What are some common terms, industry jargon and abbreviations?
Common Chainmaille Definitions and Abbreviations
Anodized – An anodized metal is one that has been electrically treated. By dipping niobium or titanium in an electrically charged solution, an oxide layer is formed and the surface color changes. The colors achieved depend on the voltage. When aluminum is anodized, the oxide layer is clear, and the metal is then dyed. Whether the colors are electrically obtained, or dyed, the colors may vary from batch to batch and from ring to ring.
AR - Aspect Ratio. The relationship between the Inner Diameter and the Wire Diameter of the ring. The formula to calculate AR is ID ÷ WD High AR rings have a big hole with comparatively thin wire. You can fit a lot of similar jump rings through the hole of a high AR ring, so many weaves are possible, but many are far too loose to be aesthetically pleasing. Low AR rings have a small hole with comparatively thick wire. You can't fit a lot of rings through the center, so not many weaves are possible. For more information, see "What is Aspect Ratio?", "How do you calculate AR?" and "How do you use AR?"
AWG - American Wire Gauge – A numbering system that tends to be used for non-ferrous (meaning not containing iron) metals. This is what is traditionally used for sterling silver and copper. It's always best to ask your suppliers directly about the exact stats on their rings.
Base Metal – Normally a base metal is a metal that oxidizes or corrodes easily. For ease of grouping the non-precious metals into a cohesive group, B3's base metals refer to aluminum, bronze, copper, enameled copper, (jewelry) brass and stainless steel.
Calipers – A tool to measure the ID, WD and OD of jump rings. (B3 sells calipers in our Tools section.)
WD - Wire Diameter – The measured thickness of the wire used in a jump ring. Most commonly given in gauges, but since gauges are inconsistent (see AWG vs SWG), many maillers prefer to give WD in millimeters or decimal inches.
g, ga, or gu - Wire Gauge. Wire Gauge – (abbrv g, ga, or gu ) Gauges are numbers designating the thickness of the wire used to make the jump ring. Gauge systems differ according to the metal - 16ga steel is different from 16ga sterling (see AWG & SWG). The main thing to remember about gauges is that the higher the number, the thinner the wire. Most armor chainmaille is 12ga - 16ga. Jewelry tends to be 16ga - 22ga. Micromaille is 22ga - 24ga (and even thinner, for the hard-core micromaillers!). See the gauge conversion chart in the Jump Ring Sizes page for gauge measurements and conversions.
ID - Inner Diameter of jump ring – Typically given in millimeters or fractional inches. Best measured using calipers (to account for springback) when jump ring is closed.
Jump Ring – This is where it all starts: the basic ring from which traditional maille is created.
Kerf – The width of cut made by a saw through the jump rings. A thick saws yields a ring with a large kerf, and thin saws create rings with minimal kerf. Smaller kerfs are better, because the jump ring maintains more of its circular shape when closed if less metal is removed.
Mandrel – a rod around which wire is coiled in order to make jump rings. The standard ring mandrels used at B3 increase in 1/64” increments.
Möbius – A technique whereby multiple rings are intertwined, but they function as an individual unit.
OD - Outer Diameter of Jump Ring. The outside measurement of a jump ring, from one end to another. Traditionally given in millimeters or decimal inches. Best measured using calipers when jump ring is closed. Maille purists never give ring sizes in OD, however bead supply companies often use OD to measure jump rings, since they are accustomed to measuring beads in OD.
Precious Metal – Pecious metals are rare and of high economic value. On our website, we consider precious metals to be gold-fill, sterling silver, niobium and titanium.
rpi – This abbreviation means "Rings Per Inch" and is generally used for rope weaves to indicate how many rings of each size are used per inch, in order to help estimate number of rings needed to complete a specific length (for instance, for a bracelet or necklace). For sheet weaves, rpi may be listed as rings per square inch, as that measurement is more useful when trying to cover a large surface area.
Springback – When raw wire is wrapped around a mandrel, it "relaxes" a bit after being coiled because it prefers to stay a straight piece of wire. This relaxing is known as springback. Different metals have different springback. For example, a stainless steel jump ring wrapped around a 5/16 inch mandrel is significantly larger than a sterling jump ring wrapped around the same mandrel. This is because steel is tougher, and it springs back more. The same metal in different gauges wrapped around the same mandrel will yield different IDs, because springback differs depending on the gauge. Note also that different suppliers have different methods of wrapping, resulting in different springbacks even if wire gauge and metal is the same. Even if different suppliers use the same metal wrapped around the same mandrel, springback can be different if each supplier's wire is a different temper (see definition of temper below). Springback affects aspect ratio, so be sure to take springback into account when ordering rings.
SWG - Standard Wire Gauge – Also known as Imperial Wire Gauge. A numbering system often used for ferrous (meaning containing iron) metals. Stainless steel usually has SWG numbers. It's always best to ask your suppliers directly about the exact stats on their rings.
Split Ring – Similar to a jump ring, split rings are most commonly used for key rings. A split ring has a slit going the long way around its circumference, rather than the split cutting the short way through the wire. If you were to tug apart the ends of a split ring, it would resemble a very small spring.
Temper – The hardness or softness of wire. Softer wire is more malleable, and harder wire is stiffer and more durable. Typical tempers include Dead Soft, Half Hard, Full Hard.
Weave – (n) A specific pattern of rings. Weaves are divided into various families. (v) the act of linking jump rings together into a pattern
WD - Wire Diameter of jump ring. Most commonly given in gauges, but since gauges are inconsistent (see g, AWG & SWG), many maillers prefer to give WD in millimeters or decimal inches.
GSG - GSG is a Persian weave by Buddha. Named for the Great Southern Gathering where the weave was perfected.
HP - Half Persian. Usually seen as HP4-1 or HP3-1, etc. for Half Persian 4-in-1 and Half Persian 3-in-1.