I used to work at a wholesale jewelry supplier. We sold everything you could need to make jewelry in sterling silver and gold. Which means we had a LOT of chains. Many of which were incredibly thin and stored in chunks of about 100 in jewelry rolls.
When customers were lined up and waiting, there wasn’t always time to be careful about putting things away and the chain rolls got very messy. I cannot count the number of hours I spent untangling and separating chains one by one after a big rush. Needless to say, I picked up a few tricks along the way.
So, before you stuff those tangled chains in the back of your drawer or worse, break them while trying to rip them apart, try these steps.
Assess the situation
First, take a moment to look at the tangled mass. It might not be as bad as you think. Sometimes all it takes is a closer look and a little patience.
Next, if there are any knots that you can loosen with your fingers, follow the line of the chain to remove them. Undoing the clasps can help as you can pull the ends through separately. Above all, remember not to yank at the chain as you might deform or even break the links.
Still a tangled mess? Move on to step #2.
Use a safety pin
Place the tangled mass on a hard surface that won’t get scratched up – a cutting board works great. Carefully insert the tip of the pin into the centre of a knot and wiggle it around until the knot opens enough to pull at it with your fingers. For the worst tangles, you can use one pin in each hand to loosen things up.
Just keep at it and you’ll start to see some order in the chaos.
For the worst of cases, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Step #3 awaits:
Baby powder to untangle a necklace
Sometimes the tangles just will not budge. This is usually because the chains are dirty. When you wear your jewelry, it gets coated with dirt, oil, and (especially in the case of chains) hair. YUCK!
The combo of dirt and oil inside of a tangle is like glue. If you sprinkle the chains with baby powder, it soaks up the oil and makes the strands easier to slide against one another. Trying to avoid talc? Corn starch or arrowroot powder will also work.
Dust some on, rub it around and head back to step #2. Repeat as necessary.
Lastly, don’t forget to rinse all that powder off after you’re done and dry the chains very well.
If the chains are sterling, they’re probably pretty tarnished too. Head over to this post to find out how to clean them.
This video from today.com shows how to get it done.