Here is a brief description of the various metals I use in making chainmail grouped by family. For most pieces I use one of the flavors of aluminum it is light and with proper gauge selection can be as strong as you'd like. For pieces requiring color I might bring in copper, an anodized, or stainless black.
- Aluminum: This is a light silver grey metal. The weight is about 1/3 that of stainless steel. Aluminum doesn't rust like iron or steel, but it does oxidize, which leaves black "rub off". This rub off will end up on your hands, cloths, etc.
- Acid Etched Aluminum: This is aluminum that has been given an acid bath. The weight and strenght are the same as standard aluminum. The difference is the color, which is very close to white with a hint of grey, and the lack of rub off. This material doesn't oxidize noticably and there is no black rub off.
- Anodized Aluminum: This is standard aluminum that has been anodized with color. The weight and strength are the same as standard aluminum. Because it is coated, there is no black rub off as there is with standard aluminum.
- Bright Aluminum: This is a aluminum that has a silver grey color. It does not produce the black rub off of standard aluminum, but has similar weight and strength.
- Brass: A pretty yellow metal that fades to darker with oxidation. I don't use brass much because of how it tarnishes.
- Copper: When new it looks like a new penny. It will either fade to a darker tint or turn green depending on the environment it's exposed to. It provides nice color when mixed with the silver colored metals.
- Gold Filled: Sounds like a good idea, but it's too steep for experimentation.
- Nickel Silver: A nickel allow that is silver colored with a gold tint.
- Stainless Steel: This is a strong, silver alloy. It doesn't rust or produce any rub off. It's clean to work with, but heavy for large or dense pieces.
- Stainless Black: This is standard stainless that has been treated to have a black coating. The effect is a very nice glossy black. The coating will eventually wear off, wearing first to dull black, and then eventually to stainless.
- Spring Stainless: This is a very tough stainless. It weighs the same as standard stainless, but is much stronger. Generally, I won't use spring stainless, it's just not worth the stress injuries. I once grabbed a jar of spring stainless thinking it was bright aluminum. I could tell right away that I wasn't dealing with aluminum.
- Sterling Silver: I just can't pay the price for sterling so I haven't experimented with it.