A Guide to Chain Types Explained
Our Editorial Guide on Chain Types
When buying a chain, one of the most important factors to consider is whether the chain is strong enough for its intended purpose. Can it hold a heavy pendant and will it kink and break?
This article will cover the strongest and weakest jewellery chains, how to choose and how to take care of your chain.
What are the different types of chains?
Which type of necklace chain is the strongest?
What are Jewellery chains made of?
Taking care of your necklace chain.
There are various type or styles of chain identified mostly by the shape of the links that create the chain.
The Different Types of Chains?
The most popular chain styles are the Cuban, Figaro, and Curb chain, but below are the 11 types we will explain that create the unique and genius methods for creating these complex and most crucial part of chain making.
The Curb link style show case an interlocking pattern which is effective in ensuring the overall strength. Curb chains have been around for hundreds of years, long before state of the art technology existed. So they are part of the classic chain style group. The curb chain still remains a very fashionable choice, as do most classic jewelry pieces. There are many different types of curb chains with unique finishes like rounded curb, open curb, close curb, concaved curb, square curb, flat curb and more.
The segments are connected tightly in twos or threes, with a twisting pattern so that it resembles an actual rope and reflects light amazingly well from all angles. Thus, the rope chain is one of the most popular styles of chains around the world.
Thinner rope chains are well suited for pendants and they are a very secure option for them as well. Thicker rope chains will look best on their own, and they are a statement piece enough without the pendant. The pattern of the links resembles that of a rope and is a classic style.
Typically, the design pattern is one long flattened link,
the two or three shorter flattened links. The two or three shorter links are the same size as each other, which gives it a uniformed design throughout the length of the chain.
Also know as The Mariner chain as the distinct characteristic of this chain is the shape of its links which resemble that of an actual ship's anchor and consists of a series of identical round or oval links. Each individual link is connected to the next, forming a wonderful chain made for beauty and functionality.
Some cable chains are round and some are flattened. But as long as each link is of the same size and connected one by one, it is a cable chain. There are two major variations of this chain - The rounded edge and the flat link design.
The Snake chain consist of a series of small rings (plates or bands), which are joined tightly to form a continuously smooth and sleek chain. These chains have a good looking texture and just overall they look very nice and elegant. A snake chain with a pendant makes for a stunning necklace. The overall look of the chain closely resembles that of a snake's skin hence, the term.
Compared to other chain designs or styles, the Box chain is made up of interconnected square links. This style can be thick and heavy compared to most other styles in this list. They have square links instead of the typical round links you see in the other different types of chains. This gives each link the appearance of being a small box.
Among the group, the Byzantine chain boasts the most intricate design. Its links intermingle with each other at a rather intricate pattern. The texture of the chain is comparable to that of the rope style. Due to the pattern of intermingling links, the Byzantine chain is quite flexible and can drape well around the neck.
Unlike most, the Wheat chain is made up of four strands of intertwined tear-shaped links twisted to point at a single direction .A Wheat or Spiga chain is produced using four strands of twisted oval links. It has a somewhat similar appearance as a rope chain from a distance. The links are “woven” and “braided” together, making a splendidly charming necklace. The Wheat chain is considered as the most durable of all chain styles no matter the gauge of its thickness and length but can lack flexibility.
The Herringbone chain is composed of intertwined thin flat links that are slightly bent at the middle to project a herringbone look but this chain does not sit well with a pendant of any size, shape, and design and should be worn as it is.
Which Type of Jewellery Chain Is the Strongest?
The strongest are those made of individual, interlocking, soldered links. Strength and stability of the chain depends on two critical factors - shape and size of links and the interlocking patterns. Of all the chain styles listed above, the Wheat chain is considered as the strongest simply because it is made of four strands of intertwining oval links that are interlocked and twisted at a single direction.
These chains are more flexible, even when made thick. Because they don’t have a bending point, they don’t tend to break even when twisted, knotted or folded.
