Chain Link Styles in Jewelry

Kate Miller-Wilson
Chains On Table

Understanding the different necklace chain options can help you select the right link style for your outfit or jewelry ensemble. Each chain link style has characteristics that make it great - from awesome flexibility to exceptional sparkle. Choosing the right one is about understanding how you plan to wear it.

Understand the Options Before You Shop

Before you can choose the best chain for you, take some time to learn about the different necklace chain options. There are dozens of different jewelry chain patterns, from ball chains to birdcage chains. You'll also have the choice of metals, such as sterling silver, gold, and plated options. Gold chains are a popular choice for supporting special pendants, while sterling silver chains are much more affordable as statement jewelry to show off more elaborate link styles.

Choose Simple, Flexible Chains for Pendants

When it comes to necklace chains to show off a beautiful pendant, you need to stick with a simple design. Otherwise, the chain links become the focal point, and the beauty of the pendant gets lost. Flexibility is also important, since the chain needs to bend where the pendant hangs and provide a good resting spot for it. A heavy pendant also needs a strong chain. Some of the best link styles for pendants include the following.

Cable Chain - Clean and Strong

Made of strong, interlocking links, this type of chain is dense in appearance and very simple looking. It doesn't steal the show from your pendant, but it provides a classy background. The links can be various sizes, so you can choose one that's in proportion to your pendant.

Cable Chain

Rollo Chain - Ideal for Heavy Pendants

With links that are usually soldered closed, this style of cable chain is super strong. It's ideal for heavy pendants like large lockets or statement pieces. It's not delicate looking, but the simple style keeps it from detracting from your pendant.

Rollo Chain

Snake Chain - Delicate and Flexible

This solid-appearing chain is super flexible and simple in style; however, it lacks strength. It's fantastic for a very light pendant, such as a delicate filigree design or a simple diamond solitaire. The clean lines allow the pendant to take center stage, but don't try to support anything too large with it.

Snake Chain

Pick Chains With Elaborate Links for a Statement

If you'll be wearing a necklace chain on its own as a style statement, there are certain link styles that will give you great sparkle and visual interest. The key here is selecting a link style that is attractive in itself, even if you choose one that's simpler in design. You don't need to worry as much about link flexibility or the strength of the chain, since you won't need to support a pendant. Try some of these visually interesting chain link styles for jewelry you'll wear on its own.

Birdcage Chain - Incredible Detail

When viewed close-up, the links on this type of chain are little works of art. Each link looks like a delicate, tiny cage. The overall chain tends to be substantial, making it perfect to wear on its own. From far away, it can look simple, but if someone gives your outfit a closer look, they will be impressed by the workmanship.

Birdcage jewelry chain

Figaro Chain - Pretty Pattern

A Figaro chain features a repeating pattern of long and short links for an interesting look. You'll often see links that are diamond cut to add a bit of extra sparkle. This is a great link style to wear on its own because the sparkle and pattern are fun. This chain also has a classic look that will go from formal to casual events easily.

Figaro Chain

Filigree Chain - Artisan Links

Filigree is a technique where a jewelry artisan crafts wire into elaborate designs. When an artisan uses filigree to make the links for your chain, each link is incredibly delicate and beautiful. The chain can be quite light in appearance, depending on the spacing of the links, or it can be denser and more substantial like a birdcage chain. Either way, it makes a beautiful statement necklace.

Filigree Chain

Consider Where You'll Wear It

When choosing a link style, it's also a good idea to think about formality. In general, most chains can go from day to night and casual to formal with ease. However, there are a few types that don't work in every situation. Keep these style tips in mind:

  • Ball chains, which are made up of a series of small ball links, are a casual choice and don't work well for a formal occasion.
  • Diamond-cut chains that have a lot of sparkle may be too glittery for daytime, weekend wear.
  • Chains with very wide links can make too much of a style statement with casual clothing.

A Classic Piece of Jewelry

No matter which necklace chain you choose, it's important to select a link style that matches how and where you'll wear the chain. That way, you'll get lots of use out of this classic piece of jewelry.

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Chain Link Styles in Jewelry