A Comprehensive Guide to Different Necklace Chain Styles

Birthstones, astrological signs, monogrammed: Necklaces showcasing the wearer’s personality have never been more popular. But just as important as the pendant is the necklace chain style– combining a thick rope chain with a delicate letter pendant or pairing a large Roman coin-style pendant with a thin box chain can add an extra layer of pizzaz.

Keep on reading to learn more about the necklace chain styles out there.

Box chains: The Classic

Instead of round links, box chains – as the name implies – have squared links. Box chains lie flat against the skin and especially thin styles are popular for women’s jewelry as pendants tend to hang nicely without getting overshadowed by a flashy necklace chain. Another bonus: They’re easy to repair by jewelers in case the chain breaks.

Anchor Chain: Strong and Delicate

As the name implies, anchor chains look similar to their ship counterparts: oval links are chained together in alternating vertical and horizontal alignment. Traditionally, each link is strengthened by a bar in the middle. The style is especially popular as a pendant chain for its dainty look and strength.

Byzantine Chain: Intricate and Exotic

Byzantine chains are made up of links grouped at different angles to create an intricate pattern. The chain itself can be round or flattened. Especially bigger chains lend themselves to making a statement piece without the need for a pendant.

Cable Link Chains: Popular for Bracelets

Cable link chains are a style of open-link chain. Small round or oval links are connected to form silver or gold necklace chains. More delicate styles work well for necklace pendants while larger chains are popular for charm bracelets. The open links make it easy to clip charms or pendants to the bracelet for a unique style. They are, however, a little harder to repair.

Curb Chain: The Masculine Look

Similar to cable link chains, curb chain necklaces are a type of open-link chain. However, the larger, round links lie flat together and are often wider. The chains create a more masculine look and are often worn without a pendant. Due to the size and often wider thickness, curb chains are some of the strongest necklaces and relatively easy to repair.

Flat Link Chains: An Intricate Look

Flat link chains are a type of closed-link chain, created by combining two chains for a woven effect. They lie flat against the skin but are not recommended for heavy pendants as twisting and turning is the number one reason for breaking. Worn on their own, flat link chains create a durable necklace.

Herringbone Chain: A Smooth and Popular Chain

The herringbone chain is an especially intricate style of chain. ‘V’ shaped links are strung together by overlapping each other to create the traditional herringbone pattern. While the links create a smooth and elegant look, the dainty chain is more difficult to repair than other styles.

Rope Chain: Bold and Beautiful

To create a rope chain, two or more strands of metal are intertwined. Thickness can vary for a more or less bold look, and some necklaces are made of differently colored strands for an especially unique look. While rope chains may look especially strong, they are not as sturdy as link chains and due to their sometimes chunky appearance less ideal for pendants.

Snake Chain: Smooth and Flexible

Round metal links are closely joined together to form a round, smooth chain. The light zigzag pattern created by the plates resembles snakeskin, thus giving this type of chain its name. Snake chains are elegant and have a fluid quality to them, which makes them popular for pendant necklaces and sophisticated jewelry styles.

Ball Chain: Not as Strong but Easily Replaced

Ball chains, also called bead chains, consist of small metal spheres strung together. Depending on price, these spheres can be hollow or solid. While this type of necklace is not as sturdy as some others, it is generally more affordable and easy to replace should the chain break.

Wheat Chain: The Sturdiest

Wheat chains are made up of four strands of oval links twisted together at an angle. The number of strands makes this rope-like chain especially sturdy while the links create a beautiful pattern resembling a stalk of wheat. 

Materials: Silver, Gold, Steel?

The material you choose for your necklace plays a big role in its durability. Silver, platinum, titanium, and stainless steel are on the sturdier side and high-quality pieces can be worn for years to come. While platinum is solid and one of the most expensive materials, titanium is even more durable and can’t be beaten when it comes to durability. They are also a good choice for heavy pendants, especially when the chains itself is more durable, such as anchor or box chains.

Low carat gold alloys, on the other hand, tend to tarnish over time and can be a bit weaker. While pure gold might seem like a strong material, gold is actually a more malleable metal and therefore produces a weaker chain. If you want a gold piece that withstands the test of time, consider buying a higher quality white gold piece. Purchasing wholesale jewelry is an affordable way to buy good pieces for a lower price.

Styling Your New Necklace

Now that you know the basics of necklace chain designs, styling your new piece of jewelry is the next step.

Many pendants already come with a chain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t customize the look and switch it up. A higher-quality chain can elevate a more affordable pendant and ensure the necklace’s longevity. Box, anchor, and cable link chains are perfect for a variety of pendants and gemstones.

Layering different pendants using the same or contrasting chain styles, materials and sizes is another way to achieve a unique look.

Some necklaces, like bigger rope or curb chains, make a statement on their own, no pendant needed.

Don’t Forget Comfort

Comfort is an important factor when choosing the ideal necklace chain. Chokers are stunning pieces but can become restrictive after a while, so anyone with a larger neck might consider a longer chain or lighter material.

For those with long hair, smooth chains like snake, rope, or herringbone necklaces have the added factor of less snagging. Allergies are another aspect, and come back to materials: Pieces containing high percentages of copper or nickel are more likely to irritate skin and tarnish over time.

Choose Your Length

As mentioned, the length of your necklace can impact the overall comfort. However, there is more to choosing the perfect length, including current trends (very long styles with pendants used to be trendy in the early 2010s), outfit, and pendant style. Very long necklaces can also be wrapped around the neck several times, thus creating a layered look without having to combine several separate necklaces.

Choker (14 – 16 inches), princess (18 inches), matinee (20-24 inches), opera (30 inches), and ropes (35+ inches) are the most common and popular lengths.

Keep Your Outfit in Mind

Princess-length chains with small to mid-size pendants are ideal for everyday wear and go well with blouses, t-shirts, sweaters, and dresses. Choose the color based on your skin tone– gold necklaces go well with warm undertones while silver works well with cooler tones.

For special occasions, statement necklaces make the perfect companion to dressed and jumpsuits. Combine a choker necklace with a low-cut dress for an elegant look or drape a long opera-style necklace over a simple jumpsuit to elevate the outfit. Make sure to coordinate the necklace color with the rest of your jewelry for a cohesive look.

The Bottom Line: Necklace Chain Styles are as diverse as you

The sheer variety of necklace chain styles, colors, and materials might seem a bit overwhelming, but now that you know the most popular styles and what they are used for, you’re better equipped to go out and choose a new chain.

Remember that just because the necklace you bought came with a certain style of chain, you can’t switch it up and put the pendant or gemstone that came on a silver ball chain on a gold box or anchor chain.

Owning a wide variety of chain styles makes it also easier to accessorize every outfit. Want to jazz up a plain black turtleneck sweater? Pair it with a wide, gold herringbone chain for a statement look. On the other hand, a flowy summer dress will look even more feminine with a delicate pendant necklace.

No matter what your personal style preference is, there is a necklace chain out there for you. Go and browse some designs to find your perfect fit!