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Thinking about buying a necklace chain but not quite sure which one suits? We feel you! It can be quite difficult as there is a plethora of choices out there when it comes to necklace chains.
You can narrow down your chain choices by focusing why you’re buying the chain and what type of chain you prefer aesthetically (more on this below). Some chains are predominantly pendant chains, while others can stand on their own. Some look amazing
on women, while others suit men more. For the best places to buy necklace chains, check out our detailed article here. With that said, we have listed the most common types of necklace chains that you need to know about.
Solid flat mariner chain
Puffed mariner chain
This is a unique chain that is inspired by the nautical world. Called the Mariner/Anchor chain because of its similarity to the chains connected to anchors, this is a beautiful choice for anyone who is fond of the sea. Or just fond of a sturdy, strong necklace chain in general!
The mariner chain is composed of interlocking ovals, with a bar across the center of each oval, giving it a distinct and intriguing appearance. You can find mariner/anchor chains in a variety of widths. The thicker mariner chains are more popular among men, while smaller, more delicate ones are commonly chosen by women.
Traditionally, mariner chains were flat, but a new trend is the puffed mariner chain. The mariner chain can be worn as a stand-alone accessory while smaller widths can be paired with a pendant for an eye-catching look.
Ball / Bead Chain
A ball / bead chain is composed of a series of tiny beads that are linked together to create a chain. The balls can be either connected very close together or have small spaces in between them to allow for some movement.
Ball chains are commonly worn with dog tags, and gives a cool, street smart look. Ball chains don’t perform well as a stand-alone accessory and look best paired with pendants. The flip side of this beautiful chain is that they tend not to be as sturdy as some of the other chains mentioned here, and can break relatively easily.
The box chain is made of square links, rather than ovals and rounds, which are connected to make a continuous smooth chain. Box chains are a very popular form of necklace chain and worn by both men and women. They are found in a variety of widths, with the wider ones being popular among men.
Box chains are strong and don’t easily break. If a link does break, it can be replaced without difficulty. The chain can also be reattached without the broken link replaced, without affecting the design. You can choose the length of your box chain depending on your preference and to suit your outfit.
Cable chains are among the most basic types of chains and looks very similar to common iron chains. They have been used for centuries for numerous functions, from anchoring ships to creating small and delicate pieces of jewelry.
A cable chain is possibly the most common form of necklace chain used in jewelry and consists of a series of identical oval links that are interconnected to form a functional and beautiful chain. You can find cable chains where the wire has been textured or flattened rather than left round to form a flat version of the chain.
On their own, delicate cable chains aren’t very eye-catching but are perfect when paired with a beautiful pendant. Cable chains are sturdy and because they are uncomplicated, it is easy to fix a broken or misshapen link. However, a cable chain link can sometimes tend to come apart where it’s joined if the chain has not been properly crafted.
This common chain style is a basic, timeless design, made of a series of interconnected, uniform links. These links are designed to lay flat even while interlocked.
Curb chains have been a top choice when it comes to necklace chains, and heavy, chunky curb chains have a masculine touch and are especially popular among men. Smaller, thinner curb chains are feminine and delicate, pairing well with pendants.
Curb chains are very sturdy and are easy to maintain and care for.
This popular type of necklace chain is fairly simple but fancier than cable chains. Originating in Italy, Figaro chains consist of an alternating pattern of flattened links in different sizes. Generally, the pattern is of one long link followed by either two or three shorter links.
Figaro chains are worn by both men and women, making it an ideal gender-neutral design. They’re a sturdy choice as Figaro chains are generally made using thick wire, and it is easy to fix a broken link. However, due to the pattern of the chain, you cannot remove a broken link without replacing it, as it will mess the pattern up.
A rope chain is one of the most beautiful chain types, consisting of a number of metal segments with the pattern twisting around to give the appearance of a real rope. This solid chain is one of the most popular types and is worn around the globe.
Rope chains are among the most durable and heaviest of chain types and possibly the most textural. They are perfect to wear with pendants as they are very strong, whether thick or thin, and don’t easily come apart. Delicate rope chains are perfect when worn with a pendant, while larger chains are ideal on their own, as a statement piece.
Because of the twisting pattern which reflects light from various angles, rope chains tend to be quite lustrous and shiny.
The Singapore chain is a durable and strong design made up of a series of interlinked segments. When stretched out, it is a beautiful and twisting open chain, that moves with almost a liquid touch.
Singapore chains are popularly chosen to hold pendants as they are very strong regardless of width. It is a classic, sleek chain that pairs well with a beautiful pendant and can be worn daily.
It’s easy to see where the snake chain gets its name from; it looks like the body of a snake and moves with a similar flexibility. The snake chain is made up of a series of small rings, either plates or bands, that are connected tightly together to form a smooth, sleek chain. You cannot see the rings of a snake chain, as these are knit close together. Snake chains aren’t very textural, as compared to some other chain types listed here.
