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Modifying Pre-Made Chain

Free instructions for modifying a commercial jewelry chain as part of a necklace jewelry making project

There are three techniques that we will discuss for converting a commercial or store-bought chain into a necklace by adding a pendant.  The issue with converting a chain is that many chains that you can purchase in a store do not have a clasp that is sized to easily add the pendant finding.  The loop for the catch in the commercial chain will be too large to fit through the loops at the top of the pendant finding. 

The three techniques that we will discuss are 1. Reshaping the loop (catch) in the chain; 2. Replacing the loop in the commercial chain with a split ring; and 3. Adding a new loop to the end of the chain using the Wrapped bead Link.  These three tasks are ordered in increasing difficulty, with Reshaping the loop being the easiest approach.  We will discuss each of these three approaches below. 

 

Converting Commercial Jewelry Chain by Reshapping the Loop

Converting a commercial chain by reshapping the loop is the easiest and fastest approach to adding a pendant to a commercial jewelry chain. This is performed by squeezing the loop (catch) at the end of the chain to change its shape from round to oval.  You can squeeze a loop gently to reshape it using loop closing pliers or bent closing pliers.  We prefer these bent closing pliers.  To perform this task, grasp the loop in the grooves in the jaws of your bent closing pliers and squeeze gently.  For most silver, gold and gold-filled chains, you should be able to squeeze the loop until it is oval as shown in the picture below-left.  Once you have compressed the loop until it will fit through the loops in your finding, you are done. 

Threading a Jewelry Chain through a Pendant Finding Completed jewelry chain and pendant finding.

 

Converting a Commercial Jewelry Chain by Replacing the End Loop:

In some cases, you won't have bent closing pliers.  In other cases, the material of the loop (Catch) will be hardened so that it will not easily deform.  In these cases and others, you will not be able to reshape the end loop on the chain.  Where, for whatever reason, this approach won't work for you, here are three relatively easy to preform alternatives that involve removing the end loop in the jewelry chain by cutting it off. After you have removed the end loop you will find that it is easy to thread the chain through the loop in the pendant. Once the chain is in place, you will need to replace the end loop. You can replace the end loop with a finding called a jump ring, or with another finding called a split ring, or you can make a finding called a figure 8 connector, or another finding called a wrapped loop.  We will discuss all four alternative below. 

 

Split Ring on End of Jewelry ChainReplacing the Loop in the Jewelry Chain with a Split Ring jewelry making finding:

Using Split Ring Jewelry Making Finding to Replace the End Loop on a Jewelry Chain.

Our first alternative is to use a jewelry making finding called a split ring to replace the end loop. Please see the picture at right.  In the picture shown at left, a piece of wire has been used to hold the split ring open so that you can thread the end loop of the chain onto the split ring. This same approach can be accomplished using Split Ring Pliers. Once you have completed threading the split ring onto the end loop in the chain, the finished chain will appear as shown at left. Please remember that you need to thread the chain through the loop in your pendant finding before you add the split ring.

 

Jump Ring Finding Added to End of Jewelry Chain

Replacing the Loop in the Jewelry Chain with an open Jump Ring made out of jewelry wire:

Our second alternative is to add an open jump ring to the end of the chain after you have threaded the chain through the pendant finding. Jump rings may be purchased pre-made, or you can make a jump ring out of jewelry wire as described here. Using a jump ring may be the easiest solution to modifying a commercial chain, but because the jump ring is open, it may also be the least desirable because a hard tug could cause the jump ring to open. The technique for opening and closing a jump ring can be found here.  This technique uses chain nose pliers or bent chain nose pliers.  We also have a video on using a jump ring to connect components here.

Replacing the Loop in the Jewelry Chain with a Figure 8 Connector made out of jewelry wire:

You can purchase a machine made figure 8 connector, but generally, we make all of our own figure 8 connectors. Our instructions for making a figure 8 connector out of jewelry wire can be found toward the bottom the page here.  One end of the figure 8 connector is connected to the end of the jewelry chain and the other end of the figure 8 connector is left open to receive the clasp.  If you are making your own figure 8 connector, you can make the end of the figure 8 connector used to connect to the chain with a smaller loop and the opposite end of the figure 8 connector with a larger loop to help in closing the necklace. 

Replacing the Loop in the Jewelry Chain with a Wrapped Link made out of jewelry wire:

Catch Finding Made out of Jewelry WireOur final alternative uses jewelry wire to make a catch on the end of your chain. This catch would appear as shown at left. Making this catch is a relatively simple process of making two wrapped loops on the end of your chain, after the chain has been threaded through the loops in the pendant finding. 22 gauge wire is recommended for making this catch. You will need about 4-5 inches of wire. The technique for making a wrapped loop is described in detail here. The steps in doing it for this application are shown below.



Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4






Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8
 
   
 
Finished Catch
   

In step 1, you make a 90 degree bend in your wire using your bent chain nose pliers. In step 2 you make a loop in the wire using your round nose pliers. In step 3 you thread the loop onto the end link in your chain (after the chain has been threaded through the pendant finding.) In step 4 you grasp and hold the loop in your wire with bent chain nose pliers while you wrap the wire around itself two times. In step 5 you cut the excess wire and then squeeze the cut end of the wire flat. In order to squeeze the cut end flat you will need to hold the loop with your bent chain nose pliers while you use your chain nose pliers to squeeze and twist the cut end of the wire. In steps 6, 7, 8 and 9 you make a second wrapped loop, cut the excess wire and squeeze the cut end of the wire flat.  Again, our detailed instructions for making a wrapped loop using jewelry wire are provided by selecting here.  We also have a video showing how to make a wrapped bead link out of jewelry wire and beads here.

Summary of jewelry making instructions:

We have discussed four approaches for modifying a pre-made, commercial jewelry chain to fit into a pendant finding with a small loop. This jewelry making project will make a necklace with a pendant.  Please choose the approach that matches your skill level, your available tools, and your jewelry making supplies.

 

 

 



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