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Necklace Chain Types

With many fashion necklaces out in the market, the necklace chain is a part of it that is often overlooked and most people especially women, focus most of the time on the necklace charm or pendants. For some individuals though, who are planning or are ready to purchase a necklace they can wear with most of their everyday outfits and as a part of their classic accessory pieces, they will find that knowing the various chain types will make their buying experience better and easier.

There’s no agreed naming rule or standard though when it comes to necklace chain names. In case you travel and decide to buy a necklace chain in another region or continent, you may find that it’s named differently in that place so it’s better if you’ll know how it looks and how to describe a certain chain you like. Let’s get to know the various types of chains and some information on each of them. You will soon find out that finding the right necklace chain that suits you makes a big difference in the overall appeal of the necklace.

Anchor Chain

Also known as the marine/mariner chain. It is a classic jewelry chain and is characterized by repeating oval links that are uniformly sized and arranged alternately in a horizontal and then vertical orientation with a vertical bar in the middle of each link. The chain design was inspired by the chain used to attach an anchor to a boat, which is why it is considered as one of the strongest types of chain. Variations of the anchor chain are: flat anchor chain, where the outer chain links have flat surfaces and round anchor chain where the outer surface is slightly rounded.

Ball Chain

Also known as bead chain and pelline chain. It is a chain that is composed of tiny metal spheres or small balls of metal which can be solid or hollow to reduce the weight. Each metal sphere is joined by small lengths of wire. This kind of chain is most commonly seen used in holding IDs or key chains.

Bar Chain

Also known as a link and bar chain. This type of chain is made of small circular or oval links or jump rings that connect metal bar links. The metal bar links can be of any shape like curved, twisted, hollow, solid, elongated or a combination of shapes but the most common would be a straight bar. This type of chain is visually interesting however, since the jump rings are smaller compared to the bars their connecting, it’s not as strong as other chains.

Box Chain

Box Chain - oNecklaceAlso known as square link chain, briolette or Venetian chain. It is made from a round wire that is flattened and formed into a square or box-like shape, which are then interlinked. It is an exceptionally strong chain due to the fact that each square link is sturdy. This type of chain is a usual favorite especially with pendant necklaces. Small box chains exude a smooth and sleek appearance while big box chains give a more rough and chunky look.

Byzantine Chain

Also known as idiot’s delight chain, birdcage chain and King’s braid chain. It is made of either oval or round links in pairs that are joined together in an alternate horizontal and vertical manner wherein each link connects to four other links. Because of its complex interlocking technique, the final product is sturdy and has a very detailed rope-like shape. Since its design basically uses more metal per link, it is a little more expensive than other necklace chains of the same width and length.

Cable Chain

This type of chain is also popularly known as the link chain and has many variations. It is characterized by individual or oval links that are uniformly shaped and sized and interlocked alternately in a horizontal and vertical direction. It is the most basic open linked style chain and is the most common type of jewelry chain perfect for simple necklaces like a name necklaces, bar necklaces, charm necklaces and other pendant necklaces.

Common Variations of the Cable Chain:

  • Curb Chain

    A variation of the cable chain wherein uniformly sized oval or round links have been twisted and usually diamond cut to interlock and lie flat on a surface. It is a chain type that is favored by both women, and men especially if it’s made with large links and women.
  • Double Cable Chain

    Since it’s a variation of the chain link, it basically follows a repeating pattern of interconnected round or oval links and as the name suggests, the round or oval links are doubled.
  • Figaro Chain

    A variation of the cable chain that is more like a curb chain except that the oval or round links are not uniformly sized or shaped. The pattern elongates every after the third or fifth link. This type of cable link variation originated in Italy and traditional Figaro chains are made with thicker wire so it’s considered as a sturdy chain.
  • Rolo Chain

    Rolo Chain - oNecklaceAlso known as the belcher chain. It is characterized by its flat circular or oval links that are connected to each other. The links of a rolo chain is usually smaller in length and thicker in circumference than a typical cable chain. It is a popular type of chain used in men’s jewelry but some charm bracelets or name necklace for women use a modified style where in links are shaped like doughnuts.

Espiga Chain

This type of chain is also popularly known as wheat chain and spiga chain. It got its name as the links resemble the interspersed grains on the head of a wheat stalk and espiga is the Spanish term for wheat. The design of the chain is beautiful enough to wear alone. The chain is made up of small oval links with intertwined twists of metal holding them together while some describe the pattern as linked small figures of the number eight (8).

Herringbone Chain

This type of chain is formed from V-shaped links to lay entirely flat on a surface. The direction of the V-shaped links alternate with each row therefore creating a herringbone pattern. It is considered as the type of chain with the greatest fluid effect. Thin strands of herringbone chains can be twisted together to add a more interesting visual effect.

Hexagon Chain

More commonly known as the snake chain, but is also called Brazilian chain, round maille chain and star weave chain. A snake chain is made up of smooth rings or bands that slightly curve at the middle part and each ring fits closely together. The chain appears as a flexible tube with a similar texture as a snake skin. This type of chain is usually delicate and thin.

Rope Chain

Rope chains are multiple links attached to each link, turning each link a little or are weaved together so that the final result looks like a rope. Two different colored metals may be used to have a more interesting look.

Other Necklace Chains and Some Information on Chains:

Twisted chains are not considered a stand alone type of chain but are generally made as variations of some of the different types of chains by the method of twisting two or more chains to form one chain. Some examples of twisted chains are the twisted curb chain and the twisted rope chain.

An anodized chain is not a type of chain but it refers to a chain or any metallic surface that has been coated with a protective oxide film by electrolysis. This process produces a chain finish that is sturdier and more resistant to corrosion, exposure and abrasion. Colored aluminum chains are also anodized which creates a layer much stronger and more adherent compared to most types of painting and metal plating.

Fancy chain is a category for necklace chains that includes a variety of different possibilities. It often refers to the decorative variation of standard chain types. Sometimes, they are made of a unique link pattern that does not fit any of the existing chain types. Some examples of fancy chains are the Byzantine chain; a chain which is composed of heart shaped links and the Franco chain which is created by placing two to four curb chains flat against each other and interweaving the V-shaped links.

Different precious metals are used for jewelry chains like gold and silver which are mixed with other metals like copper for stronger chains, palladium, and platinum which is a sturdy, rare and expensive metal. Steel is the strongest alloy and make strong chains but they are rarely used in jewelry as it can cause skin irritation.

Many types of chains are quite sturdy although generally it depends on how thick each link is and how they’re connected together. In the end, choosing your necklace chain boils down to your preference and how you see the chain being used.

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