5mm Cuban Chain, Rope Chain: A Guide to Link Types for Men’s Necklaces

Lester Fangonilo - October 19, 2021


5mm Cuban Chain in Gold by Oliver Cabell


Thanks to the sartorial splendor of a number of male celebrities over the past few years, men’s jewelry is currently riding high on a wave of popularity. Indeed, there has been a whole roster of options available for men who want the perfect accessory to make their outfits more striking and amp up their own visual appeal.

Necklaces, in particular, have always been in fashion. In recent years, however, a lot of men have opted to keep things basic yet subtly elegant with plain gold chains that look amazing, particularly when worn with monochromatic outfits. Interestingly, while men know what they want in a chain, they aren’t particularly clued in on the options available to them.

In this case, here’s a short primer on the difference between two of the more popular link types for men’s jewelry chains: the 5mm Cuban chains and rope chains.

First Up: What is a Cuban Link?

One of the most common link types currently available has actually been around for decades. 

Cuban links, named for the Central American nation where they first came into vogue, are considered a wardrobe staple for men and, especially in the Hispanic and Latinx communities, have evolved their own sub-culture. While these are most commonly seen among the Floridian hip-hop crowd, Cuban links have also been worn on some of the most stylish runways in the world's fashion capitals.

5mm Cuban chains are available in two types:

  • El Classico   

The classic Cuban, also known as a Miami Cuban Link, features a chain with interlocking round or oval links. These first appeared on the scene in Miami dance clubs in the '70s and '80s and were worn by fashionable Cuban emigres who relocated to the United States. Their interlocking pattern forms a chain that lies flat on one’s chest.


5mm Cuban Chain in Silver by Oliver Cabell


  • The Sharp Alternative   

While Miami Cubans have a rounded shape to their links, Prong Links are designed to have a sharper, more angular look. These haven't been around for long - in fact, these can trace their origins to the 2010s - and were specifically designed with sharper cuts to form chains with an appealing woven-looking design.

Regardless of which type of link you choose, Cuban links rank highly among the most durable chain designs as the interlocking patterns are expertly crafted and you can be sure that they will last you a long time.

The Thing About Rope Chains

Like Cuban links, rope chains are also considered a great favorite among jewelry aficionados due to their simplicity, their classic look, and overall durability.


2mm Rope Chain in Silver by Oliver Cabell


As the name suggests, rope chains look like hemp ropes or heavy fiber cords. Rather than links, each chain is made up of tightly connected segments that are linked tightly together in bands of two or three. The connected segments form a twisting pattern that makes the finished chain look like a length of rope.

This striking pattern reflects light well from all angles, and this has significantly contributed to the design's appeal as it exudes a luxurious aura because of its lustrous shine and elegant look.

While thicker rope chains are stunning enough to wear on their own as powerful - even manly - statement pieces, thinner versions are the ones most commonly used with pendants in jewelry for both men and women.

Durability is another factor that gives credence to the rope chain's lasting popularity. Thanks to the way these are made, they can be quite strong and even thinner versions won't snap easily even if tugged repeatedly. In fact, some jewelers say that rope chains are made to last more than a wearer's lifetime, which pretty much explains why these are also popular as keepsakes or are passed on from one generation to the next.

It should be noted here, however, that rope chains do stretch over time. However, thicker chains tend to stretch considerably less than their thinner counterparts.

Which Kind of Chain Works Best?

Over the years, gold, silver, and platinum chains of various kinds have been worn as the accessory of choice for many celebrities, but particularly those in the music industry. These may be worn singly or layered one on top of the other to produce a lavish, even ostentatious effect that loudly declares that the wearer is a man of means and power.

However which way you wear them, the important thing to remember is to consider the length and thickness of the chain and whether these suit you.


Cuban + Rope Chain Set in 18k Gold


Key Tips for Cuban Links

Where Cuban links - Miami or Prong - are concerned, 5mm Cuban chains (approximately 0.20 inches) is the most common choice for daily wear. This looks light enough to slide a pendant on - indeed, many people wear them this way - but also has enough heft of its own to stand alone.

However, if you want to be bold and striking with your Cuban links, we recommend gunning for a thickness of between 10 and 20mm. Whether worn as a necklace or a bracelet, these add a luxe touch to your outfit in keeping with the Cuban link’s image as a status symbol that reflects one’s wealth, success, and standing in society.

It is also interesting to note that it is rare to find Cuban links made with materials other than gold. Many collectors have noted that this makes them more valuable over time and, in many Latinx families, these are considered heirlooms.


Compass and Cross Set Pendant Necklace in 18k Gold


Key Tips for Rope Chains

When it comes to rope chains, on the other hand, take note that thinner doesn’t exactly mean better in terms of durability. 

For the most part, people purchase rope chains with a thickness of 1 to 1.5mm as a chain to wear with pendants. In the case of women’s jewelry, chains this thin work beautifully with dainty, delicate pendants or charms. 

However, despite the famed durability of the classic rope chain, many mass-produced ropes of that thickness tend to snap, so you’d better consider buying from a reputable jeweler as opposed to a department store bargain buy - you may spend a little more, but at least you’ll be assured of its durability.

Also, keep in mind that, regardless of thickness, rope chains are tricky to repair unless you’re an expert. In case your chain snaps, don’t bother trying to fix it yourself and get it to your jeweler ASAP.