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Top 13 Types of Necklace Chains (and How to Choose the Right One)

Gold chain on black background

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Having a good quality chain in your jewelry collection is an investment that you’ll wear over and over again. From casual errands to even your big day, a well-chosen necklace chain can come in handy with or without the perfect pendant to complement it.

In this article, we’re going to outline the top types of necklace chains and how to choose the right one for you.

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Types of gold chain infographic

Types of Necklace Chains

1- Figaro Chain

Figaro chain

Figaro chain. Check price HERE.

This very popular necklace chain has a pattern consisting of a single long link followed by two or three shorter links. It’s a simple chain style, perfect for either men or women.

The figaro chain style is very durable and doesn’t easily break. If it does break, it’s easy to swap out links and have the chain repaired, but you will need to replace the broken link or the pattern will be disrupted. Thick figaro chains are perfect as statement jewelry and are popular for hip-hop style jewelry. Thinner and more delicate figaro chains are ideal to hold pendants or be worn by themselves for a classic look.

2- Singapore Chain

Singapore gold chain

Singapore chain. Check price HERE.

The Singapore chain is stylish and complex in its design, made up of several little segments that are interlinked for maximum strength. The beauty of the Singapore chain is in its fluidity, as you can’t tell where the links begin or end. It catches the eye with its solid look. This is one of the top choices for necklace chains and works perfectly with or without pendants.

3- Rope Chain

Rope chain gold

18K yellow gold rope chain. Check price HERE.

A simple and stylish type of chain, the rope chain features several metal sections that work together to create a rope-like appearance. Like the Singapore chain, the rope chain is also fluid and moves easily, but looks more like a twisted rope. The durability and beauty of the rope chain is why it’s one of the most popular options for necklaces, to be worn on their own or with a matching pendant.

Thick rope chains make for perfect statement jewelry, but these chains can also be made very thin so as to be ‘barely there’. Rope chains tend to be quite shiny as they reflect light from the many angles of the metal segments.

4- Curb Chain

Curb chain

Curb chain. Check price HERE.

The classic necklace chain, curb chains consist of a sequence of interconnected links of the same shape and size. The links are designed in such a way that they remain flat when worn. This is a sturdy durable design, that’s easy to maintain and repair if necessary. Large, heavy curb chains are a favorite among men, especially in the hip hop arena. This is also one of the most durable options to hold a pendant.

5- Ball (Bead) Chain

Ball bead gold chain

Ball chain. Check price HERE.

Ball chains are a unique type of necklace chain but have become one of the most popular. It consists of a series of small metal beads connected together with little metal links.

Some ball chains have no space in between the beads, which makes for a stiffer chain whereas others are more flexible with evenly spaced out beads. You’ll often see ball chains worn with dog tags or other masculine pendants. The trouble with ball chains is that they aren’t very durable and repairing a broken ball chain can prove difficult.

6- Box Chain

Box chain

Box chain. Check price HERE.

This chain type gets its name from the fact that each of its links are square and boxy in appearance, unlike the typical round or oval link chains. This is a sturdy, durable chain type, that’s easy to maintain. If the chain breaks, you can discard the broken link and reattach the chain without disrupting the design or compromising its strength. Thicker box chains are perfect worn on their own, while thin ones are elegant and ideal with a matching pendant.

7- Spiga (Wheat) Chain

Spiga chain

Sterling silver Spiga chain. Check price HERE.

Spiga, which means wheat in Italian, is an elegant chain type created by plaiting a series of oval links together in a common direction. This is a very durable chain option and perfect for daily wear, and while fixing a broken Spiga requires some work, these chains tend to hold up well. The Spiga chain has a beautiful, textured appearance, with the metal links twisting together to create an elegant design.

8- Snake Chain

Yellow gold snake chain

Snake chain. Check price HERE.

A snake chain gets its name from its snake-like appearance and movements– semi-rigid, smooth and solid looking. At first glance, a snake chain appears like a solid chain with no links, because the links here are hidden due to its clever design. This type of chain is made by tightly connecting a series of small rings with no space in between.

Snake chains are not as durable as some other chains mentioned here, but they are beautiful and have a classic appearance. One thing people like about them is that they don’t tangle or get tied into knots, and because they don’t have noticeable links, they don’t catch on objects.

