When admiring your favorite necklace, the chain is not likely the first thing that catches your eye. This is because most necklaces are fashioned with delicate chains designed to not take away from the focal point of the piece, usually a pendant or charm. Though necklace chains are often underappreciated, they are an essential component of any piece and are uniquely designed to compliment the centerpiece they carry. There are a variety of jewelry chain styles available in different lengths and made from a range of metals, so there is something to fit any taste. Next time you find yourself shopping for a new piece of fine jewelry to add to your collection, review these chain style guidelines and you’ll feel like a pro.
Classic Chain Styles
Anchor- These chains resemble the actual chain used for anchors on small boats or ships. These are usually fashioned with oval-shaped or circular links arranged in an alternating pattern of horizontal and vertical orientations. These chains are tough and durable and are typically designed with larger links, making them ideal for men’s jewelry.
Ball- Ball chains, also known as bead chains, are designed with a series of small beads situated side by side along a chain. These chains can be made with varying amounts of space between the beads; however, it is more popular to have them spaced closely together. You are most likely familiar with ball chains as they are the preferred style of chain for dog tag necklaces.
Box- Box chains are fashioned with square links rather than the traditional circular shape, giving them the appearance of boxes woven together. Box chains pair well with pendants or as a statement piece on their own.
Cable- Cable chains, also commonly known as link chains, are the most popular jewelry chain style for simple necklaces featuring a charm or pendant. This type of chain is made up of round or oval links of the same size.
Curb- A curb chain is a simple design of interlocking flat links. The links are all of the same shape and size and are orientated the same way. Often, curb chains are made with large, heavy links which makes them perfect for bold statement jewelry.
Figaro- Figaro chains feature flattened links of varying sizes arranged in a pattern that usually includes two or more small links followed by a larger link, and so on. Figaro chains originated in Italy, though they are now used in jewelry made around the world. These chains are uniquely designed and can often be worn on their own.
Rolo- Rolo chains are comprised of interlocking oval links, with every other link turned 180°. This is one of the most popular chains used for pendant necklaces as they are often made to be more delicate.
Rope- These chains feature small links in a twisted pattern so as to resemble actual rope. To accentuate the intricate pattern, rope chains can be fashioned with different types of metals such as white and rose gold.
Snake- The links in a snake chain are not actually visible. Instead, they are strung so closely together, giving the chain a tube-like appearance, resembling a snake’s skin. These chains are very flexible, and are perfect for showing off a pendant.
Wheat- Wheat chains are made with four strands of oval and twisted oval-shaped links that are arranged in a way that makes them look like a stalk of wheat. The pattern of a wheat chain is quite intricate and can easily be worn without any embellishments.
Guide to Chain Lengths
Now that you’re familiar with the various styles of jewelry chains, lets talk about length. Depending on the look that you wish to achieve, you can tailor your necklace length to add the finishing touch to your ensemble. It might not seem to make much of a difference, but altering your necklace length can actually change your look completely. The following are the most common necklace lengths:
- Choker: 14-16 inches
- Princess: 18 inches
- Matinee: 20-24 inches
- Opera: 30 inches
- Ropes & Lariats: 35 inches or more
You can wear one of these styles and lengths, or you can pair them together for a look that is entirely your own. Choker necklaces have seen a resurgence of popularity in the past few years since 90’s fashion trends are recirculating. Princess length chains are the most popular for displaying a singular pendant, as this length falls right at the collarbone. Longer lengths like ropes and lariats are typically reserved for beaded styles such as a long strand of pearls.
Next time you’re browsing around for a necklace or other piece of jewelry, be sure to take a closer look at the chain. You’ll likely find something more exceptional and intricate than you expected now that you’ve had a crash course in jewelry chains. Whatever your fine jewelry needs, be sure to visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelry & Engagement Rings Store in San Diego. Our showroom has an incredible selection of all of the styles mentioned above and more!
*All images courtesy of Big Bead Little Bead