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How to Identify Different Necklace Chain Styles

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?

11 Types of Chains

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
  2. Bead
  3. Box
  4. Rope
  5. Cuban
  6. Snake
  7. Cable
  8. Figaro
  9. Rolo
  10. Anchor
  11. Wheat
Thick herringbone necklace.

Thick herringbone necklace.

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.

Simple and delicate bead chain necklace.

Simple and delicate bead chain necklace.

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.

Box chain necklace with pendant.

Box chain necklace with pendant.

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.

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.

The chunky Cuban chain has is extremely popular among men.

The chunky Cuban chain has is extremely popular among men.

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.

Knotted sterling snake chain necklace.

Knotted sterling snake chain necklace.

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.

Handcrafted cable chain necklace.

Handcrafted cable chain necklace.

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.

Embellished Figaro necklace chain.

Embellished Figaro necklace chain.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Large wheat chain necklaces are a great option for men.

Large wheat chain necklaces are a great option for men.

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.

Weigh In!

Questions & Answers

Question: 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?

Answer: It could be either a multi-twisted wheat link or herringbone style. You can email a photo.

Question: Do you know of a chain link called Byzantine? I even heard them called super chains.

Answer: A Byzantine jewelry chain has links that create a rope-like design with texture. It is very flexible and easily drapes around the neck. It is a 4-in-1 chain which means each link passes through the others. It is similar to the box chain but the Byzantine links are alternate instead of fixed in the same direction.

Question: How do you weigh gold and determine worth?

Answer: To determine the value, look online for the current price of gold per ounce and multiply by it the number of ounces that will give you an approximate value. There are 31.1 grams in 1 Troy ounce of gold. To get the price per gram you must divide the price of gold per ounce by 31.1.

Question: What are the link differences between Curb Chain, Marine Chain, Popcorn Chain, Crisscross Chain, Omega Chain, and a Singapore Chain?

Answer: The curb chain has interlocked links that are flat. The marine chain is a nautical oval that looks like an anchor chain. The popcorn is extremely lightweight and is a puffy beaded tubular chain. The crisscross chain links cross over each other to form a twisted appearance that sparkles in the light. An omega chain is made from small, smooth and curved metal plates that are formed into a rounded necklace that is snake-like flexible. A Singapore chain are links in a series of flat, curvy links with diamond cuts similar to a rope chain.

© 2012 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 23, 2020:

Jake, it's probably DIY difficult to try to make the chain shortened. It would be best to take the wheat chain to a jeweler so they can get it shorter.

Jake Basmadjian on July 23, 2020:

I would like to shorten my wheat chain but am not sure how. Can you help me?

Nicky on July 12, 2020:

Hello- I think i can stump you!! i just bought a choker chain that is very unique. i have never seen this type link before. It's a 4-sided boxy design with long open triangular cut-outs but rectangular in shape as a whole. Each link is about the size of a grain of rice and each link has a tight coil inside of it. I can send a photo.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 12, 2019:

Trish Barber, you can send an image plus a question via email and then I can respond on the comment post.

trish barber on December 12, 2019:

maybe i missed this info...but is there a way i can post photos on here to ask questions about?

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on June 11, 2019:

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

RupertTheDog on June 11, 2019:

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!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 20, 2019:

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

VALERIE on May 20, 2019:

I prefer the snake, it looks sleek and sturdy.

I really enjoyed seeing all the different types

of chains.

Thank You

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 01, 2018:

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!

Fabian on October 31, 2018:

I prefer the franco

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 22, 2012:

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

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 22, 2012:

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

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 11, 2012:

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! :)

Dianna Mendez on August 10, 2012:

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.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 08, 2012:

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 from UK on August 08, 2012:

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

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 07, 2012:

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

Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 07, 2012:

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

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 07, 2012:

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 on August 07, 2012:

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

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 07, 2012:

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!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 06, 2012:

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 from Central Texas on August 06, 2012:

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 on August 06, 2012:

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.