9- Mariner (Anchor) Chain

Mariner gold chain

Mariner chain. Check price HERE.

Puffed mariner chain

Puffed mariner chain. Check price HERE.

The mariner chain was inspired by the chains used to drop anchors – simple, sturdy chains with interlocking ovals, with each oval strengthened by a horizontal bar. It’s this bar that gives the mariner its unique and stylish look. Mariner chains are perfect for daily wear, as they’re very durable and easy to repair as well.

There are two main types of mariner chains – flat mariner chains, which are the traditional style, and puffed mariner chains, which is a modern take on the mariner where each oval is puffed up for a fuller look.

10- Cable Chain

Cable gold chain

Gold cable chain. Check price HERE.

This basic chain style features a series of interlinked oval or round links to create a simple but sturdy chain. This is the type of chain that’s been used for hundreds of years in various industries and is the least fancy chain type available. Because the cable chain is very simple on their own, they look best paired with pendants. They’re a common-sense durable option that’s perfect for daily wear. They’re also very easy to fix back together in case a link comes lose or breaks away. Look for well-crafted cable chains as cheaper ones can have links that open easily.

11- Rollo (Rolo) Chain

Rolo chain

Sterling silver rolo chain. Check price HERE.

The rollo chain is very similar to the cable chain. It consists of a series of symmetrical links, that are typically perfectly round, joined together to create the chain. Rollo chains have a somewhat masculine look and are perfect paired with pendants like dog tags for a masculine style. Because you can see each link very clearly, the rollo chain has a very particular look. Thin, delicate rollo chains are beautiful with the circular links not as clearly noticeable.

12- Byzantine Chain

Byzantine chain

Byzantine chain. Check price HERE.

One of the most elaborate and texturally beautiful chains, the Byzantine chain features a rope like texture and a complicated pattern. Each link passes through 4 other links to create the chain which is what gives the Byzantine chain its unique look.

Byzantine chain links alternate in direction, moving from left to right. This adds to the Byzantine chain’s charm because you’re eyes aren’t directed to move in one direction but instead is overwhelmed by the seemingly endless links.

No one knows where the name Byzantine comes from but this chain type is also known by some other not so flattering names, including birdcage, idiot’s trap, fool’s dilemma, idiot’s delight and Etruscan.

13- San Merco Chain

san merco gold chain

Gold San Merco chain. Check price HERE.

San Merco chains are a very distinct looking chain, featuring long, rounded links resembling grains of rice and connected together by little pins. The links can be arranged in two main ways – either end to end or in a side by side fashion.

San Merco chains aren’t very popular today, but they make for a very distinct-looking chain type. Larger varieties like this one are perfect worn on their own for a statement look, although delicate, thinner San Merco chains can hold a pendant. However, because the chain is quite attention-getting in itself, it may overshadow a pendant, so consider this carefully when pairing.

How to Choose the Right Chain Type

With so many types of chains available, it’s tricky knowing which one to pick. Here are some ways to narrow down your options:

  1. Consider what style of chain you’re after. If you’re looking for a chunky, statement chain to stand on its own, pick a large Figaro, Curb or Anchor chain as these look dramatic and stylish. You could opt for an embellished chain with crystals or textures to add to the chain’s drama. If, however, you’re looking for a smaller, delicate chain to pair with a pendant, then pretty much any chain mentioned above would work.
  2. If you’re planning to wear your chain daily, durability is a concern so pick a well-made chain with good durability like Singapore, Rope, Spiga or Box. These pair well with pendants and are wearable designs. Snake chains are ideal for daily wear too but note that they aren’t as flexible as these other options.
  3. Choose the length of your chain. Chains come in a variety of lengths, starting at around 14 inches and going on as long as you want them to. For a standard, daily chain, 18 inches is the most commonly chosen length. Again, the length you choose depends on the style and image you’re trying to portray.
  4. Pick the right clasp for your chain, because this is what will keep your chain together and on your neck. There are many jewelry clasps out there but not all of them are ideal for daily wear. Some secure and popular options include spring ring, lobster and hook clasps.
  5. Think about the metal. While inexpensive metals are great for short term use, it’s worth investing in a chain made of a precious metal like gold, which can be worn over and over and will always retain its value. This would also be durable and retain its color.