (or mandrel) and then cut with a saw into rings—so the diameter of that rod is pretty close to the inside diameter of the resulting rings. Seems logical, but of course, just to make things difficult, some companies sell their rings by the Outside Diameter! Buyer beware!

And just to confuse things a bit more, some companies measure in fractions of an inch, others use decimal inches, while still others use plain millimeters.


The small jump rings are also made from 1.0 mm (18 gauge) sterling wire with an ID of 4 mm.
Quantity: 28 rings

The small jump rings are made from 0.8 mm (20 gauge) sterling wire with an ID of 3.5 mm.
Quantity: 26 rings

2 sterling headpins with ball or other decorative end

2 of 6 mm crystals or gemstones
(The photo shows a fuschia AB Swarovski crystal, but onyx or amethyst or turquoise would loo wonderful;. either round or faceted.)

1 pair of earring findings
• french wire, • post, • lever-back, • clip on

Tools Required For This Project

2 pairs of smooth-jawed jewelers’ pliers

Both pairs could be chain nose pliers, or one could be chain nose and the other one could be either flat nose pliers or bent nose pliers (where you would use the curved part to grip the jump ring).

See the previous project for more information about pliers.

How to:

To Open a Ring

Use 2 pairs of pliers to hold the sides of a jump ring with the opening at the top (12 o’clock).

Hold the ring steady with your non-dominant hand while you rotate the wrist of your dominant (writing) hand, twisting the pliers tip towards your body.

Never open up the loop by pulling it side to side—you won’t get it back into a true circle.

How to open & close jump rings

To Close a Ring

Use 2 pairs of pliers to hold the sides of a jump ring with the opening at the top (12 o’clock).

Pull the ring ends back together by rotating your wrists and exerting a bit of inward pressure. You may hear a “click” as the ends meet.

The goal is to have the two ends lined up exactly, with no space between them.

Move the ends back and forth by small amounts to adjust the fit. If you go a bit past where they are even, they will spring back and match exactly.

Spend the time to close each ring carefully—this will be the mark of a professional finish to your work.




This chainmail pattern is composed of Byzantine segments that are linked together by a pair of jump rings top and bottom. (The red oval on the photo outlines the bottom segment.)
The earrings in this kit are each composed of 2 segments. The upper segment is made from a thinner silver wire, and the inside diameter of the rings is smaller.
The lower segment is heavier. It is made from a a bit thicker wire, and the inside diameter of the rings is a bit larger.
Swarovski™ crystals or semi-precious stones (6 mm) are threaded on Bali headpins & closed with a simple loop.

Byzantine Segment
Each complete segment uses 14 jump rings, but the 2 end rings are shared if there are adjacent segments. Byzantine Segment

Step 1

Start by using the larger 4mm jump rings to make the lower segment.

Close 4 rings (red) and open 2 rings (yellow). Hold one open ring with the pliers, gather up the 4 closed rings, and then close that ring. Add the 6th ring along the same path.

Attach a twist tie to an end-pair of rings. Your 2-in-2 chain should look like this photo.

Step 1

Step 2

Hold the twist tie and the first pair of rings with your thumb & first finger.

Flip the end rings, one to each side, as in this photo.

Now fold those 2 rings down and hold them between your fingers, as in the photo below, so the middle rings (yellow) are exposed.

Step 2

Step 3

Separate those two middle rings (yellow dots). Peek between them and see the top edges of those 2 end rings you flipped to the sides (red dots). See this photo.

Use a crochet hook, a hat pin, an awl, a piece of wire, or something similar to help lift up those 2 center rings (marked with red dots) a bit. This marks the path for inserting the next 2 rings!

Step 3

Step 4

Pick up an open ring with your pliers and insert it through this path. This ring is marked with a green line in the photo.

Close the ring.

Step 4

Step 5

Add a second ring through this same space and close it too.

This photo shows the results.

Step 5

Step 6

Insert another pair of rings into the last pair (with green dots).

Insert another pair of rings into that pair.

You now have 3 linked pairs just like you started with in step 1.

Step 6
Repeat steps 2-5 to create the second fold and add the 2 end rings to complete the byzantine segment.

The diagrams below show front and side views of one byzantine segment.

Step 7 Step 8
Add 2 more pairs of rings to begin the first half of the second segment. Use the smaller 3.5mm jump rings for these 2 pairs, and for the rest of the second segment.

Add the bead

Place a crystal or stone bead on each headpin. Use roundnose pliers to make a simple basic loop on each. Scroll further down if you need instructions.

Now open that loop correctly (with 2 pairs of pliers) and attach it to the 2 end rings of the larger byzantine segment.

Add the bead


Here is a stunning necklace that is meant to be worn with your new earrings.

Individual byzantine segments are linked at the top edge.

A wrapped crystal or bead is linked in place between pairs of segments.

The part of the necklace behind the neck is a continuous series of byzantine segments.

Byzantine Windows Earrings

Byzantine Windows Necklace

How to Wrap a Bead With a Simple Loop

Step 1

Slip a small 3.5 mm closed ring onto the roundnose pliers & make a mark just above it with a permanent fine-tip marker.

Step 1

Step 2

Thread a bead on a head pin. Use your fingers to bend the wire to a 90 degree angle above the bead.

Step 2

Step 3

Grab the wire in the roundnose pliers close inside the bend, with the wire on the mark, and the tail of the wire pointing towards you.

Step 3

Step 4

Bend the wire up over the top jaw.

Step 4

Step 5

Continue bending the wire around until it points towards the floor.

Step 5

Step 6

Without removing the loop, rotate the pliers 180 deg. towards you, Pull the tail wire up towards you to close the loop.

Step 7

Hold the tail wire in your non-dominant hand & with the flush cutters carefully clip that wire just on the other side of the wire that comes out of the bead. Make sure to turn the cutters to flush-cut the side of the wire that butts up against the loop.

Step 7

Step 8

Use the chainnose pliers to make any slight adjustments to center the loop.

Step 7

Copyright 2006 Marilyn Gardiner.

All Rights Reserved.