Chains are perhaps the most common piece of jewelry. They come in all lengths and sizes, and a darn good chain can make you feel sexy! I mean, think about it: the right weight, that gentle rolling feel on your skin, hits juuuust at the right place on your collarbone… Don’t get jealous, men! You, too, can wear a chain and look good!

I’ve had people ask me every question imaginable regarding chains: what kind is “good,” what looks the best with a particular pendant, what metal to get, how to untangle them, what to do if they break, can they be repaired if they break, what kind of clasp works best, et cetera, et cetera. The list is long, long, long. So, let’s break it down.


Common Types of Chains



These are just a few examples of the many types of chains! Some other common chain styles you may come across are omega, wire, curb and fox tail.


What Chains are “Best”


Personally, I tend to like single-link style chains, which are available in variations of the chain styles cable, rolo, curb (or cuban), anchor and figaro. I like them because they are stylish, universal in use, usually strong, easy to repair, and you can easily tell when they are getting worn out. But the best general advice I can give is not to buy a hollow chain or anything that is super thin. Any chain with a circumference or link width less than .65mm thick is very, very thin and is not going to last you long. Spend the money on something thicker. It’s worth it.


Tip: Worn-out chains will begin to look stretched or elongated. You may also notice the ends of links beginning to thin.


How to Pick the Best Chain for a Pendant


First, if you can, bring the pendant with you to the store. This is super helpful in deciding what kind of chain you want. Not every chain is going to fit through the bail, or opening, and not every chain will match the style of your pendant. So having it with you when you buy the chain is key.

Picking the right chain can be tricky! Luckily there’s plenty to choose from and the mix-n-match layered style is really popular right now! You may just have to get more than one. *wink*

You will also want to consider how the chain is going to be worn. Will you sleep, shower, eat, and live in this new chain? Take it for walks, perhaps?! Or will you never speak to it and leave it in your dresser most of the time, only taking it out for a special occasions? If you are planning on living in this new chain, be it silver, gold, or platinum, you will definitely want to get something that is not super thin. It can still be on the delicate side, but I would suggest that the chain be at least 1.25mm or more in circumference or link width to prolong breakage and wear. Also, try to pay attention to the actual thickness of the metal that makes up the links and be sure to ask your jeweler if its thick enough for everyday wear.

Then it’s a matter of what looks good with your pendant and on you. Only you get to choose this, of course, so try everything on and see which one you like, just like buying new clothes. Ask yourself these kinds of questions as you try them out: Is the chain proportionate to my necklace? Does the chain sit right on my neck? Is the length right for me? Does pendant hang nicely from the chain? And so on.

The only other thing to really consider is the type of metal you choose. If there is already metal on the pendant, you might want to match it, but if not, well…what metal would you like? There is no right or wrong answer to this! If you like yellow gold, it looks good, and your budget allows it, then go for it! If you like silver, that’s great, too!


Chain Repair


Chain repairs are normally easy. Just bring ’em over to your jeweler and have them fixed! If the chain isn’t super thin or complicated to put back together (Rope chains? Ugh!), you should not be able to see where the break was, or at least, the spot should be quite small and hard to see. Your jeweler will remove any links that are damaged beyond repair and solder the chain back together. He or she should also check the chain to see if they can spot any additional weak points.

A jeweler repairs a chain, soldering the broken link back together using solder and a torch.

Pricing for chain repairs will depend on the size of the chain, complexity of putting the chain back together, and the type of metal. For instance, a break on a thin silver cable chain should cost around $15 to fix, give or take a little. However, a complex break on a gold omega, for example, could cost upwards of $60. But usually it is more cost-effective to have a chain repaired than to buy a new one, especially if the chain is gold or platinum.


When to Get a New Chain


Like your favorite T-shirt, your chain, too, may have seen better days. A chain in need of replacement will have telltale signs of wear. As I mentioned before, check the chain to see if it looks pulled, stretched, or like the links are thinning at connection points. This is usually a sign that your chain is shot, or at least on its way there. If you do have a chain repaired once or twice, make sure to keep an eye on it. When one link goes, its possible there could be more that are weakening. When these things occur, it may be time to retire your current chain.


Chain Clasps


A lobster claw style clasp offers great security and is easy to open and close.

There are many different styles of chain clasps. Some of the most common types are spring rings, lobster claws/clasps (aka crab claws/clasps), toggles, S-hooks, and pearl clasps. For a chain, my favorites are lobster claws and S-hooks. I like them because they often address the two biggest concerns people have about wearing chains: security and ease of getting the clasp open.

Lobster claws come in all sizes so they work great whether a chain is huge or tiny. They’re sturdy enough to withstand daily wear and are pretty easy to open, making them a great choice if you usually find it hard to put a chain on.

S-hook style clasp.

S-hooks are not for every chain (they do not work well with lightweight chains) but are great for someone who has a lot of trouble getting a chain on or off. There are no mechanisms to maneuver, you just hook the S into the opposite loop, and voila! It’s secure! I recommend S-hooks be used with slightly heavier chains or with a slightly heavier pendant as the hook needs the weight of the piece to help secure them.


Chain Care


Make sure to have your chain cleaned on occasion, especially if it’s one that you wear all the time. Wearing a chain in the shower does not count, unfortunately, so a trip to the jewelers for a quick plunge in their ultrasonic is recommended about twice a year for an everyday chain. Chains that are only worn only on occasion can be cleaned at your discretion, of course.


Hopefully that covers all your chain questions, but if not, feel free to send us an email!



Jess the Jeweler


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