Buying Tips / Trends

Types of Necklace Chains: A 101 Guide to the Top 10 Chain Types!

Briana Briana 17 Sep 2019 229

When you think of a necklace chain, what comes to mind? Maybe a few different chains pop in your head, maybe you consider different types of metals, but did you realize that there are numerous types of necklace chains out there?

Have you ever stared at an outfit in the mirror and just wondered what was missing? We’ve all been there, and we find that most of the time, adding a necklace can make a huge difference! It is one of our all-time favorite accessories that can easily elevate just about any outfit. 

If you are looking to amp up your necklace collection, you probably have more options available to you than you might imagine.

Believe it or not, a different necklace chain can make a big difference! While pendants or stones that you add to the chain can certainly change the look as well, the chain itself is a major part of the necklace. From dainty thin types of necklace chains, to more statement ones, there is a lot to choose from when selecting a  chain. 

Having a variety of chains to choose from ensures that no matter what outfit you are wearing, or where you are going, you will have the right one that will complete your look! 

Chain styles

Instead of wondering what types of necklace chains are out there, let us help guide you towards your new favorite jewelry pieces.

There are tons of different chain types to be found in jewelry shops, but we will be going through the top 10 most popular types of necklace chains today. These represent the majority of the chain types that are out there and will give you a great idea of the wide array of options available to you.

Don’t just learn about the different types of necklace chains, go shopping with this guide as well! We are sharing our top chain picks for each of the different chain types. With some more expensive options, as well as affordable ones, you can find just the right chains to match your personality, style, and budget.  

Top 10 Types of Necklace Chains!

1. Anchor Chain

We are going to walk you alphabetically through this list of popular types of necklace chains, and that means our guide starts with the anchor chain!

These chains are also often called mariner chains (or anchor themed), so if you see that name used instead, know that they are the same thing. If you didn’t pick up on it yet, the name references the type of chain that is traditionally used to attach an anchor to a boat. Makes sense, right? 

Anchor chain

These chains feature links that are oval and feature a vertical bar in the center of each link. The middle bar makes these chains just slightly different than a typical cable chain (which we will discuss later).

You can also find some interesting variations with this type of chain – including flat anchor chains and even “puffy” chains if you want a heavier chain.

Go for a more simple anchor chain if you don’t want the chain to be the focal point of the necklace, or find a variation if you do want more emphasis on the chain itself. 

Shop Anchor Chains Below!

1. Sterling Silver Flat Mariner Chain Solid 925

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 16 inch

This chain is an example of a flat anchor chain that we mentioned. The links are totally flat, but still retain that anchor design with the bar in the middle. This is a great chain that could definitely be worn on its own or with a pendant.  

2. Real 10k/14k Gold Mariner Link Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $$$

Metal: 10k yellow gold 

Chain length: 18 inch

If you want a nice gold chain, this pick is perfect. Made of 10k yellow gold, this chain is gorgeous and timeless. Gold has come back into style in recent years, making this a great staple chain to add to your jewelry collection. 

2. Bead Chain

You’ve likely seen bead chains before, especially on dog tags. Sometimes called ball chains, these are very simple types of necklace chains chains composed of tiny beads.

You will sometimes find the beads incredibly close together, but typically there is at least a little bit of space in between the beads so that the necklace has some flexibility and movement. 

Bead chain

This type of chain is great if you want a more relaxed, urban style chain. You will more often than not see this as a chain for male jewelry, but we like it for women’s jewelry as well if you like mixing both feminine and masculine elements into your style. 

Shop Bead Chains Below!

1. Verona Jewelers 925 Sterling Silver Italian Bead Ball Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver 

Chain length: 30 inch

If you need a simple, sterling silver bead chain, here it is! This particular chain is 30 inches long, but you can get it in shorter lengths as well.

You can’t beat the affordability of this type of chain, especially if you are looking for one in a longer length like this. 

2. Amberta 18K Gold Plated on 925 Sterling Silver Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: 18k yellow gold plated over sterling silver 

Chain length: 20 inch 

Do you prefer gold? You can find gold bead chains as well! At a great price, this is a great chain option if you want something simple and don’t have a large budget. These chains can’t hold majorly heavy pendants, but work perfect with smaller ones. 

