What you need to know about chains
A neck chain or body chain is also a popular accessory. In order for it to always remain loved, it is worth it to understand the techniques of manufacturing.
There are three types of chain manufacturing technologies: machine knitting, hand braiding and stamping. However, this does not mean that any chain can be made in all three ways. Each of the methods has its own specifics, strengths and weaknesses. Some weaves can only be done in one specific way. For example, most of the complex bismarck varieties are handcrafted. Thin, lightweight chains weighing about one gram are almost always made using machine knitting. Stamping manages to create amazing fantasy jewellery with links of all kinds of shapes, but they will look a little voluminous. The cost of chains depends on many factors, but often hand chains, which take longer to produce, outperform similar machine chains.
Machine knitting of chains
Light chains can be machine made from very thin links. Modern chain knitting machines are capable of producing products from wire with a thickness of 0.15 mm. When making gold anchor chains, the machine creates 600 links per minute. The finished chains are calcined in ovens by heating to 815 ° C in order to activate a special agent that solders the ends of the links. The quality of the machine weaving chain depends on the accuracy of adherence to the technological processes. The technological process of machine-made chains is illustrated by a video that can be viewed in the section on machine knitting in our article on the types of chain weaving.
Hand knitting chains
Handmade chains are considered to be as reliable as possible. Of course, if we are talking about the high professionalism of jewelers, because it is their skill that affects the durability and beauty of the product. For example, the correct selection of the diameter of the crossbar (a tool for aligning the shape of the ring) and the thickness of the wire determines whether the chain links will break or bend badly. Such defects cannot be corrected.
Hand weaving is used not only in small workshops, but also in large industries. In this way, chains weighing from six grams can be made.
When stamping, the links of the chain are threaded into each other (assembled), and not soldered. The links themselves are made using special punching dies that push through the sheet metal. The thickness of the metal is no more than 0.3 mm. Outwardly, stamped products look a little bulky and heavier than their actual weight.
Stamping is a fairly simple and quick way to make chains, much cheaper than hand weaving. However, stamped ornaments are very capricious when worn. They are easy to deform and difficult to repair. Therefore, it is recommended to take them off before going to bed.
The process of making hollow chains is quite complicated technologically (some people habitually call them “blown”), which are now experiencing the peak of their popularity. To obtain a quality product that can be worn every day without risking deformation, special equipment and careful adherence to technology are required. The main advantage of hollow chains is that they look very large (and large jewellery is very popular now!), but are noticeably lighter than their solid counterparts, which leads to their quite budgetary cost.
The “empty body” within such a chain is achieved through a core made of non-precious metal (eg. iron). The core (the middle is made of iron) is wrapped with a plate of precious metal and then acid etched (more about metal etching technology). By the way, if the technology is not followed, the remains of iron inside the gold wire can significantly “lower” the declared sample of the product. After the core is etched out, a barely noticeable seam remains on the hollow chains, but with quality production, jewelers will make sure that it is always on the inside of the chain link.
The process of making hollow chains is similar to a conventional machine or manual one. The wire is rolled (thinned) and annealed to flatten the grain structure of the metal. The chain links are soldered. If necessary, the hollow chains are diamond cut and chipped (see chapter below) and at the very last stage, the core is etched.
Hollow chains should be worn as carefully as possible – if its link is deformed, it is usually impossible to restore or repair the chain.
Further processing: diamond cut and hammered chains
The appearance of a chain already made in one of the ways can be changed, sometimes almost beyond recognition. This is done by processing the product. One of the most popular options is diamond cutting (or “diamond”, as jewelers fondly call it). This procedure is performed on a special machine for applying a diamond facet (s). To make the diamond-cut chains sparkle more, the chamfer can be removed from almost all sides of the chain link – external and internal. At the output of the link, several faces (reflective surfaces) are obtained – for example, 6, 8 or more. Typically diamond cut is used on armor chains and bismarcks.
Another popular type of chain processing is the so-called “chipping”. Knotted chains of various weaves differ markedly from the parent weave, and provide an almost endless variety of chain types. The essence of the knitting technology is to calibrate the thickness and width of the links. In a more understandable language, the chain is compressed on a special press with different forces, due to which its geometry changes. Dies for punching presses can give chains of various cross-sectional shapes – round, rectangular, and so on. The compressive force is similar to that of up to 30 tons, and as a result, the hammered chains become very dense and stiff, which must be taken into account when choosing a suitable chain.