Of all the chain maille weaves, the Byzantine or birdcage is perhaps one of the most attractive for jewelry. It looks intricate but is actually one of the easiest to learn and there are many lovely variations. It's my favorite weave.

You can mix metals or use colored metal for more visual interest as can be seen with this copper accented bracelet I made.

byzantine chain maille braceletOther options include adding beads to byzantine as you can see with the crackle beads on the left.

If you like to learn how, here are the 8 steps needed to form the basic Byzantine which you then repeat to lengthen the chain. Some people use insanely small rings but my recommendation is to use 18G 5/32" rings if you are just beginning.

1. Close two rings and attach a wire tie through both of them. The wire tie helps you grip better - trust me. Link two more pairs of rings.

2. Hold the first pair and "peel" back the third pair.

3. Those two peeled back rings will be raised up. To do so, first turn the chain so you look directly at the direction where I am pointing the awl (below left).

4. The picture, below right, shows these two rings now raised up with a space below them. The topmost rings are now splayed sideways.

5. Now open a ring and hook through that space.

6. Repeat with the second ring.

7. Attach two more pairs of rings (below left) which now brings you back to step 1.

8. Do the peeling back, lifting and hooking steps above and voila! A byzantine!

Still confused? It might help some to see the byzantine taught differently, so check this video out. The demo uses ultra large rings so you can easily see the crucial peeling back and hooking up of the rings.

To add beads as shown in the above bracelet, add pairs of rings as side extensions.  Then just feed beading wire and beads through those rings. Attach the beading wires to each end of the bracelet with crimp beads.

9. Box chain, Queen's chain or Inca Puno Chain begins like a Byzantine. Indeed, I sometimes refer to it as half a Byzantine! When you get to step 8 above, stop at the second pair of rings. Do the peel back and add two rings. Repeat.

The result is a slinky like chain. It is unisex in style. Use it as a plain chain or jazz it up with different metals and pendants as I did on the left. I like chunky chain maille so I use 18G 3/16" rings for the box chain.

One book I can recommend is Scott David Plumlee's Handcrafting Chain and Bead Jewelry: Techniques for Creating Dimensional Necklaces and Bracelets. He is a Byzantine whiz and his bead embellishments are inspirational! The byzantine is the main weave used although he also shows the box chain.

The author mentions coming across a South American blacksmith making the box chain without any pliers - just his bare hands! The Spanish term Inca Puno for this weave means "clenched fist" so each locking section represents the clenched fist of an Inca warrior. Plumlee explains it's traditionally awarded to courageous young men of the tribe.

Beader Designs #: 472 -473

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