12 Types of Popular Necklace Chains & How to Style Them

The unbreakable appeal of chains...

When shopping for necklaces, most buyers base their decisions on pendants, colors, or other factors related to the piece’s aesthetic. While these visual qualities may seem like a priority, 👉🏻buyers should also be aware of another crucial factor: necklace chains.

It’s easy to take for granted how a necklace’s chain alters its overall appeal. A chain can change a piece’s length, comfort level, aesthetic, and more. Let’s discuss 12 popular types of chains and how to choose the right one for your look.

Popular Types of Chains Used in Jewelry

Why are there so many types of necklace chains?

Chains come in a variety of shapes and styles. Jewelers make chains from multiple metals, but popular choices include silver, gold, platinum, or steel. Different types of jewelry chains can be simple or extremely complex: some only require a single strand of links, whereas others bind strands together to create more durable products. These differences in types of necklace chains provide varying levels of support and can be made to suit different occasions or styles.

🔥12 popular types of necklace chains used in jewelry

Let’s look at 12 different types of jewelry chains that you may encounter while shopping for a necklace:

Cable Chain

Stainless Steel Cable Chain by SilverCloseOut / Amazon

Cable chains consist of interlocking oval or round links. These links are identical, and they switch off their position in a never-ending pattern of O and –.  

Cable chains are the most common option sold with commercial jewelry, and they are easy to fix by resoldering broken links or replacing them with new ones. The design is most like the large chains used in shipping, freight, etc. so it is a proven design that can withstand daily wear.

Rope Chain

14K Yellow Gold Rope Chain by Kay Jewelers
Kay Jewelers

Rope chains are an intricate design and require many links. Each link is connected to one or more links to create a pattern similar to a rope. The spiraling effect produced by the interconnected links provides a striking shine.

Because of the number of links used to make rope chains, they can even produce a mixed metals look that is sure to impress. You can add a pendant or gemstone to thinner rope chains, but thicker versions are beautiful on their own!

Box Chain

Sterling Silver Box Chain by Macy's

Also known as “Venetian chains”, box chains are made of interlocking squares, which create a cubed visual effect.  

Smooth and sturdy, these chains are known for being durable and comfortable. They can also be easily fixed by removing broken links and replacing them, so you can make them last. Much like rope chains, box chains look great with pendants or worn on their own in layers.

Ball / Bead Chain

Stainless Steel Bead / Ball Chain by Dog Tag Surplus

Whether you call it a bead chain or a ball chain, you’re correct! For these chains, jewelers attach several small, metal spheres together with connector bars. The spheres may be solid or hollow, and the distance between spheres varies by piece.  

Ball/Bead chains aren’t very strong and break under unexpected force or pressure. Luckily, these chains are typically made from affordable materials like steel, and they are easily replaced. 📿Ball/bead chains create a casual, streetwise look when paired with small pendants or dog tags.

Snake Chain

PROSTEEL Gold-Plated Snake Chain

Snake chains tend to look like snakes as they move and shine. They’re made of interlocking, curved plates that barely have any space between them. The close proximity of these links creates a very smooth, unified chain that looks great in both casual and dressier settings.

These chains do not knot easily, but they are a bit delicate, so wear with caution. Snake chains pair well with pendants, and they’re a nice option for layered looks.

Figaro Chain

Italian Gold Figaro Chain From Overstock

The Figaro chain is a classic yet dynamic design for those who prefer a bold style. Figaro chains typically consist of 3–5 small, round or oval links with larger links between each cluster. The resulting pattern is a unique take on the curb chain, and the links lay flat to create a smooth look.

Figaro chains are as sturdy as cable chains and can be repaired by an experienced jeweler. They can be worn alone or with pendants, and they provide an elevated aesthetic for those seeking a more nuanced style.

Curb Chain

Ion-Plated Stainless Steel Curb Chain for Men
Kay Jewelers

Curb chains contain interlocking links that have been flattened. These links face the same direction and lay flat against the body. Link size can vary from a few millimeters to centimeters, or they can be graduated so that there are smaller and larger sections within the same chain.

Curb chains are durable for extended wear. They can break, but a jeweler can repair any broken links. Curb Chains create an easily identifiable, urban look that’s perfect for casual wear. 

Spiga Chain

James Avery Spiga Chain
James Avery

Spiga chains utilize twisted, oval links that look like braided rope. As such, the tight connection between these links creates a durable chain. However, their strength makes them a bit rigid, and they’re not easily repaired by jewelers.

Spiga chains are also known as wheat chains🌾 because the diagonal pattern created by the oval links looks similar to the tip of a wheat stalk.

