How-To Guide for Selecting the Perfect Chain for Your Pendant Necklace

February 13, 2017 2 Comments

How-To Guide for Selecting the Perfect Chain for Your Pendant Necklace

Sterling silver and 14k gold necklace chains are available in an assortment of styles. When selecting a chain for your pendant necklace, you'll want to consider not only the link design, but also the overall length, mm thickness, clasp type, and method of fabrication. We've put together this handy guide of the most popular chain styles for pendant necklaces to help you find your perfect match

Chain Designs
Ball/Bead Chains A "ball" or "bead" chain consists of uniformly sized, interconnected spherical links rather than open links. Ball chains are commonly used for dog-tag style necklaces, although the use of smaller sized beads can be used to create a feminine look. Due to the way the individual spheres are connected, they are able to smoothly swivel helping to prevent kinks from forming in the chain. Ball chain necklaces typically have a simple connector as an easy snap-on fastener. This style of chain is commonly used for longer length necklaces that can be slipped on and off over your head without unfastening the connector.

Forever in my Heart Necklace Ball Chain

Bar & Link Chains -  Bar & link chains are created from a patterned series of straight or curved bar shape links connected by small circular or oval shape links. This type of chain is visually intriguing due to its uncommon design. While bar & link chains have immense visual interest, they are a bit less sturdy than other styles of chain. The connecting links are quite small compared to the bars which makes them subject to stress. It is best to wear a light weight pendant with this style of chain. 

Let All You Do Be Done In Love Necklace Bar Chain

Box Chains -  A box chain consists of uniform, three dimensional, six-sided, box shape links arranged to create a classic, smooth, four-sided chain. Box chains are created by rolling sterling silver or 14k gold wire until it forms a flat surface.The wire is then folded into square links. Box chains are prized for their sleek geometric simplicity and sturdy strength making them ideal chains for highlighting the beauty of a pendant.

Love Never Fails Necklace Box Chain

Cable Chains -  Cable chains are one of the most popular of all chain styles. Cable chains are created from equally sized interlocking oval or round links that connect at 90 degrees from one to the next. Cable chains resemble miniature versions of the classic design used for anchor chains found aboard ships.

Angled Cross Necklace Cable Chain

Curb Chains - Curb chains are comprised of a series of either oval or round, uniformly sized, curved interconnected links that are twisted so they lay flat on any surface. Many curb chains have slightly beveled edges which helps to catch the light. Curb chains are a particularly popular style of chain for men's necklaces.

In Christ Alone Necklace Curb Chain

Rolo Chains - Sometimes referred to as a belcher chain, a rolo chain is comprised of interlocking circular or oval shape symmetrical links. This style of chain is similar to the cable chain, but is slightly more complex as the links can alternate in size. Rolo chains usually consist of links that are smaller in length and have thicker circumference than a traditional cable chain.

Her Children Arise and Call Her Blessed Necklace Rolo Chain

Rope Chains -  As the name implies, rope chains are created by weaving together multiple rows of links that are twisted or looped together in a pattern that resembles the traditional spiral appearance of a rope. 

 Hope Anchor Necklace Rope Chain

Saturn Chains -Saturn chains are created from small round links that are interspersed with tiny beads equally spaced throughout the length of the chain. Saturn chains add a visually engaging touch of texture to your necklace.

Where there is love there is faith necklace saturn chain

Snake Chains -  Sometimes known as Brazilian chains, a snake chain is comprised of tightly linked wavy plates, resulting in a smooth, round look with a subtle zigzag pattern. The links are joined to create a continual flexible tube that has an elegant, slinky, snake-like movement. Snake chains are comparatively easy to clean as the chain has a virtually closed surface profile.

