To DIY For: The Chunky Necklace

10/05/2009 1:16 PM |

Finished necklace

I’m not a big fan of jewelry—I never really have been—but I’m really into the chunky, shiny jewelry I’ve been seeing recently, as well-documented by refinery 29 and our very own Laurel Pinson. And I can honestly say that after trying this project out at home, I can understand why jewelry is so expensive: it’s tricky and tedious work requiring steady hands and infinite patience. The concept is simple enough—grab a bunch of chains and throw them together—but it’s all in the execution. To date, this is the piece I am most proud of and consider it well worth the effort of staying up into the early morning hours making a unique necklace that I intend to wear everyday for the next three months—and for under $25 dollars!


—4 or 5 chains of varying thicknesses and lusters with corresponding clasps, 1 foot long
—a piece of ribbon about 2 feet long
—2 medium-sized jump rings (large enough to hold all your chains and the ribbon)
—needle nose pliers


Gather chains: I went to this amazing store in the garment district call Toho Shoji that specializes in jewelry-making products for retail and wholesale. There’s an amazing array of chains to choose from, and I picked out out four, all within the same color scheme: onyx/dull silver.

Insde the jewelry store

All of the chains I picked were about $1-$2 per foot, so you can really experiment with a few different kinds. The most expensive was probably $4 per foot. If your chain is made of large enough links, you can simply slip it onto the the jump ring. Otherwise, you’ll have to attach a clasp ($2-$3 per bag). The ladies here are extremely helpful and knowledgeable and can help you determine the right clasp for your type of chain. You’ll need the pliers to help open the tiny metal rings you’ll be using. The rhinestones I got from a belt that I had lying around for years, waiting to be used in a project such as this, and which I assure you was never worn as a belt.

Chains for a chunky necklace

Attach the chains
: Once you’ve got all your chains with clasps lined up, slide them onto the jump ring. Twist the chains around the rhinestones and attach to the jump ring on the other end.

Add the ribbon
: Cut your ribbon in half and tie one piece to each end. Be sure to make the knot really tight to avoid it slipping off—as mine did after the first five minutes of wearing it. The beauty of having the ribbon on the end is three-fold: 1) Aesthetically, I just really like a feminine bow next to so much metal. 2) It’s a lot easier to tie together and saves you the trouble of having to purchase, and then assemble, a large clasp. 3) It saves you about half the money, as it allows you to add length to the necklace without having to purchase an extra foot of chain.

Add pendant
: This is the part where you can get really creative and add as many embellishments to your necklace as you want. A large “pearl” pendant would look really great! I love religious imagery—especially crosses—and I found this really great black one that I just had to use. I hung it to one of the chains using a small jump ring. I also had some left over chain that I just knotted and attached asymmetrically for extra weight and bulk.

Finished chunky necklace

That’s it! You can wear this to even the fanciest of dinner parties confident that no one will ever suspect it isn’t worth hundreds of dollars…