What Type of Chain is Best for Pendants?
In the past, you've probably bought a pendant necklace with a chain included. However, some fine jewelry retailers will sell pendants and chains separately, so you can pick the exact chain you want. But how do you know what style of chain goes with a particular charm? We've created this buying guide to get you familiar with a variety of chain styles and what ones work best in a pendant necklace, so you can shop confidently the next time you go to the jewelry store.
Different types of necklace chains
There are countless styles of necklace chains that range from relatively simple to incredibly elaborate. However, not every chain is perfect for a pendant necklace. Here's a brief overview of some of the most popular chain styles, so you're familiar with their construction and what makes them unique.
If you imagine an anchor chain used for a boat, you have the right idea for a cable chain. This necklace style is simple and timeless and goes with almost any pendant. Jewelry makers typically use thin wire to make this kind of chain lay smoothly over the skin.
A curb chain features thick, round links that are flattened on two sides to lay flat. The links overlap, almost like a Venn Diagram. Curb chains are very similar to the popular Cuban chain, which has a tighter overlap between links. Cuban chains tend to be much thicker and less flexible than curb chains.
If you imagine a curb chain with regular, interlocking oval links, you have the right idea for a Figaro chain. These oval links add a bit of elegance to the necklace. The Figaro chain was invented in Italy and is the most popular chain design used in Italian jewelry.
While most chains use circular or oval-shaped links, a wheat chain uses links in a unique teardrop shape. Jewelers weave these links in v-shaped pairs that resemble kernels of wheat running along the length of the necklace.
This style of chain features a thick, cylindrical structure that looks like a coil of rope around the wearer's neck. It can feature a spiral design or a knotted construction like in a byzantine chain.
In a box chain, the chain's square links overlap so that each pair of links looks like a cube or box. This tight weave makes box chain necklaces very thick and potentially heavy for their size.
Most people recognize ball chains because the military commonly uses them to secure dog tags. Ball chains look like strings of small balls or pearls connected by short posts, giving them flexibility and strength. This iconic history makes ball chains popular for those looking for a military or industrial look.
If you've ever seen a thin chain that looks like a solid piece of metal, it was likely a snake chain. This type of chain has many tiny, overlapping links that fit perfectly together for an uninterrupted, flawless finish.
Herringbone chain, like snake chain, looks like it is solid. This type of chain lays flat on the wearer's neck and has a broad pattern of alternating V-shaped links that makes it look like herringbone fabric.
The clasp of a chain is just as important as the design overall. Chain necklaces generally have two different types of closures, a lobster clasp or a spring-ring clasp. Both of these closures use a spring-loaded mechanism to keep it closed while the necklace is worn.
Lobster clasps are popular because the closure's shape allows for a bigger opening, making it easier to secure independently. However, many jewelers opt for spring ring clasps because their circular shape blends into the piece as it looks like a regular chain link.
What is the best necklace chain for pendants?
Picking the best chain for your pendant is essential to making a complete and polished look. Many charms will come with a straightforward chain designed to work with the pendant. However, some fine jewelry pendants may not have an included chain. In that case, it's best to know the basics when it comes to finding the right chain for your pendant.
Generally speaking, you want a chain strong enough to support your pendant's weight, with a design subtle enough that the loop on the charm can slide over it. A minimalistic chain design is best, so it doesn't take attention away from your pendant, which should be the focus of the piece.
Simple chains, like cable, Figaro, curb, wheat, and box chains are all great options for pendant necklaces. These necklaces have high durability and timeless, minimalistic looks that make them work with most pendant styles.
Herringbone and snake chains tend to be too delicate for pendants. Herringbone necklaces are incredibly finicky and tend to kink if not handled gently. Similarly, snake chains have such tiny links that they can be bent out of alignment. Snake chains are also difficult to repair, as broken links require soldering to fix.
The final consideration is the thickness of the chain. A chain that's too thin may not be strong enough to hold the pendant or could be prone to breakage. Meanwhile, a thick chain could impede the pendant's ability to slide along the length of the necklace. Consider starting with a chain with .9-1mm thickness and go up from there based on your style.
How to pair a chain with a pendant
Now that you know what types of chains work best with pendants, you should know how to pick the perfect chain.
The best way to pair a chain with a pendant is to match the necklace with the charm's attributes. These can include chain length and the type of precious metal that it's made of. For example, a small pendant may work as a choker necklace, while a larger one can be a long statement necklace.
If your pendant has warm red colors, a rose gold chain may amplify those features. Similarly, if there are cool colors or clear diamonds, a sterling silver or white gold chain may complement the pendant better.
If you want to make a statement with a pendant necklace, one of the best ways is with a unique chain necklace. However, with so many different styles of chain to pick from, picking the right one can feel overwhelming. If you're looking for something special, don't be afraid to ask your jeweler for their opinion. Our jewelers at Alexis Jae have an eye for trends and can pair a pendant and chain that is right for the special person in your life. Contact us today to see how we can help you.