BB Becker Love Corinthians Necklace Snake Chain

Chain Lengths - Necklace length, as well as the style, is largely a matter of personal taste. Take into consideration your body frame, height, and the neckline of your outfit when selecting a chain length. Consider combining multiple chains of varying lengths to create a layered look. The average adult woman’s neck circumference measures between 14 and 15 inches. The measurements below show how standard chain lengths typically lie around the neck. If your neck circumference measurement is significantly different than 14-15 inches, you will want to add or subtract length to get the necklace chain to fall as you desire.

14 in. = choker length necklaces sit snugly around the middle of the neck. Choker necklaces work well with either boat-neck or off-the-shoulder designs and are frequently created using satin or velvet ribbon.
16 in. = collar length necklaces sit on the hollow of the base of your neck, just above collarbone. This length emphasizes the neckline and is most flattering for those with a slim to medium build.
18 in. = princess length necklaces sit along the collarbone. This is the most common necklace length for women and a popular choice for adding pendants which will hang over a crew neck. For those with broad shoulders or a full neck the princess length necklace will fit like a collar.
24 in. = matinee length necklaces sit mid-sternum. This is a more dramatic length.
30-36 in. = opera length necklaces hang below the bust and are typically reserved for beaded or pearl necklaces. Opera length necklaces can be worn long or wrapped around twice to form a double strand necklace.

Necklace Length Guide

The average man has a 16 inch neck circumference. Necklaces for men are usually found in lengths ranging from 18–24 inches with 20 inches being the most common length. In general, an 18 inch length necklace sits at the base of a man's neck. A 20 inch length sits at the collarbone and a 22 inch length sits slightly below the collarbone. A 24 inch length necklace sits just above the sternum. Again, remember that if your neck circumference measurement is significantly different than 16 inches, you will want to add or subtract length to get the necklace to fall as you desire.

Chain Thickness - Chain thickness is measured in mm. You likely want to be able to maintain a certain aesthetic that draws attention to the beauty of the pendant without having the chain appearing too bulky. At the same time, remember that the higher the mm thickness, the sturdier the chain. The comparison below may help you to visualize common chain thickness.

Dime thickness is 1.35mm 
Penny thickness is 1.55mm 
Quarter thickness is 1.75mm 
Nickel thickness is 1.95mm 

Chain Clasps - Spring and lobster clasps are the two most common types of  self-closing clasps used for chain necklaces. As the name implies a spring clasp is a round ring that opens and closes with a spring. These clasps can be a bit more difficult to open, so may people prefer a lobster clasp. A lobster clasp has an elongated oval shape base with a carabineer-type closure which makes it sturdier and less prone to damage.

Methods of Fabrication - Be sure to purchase a chain that has been crafted from individually soldered links. Soldering closes the individual links so that gaps cannot form. Soldered link chains provide additional strength that helps prevent breakage. 

Care and Cleaning of Sterling Silver and 14k Gold Chains -Click or tap here for further information and tips on how to clean and care for sterling silver and 14k gold jewelry.

Please feel free to use our contact page or give us a call directly at (757)603-8304 or or toll-free at (877)215-9172 should you have any questions that we might be able to help answer for you. Ready to find your new favorite necklace? We welcome you to stop by to visit & explore our collection of faith-based, inspirational necklaces proudly handcrafted in the U.S.A.

Peace & Blessings,

Rhett & Deborah @ Clothed with Truth


2 Responses


August 28, 2020

Hi Pamela, Thanks so much for reaching out to us with your question. Depending upon the style of chain that you prefer (box, snake, rolo etc.), a 1mm thickness could work well. 1mm would be the minimum width that I would not recommend for any chain style. Often, you’ll be able to find chains that are a bit wider (1.5mm/1.8mm) which will help to provide a bit more sturdiness (and peace of mind) without sacrificing the look that you would like for your diamond pendant. I hope this helps to answer your question as you consider your options :) Wishing you a joyful day! Kind Regards, Deborah @ Clothed with Truth


August 27, 2020

Appreciate the info but my question is what thickness chain do I need for a very small, 10 ct diamond, in a simple setting? Is 1mm enough or do I need to go thicker? Thank you.

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