Snake chains are somewhat delicate, but they look stunning when paired with pendants. Because of their semi-rigid structure, they don’t tangle easily, nor do they catch on hair or other objects. Snake chains are also easy to maintain and clean, making them a good choice for an everyday accessory.
Spiga / Wheat Chain
Spiga (meaning wheat) chains, are generally made up of twisted oval links, that are plaited together in one direction, to create a delicate and symmetrical chain. A Spiga chain looks like a series of metallic fibers running into each other at their points, creating a beautiful textural appearance. The chain tends to look the tips of wheat stalks, hence the name Spiga / wheat.
This semi-rigid chain is very durable and sturdy and can be worn with pendants or as is. This strong chain has a classic and timeless look.
Notable Mentions – Chains That Didn’t Make the Top 10 List
The following list of chains are not among the most popular, but they’re still worth mentioning. They each have their pros and cons.
What’s the Best Type of Necklace Chains?
The answer to this question depends on what you consider ‘best’. This goes back to your purpose for buying the chain and what you think is aesthetically pleasing. Depending on your reason for buying the chain, there can be several ‘best’ types of chains. Here are some options:
It’s always important to consider the strength of the chain, as this will ensure its longevity as well as determine whether the chain can hold heavy pendants. The strongest types of chains are those that contain interconnected links, which contribute to the chain’s flexibility.
Rigid chains (like snake chains) are more likely to break. Independently soldered links also contribute to a chain’s durability as they don’t pull apart and replacing a broken link is easier. With that said, some of the strongest types of chains include cable, curb, Figaro, mariner and rope chains. These chains hold pendants well, especially if they’re thick. Always consider the weight of the pendant and try to pair it with the appropriate chain, because not every pendant and chain will work well together.
This depends on your preference. If you’re looking for a chain that works well on its own, consider a more complex style like Spiga, puffed mariner, rope or Figaro. For men, thicker chains tend to look more stylish, while for women, thinner chains with a pendant are often the preferred choice.
The affordability of a chain is related to the materials used to make it, rather than its style. However, the most common styles used in inexpensive chains tend to be ball/bead chains, rolo chains and cable chains.
Chains become weak when they have limited flexibility, which causes the chain to kink and bend. This results in the links becoming weak and then breaking. Chains with flat thin links can also easily get damaged, and extra care must be taken to maintain them. Some of the weakest chains include herringbone, snake and omega chains. The ball/bead chain is also among the weakest chains as the narrow bars that hold the beads together can bend or break.
Best Metals for Necklace Chains
There are other metals such as stainless steel and tungsten carbide. When purchasing chains made of alternative metals, always consider the durability, price and appearance. Also watch out for zinc and nickel in the alloys, as these tend to be common allergens that cause reactions in people with metal sensitivities.
Frequently Asked Questions About Necklace Chains
What’s the best type of chain for a pendant?
If you want a chain to hold your pendant, look for chains that support pendants without looking too busy. The chain should be able to hold the weight of the pendant. Some options include cable, bead, curb, rope and Singapore chains.
What’s the strongest necklace type?
The strongest types of chains have interlocking links, have more flexibility, don’t kink, and links can easily be replaced if broken.
What type of chain shines the most?
Some of the shiniest types of chains include the rope and Singapore chains. These feature twisting links that reflect light from various angles, enhancing their brilliance.
What is the most popular necklace length?
Chains come in different lengths, from 16 inches to 36 inches and more. However, the most common chain length is around 18 inches, as this tends to sit at the sweet spot – below the neck and above the chest, typically above the neckline where it can be seen easily.
How thick should a necklace chain be?
Necklace chains vary in thickness, with the most common gauge being around 1mm to 1.5mm. However, if you’re wearing a large and heavy pendant, you should look for a thicker one.
Are hollow gold chains good?
Hollow chains look like regular chains, but they’re lighter and can easily break. They also tend to dent easily and can be difficult to fix if broken. On the plus side, hollow chains are less expensive and work well for costume jewelry.
What is the most secure necklace clasp?
There are many types of clasps for chains, but the most secure types tend to be the lobster and the hook and spring ring clasp. Read more about the best types of jewelry clasps here.
What karat gold is best for chains?
For the most durability, go for lower gold purity levels, such as 10k or 12k gold. These have less gold but are strong and long-lasting. 14k is also durable, has a beautiful yellow gold color and is valuable, making it most people’s preferred choice. However, 18k gold is less durable, more expensive and prone to damage.
Can you wear a gold chain everyday?
Yes, gold chains can be worn everyday, but it can potentially get damaged. However, most people tend to keep their gold chains on all the time, even when showering and sleeping. Clean your gold chain periodically for best results.
Want to know more about how to choose a gold chain? Check our comprehensive guide!