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There are many options when it comes to jewelry chains. With the many different lengths, metals, construction, and thicknesses, there’s much to consider when it comes to picking out the right chain. In fact, many of our customers have told us that the sheer amount of options can become overwhelming at first glance.
It makes sense because yes, as jewelers, we do know there are numerous options for chains, and we help customers figure out which type of chain they will need on a day-to-day basis. So, since it can become confusing to figure out what’s right for you, let’s discuss the various types of chains and check out the pros and cons of each.
This is the most common jewelry chain. Cable link chains come in just about any width, thickness, or length. The links themselves are either round or oval, similar to the paper link chains made in an elementary school.
This type of chain is durable, and because of the variety of width, thickness, and length, it’s just about guaranteed there’s a cable link chain that should work for you.
This is another common type. It’s similar to a cable link style chain in terms of construction and available options, but the individual links are somewhat flatter. The links themselves can be oval, round, or also square. This is another durable chain, but it tends to appear more “masculine,” so this might be a great choice for boys or men’s jewelry.
Figaro chains are made of flattened small and large links, often in a pattern of three small links and one long one.
You will often see this as a thicker chain worn by itself, commonly by men. Overall, this is a strong chain and can be worn frequently. But just like any other piece, make sure you bring it to a jeweler once a year to Prevent your jewelry from breaking.
This chain is my personal favorite. This chain type comes in a variety of widths and lengths that look beautiful no matter what. There’s a certain sparkle to wheat chains that gives them a different, fancier look than a cable or curb link chain.
But although it’s fancier, it’s durable enough to be worn every day. it won’t kick or break easily because of the multiple links throughout. What’s more, this style of chain also can be worn by itself.
Rope chains are similar to wheat chains. While some consider them a step down from a wheat chain, they are still a great option because like wheat chains, they are both beautiful and sturdy.
This is a beautiful yet delicate chain. It has a smooth and elegant look to it, but it’s easy to kink and is not easily repaired. This chain should never be worn with a heavy pendant.
Always treat this chain delicately, regardless of whether you’re wearing or storing it. Simply put, this is a delicate, elegant chain meant only for special occasions.
Another pretty but delicate chain. Box chains are weak, and they get even weaker the thinner they get. They break easily and are not easy to solder back together without noticing the damage. While a beautiful choice, I generally advise my customers to stay away from box chains.
This variety, also known as the Gucci Link by some, is a cross between the Figaro and curb link styles, often worn by men in a thicker variation. The main difference here is that the links have bars going through the center to prevent twisting. The added benefit is that these bars add a little extra style to an otherwise simple look.
These are strong chains, but because the links are always rubbing against each other in the same spot, it is important to have a jeweler inspect them once a year.
The first thing to consider when buying a chain is what you will be wearing on it.
Is your pendant heavy? Is it light? The heavier the pendant, the more pull and stress the chain will endure. So, if you are planning on a pendant, it would be important to get a thicker chain. On the other hand, if you will be wearing the chain alone—if the chain itself will be the focus of attention—you can opt for a lighter chain if desired.
The next thing to consider is how you are wearing the chain.
Is this something you’ll only wear on special occasions? Or do you plan on wearing it 24/7, never taking it off and sleeping with it on? (By the way, we DO NOT recommend sleeping with jewelry on.) If you’re looking at everyday wear, make sure you buy a strong chain with a link that can be worn while working out, swimming, and other everyday activities.
Both the construction and the material of your chain affect its durability. Also keep in mind that the purity of the gold in the chain, measured in karats, in part determines its strength. For example, 14k is the most common purity of gold in the US. In Europe, especially Italy, 18k is more common. The higher the karat count, the softer the gold, resulting in a weaker chain. So, a 14k gold chain will be stronger than an 18k or 24k chain.
The chain’s length is also a factor, not so much because the chain itself is not strong, but because the longer the chain, the easier it is to get it caught or snagged on something. So, if you’re planning on a long necklace, a stronger or thicker chain may be for you.
Whether you plan to wear your jewelry 24/7 or just occasionally, your best bet is to talk to a jeweler and let him or her know what types of activities you do, and how often you plan on wearing jewelry.
To learn more about selecting the right type of chain for your jewelry, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about jewelry chains, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply fill out our contact form. We’ll answer your questions quickly.