Necklace Chain Styles and Types

Jewelry is a highly personal choice, with jewelry items often holding sentimental memories or bringing more personality to what you're wearing. There are many things to keep in mind if you're looking to buy a necklace chain.

Not all are created equal, so let's explore the different styles, metals, types, and features of necklace chains (also known as neck chains) to keep an eye out for.

Types of Neck Chain

Necklace chains have different styles. From link size to width to clasps, each will add a different style to your jewelry, and here are 10 of the most popular types of chains to choose from.


Box chains are rectangular, with square links that connect together to look like a box. They have a very smooth look, making the chain look like it has a continuous design. Box chains are durable and stable, coming in different sizes and widths based on preferences. They're easy to fix, and you can remove links without impacting the continuous design.


A quick fix, not known for longevity.

Ball chains are made of tiny beads on a chain that are linked together. They can be close together or farther apart, with metal bars attaching them to the chain. These aren't very popular because they're not robust or easy to fix. However, ball chains tend to be less expensive for those on a budget.


Not for the subtle.

Curb chains look similar to mariner chains, with uniform interlocking metal links that are round or oval. They lay flat against the chest when in use. The traditional design is chunky and heavy in appearance, though there are more delicate styles on the market. Curb chains are sturdy, durable, and easy to fix in case they break.


This style is better inspected in person before purchase.

Cable chains have a dark history, made to mimic the iron chains that are sometimes used to contain prisoners. They use uniform oval links to connect together and are a very classic style for necklace chains. Cable chains are durable as long as the links are welded individually. However, if they aren't made well, they can quickly become broken or distorted.


Stylish without being loud.

Figaro chains hail from Italy, but they're famous worldwide. The links are different sizes and shapes, but because of that, they can be more difficult to fix without disrupting the design. The chain lies flat to the chest and is gender-neutral, making it an excellent fit for both men and women. Figaro chains are a solid and durable choice for a necklace chain.


Mariner chains feature interlocking ovals and a bar across the middle, making them a sturdy chain for daily use. They have nautical roots, meant to mimic the chains that attach anchors to boats. Mariner chains come in different widths, sizes, and depths and are easy to repair if they break.


Rollo chains are delicate, featuring small round, interlocking rings. Each link rotates 180 degrees for a unique look. They look almost like a cable chain, but the shapes of the rings are different. Rollo chains are strong and easy to repair.


This style relies on the natural flexibility of the material.

Rope chains are ubiquitous necklace chains, thanks to their unique appearance. The metal is twisted to look like a rope. Unlike other chains, rope chains have a textured look and feel, regardless of the size. Rope chains are durable and strong, though fixable if they break.


A durable and tight chain, without big gaps in between the links.

Snake chains are similar to box chains, but they're more rounded. They get their name from the way they move, almost like a snake. Snake chains are highly flexible chains thanks to the small bands, rings, or plates that connect for the continuous, sleek design. They have a smooth texture, and the tight connections make this necklace hard to break.


Wheat chains look like braided wheat. They are similar to rope chains, though they are less twisted and textured. The oval links twist together for a tight, uniform pattern. They are less flexible than other necklace chains and hard to fix. Because of their rigidity, wheat chains may not be the best choice for daily wear.

Types of Metal

You have your pick between metals when choosing your necklace chain.


An excellent choice if you prize durability.

Platinum is a durable metal that looks almost like white gold or silver. It's very hard, so it isn't easy to scratch. It's a denser metal, heavier than silver and gold. Because of that, platinum is more expensive.


Gold is a popular metal used in jewelry, and you can pick between yellow, rose, and white gold. Gold chains vary in price based on the karats. The higher the karat, the more valuable the chain. However, it also becomes more malleable. Typically, you'll want to select 14k or 18k for your gold chain.


Sterling silver is a great middle-ground when you're looking for a necklace chain. It's durable, cost-efficient, and beautiful, complementing all different types of jewelry. Silver is hypoallergenic too, so those with sensitive skin may be able to wear silver more than other metals. Silver can tarnish over time, so you'll need to clean and polish it for it to retain its shine.


A great choice in day-to-day use when showing off status isn't the goal.

The cheapest metal on this list, titanium is lightweight and inexpensive. It's very durable and does not scratch easily. It looks like dark silver, but it does not need special care, unlike sterling silver. It is an efficient metal for jewelry if you do not care about the social status that other metals such as gold and platinum might bring.


Consider the length, width, and clasp when buying a necklace chain. Longer necklaces feel loser on the neck, while wider necklaces can feel heavier.

The clasp impacts how secure the necklace will feel on your neck, so the more expensive the chain, the sturdier you want the clasp to be. You may not be able to choose the clasp if you are buying a pre-made necklace, but jewelers can provide recommendations about what's best based on what type of adornment you're putting on the chain.

The best way to choose a necklace chain is to see them in person. You'll be able to experience the weight on your skin, the contrast against your skin, and so much more.

Posted by Melissa Jackson

Melissa is passionate about all things home and garden, helping others to fashion their dream home one space at a time. An avid reader, when she’s not writing, you can find her nose deep in a book, cuddling with her two dogs.