The best part about these chains is the ease of repair. As each link is individually soldered, a damaged link can be taken out or repaired without compromising the integrity of the entire chain.
Some chains that fall into this category are the Figaro, curb, cable and anchor chains.
The weakest chains are those that consist of several links, woven together into complex designs and have very little flexibility. These aren’t resistant to tugging, kinking, breaking or folding. They tend to quickly show signs of damage, if not taken good care of.
Type of Metal
The type of metal used is also highly important in ensuring that a chain is strong. Metals such as stainless steel, platinum, and solid gold are strong and durable.
Necklace chains can be made of a wide spectrum of materials. A smart buyer considers this factor because the material used to produce the chain can have a significant effect on the item's overall durability, flexibility, look and feel.
A lot of neck chains are made of sterling silver with a bit of copper in the mix. Although the combination shouts durability, silver necklace chains get easily tarnished. gold is mixed with other metals which directly affects its strength and colour.
The combination of gold and non-gold metals produces what is referred to as an alloy. These non-gold metals include silver, copper, nickel, zinc, and palladium. White gold is a product of combining gold with metals like palladium, nickel, and silver. On the other hand, rose gold is a gold alloy with high copper content.
A much more durable and affordable alternative is stainless steel that are classed in various quality grades like 204, 304 and 316, the last being the best quality.
Thickness of Chain
The chain thickness will play a critical role in its durability. Thicker chains have larger links, which are more resistant to damage.
When pairing a pendant with a chain, it stands to reason that you can’t hold a massive pendant with a thin, delicate chain. The chain needs to be in proportion to the pendant to ensure that it can hold the pendant.
Strong Chain Types
- Curb Chain: Each chain is individually soldered and linked together. these chains are commonly heavy and thick, making them extremely durable and strong.
- Figaro Chain: Made of a large link followed by a series of smaller links Figaro chains can easily be repaired if damaged. These chains can withstand a lot of exposure.
- Cable Chain: Simple and strong, cable chains are made of uniform interlocking links.
- Wheat Chain: Made of four strands of links woven together, this chain looks delicate but is very strong and doesn’t easily break or kink.
- Box Chain: Made of square (or sometimes round) links, the box chain is easy to fix if damaged as each link can be replaced easily.
Weak Chain Types
- Herringbone Chain: The links are flat and thin, with limited flexibility. The chain can easily bend, kink and become deformed. They’re also very hard to repair, as the links are intricately linked.
- Omega Chain: Made of metal plates closely placed together and held in position by a mesh beneath them, Omega chains easily kink and break. The way the chain is structured makes it very difficult to repair.
- Snake Chain: With extremely limited flexibility, snake chains are apt to kink and showing signs of damage. They have to be repaired by soldering.
- Ball Chain: Although a popular chain, ball chains are quite weak. Made of beads held in place by tiny bars, ball chains need to be soldered together if a bar breaks.
- Rope Chain: Made of several links that aren’t completely joined together, rope chains are woven into a complex design. If a link breaks, it’ll need to be woven back into the same pattern.
Taking care of your necklace chain.
Just because a chain is considered weak, doesn’t mean it can’t function as a necklace chain. It just means that you’ll have to give it appropriate care to ensure that it lasts a long time. Here are some guidelines in taking care of your necklace chain.
- Clean your chain periodically. A build-up of dirt and dust can cause chain links to become damaged and even break. Using warm water and a mild soap is often the best way to clean a chain, whether it’s made of gold, platinum or stainless steel.
- Store your chains carefully. Improper storage results in tangled, kinked chains. A tip for storing thin chains is to thread your chain through a drinking straw and fix the clasp at the ends. Also, avoid storing chains with harder items like diamonds, as these can scratch the chain.
- Choose the right chain for the purpose. If you’re looking for a chain to hold a pendant, choose a strong chain at an appropriate thickness. If you’re looking for a statement chain to standalone, any thick chain will do the trick.