3. Box Chain

As the name suggests, box chains feature links that are in the shape of small boxes, instead of typical shapes like circles or ovals. This gives the chain a very unique look, as you don’t really see this type of link with any other chain type.

This is another chain type that is seen in both men and women’s jewelry, with larger box chains being more popular in men’s styles.

Box chain

The box design makes this chain more sturdy than many others, making it a good choice if you want a very durable chain, or if you are planning on wearing it with larger, heavier pendants. W

e like that it has a modern leaning design and think it would look nice completely on its own. 

Shop Box Chains Below!

1. 925 Sterling Silver Box Chain Italian Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 18 inch

This box chain is made of sterling silver and features smaller boxes for links, giving this a more feminine appearance. The square links make this a nice, modern-looking chain, and at a great price, it’s a perfect, unique addition to your collection.  

2. 14k Yellow OR White Gold Box Link Chain with Lobster Claw Clasp

Get it here

Price: $$$

Metal: 14k yellow gold 

Chain length: 18 inch

If you prefer yellow gold, this box chain is great. It features very small box links that are linked very close together, which gives it a really unique look. Made of 14k yellow gold, this is a chain that you will be able to wear forever. 

4. Byzantine Chain

If you want a statement necklace chain that you can wear entirely on its own, you should absolutely invest in a Byzantine chain. These chains are less common but are totally gorgeous.

Byzantine types of necklace chains
Byzantine chain

They feature an intricate twisted, or woven, appearance, that is comprised of numerous oval links that are connected together. We recommend wearing this chain all on its own – who would want to distract from the gorgeous intricacy of this chain?

This is perfect if you want a more bold look that is still minimalist- this chain perfectly balances both aesthetics.    

Shop Byzantine Chains Below!

1. MiaBella 925 Sterling Silver Byzantine Chain

Get it here

Price: $$

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 16 inch

We just love the look of this byzantine chain. Made of sterling silver, this is a solid chain that will easily improve the appearance of any outfit.

If you wear more silver accessories than gold, we suggest going with this sterling silver chain. This isn’t a chain that blends in – it is meant to stand out! 

2. Ross-Simons 18kt Gold Over Sterling Silver Byzantine Necklace

Get it here

Price: $$

Metal: 18k yellow gold plated over sterling silver

Chain length: 16 inch 

Alternatively, if you wear more gold than silver, we recommend going with this 18k gold plated chain.

At 16 inches, this chain will hit nicely at your collar bone. If you want a slightly longer version, you can also get this chain in 18 inches or 20 inches.  

5. Cable Chain

When you think of a typical necklace chain, you probably picture a cable chain. These types of necklace chains are comprised of connecting oval links. It is a basic chain that is perfect for just about any pendant or stone you’d want to add to it.

cable types of necklace chains
Cable chain

These chains tend to have a more feminine, dainty appearance. If you prefer a more minimalist chain, you can’t go wrong with a cable chain

. It is the most popular chain for a reason! You can easily find a cable chain in any length you want.  

Shop Cable Chains Below!

1. Honolulu Jewelry Company Sterling Silver 1mm Cable Chain

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver 

Chain length: 20 inch 

This is a classic, sterling silver cable chain. Because it is made of sterling silver it will be more durable and not change color. You can get this chain in just about any length you want, which is the best aspect of a cable chain; they can adapt to any length you want!  

2. 10K Yellow Gold 0.8MM Diamond Cut Cable Link

Get it here

Price: $$

Metal: 10k yellow gold

Chain length: 22 inch 

If you prefer gold and want something elegant, yet simple, this diamond-cut chain is perfect. In 10k yellow gold, the way the links are cut, they will provide a gorgeous sparkle!

This is a great chain to have in your jewelry collection; you can wear it with a wide variety of pendants, or even on its own if you want a really delicate, minimalist look instead.  

6. Curb Chain

Curb chains, sometimes also called cuban chains, are more masculine chains. This is a heavier chain that features larger, flat oval links that are designed to be interconnected and to stay flat at all times. It is a more ‘chunky’ chain, which is why it tends to be seen more as a masculine chain. 

