Metals I’ve worked with….
Anodized Aluminum is the best way to add colour to Chainmail designs.
Important! Only clean anodized colors with soap and water. Never use polishing clothes or cremes because they may remove the color from the rings.
Bright Aluminum is light weight, about one third of steel, easy to work with, bright and shiny and clean for an aluminum product. Easy to clean if it gets dirty, just wash in soapy water to bring back the shine. Over time, aluminum will corrode slightly, losing a bit of shininess. It stops this process once its surface layer (very thin) has corroded.
Copper is a very malleable metal, making it easy to work with. Copper will tarnish – it will slowly darken in colour, but can be cleaned in a tumbler or with a silver cleaner. Vinegar or lemon juice will also clean copper based materials. All copper based metals must be rinsed well and dryed throughly when cleaned.
Jewelers Brass is a copper based metal that is alloy of Copper and Zinc – Alloy C226. It’s a beautiful colour. It does tarnish as all copper based metals do. Jewelry brass has a higher copper content than other brass. Some folks use other terms for jewelry brass, such as red brass, red bronze, or new gold, however note that those alloys may be exactly the same, or they may have 2-3 percent more copper. It will slowly darken in colour, but can be cleaned in a tumbler or with a silver cleaner. Vinegar or lemon juice will also clean copper based materials.
Stainless steel is a very popular material for chainmail, it doesn’t oxidize or rust at all (except under extreme conditions), making it a good choice for constructing low maintenance chainmail. Stainless steel is harder to work with and harder to cut than most other materials.
316L grade stainless is Surgical Steel. It’s a low nickel steel used in surgical instruments, and other medical equipment. It’s considered hypoallergenic, and won’t tarnish or rust.
304 grade stainless is even better. It’s lower nickel than 316L, which makes it an even better choice if you have a nickel sensitivity. It also won’t tarnish or rust.
Upcoming metals I will be working with….
General Care and Cleaning
Keep jewelry away from household cleaners and chlorine.
When not wearing your jewelry, store each piece in its own Ziploc® or soft fabric bag. Keep in a dark place. This reduces tarnish, keeps softer metals from being scratched, and preserves colored rings longer.
Always handle your jewelry gently.
Remember that most chainmaille links are not soldered closed, and can therefore be pulled open. Treat your chainmaille just as you would handle a delicate pearl necklace or crystal bracelet.
Your jewelry can pick up dirt, oil, and even odors. To clean most metals (sterling silver, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, niobium, and gold-fill), soak jewelry in soapy water (use non-lotion dishwashing soap) for several minutes. Then lather with soap and gently but briskly rub the jewelry between your palms. Rinse with warm water and let air dry, or use a blow dryer on lowest and coolest setting.