We’ve all got necklace chains of various types but most of us don’t know what the style of the different types of chain links are or that different necklace chain links more suitable for certain uses than others.
Which chain links are best for strength, for instance, if you want to hang a heavier pendant on the chain? Which chains look great worn alone, without any pendant hanging on them? What style of chain links do men prefer in a necklace chain?
We are frequently asked these questions in the shop and our aim, in this definitive guide to the different necklace chain links, is to answer all those questions and show you the wonderful choice of chains available.
You are sure to recognise a number of styles of chain links, and maybe you’ll see some that you didn’t know existed.
The chains are laid out in alphabetical order. We will then talk about the most suitable chains for different requirements.
Different Types of Necklace Chain Links in Alphabetical Order
Anchor Chain (Mariner Chain)
An anchor chain has, as the name implies, the nautical look of the chains found around dockyards, tethering boats safely to port. The chain links are oval and are sometimes cut with a straight edge. The anchor chain is often called a Mariner chain.
Men like this chain as it suits a heavier style and lays flat against the skin, perfect for wearing without a pendant hanging from it.
Similar chains are the trace chain, which is much finer, or a belcher chain which has round links.
Ball or Bead Chain
A ball chain – sometimes called a bead chain – is made up of little polished balls of metal (silver, gold or steel) which have a tiny hole in each side, through which a straight connecting pin is inserted. The balls are spaced evenly apart and close together.
These chains are another favourite with men. The military traditionally wore their Identifying Tags (called a Dog Tag) from ball chains and this is the reason you see so many men’s dog tag pendants hanging from a ball chain. These chains look good worn on their own or with a dog tag or other pendant attached.
Belcher or Rolo Chain
Another very popular chain, the belcher is made of circular, interlocking rings. Also called the Rolo chain (‘rolo’ in Italian means “round”). These chains start as D-links until they are shaped into circles. Various thicknesses are available.
Men like the heavier belcher chains, worn alone or with a pendant. Finer belcher chains are often worn with pendants as they look good without detracting from the pendant.
See our Belcher Chains here.
Box Chain – Also called the Cube, Briolette or Venetian Types of Chains
A popular chain that looks good to wear with a pendant. Rectangles are shaped into square, box-shape links which are interlocked to form a chain. A thicker Box chain also makes a fabulous necklace.
View our Box Chains here.
Byzantine Chain – Also called the Birdcage chain
This is a beautiful-looking chain and it looks so elegant worn on its own. It has a rope or tube look and is supple and bends well. It is a four-in-one link, which means each link passes through four others.
A perfect everyday chain and probably the most recognised chain. A curb chain is strong, looks great with or without a pendant and, never detracts from the intricacy of the pendant. Curb chains come in a multitude of weights and thicknesses – from the finest chain through to heavy-weight men’s chains. Beautifully pliable, it won’t kink or break easily.
A curb chain is perfect for men or women, in a fine or thick chain and for any length.
See our Curb Chains here.
Oval links intersect to form a chain, the Cuban link chain is very similar to a curb chain, only the links are more oval-shaped and are closer together than a curb.
Double Link Chain
A double link chain features two links intertwined with the next double link. They can use it with a range of link shapes, like a double-link curb chain or a double-link belcher chain.
Made up of a repeating pattern of two or three shorter curb links and one long link, the Figaro chain is favoured by men and ladies who want to wear a chain on its own. Available in many different thicknesses, this is a popular chain.
See our Figaro chains here.
The foxtail link chain features links connected at a 45-degree angle to each other and connected in the centre with a concealed flat link. The result is a round, smooth chain.
Favoured in bracelets worn with charm beads, such as the Trollbeads bracelet (featured below), of in necklaces like this one, it looks good and is easy to wear.
View our Foxtail chains here.
Heart Link Chain
A chain made out of open-heart links, this chain looks pretty and is a great bracelet option for those with smaller wrists as the catch can be connected at any point along the chain.
View our Heart Link chains here.
Herringbone Link Chain
Resembling a flat snake chain, the herringbone necklace or bracelet will often be visually effective enough to wear on its own. Smooth and tactile, the herringbone chain is a lovely chain.
Panther Chain or Mesh Chain
The panther link chain has a brick-like design making a flat chain with patterns of three and four links offset against each other and connected by a pin. Bracelets like this one here not only look fabulous but feel fabulous too.
5mm 14k Yellow Gold Women’s Panther Link Bracelet, 7.5 Inch
from: Black Bow Jewelry Co.
Forming an oval chain, hollow rounded links form a tube, giving the appearance of pieces of popcorn. Lightweight and pretty, these chains are decorative enough to be a centrepiece.
1.5mm 14k Yellow Gold Hollow Popcorn Mesh Chain Necklace, 18 Inch
One of the most popular chains, worn alone or with a pendant, the rope chain is formed by two or three lightweight small links joined to form a twisted chain, like a rope.
View our Rope Chains here.
Singapore Twist Chain
The Singapore twist is, in our opinion, one of the prettiest of chains. A series of double links, flattened and interlinked, with the chain twisted along its length. This creates the most beautiful, sparkly effect.
These chains are often worn with a pendant but these look equally good worn on their own. A gold or silver Singapore twist chain is worn as a choker or just on the clavicle has a really beautiful look.
The Singapore chain makes a lovely anklet, as it sparkles as you move.
View our Singapore Twist Chains here.
The lovely snake chain, that most of us are familiar with, is made up of links laid along side each other with a slight kink in the middle of the link. This form a smooth and silky, continuous tube. With a brightly polished look, these chains look great with a pendant.
They aren’t as supple and bendy as a curb chain, so will kink and even break if bent too far.
View our Snake chains here.
Spigia or Wheat Chain
“Espiga” is the Spanish name for ‘wheat’. Made of figure-of-eight links that are interlocked to form a tube, the chain looks great and is favoured by men (as well as women) as the chain looks so worn on its own.
0.8mm 10k Yellow Gold Adjustable Wheat Chain Necklace, 22 Inch
Thin, usually 2 – 2.5 mm wide or less, interlocking oval links make up this chain which looks simple and uncluttered with a pendant and is the perfect chain for layering.
Similar in appearance to a rope chain (above), a wheat chain is made by using four strands of twisted oval links, which are then plaited together. The effect is really nice and this is a great chain for wearing with a pendant or on its own.
See Spigia Chain (above)
To Sum up…
There is such a wide array of different types of chain links used in necklace chains, but the ones we have discussed here are the most popular and worn designs. We hope this gives you adequate information in choosing the chain you would like. Perhaps first decide on the length and the thickness of chain you desire (is it to be worn with a pendant, or alone)? Then you are already part of the way to there.