Types of Women's Necklace Chains
Lester Fangonilo - November 22, 2021
Aside from rings, necklaces rank among the most commonly worn pieces of jewelry among women. There is just something so classic - and classy - about necklaces: they are timeless yet surprisingly au courant. They can be as simple as a thin chain with a pendant or as opulent as a magnificently heavy chain adorned with precious gems.
But before you pick up your pocketbook and head out to do some jewelry shopping, it’s best to know what sort of women’s necklace chains are currently available among jewelers and ateliers. There are actually several kinds of women’s necklace chains to choose from, and sometimes it isn’t so much a question of cost as it is one’s personality and personal aesthetic.
In this feature, we talk about some of the more common types of women’s necklace chains, how these are used, and what makes them stand out.
Types of Women’s Necklace Chains
The Rope Chain
The most common type of chain available is the rope chain, also known as the standard cable chain.
These are so-called because each one is made up of tightly connected segments linked tightly together in bands of two or three. Then, these segments are twisted together into a pattern that makes the finished chain look like a length of rope.
Rope chains have earned quite a following among both men and women because of their striking appearance: the thicker ones, in particular, are quite eye-catching. Their unique pattern catches and reflects light well, making them stunning at any angle.
While men prefer to wear ropes with bigger links and are considerably thicker and chunkier, women prefer thinner chains with a more delicate appearance. For women’s jewelry, rope chains are normally threaded with conventional-sized pendants.
The Wheat Chain
If you want something simple yet striking, then the wheat chain is probably the best choice for you.
A variation on the rope chain, this type of chain is characterized by its tear-shaped links which are reminiscent of the individual pods on a wheat stem. The chain itself is made by twisting four strands of these links towards a single direction, to create a look reminiscent of a full stalk of wheat.
While the wheat chain ranks among the most durable and the most aesthetically appealing of women’s necklace chains, the downside is that it is somewhat stiff and rigid, lacking flexibility.
The Figaro Chain
Streamlined, elegant, and considered one of the earliest forms of gender-neutral jewelry, the Figaro chain has quite a history, one that dates back to the glory days of opera in the 19th century.
As its name suggests, the Figaro women’s necklace chain was first crafted in Italy, particularly by goldsmiths plying their trade in Florence and Milan. One of the more elegant types of women’s necklace chains, the unique design of the Figaro is said to have been inspired by the operas of the legendary composer Gioachino Rossini.
However, it has never been established whether the chain is an homage to The Barber of Seville or The Marriage of Figaro, as both operas have characters with the same name.
What makes the Figaro chain stand out among other types of women’s necklace chains is the way it is constructed. The chain’s pattern involves two or three short circular links, followed by a larger oval loop link. These links are attached together to create a streamlined look that easily lies flat on the wearer's body.
While more popular among men, thinner versions of the Figaro also appeal to women, particularly if used to carry small medallion-style or cross pendants or, particularly among those fortunate enough to inherit such precious items, small reliquaries or Victorian-era memento mori.
The Gucci Link
While the infamous House of Gucci is best known for sophisticated malletierie [bags and luggage], this Italian maison also refers to a type of women’s necklace chain with a nautical backstory.
Also known as an anchor link, the Gucci is preferred by those who like a no-nonsense sort of chain that does not tangle easily or gets inconveniently caught in one’s hair. WhGucci bags’ straps orile the name is taken from the way the chain was - and is - used to augment the straps of Gucci bags or to serve as aesthetic embellishment, its other name calls to mind how it looks like the chains used for ship anchors.
For a Gucci link, the individual links in the chain are oval-shaped with a bar in the middle. These are then interlocked and the bars prevent tangling even if the chains are dropped into a pile. This highly durable design is most commonly worn with delicate pendants.
The Elongated Link Chain
While based on your convention round link chain, this elegant piece consists of elongated links instead of round ones. As a result, the link chain necklace appears attractive, light, and casual.
The Herringbone Chain
The herringbone chain, also called the flat gold chain, is a sophisticated and elegant piece of necklace design that originated in ancient Egypt. The chain is flat and composed of parallel slanted chain links. The herringbone chain is the right necklace chain to wear if you want to look sleek and modern.
The Snake Chain
Also known as the serpentine, the snake chain is so called because its appearance calls to mind the vivid pattern of scales on a snake’s back.
The standard construction of the snake chain features a tightly-arranged pattern of tiny links with either a round or square cross-section. The end result is visually striking yet surprisingly delicate, but it also has the reputation of being one of the most durable and very resistant to breakage from tugging or pulling.
The Byzantine Chain
Two words: statement piece. The striking look of the Byzantine chain sets it apart from other types of chains for women’s necklaces because it can actually be worn on its own sans any other embellishments. It is also one of the oldest types of jewelry in the world as the design is said to date back to the time of the Etruscans - hence its other name: the Etruscan link.
More intricate than other chains for women’s necklaces, the Byzantine chain features a set of interlocking square links arranged facing opposite directions in a regular pattern, constructed similarly to the box chain. But while the link-blocks in the former point in a single direction, the ones in the Byzantine alternately face in opposite directions. Thus, the Byzantine is also referred to as a four-in-one chain as individual links pass through four others.
The Rolo Chain
A great favorite among jewelers, this popular chain type is characterized by broad interlocking links in the shape of the letter D.
Looking for Casual Women’s Jewelry? Consider Oliver Cabell
While Oliver Cabell is a brand best known for its exquisitely crafted Italian leather sneakers, it has since expanded its product line to include gorgeous pieces of jewelry for adding just the right amount of je ne sais quoi to even the most casual outfits.Check out its selection of well-crafted women’s pieces today.