Here’s a new style to consider if you haven’t checked it out before. The mysterious and richly historical Byzantine and Chainmail (or Chainmaille) from ancient times. Authentic Byzantine jewelry was created during the Byzantine Empire, which was from the fourth century AD to approximately the mid-1400s. The jewelry was influenced by the art of this civilization, and made heavy use of the Christian cross and other early religious symbols. The Byzantine time period was full of wealth and riches, so there was an abundance of gold metal used during this time.
Authentic Byzantine jewelry is usually made from weighty gold with generous amounts of gemstones. Common gemstones used include garnets, pearls, corundum, and beryls, which were traded from the Eastern countries such as India and areas of Persia.Typical types of jewelry that were made during the Byzantine time period include necklaces, neck pieces, head pieces along with bracelets, rings, earrings, and other ornamental jewelry. Bangles were very popular during this period, and people often wore more than one at a time on each arm.
Chainmail is a part of this tradition; the original art was the earliest form of metal armor and was probably invented before the 5th century by the ancient Celts. The name mail comes from the French word “maille” which is derived from the Latin “macula” meaning “mesh of a net”. The armor itself involved the linking of iron or steel rings, the ends of which were either pressed together, welded or riveted. Sometimes the rings were stamped out of a sheet of iron; these were then used in alternate rows with riveted links. There are many styles and methods within this category of art. One fairly simple tutorial is offered here by CreatingUnkamen on Etsy, (for only $1.00!) for creating a beaded chainmail bracelet -- . And I love this beautiful Byzantine coin necklace (to the right) desgined by AnewAgain.
Chainmail can look extremely feminine when made in precious metals and delicate designs. It is also very durable and the only limitation an artist has is imagination. Today artists have utilized traditional ancient patterns but have modified them to create unique patterns of their own. New metals have been introduced, old metals resurrected. Glass, metal, pearls and precious stones can be used to embellish any piece.
Jodi Caryn Griese of DragonsRoostStudio is consistently inspired by this style. (See a beautiful example of her work below.) Here's what she says about her creative process:
Medieval arts have held sway in my heart for as long as I can remember. There is something about the cool silkiness of well-woven mail as it slips through my fingers that fascinates me, mesmerizes me, and always draws me back. Each and every ring in my designs is turned by my hands, cut by my hands and woven by my hands. I take inspiration from everything around me, and of course the weaves I use are not of my own devising, but the way they are combined, the metals I use and the components I choose are carefully considered. I spend hours choosing just the perfect Swarovski crystal or Czech glass beads to complement a design, and it's the joy I find in the designing and the making that I want to share with those who are as interested and intrigued by the intricate art of weaving metal into cloth as I am.
Stephanie Hand of HandsOfTimeCreations designed and made this unique bead and chainmail necklace, shown at the right. The necklace features round red beads with areas of black patina. It also features an area of chain mail that she created herself. The findings and chain are silver tone and black with a few silver tone box beads.
I hope this short introduction to Byzantine and Chainmail Jewelry has been both entertaining and informative. We welcome stories and photos from any of you who may have experience and talent in this realm. And if you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these:
Until Next Time,