Ron, My sympathies on having to deal with a hysterical customer who
also sounds like he has a few screws loose.
A colleague of mine is a nut for handmaking chains and loves making
byzantines, in particular. They are lovely and intricate, and can
take a lot of time to make by hand. The downside of those chains is
that you CANNOT solder closed all the jump rings that comprise the
chain. This leaves a vulnerability to those rings getting pried open
during a process like tumbling. That's likely the source of your
You don't say whether the chain was silver or gold or mixed, so it's
hard to say what might have been happening from a work-hardening
perspective in the process of tumbling, as well. When you mention
that they "won't go back in place," though, what do you mean? They
wouldn't bend back into round shapes? Or were they caught on other
pieces? Or what?
At this point, I'm guessing the customer wouldn't just accept a
replacement chain, eh?