Chainmail or chainmaille has been around for a very long time but has become increasingly popular in recent years not just because of the growing interest in re-enactments , but also because of its versatility in jewellery & fashion. Created simply with jump rings which can be of all types of material, not just wire (eg; rubber) & a whole variety of thicknesses & sizes.
You can buy pre-made jump rings with neatly sawn off ends, but if money is an issue then you just make your own jump rings by winding wire around any regular tube eg: a nail, pen or knitting needle provided it is the size that you want. You then snip through along one side creating independent rings with standard wire cutters, although this will give a slightly slanted cut to your ends. Using a jewellery saw will give a neater finish to that when you close the jump rings they shut together more closely.
I discovered chainmail a couple of years back by seeing an article about Dylon Whyte who is an avid chainmailler. At first attempts, I nearly gave up as it is very intricate, time consuming & fiddly! However, being myopic I soon learnt to lift my specs up on my head & open & close those tiny links using my very good near vision! Investing in narrow ended pliers & good lighting is also a must!
The oldest piece of chainmail is thought to be some 2700 years old. It has been found in the graves of 5th century Scythia & also Celtic warriors. It's recognizable strength was utilized at its peek in the middle ages with armour. However, it is still used now for protection eg: butchers gloves, shark protection suits.
The most recognisable pattern is the European 4 in 1 which is exactly as it says - 4 rings through each one ring. However there are many other weaves now used in jewellery, such as byzantine, persian, dragon scale etc. Many can be seen at the http://www.mailleartisans.org/ site.
It was being used in jewellery as early as the Roman times & by early Egyptians. Wearing chainmail jewellery gives you a wonderful feel of travelling back into those times of hero knights & warriors, hidden treasures & ancient spiritual connections.