This style is unisex, although this particular one is destined for a lady. Every person I've made one for has loved it; it is a pretty classic design--simple, elegant, and with enough irregularity that it says "made by hand."
Try it for Valentine's Day. I gave my girlfriend one last year, and three months later we got married. Guess I oughta enter the V-Day contest. Hmm... Just saw that it is also soldering month. Free patch, huh? Look at step 4, serious soldering going on there. Prolly not what you were expecting, but heck--*that* is soldering. First instructable and I get to enter two contests! This is cool.
Step 1: Materials & Sources
Mandrels of various sizes. Despite the fancy name, what we are talking about here is a couple metal or solid rods that wire can be bent around to form rings. You will need one about 0.5" in diameter and one about 0.25" in diameter.
Jeweler's saw. Jeweler's saws have very fine blades. This is one tool you might consider buying, along with some "0" blades. If you don't make the cuts close and straight, soldering becomes a frustrating exercise.
Pliers. For these tasks, I like the small pliers with springs that will keep them naturally open. I also prefer smooth jawed pliers, since anything with knurling in the jaws will mar sterling silver--dead soft sterling silver, which is used here, is very malleable and will show such marks easily. For the most part, I use snub nose pliers, but I also use a pair of rounded jaw pliers and a pair of parallel jaw pliers. Unless you get into this heavily, you may have to figure a substitution here, although you can pick up relatively cheap sets of pliers at Sears Hardware.
Wire Snips. Unless you want to leave bits poking out, you will need a decent small set of wire cutters. Those big lineman's electrical wire cutters won't cut it here... Something with a fairly pointy end and small...
Rawhide Hammer. I use a rawhide hammer in this tutorial because it mars silver less. You can probably get away with a softer hammer, or taping up--and continually retaping--the end of a conventional hammer to soften it a bit.
Torch. Silversmithing was my excuse to get a big oxyacetylene rig, and it can be your excuse too. In all fairness, however, I use a little torch in this tutorial, and the soldering is such that a little torch works pretty well. Mine was actually a gift, and I think its actually designed for putting the sugar crust on creme brulee. There are probably better versions of these things available at Home Depot. They run on butane. I would not recommend one of the big plumbing torches for this--I do this inside. Insert big disclaimer here about things that can burn you and use of gas indoors without adequate ventilation, etc.
Dead Soft Sterling Silver Wire. I use, for this tutorial, 12 ga. (large rings), 14 ga. (small rings), 18 ga. (clasp) and 20 ga. (wrap) wire. I like the relative proportions using those dimensions, but you could sub 12 ga. for the 14 ga., with minor adjustments, 22 ga for 20 ga., etc. Read the tutorial and see where you might choose to do things different.
Silver Solder. I used medium for this--70% silver solder. I recommend using easy solder (65%), but I didn't have any on hand. Or couldn't find it.
Liquid flux. Stuff to solder with. Very small amounts needed. Generally sold in very large quantities.
Pickle. Not that kind of pickle. Pickle is a mild acid used to take the oxidization off after soldering. Again, small amount needed, generally sold in large quantities.
Baking soda. The stuff you get in the grocer's. Used to neutralize pickle and scrub with.
Tumbling Polisher. I use a Lortone tumbling polisher in this tutorial. There are other ways of polishing as well. I used this one because it is in my garage. If you don't have one in your garage, you can probably use silver polish and do it by hand.
Jump Ringer. I use a Jump Ringer system to make jump rings. Again, you have alternatives if you can find metal rods (mandrels to us jewelers). You just need to form circles. Look in Home Depot.
If you want to know more about this kind of stuff, suggested reading includes Indian Jewelry Making, which, despite its cheezy pictures, is very good.
Step 2: Make Large and Small Jump Rings
Step 3: Close the Large Rings
Step 4: Solder the Large Rings
Step 5: Forming the Large Rings
Step 6: Making the Chain
Step 7: Making a Clasp
A little note here about dead soft wire. The bending of wire will make dead soft wire into hard. That means, once you do these bends, it is more difficult to "work" the silver. In this case, that is good because it means the clasp, once bent, then becomes fairly stiff.
Step 8: Cleaning Up the Chain
Step 9: Decorative Wrapping
Step 10: Polishing
Step 11: Variations on a Theme
Jump rings, in particular, can be knit together in all sorts of ways. One of my favorites is Jens Pins Linkage (JPL3), where each ring added passes through two others to form a sort of spiral. When I am working those, I typically do not solder them, merely bend them into the proper configuration. I would also note that things like JPL3 are very sensitive to aspect ratio--the gauge of the wire related to the internal radius of the ring. Doing that wrong can lead to ugliness. If you want more information on that type of chain making, called maille, see M.A.I.L. The difficulty with soldering those types of links is that there is a high probability of soldering one link to another link unless you are very, very good or very, very lucky. I am neither. Also, the techniques for soldering chains can be used for normal chains as well. I have shown some variations, the one we just did is far left, followed by a variation with 12 ga small links that are left round, followed by a 14 ga JPL3, followed by a simple chain.