Anchor/Mariner Chain

Anchor / Mariner Chain by Verona Jewelers

Anchor chains have flat, oval-shaped links that are interlocked, and each link has a small metal bar in the center. It’s no surprise this chain is incredibly strong, as it was inspired by the chain design used to secure large ships in harbors. The links are typically flat, but they can also be “puffed” which creates a much tougher look.  

Rolo Chain

Rolo Chain in Sterling Silver - Zales

Rolo chains contain interlocking round or oval links that alternate positions. These links are thicker and shorter than those in a cable chain, giving it a more “buttoned-up” look. 

Rolo chains are also known as belcher chains, and they’re durable and easy to fix if broken. They are great for charm necklaces and bracelets, as the links are perfect for hanging pendants evenly without worrying about them falling off.

Byzantine Chain

Byzantine Chain by Ross Simons

A nod to the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantine chain is intricate and luxurious. Interlocking pairs of round or oval rings shape this complex but flexible design, and the resulting chain is very strong.

These chains aren’t easily repaired, so taking them to an experienced jeweler is a must. Byzantine chains can be flat, round, or even graduated with a thicker section of chain near the center. They don’t work well with pendants, but they look dazzling on their own.

Singapore Chain

Solid Gold Singapore Chain (Amazon)

Singapore chains are a unique design. Links interlock to create a diamond shape,💎 and they are then molded and flattened to produce a chain. The flat surfaces of the Singapore chain reflect light and make the piece shine beautifully.

Although they appear like liquid in one’s hand, Singapore chains are rather strong. They are great for pendants, as they add complexity to a delicate piece.

Choosing the right type of jewelry chain for you

So which chain is right for you? Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a chain for your necklace:

Material durability

Metal durability plays a major role in how long you will enjoy your new chain. If you’re a bit rough with your jewelry, consider stronger metals that can withstand daily wear: silver, platinum, titanium, stainless steel, etc. A strong chain is also important if you intend to hang large pendants, as they must withstand the additional force.⚖️

Another issue to consider is tarnish. Some metals, such as silver and low carat gold alloys, can darken and cause allergic reactions with time. Even with proper maintenance, these pieces will eventually tarnish, so consider the cost of replacement when buying these metals.


It’s important that the chain you choose fits your unique comfort needs. 👉🏻For instance, if you have a larger neck, you may want a longer chain length to provide more breathing room. Or, if you have long hair, consider chains that do not snag, such as rope, box, snake, or Singapore chains.

Finally, if you have allergies, choose a chain with a high metal purity. Platinum, titanium, or types of gold chains that are 18K are great options for wearers with skin sensitivities. Avoid metals with high concentrations of nickel or copper, like certain types of silver chains, to ensure you don’t have any reactions.

Smiling Woman Wearing Snake Chain in Silver Color

Chain Styling

There are several ways to wear your chains, and it’s important to pick a style that works for you and your daily fashion choices.  

Some chains, such as cable, rope, and ball/bead options, are perfect for pendants or gemstones if you prefer to add a bit more flair centered on your chain. If you prefer a more understated look, Byzantine, anchor, box, curb, and Figaro chains, are sleek and modern on their own without adding a pendant. Make sure you choose the right length for your style by visiting our Guide to Choosing the Right Chain Length!

Another styling option for chains is layering. Incorporate chains of various styles and lengths within the same outfit to produce a new look every time!  Mix and match textures, colors, and lengths to create bold or refined looks personalized to your aesthetic.


Chains come in a variety of colors to match all individual tastes. Depending on the metal you choose, you can find chains in silver, golden tones, rosy hues, and even colored chains that are black, red, blue, etc.  There are options for all styles, whether you prefer a colorful look or a more monochromatic design!


Certain chains can reveal your personality, so find a chain that looks best with your overall look. For example, box, anchor, wheat, and curb chains can provide a bold perfect for men’s chains. In contrast, delicate options, such as Singapore, snake, rope, and rolo chains, can create feminine🧜🏻 or understated looks that are perfect for any setting.

Man Wearing Byzantine Chain in Silver


Chains can make an outfit, so ensure your chain suits the aesthetic you’re trying to convey. If you’re looking for a more formal or professional look, consider solitary Byzantine, Singapore, or cable chains with no pendant to create an intricate look without going overboard. Or, if you prefer a casual look, any thin chain with a delicate pendant can match a variety of simple outfits for everyday wear. If you’d like a healthy mix of both looks, you may even like a delicate chain with a single gemstone pendant that provides class without overdoing it!

Find the chain that’s right for you

Whether you choose to wear your chains with a pendant or layered, long or short, or even in rose gold or silver, knowing that you are purchasing a chain that fits your requirements for daily wear is crucial to making your piece last forever. Now that you have a better understanding of different types of chains, you can make more informed decisions when buying new necklaces!🤩

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