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Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry

Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry Design Idea F766 Bracelet
by Leslie Anger, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Chainmaille was once created to protect the wearer from injuries sustained during battle, but this combining of small metal rings has taken on a new purpose in modern society--a fashionable one. Chainmaille artists are using more than just rings these days, including pointed oval metal blanks for an added touch of fantasy to these Medieval-inspired techniques.

Originally called "lorica squamata" by the Romans--lorica meaning "body armor" and squamata referring to "scaled reptiles"--scalemaille is now the term most commonly used for these types of jewelry creations. Dragons are notorious for their thick, impenetrable hides, so why wouldn't knights in shining armor want to emulate such a strength? The lightweight scales are combined using traditional chainmaille techniques of interweaving rings together or sometimes added to crocheted/knitted wire bases. Aside from necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings and every other form of jewelry, we've also seen scalemaille used to create historical re-enactment, LARP (live-action roleplay), cosplay or everyday clothing accessories:
Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry
  • Gauntlets, gloves or cufflets
  • Men's ties
  • Chest plates and armored bralettes
  • Epaulets and spaulders
  • Embellished purses
  • Vests and coats
  • "Mermaid" tights/leggings

Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry
Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry

Style Snapshot: Scalemaille Jewelry Of course, you don't have to emulate the appearance of knights and dragons or other mythological creatures in scalemaille, as the pointed shape lends itself well to all forms of other jewelry creations. In fact, we've seen designers create multi-layered flowers or butterflies using varying sizes of scales held together by a chainmaille frame. Used along the edges of a design, the scales create a fluid appearance when laid flat or create fun texture and dimensional fringe if used in multiples so they stand up.

Scales tend to be shiny and can be left as is or can be stamped, etched or otherwise patterned. You'll find a wide variety of scale colors from bright primary hues to seasonal color palettes and usual metal hues. You can also affect the color of the scales if you want by using products such as Gilders Paste® or Swellegant!™ metal coatings and patinas. Be sure to use nylon jaw pliers when working with the scales, or pliers dipped in Tool Magic® to prevent scratching the anodized surface in a way you didn't intend.

Whether you're a knight looking for new shining armor, a mother of dragons or just happen to like this particular look of cold connections, scalemaille jewelry opens up fun jewelry design opportunities. Create scalemaille jewelry with the past, a fantasy realm or industrial inspiration in mind--the choice is yours.

Anodized Aluminum Curved Scale Components

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