How to Identify Different Necklace Chain Styles

Updated on December 16, 2017
lindacee profile image

Linda has written content for national fashion and beauty websites. She enjoys sharing style trends and tips with her readers.

Sterling and gold chain necklaces come in a variety of designs and are more popular than ever. They are a fashion accessory staple for both men and women. The designs range from chunky, open links to more sophisticated profiles. But do you really know what sets one apart from another?

Can you tell the difference between a box and rope chain? Don’t feel bad. Most people realize there is a difference in appearance but aren’t aware of their unique characteristics. Whether you are buying a necklace for yourself or as a gift, it’s helpful to be able to identify different chain styles.

1. Herringbone

Herringbone, a classic necklace chain style, consists of a sequence of flat, short and parallel links placed in an offset pattern. Herringbone chains usually feature two or more rows of links. This understated chain type lies perfectly flat against the skin and is a suitable choice for casual daywear or a conservative office ensemble.

Thick herringbone necklace.
Thick herringbone necklace. | Source

2. Bead

The bead or ball link style is similar to chains that hold military dog tags. The bead chain features a simple string of silver balls placed closely together. Chain necklaces can be long or short in length and often include decorative pendants. Bead chains vary in size from 2mm to 10mm. A graduated continuous bead chain provides a conservative look that mimics a pearl necklace.

Simple and delicate bead chain necklace.
Simple and delicate bead chain necklace. | Source

3. Box

Box links resemble a series of wide, square cubes tightly connected to form a chain. Another name for the box chain is mirrored box chain. This chain style imparts a dazzling sparkle when its polished sides catch and reflect light. A box chain link looks great unadorned, but daintier versions work quite nicely with a pendant . This solid chain construction is extremely durable and will provide many years of daily wear.

Box chain necklace with pendant.
Box chain necklace with pendant. | Source

4. Rope

The rope chain resembles twisted cable. Two or more intertwined oval links comprise this spiral chain type. The rope chain link can be thick or delicate, depending on the size of the oval chain loops. Some rope chains feature a diamond cut that sparkles just like its namesake. Choose a diamond rope chain for a dazzling evening necklace.

Beautiful rope chain that sparkles like diamonds!
Beautiful rope chain that sparkles like diamonds! | Source

5. Cuban

The Miami Cuban necklace chain link, also known simply as Cuban, features sleek lines with close set links that are slightly flattened. Men tend to prefer this heavy, yet elegant necklace style. However, smaller millimeter links soften the look and are equally appropriate for a women’s necklace.

The chunky Cuban chain has is extremely popular among men.
The chunky Cuban chain has is extremely popular among men. | Source

6. Snake

A snake link necklace features a succession of round, curvy metal rings that form a sleek, flexible chain. The smooth, shiny and bendable chain appears serpent-like–hence the name. Snake chain link necklaces often come with a slide pendant. Strength and durability make this familiar chain style a perennial favorite for necklaces.

Knotted sterling snake chain necklace.
Knotted sterling snake chain necklace. | Source

7. Cable

The simple design of the cable link necklace appeals to men and women alike. The classic oval or round rings intersect at 90-degree angles creating the chain. You may be familiar with this link style from chunky ID and charm bracelets. Men prefer the look of heavier weight cable necklaces. Delicate cable link necklaces designed for women can be adorned with a pendant or layered with other chain styles.

Handcrafted cable chain necklace.
Handcrafted cable chain necklace. | Source

8. Figaro

Alternating circular and rectangular links make up the Italian Figaro necklace style. This design typically incorporates one long rectangle or oval followed by a series of three small round links. This chain style peaked in popularity during the 1990s, but still has a loyal following.

Embellished Figaro necklace chain.
Embellished Figaro necklace chain. | Source

9. Rolo

The rolo is made up of a series of round interlocking links in an alternating pattern which gives this simple necklace an intricate appearance.The links are smaller in diameter and a bit thicker than that of a typical cable chain. The design is extremely durable and comes in a variety of sizes and designs.

