Byzantine is the most popular, most recognized weave in chainmaille jewelry. There are numerous places on the internet to find patterns, but most people have a hard time figuring out which size to use and how many rings they’ll need. It doesn’t help that so many of the older patterns were written long ago when chainmakers used to make their own rings using the cut off shank of a screw driver or a wooden dowel that actually shrank a little bit every time they used it. Then they would lay their ring down on a ruler and pick the closest fraction as the size.
Today rings are made with a little more precision. Specialized mandrels are machine ground to exact millimeters. Digital calipers will give you an exact reading. High quality saw cut rings are sold by the troy ounce in hundreds of sizes. So many sizes, in fact, that beginners are routinely confused by all of the choices, especially if they are trying to convert from the fractions of inches that their pattern calls for to the millimeter sizes that most chainmaille ring companies use.
After lots of testing, the ideal sizes for the Byzantine Weave were worked out. Once you decide which gauge of wire you want to work with, you can select the correct ring size, based on these recommendations. But how many to buy? To answer that, you need a few more pieces of information, one that only you can supply: How long do you want your chain? The next step in the formula is “How many rings do you need to weave an inch of chain”? To figure this out you have to actually weave an inch of the chain then count them. Fortunately, this step has already been done for you.
So now we’re down to simple math. The ideal ring size for Byzantine in 22 gauge is 2.25mm i.d. and you need 40 rings to make an inch of chain. If you want a 20 inch necklace, the formula would look like this: 20 (inches of chain) x 40 (rings per inch (rpi)) = 800 22ga/2.25mm rings.
To move up a gauge to 20, the ideal ring size is 2.75mm i.d. and the rpi is 33. Again, I am using a 20 inch chain as my example. 20 x 33 = 660 20ga/2.75mm rings.
If you want to use 18 gauge wire, you will want to order 3.5mm i.d. rings, and you’ll need 26 rings per inch. 20 x 26 = 520 18ga/3.5mm rings.
The most popular size of wire for Byzantine is 16 gauge and 4.5mm i.d. is the perfect size ring. In this size, you need 20 rings per inch: 20 (chain length) x 20 (rings per inch) = 400 16ga/4.5mm rings.
With 14 gauge wire, you move up to 5.5mm i.d. rings, and 16 rings per inch. 20 x 16 = 320 14ga/5.5mm rings.
Keep in mind that this does not take the length of the clasp into consideration. You should measure it and subtract that number from the length of you chain. Or leave it for a margin of error in case you lose a ring or two.