Curb chain

If you are looking for a good necklace chain for a man, this is a great option. Curb chains are also very durable, making them a great choice if you are shopping for someone who wears a chain all the time. This type of chain will hold up nicely!  

Shop Curb Chains Below!

1. 925 Sterling Silver 7mm Link Curb Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $$$

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 18 inch 

If you are in search of a chain for your husband or boyfriend and they prefer silver, this sterling silver curb chain is perfect. The links are oversized and lay flat, giving it a very masculine appearance.

While it is typically seen as a masculine type of chain, that doesn’t mean women can’t wear it either! If you prefer a thicker chain that lays flat, this might be a great option for you as well. 

2. MiaBella Solid 18K Gold Over Sterling Diamond-Cut Cuban Link

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: 18k gold plated over sterling silver 

Chain length: 20 inch

This is another great curb chain option, this time in 18k gold instead of sterling silver. If you (or your husband) prefer gold jewelry over silver, this is the right chain for you! It’s 20 inches, but you can also get it in a variety of other lengths as well. 

Not sure what length of chain you need? Be sure to check out the end of this article for help selecting the perfect length chain!  

7. Figaro Chain

If you are looking for a simple chain, but want something a little bit more intricate than a basic cable chain, a figaro chain is a great option. These chains feature a pattern of links instead of just one link repeating.

Most figaro chains will have one longer link (either an elongated oval or sometimes a more rectangular link) followed by two or three smaller round or oval connecting links. 

Figaro chain

This design gives it a more sophisticated and unique appearance, while still being fairly simple. It is nowhere near as intricate as a byzantine chain but is far more interesting to look at than a cable chain.

For that reason, this is a chain you could wear on its own, or could wear with a pendant.  

Shop Figaro Chains Below!

1. 925 Sterling Silver Figaro Sturdy Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver 

Chain length: 26 inches

This figaro chain is a classic design; with one elongated link followed by three smaller links. In sterling silver, this is a gorgeous, simple chain that could easily be worn alone or with a pendant.

The link design really does elevate the chain above a simple cable chain.  

2. Lifetime Jewelry 7mm Gold Figaro Chain

Get it here

Price: $$

Metal: 24k gold plated bronze 

Chain length: 20 inch

If you prefer gold jewelry, and also if you want a bit of a thicker design, this gold figaro chain is perfect. This chain features 24k gold plated over bronze for a really nice (and shiny!) looking chain that will have some nice weight to it.

Because of the larger, heavier links, we think this would make a great chain for both men and women. 

8. Rolo Chain

The rolo chain is what we would call the sibling to the cable chain. It is very similar to a cable chain but with a few small differences.

Rolo chains feature all links of the same size (like a cable chain), but instead of being oval links, rolo chains have circular links. You can find really delicate Rolo chains, but typically, the round links are made to be a bit heavier to help differentiate them from standard cable chains. 

rolo types of necklace chains
Rolo chain

These chains are simple, delicate chains that are perfect for holding pendants. While they are similar to a cable chain, they look just different enough to justify wanting to add one into your jewelry collection!

Shop Rolo Chains Below!

1. Gem Avenue Italian 925 Sterling Silver Rolo Chain

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 30 inch

This rolo chain is a simple, clean design made of sterling silver. The smaller, round links give this chain a slightly ‘heavier’ appearance compared to a standard cable chain, but it is still wonderfully simple and delicate.

2. 14K Rose Gold-filled Rolo Chain Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: 14k rose gold filled

Chain length: 18 inch  

Are you loving the rose gold trend these days? If so, this rose gold rolo chain is a perfect addition to your jewelry collection!

The small, closely connected links make this chain more visible than a standard cable chain, which is great if you love showing off the rose gold appearance of the chain itself.

Wear this alone or with a pendant for a gorgeous, trendy look! 

9. Rope Chain

As the name suggests, a rope chain mimics the appearance of a rope! With small links woven and twisted together, these chains do look just like a rope.