This small textured rolo necklace looks quite dainty compared to a standard cable chain.
This small textured rolo necklace looks quite dainty compared to a standard cable chain. | Source

10. Anchor

Anchor chains come by their name naturally. Also known as a marine chain, the nautical design is strikingly similar to ship's anchor chain. This type of necklace is made up of interconnected ovals that feature a bar across the center of each link. They either lie flat or alternate like rolo or cable chains.

This necklace design is identical to the chain attached to a boat's anchor.
This necklace design is identical to the chain attached to a boat's anchor. | Source

11. Wheat

Created by a braided pattern of flat and twisted oval links, the wheat chain has a unique textural appearance different than most other necklace chain styles. The flexible weave forms what looks like the heads of mature wheat stalks. This chain is often worn alone to showcase its impressive decorative motif.

Large wheat chain necklaces are a great option for men.
Large wheat chain necklaces are a great option for men. | Source

Weigh In!

Which necklace chain style do you like the best?

See results

Questions & Answers

© 2012 Linda Chechar

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    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      4 days ago from Arizona

      RupertTheDog, it could be a 3-chain twist herringbone or the wheat link style. You can send a photo.

    • profile image


      4 days ago

      I have a 3 chain twisted bracelet and I am trying to ID the style of the chain. It is similar to a Herringbone, flat with no visible link connection, but the angle is different. They are like a 2 piece wide "V." I checked the ones on Linda Chechar's page, but the closest is the Herringbone. Any ideas? I can email a photo! Thanks in advance!

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      3 weeks ago from Arizona

      Valerie, the snake chain is a beautiful design. Glad you enjoyed the necklaces!

    • profile image


      3 weeks ago

      I prefer the snake, it looks sleek and sturdy.

      I really enjoyed seeing all the different types

      of chains.

      Thank You

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      7 months ago from Arizona

      Fabian glad you like the figaro (at least that is the one I think you meant.) All of the necklace chains are beautiful but I do like some of the chunkier styles. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      I prefer the franco

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Leah, the rope is a nice design and they come in more delicate weights. Thanks much for reading and commenting!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      I didn't realize there were so many necklace chain styles! I prefer the rope style personally, though I like delicate jewelry.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Teaches, so good to hear from you! I prefer herringbone and rope -- they're versatile and beautiful. Thank you for the vote and weighing in with your favorite necklace chain design! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Hey, Lindacee! I love this hub post. Thanks for the descriptions and style references. I see that many of the readers prefer the herringbone, my favorite. Voted up.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Meloncauli, thanks for reading -- I even learned how to identify a few that I had heard of, but wasn't sure exactly what they looked like! One of the many benefits of being a Hubaholic! Hope all is well. :)

    • meloncauli profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Great hub Linda! There was a couple I didn't know so I learned something!

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      K, I too am glad it fetches a decent price these days! ;) So pleased you enjoyed the Hub!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Great information all in one place. I'm the jewelry junkie. Definitely. Thank heaven it's become lucrative to sell it! ha ha ha. Love your hub. -K

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Glad I could help, Om! Yes, these are some of the most common necklace chain designs. We instantly recognize them when we see them, but putting a name to them does help!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      I believe I had seen all these necklace designs before but didn't know the proper terms for some of them. Thanks for the info. Now I can sound like a necklace expert! hehehe

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Angela, there are so many more, but I wanted to keep the Hub to a reasonable length. May have to do a Part 2! Good to hear from you! It is always gratifying to know I've shared info that benefits readers! :) Thanks!

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Yes, Qudsia and I didn't even have a chance to touch on all of the different styles! So happy you enjoyed reading this Hub! Thanks for commenting!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      I knew of the box, snake and herringbone style -- and do so appreciate the education on the rest of the chains. Good and informative Hub. Best/Sis

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I had no idea or perhaps never even thought of chains in that detail. It never occurred to me that they may even have names.

      Thank you so much for sharing this article.


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