Whether you wear them to support a pendant or alone as a lovely necklace, chains are beautiful jewelry items to collect and enjoy. They come in dozens of patterns, each of which has a unique look and specific characteristics.
Eight Common Chain Patterns
Jewelers offer chains in a variety of different metals, from gold and silver to base metals and steel. You'll see some of these common patterns if you examine the items in your jewelry box or those for sale at your local store.
The aptly named ball chain looks like a series of little balls hooked together. It's very flexible and quite strong. You don't often see this style of chain in precious metals, but it's frequently used for costume jewelry or fun pieces, usually to support a pendant or a dog tag. It's a great choice for children's jewelry since it's such a casual style.
This type of rope chain features intricate, delicate links that resemble a birdcage. This style looks great on its own since the design of the chain itself makes a jewelry style statement. These also tend to be thicker, making them less popular as supports for pendants. They sometimes come in base metals, but they are more likely to be sterling silver or sometimes gold.
Box chains have a classic look that works on its own or to support a pendant. Their regular interlocking links make a strong, yet flexible, option that has a clean-lined, elegant appearance. The links can be square-edged for a modern look or rounded for a more traditional style. You'll find them made out of just about every jewelry metal, including gold and silver.
Just as the name implies, a cable design is the traditional linked style you may think of when you hear the word "chain." The links can be the same size or alternate large and small, and they can also be engraved or faceted for a more elaborate look. A book chain is a variation on this style. They are some of the strongest and most flexible chains out there, especially if the links are solid. Generally, you'll see this with oval links of the same size, often in sterling silver or a base metal. Because larger chains of this type can require a lot of metal, gold versions tend to be more delicate.
A curb chain is similar to a cable design; however, each of the links is twisted to allow it to lie flat against the skin. It's still very strong and flexible, and it can be made of any metal. Link sizes can be the same or varied, depending on the style you want. It's a bit more modern looking than a regular cable chain, but it's still a classic choice for wearing pendants or just on its own.
This flat style of chain is generally very shiny and modern looking. More delicate options can be used to support a pendant, but these are often too wide for that purpose. They provide a simple accent for any outfit when worn on their own, in gold, silver, or base metals. These are fairly strong; however, they are inflexible. Bending the chain too far will snap the links or force them out of shape to create a permanent kink.
Another variation on the cable design, the rollo chain, also known as the Belcher chain, is very strong. The links are circular, giving it a geometric, modern appearance. These links are almost always soldered shut, and you'll often see this in sterling silver. There are gold and base metal options too. It's a great style for supporting a heavy pendant or locket, due to its strength, although it's too bulky to wear with a small pendant.
Similar to a herringbone chain in that it has a solid appearance, a snake chain is round and very flexible. It's not as strong as cable-style varieties, but it will support a small or medium pendant with no trouble. The simple look of the solid chain makes it ideal for displaying pendants since it won't visually detract from the focal point of the necklace. You'll find these in gold, silver, and many other metals.
Choose a Chain You'll Love
These are just a few of the many styles of chains on the market, but you'll encounter them in most jewelry stores. Get to know the styles you like and the strength and flexibility of the different options, so you can choose a chain you'll love for many years to come.