How to Work With Rhinestone Chains

Rhinestone chains are linked-together lengths of square rhinestone settings, used in both jewelry and sewing creations and sold in bulk lengths to artisans. Working with rhinestone chains has a few more challenges than working with other kinds of cord and chain material, due to the complexity of the mechanisms joining the rhinestone pieces. Use the proper techniques for cutting, sewing and connecting rhinestone chains to your clothing or jewelry projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire snips
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Quick-set epoxy
  • Jump rings
  • Soldering iron
  • Jewelry solder
  • Needle
  • Thread

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Trim the chain to the length you want, by cutting with wire snips between the rhinestones and their metal settings. If you have trouble with this, stretch out the rhinestone strand so that you can access the tiny, sliding metal strip that connects one piece to the next.

Use the needle-nosed pliers to grip the remainder of the cut strip of metal on the end of the rhinestone chain. Twist and tug to remove it, leaving a clean and smooth end to the strip. Do the same on the other end that you cut.

Attach a jump ring to the end of the rhinestone chain, if needed, using a small amount of jewelry solder or quick-set epoxy. Avoid using super glues (cyanoacrylate), since this won't bond well to the often irregular shape of the back of a rhinestone setting.

Use rhinestone chains in jewelry and clothing designs where the chain can mostly lie flat. Avoid designs where the rhinestone chain has to stretch all the way around someone's neck (in a necklace) or torso (in a garment). Instead, use the rhinestones to wrap only halfway. Then finish the necklace with jewelry chain, or sew the rhinestones only on the front half of a garment.

Fasten strings of rhinestone chain to garments, using safety pins to position them before sewing. Once you get the positioning you want, replace each safety pin with about six or seven isolated loops of stitching (tack stitches); hide the stitches between one rhinestone and the next, rather than letting any thread loop over the tops of the stones themselves. Let the rhinestone chain hang loose between the tack stitches, or add more tack stitches between stones where you want the chain secured.

Use a wrapping technique with rhinestone chains for stationary, non-dangling brooch designs, by gluing the chain to a base piece made of metal or wood. Use somewhat curved base pieces, if possible, to help the rhinestones lie as flat and even as possible.

References

  • "The Complete Jewelry Making Course: Principles, Practice and Techniques: A Beginner's Course for Aspiring Jewelry Makers;" Jinks McGrath; 2007
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