Several years ago I stumbled upon the wonders that is Etsy. Page after magical page of handmade delights danced on the screen in front of my eyes. Everything from chunky knitted hats made from Peruvian wool to fizzy lavender bath bath melts to hand-stiched patchwork elfin capes were at my fingertips.
After perusing the jewelry section — a personal favorite of mine — I stumbled upon chainmaille. I had always associated chainmaille with medieval body army, a sea of interwoven metal rings on a battlefield. As I soon discovered, chainmaille wasn’t just for sword-wielding soldiers. It could be worn now, on a typical day in a 21st century office, without raising any eyebrows.
I soon fell in love with the Byzantine weave.
Also known as Birdcage, Fool’s Dilemma, and my personal favorite, Idiot’s Delight, this technique creates a gorgeous rope of interwoven rings that can be both feminine and masculine, depending on the size, color and type of rings you use.
I personally am a fan of the chunkier version, and own one of these beauties that I wear most days:
It’s sturdy and durable, yet simple touches give it a very feminine feel.
Today I am going to show you how you can make one of these for yourself! This is the most complicated of the jewelry tutorials I have up. It took me several attempts when I was first learning to get the weave started, but once you have it down you can make a bracelet pretty fast.
Since it can be a bit complicated, I showed the steps using different colored aluminum rings. You can use any type of metal for this. My bracelet is made from sterling silver rings. Aluminum is much softer than sterling (and much cheaper), so just a heads up that if you try this first using aluminum rings it will feel much different when you use sterling in terms of the pressure you use.
What you’ll need for this DIY jewelry tutorial
Please note, these are affiliate links, which if I’m likely will be just enough to cover the manicure my hands clearly need. You can read my full disclosure here.
- Two pairs of flat-nosed pliers
- Two 16 gauge 6mm inner diameter (ID) jump rings
- or a larger jump ring of your choosing — can be open like mine or closed
- 16 gauge 4.5mm (inner diameter) open jump rings in the metal of your choice OR 18 gauge 3.5mm (inner diameter) rings
- I use about 150 jump rings to make a 7-inch bracelet with the 4.5 rings and about 180 to make it with the 3.5 rings)
- Lobster clasp (or clasp of your choosing)
- Heart charm (optional)
How to make the Byzantine bracelet
1. Close one of the large jump ring so that the sides are flush with one another (you know it’s closed well when it makes a nice click and the two ends are flush).
2. Attach two of the 4.5mm jump rings to the large ring.
3. Attach two more 4.5mm jump rings (pictured in red) through the ones you just added.
Now is where it’s start to get a little complicated. (If you’re anything like me, this step will take many attempts and will likely cause you to throw down the rings and groan in frustration).
4. Fold over those last two jump rings you just added (in this case, the red ones) so that they meet the large jump ring. The second two rings you added (purple rings) will now be at the top.
In your non-dominant hand, open up those two purple rings with your fingers so that they make a V. Make sure there is a space between the red rings and the large silver ring. I find it helps to use your dominant fingers or the pliers to help get it in position. The first photos below show what it looks like from two different angles.
5. With your dominant hand, take another 4.5mm ring (shown in green) and loop it between underneath the folded over red rings and above the large silver ring (it should go in between the V of the purple rings).
Here’s what it should look like if it all went right from two different angles (and if not, just keep at it until you get it. I promise you, it WILL happen eventually!)
Repeat it with another 4.5mm ring — you should find it WAY easier this time!
Now give yourself a pat on the back and do a happy dance if you’ve made it this far!
I’ll just give you moment…
6. Ok, time to move on. Take two more 4.5mm rings (shown here in purple) and loop them through the last two rings you just added (shown in green).
7. And add two more (shown in red) to those last two (shown in purple).
8. And, we’re back to the tricky step, which this time around should be a wee less tricky since you’ve already done it once. Fold over those last two rings (shown in red) and make a little V with the previous two (shown in purple). I’ll show you again.
9. Loop two more rings (shown in green) in between the purple rings, below the red rings and above the previous green rings.
Lather, rinse, and repeat steps 6-9 until right before you have reached your designed length. Instead of adding in those two last rings in step #9, loop in the other large ring. Before you close it, attach you clasp (and charm, if you so desire). Close it up snug and ta-da, completed Byzantine bracelet. Woot woot!
If you liked this post, I recommend you check out my other DIY jewelry tutorials!
By the way, I’m going away for a few days and have decided to give myself off next week from blogging! I’ll be back here on Monday, March 28 with another post. Until then!
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