Necklace Chain Primer – Names and Characteristics of Common Chains

I’ve received several questions from customers recently about the confusion related to the names of various chains, so I thought I’d give some basic information and examples of some of the most common chains out there. Like many things, there are lots of variations out there as to what certain groups of people might call certain chains, but this primer will get you started.

The Chain Name Game

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Chains have all kinds of names and some of the names morph, overlap and become hybrids.

Knowing a few main chain names can help you select the perfect chain for your pendant.

A Herringbone chain kind of looks like that herringbone tweed wool jacket you have – you know, sort of like two rows of parallel lines that meet each other at a point.

Here’s the wool.

Here’s the chain.

Herringbone Chain

 

Omega chains are similar to herringbone chains in that they are thick and appear woven.

The segments of an Omega are parallel to each other and run across the width of the necklace. There are round Omegas which are complete circles, dome Omegas which are half circles and flat Omegas which basically a dome Omega that has been flattened. All 3 types look basically the same from the top. Wide Omegas are nice to wear alone as well as with a pendant. All Omega chains hold their shape as a circle or oval, they do not drape like a chain.

Thin Round Omega

Wide Omega

A snake chain is something like a round omega but because of how the segments are put together, a snake chain drapes and moves like a chain….or a snake if you’d rather think of it like that – they are slinky.

 

Snake Chain

A curb chain is what I think of when I think “chain” – it is a series of interconnected links that are twisted so they lay flat. Curb chains range from very fine and elongated to thick and condensed. If you know horse tack and know what a “curb chain” is on a bridle, you are one step closer to having a mental image of what a curb chain is.

Curb Chain on bit for horse's bridle

Heavy Curb Chain Necklace

A fine curb chain with long links is similar to a cable chain – in fact, in some cases, so similar as to be indistinguishable from each other.

Fine, long Curb Chain, also called Cable Chain

A box chain is pretty much what it says. It is shaped like a box. It has four distinct sides making it look almost “mechanical” in style – like something I’ve seen on a piece of farm equipment. A medium to heavy box chain would be a nice choice for a man.

Box Chain

A Rollo chain consists of circular rings that are connected with the next ring at the perpendicular – there are no connecting links between the rings.

Rollo Chain

A Figaro consists of long, oval or teardrop shaped rings that alternate with 3 shorter curb chain links.

Figaro Chain

A Rope chain is made from two strands twisted together in a spiral fashion. Each strand is a series of oval links The thicker the metal used for the links, the more solid and rope-like the chain looks.

Rope Chain

So there you have it. A primer on necklace chains. Remember, any of these chains can be very much thicker or thinner than the examples I’ve used but the basic construction will be the same. Let me know if you have heard some of these chains called by other names.

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4 thoughts on “Necklace Chain Primer – Names and Characteristics of Common Chains

  1. I am trying to find out the name of a necklace. I think it’s called a baralink chain, but i’m not sure if i am pronouncing it right. If someone could help me figure out the name of it i would very appreciate it. Thanks. Sincerely Derrek White

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