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Hi Lauren, that's a very interesting/ unique kind of fixture . I've never encountered / installed one quite like your example picture but I would imagine the metal chain is grounded properly up in the ceiling box to ensure the feed wire down to the light doesn't accidentally energize it. In other words a jumper wire is installed linking the canopy ceiling box cover which has the chain mechanically attached to it, the other end of the jumper is tied to the buildings grounding system. you can take a picture with your camera/ smarthphone and upload it to you computer and attach visual files if you need to .
I'll also add If the rod that the pendants are hanging from is any kind of mtal/conductive material the chain will have to be firmly mechanically attached to ensure it remains grounded as well.
I understand once you have routed the 14-2 with ground the lamp holders themselves do not have provisions for a grounding connection I have installed many fixtures that had this issue and just the circuit conductors were ran to the holder , but this was always if the chase the conductors were ran through was grounded to the canopy bond and the lamp holder itself was securely fastened to the rest of the fixture..
In my estimation if there is any metal non circuit carrying conductive parts in the lamp holder we need to find a way for it to be grounded either mechanically or through a bonding conductor. are the lamp holders plastic? was this entire design from scratch or did you find the lamp holder pre-wired from a manufacturer ?
I can see where you are coming from and what the home depot employee said,There are many older light fixtures in most homes that are still 2 wire corded applications that work fine, but if a piece of equipment runs on electricity and has metal parts like your hanging chain and if the lamp holder themselves are made of a conductive material they should be grounded with he green safety wire from your Cerro wire, even if it's temporary it should be properly grounded. Will the lamp work? Sure, the 2 current carrying conductors is all that's needed for it to light up, but will it be 100 % safe without the 3rd safety wire running to it? Then the answer is no, it's why the National Electric Code went from old style 2 wire connections to the modern 3 wire we see in our homes today.
I just want you and your reception guests to be safe, also why I reiterate that you do extensive tests once you have completed the project so you know the fixture wont be a fire hazard.
Unfortunately all the cord style cable I know of is 2 wire, the real question is the lamp holders themselves. What are they made out of ? ceramic? plastic or fiberglass ?If the lamp holders the 18-2 cord is running to are from non-conductive materials and they can not become energized then everything should be fine as long as anything in the fixture that is conductive is grounded, i.e. the chain and if the rod is conductive. the green wire can just be capped/ taped off if there is nothing further that can become energized.
I hope that answers your question and what to think of as you proceed. I understand the appeal of vintage looking appliances and the desire to restore them, that demand is the reason you can still buy these out-dated cords.Thank you very much for your question, do not forget to rate me, and have a wonderful day ! If you have further questions do not hesitate to do so as long as this thread remains open.