These types of necklace chains are thicker than more basic cable chains, though you can find some variety in size. Smaller rope chains can still be used to hold pendants, while larger rope chains will look similar to byzantine chains are better to be worn alone to fully appreciate the intricate, woven design. 

Rope chain

If you are looking for a feminine, thicker chain and think the byzantine chain was a bit too thick, a rope chain is a perfect in-between chain that is beautiful and bold, without being too much. 

Shop Rope Chains Below!

1. JOTW Sterling Silver 2mm Rope Chain

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 18 inch 

Rope chains are some of the most elegant chains you can find. This sterling silver example is beautiful- sleek, yet bold, and sophisticated!

The chain is wide enough that it could easily be worn on its own, yet thin enough that you could easily add a pendant for more of a bold look if you want it.

We recommend a sleek, simple pendant to go with this chain since the chain itself is fairly intricate. 

2. Wellingsale 14k Yellow Gold  Rope Chain

Get it here

Price: $$$

Metal: 14k yellow gold 

Chain length: 20 inch 

This particular rope chain is on the thinner side – perfect if you like the idea of a rope chain but still want something subtle. In 14k yellow gold, it is a timeless chain that will never go out of style. Wear this chain alone or with a pendant! 

10. Snake Chain

Finally, there is the snake chain. This chain has a sleek appearance that resembles the look of snake skin! These chains are made of links that are pressed tightly together to provide that smooth, sleek appearance.

They also typically lay flat against the skin as a result of the design, but have great flexibility (similar to that of a snake!).

snake types of necklace chains
Snake chain

These chains are very sturdy and durable, and like the flexibility of the chain itself, also has great flexibility when it comes to how you wear it!

They look great with a pendant (and because of how sturdy they are you can wear large, heavy pendants on these chains with ease), but they also look great on their own if you are going for a more sleek, sophisticated look. 

Shop Snake Chains Below!

1. Italian Fashions 925 Sterling Silver Snake Chain

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: Sterling silver

Chain length: 18 inch 

This is a classic, sterling silver snake chain. While it can be worn on its own, we think it would look great along with a nice pendant. The sleek design of this chain makes it the perfect base for a gorgeous pendant that wants to be the focal point. 

2. Gem Avenue 14k Rose Gold Vermeil Necklace

Get it here

Price: $

Metal: 14k rose gold plated sterling silver 

Chain length: 22 inch 

Another rose gold chain; we loved the way the rose gold looked on this snake chain. This combination makes for an awesome, modern leaning chain that looks incredibly cool.

This particular chain is 22 inches, which is semi-long, but you can find it in several other lengths as well. We prefer snake chains on the longer side, where as others like cable or rolo chains can look nice in shorter, choker lengths. 

Bonus: Chain lengths 

You might have the perfect chain type in mind, but do you know what length you need (or want) to purchase? What does a 22 inch chain look like versus a 16 inch chain?

The length of your chain matters almost as much as the type of chain you select. Especially when shopping online, you want to make sure you are getting a chain that will match the jewelry vision you have in your head. 

If you want to go for the choker look, you don’t want to buy a chain that is too long! Or, if you want a longer chain to go with a plunging dress you’ve been wanting to wear, you need to make sure you get the right length that isn’t too short and isn’t too long!

Chain lengths, Source: Pyrrha

Thankfully, chains come in pretty standard lengths and there are tons of helpful guides out there that show where different lengths hit on your neck and chest.

In fact, we’ve compiled our own guide that will give you a great idea of what standard necklace lengths are, as well as how to decide what you should go with based on your face shape and more. Check out the full guide here!

Best of all, we included info for the guys as well. It’s your go-to guide when you start shopping for any necklace chains! 

Wrapping Up

There are so many gorgeous types of necklace chains out there. From thicker chains like the byzantine or snake chains, to simple delicate chains like cable or rolo chains, and plenty in between, there is certainly something to match your personal style.

Hopefully, this guide will help you decide what the perfect chain type is for you. You might decide you need numerous chains! They do totally change the appearance of an outfit, and each chain gives a unique look. 

What is your favorite style of necklace to wear? Do you prefer a bold statement necklace, or are you more into minimalist pieces? Let us know.