What Are The Different Styles Of Gold Chains?
Gold chain necklaces are one of the most timeless pieces of jewelry in history. The first gold chains date back to 2500 B.C., when Ancient Egyptians hammered out sheets of gold and silver, rolled them into wire, and threaded them together as links.
Through Ancient Greece, into the Renaissance, and beyond—innovators made changes in design and created new types of chains and styles. Even Leonardo DaVinci made sketches of the first steel chain.
In the 1960s, the modern gold chain necklace first became popular, in layered styles and with medallions worn by musicians like Jimi Hendrix. In the 70s and 80s, hip-hop became the leading movement affecting the development of chain styles and popularity. These stylistic changes caused chains to remain relevant in every subsequent decade, through the 90s and 2000s and into today.
Today, many modern gold chain link styles exist, and figuring out the differences in their designs and qualities gets complicated. We’ve put together a guide on 10 of the hottest modern chains today.
Here are 10 of the most popular gold chain types. At ItsHot, we offer all of these chains with customization/personalization options. Below are some of our 14k gold chain styles and names. Choose your chain length, color of gold, and even customize diamond color.
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Hip Hop Chains
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Hip-hop Chains have been the main driving force in making gold chains a part of mainstream fashion. When rapper Kurtis Blow became the first hip-hop artist to have a record certified gold, he celebrated it by wearing gold chains on the cover. Into the 80s, hip-hop moved towards larger statement chains featuring chunky styles and bold links. They’re often iced-out in diamonds or feature custom pendants.
Gold Rosaries, Jesus Pieces
The Notorious B.I.G. is one of the first of many rappers who wear gold chains with religious imagery. Rosaries are one of the most popular modern hip-hop chains, with new men’s styles like black gold and black diamonds adding a new spin. Black gold is often rhodium-plated, adding durability to the chain.
Hip-hop jewelry puts an emphasis on bling, and there’s nothing flashier than adding diamonds to a gold chain. White gold diamond chains provide a lot of luster, and their durability makes them long-lasting in terms of both style and condition.
Bead Dog Tag Chains
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The term "dog tag" was first coined by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1936. Identification tags first appeared during the Civil War as a means to identify soldiers when they died, and they became an official military requirement in 1899.
Military chic has long been an influence on style, and bead dog-tag chains entered mainstream fashion during the 90s with rappers, and are now seeing a resurgence in high-end jewelry due to interest in personalization.
The ball chain that holds the pendant is made of metal spheres rather than open links, which can be either solid or hollow. Opt for soldered solid ball links made from gold or silver because they’re less fragile than hollow ball links.
These chains are versatile and are secured with a lobster clasp. Synonyms for the ball chain are the bead chain and pelline chain.These chains are best paired with other chains or jewelry rather than a solitary statement piece.
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Box chains have as many names as they have uses. They’re also known as the briolette chain, square link chain book chain, and Venetian chain. They’re a geometric chain known for their simplicity, which gives them incredible versatility. The form of the chain is made of flat-rolled plates that form square, cubic links.
This design makes them very sturdy, despite having a sleek, smooth and refined appearance. Lighter than other chains, they’re one of the most affordable luxury chain basics. They’re available in a variety of widths, and some have adjustable clasps.
The best choices for metals for these chains are gold (available in yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold), sterling silver, and platinum. Look for solid gold box chains around 1.5MM thick or greater for the best durability and low maintenance care.
Cable Link Chains
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Cable chains are one of the most basic gold necklace chain styles. They’ve been around for millennia and have had many different functions, both practical and in jewelry. Cable link chain design features a row of identical oval links that interconnect, making them both functional and aesthetic.
Cable link chains are known to last; they’re durable for their width and if a link does break, they’re simple to fix. There are many varieties of cable link chains, some featuring textures on the links and others are flattened instead of round. Other cable link chains have two strands of chains, a popular women’s style.
Cuban link chains
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The Cuban link chain supposedly got its name due to its popularity with Miami Cubans during the early 2000s, however it quickly became a hip-hop staple in urban places around the world. Popular in L.A. and New York City, even Parisian youth in France wear Cuban link chains as part of their streetwear chic. Worn on city streets and stadium stages alike, the Cuban link chain is one of the most popular varieties of chains with athletes and rappers. It’s also one of the most durable chain necklaces.
One of the most popular modern chain designs, the Cuban link chain is a variety of curb link chain that has oval links added in which give it a more decorative, twisted rope pattern, modeled after Italian craftsmanship. It’s a very durable chain that works well as both a statement piece, and a more subtle piece (in thinner widths and shorter lengths).
Men’s and women’s Cuban link chains are popular; Kim Kardashian shops our inventory and is fond of Cuban link chains, and both Kanye West and daughter North West wear iced-out Cuban link chains, making this style trend a family favorite. If you want a necklace that will stand out and be instantly recognizable, look no further than the Cuban link chain.
Curb Link Chains
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The curb chain is the broader category of gold chain link types that includes the Miami Cuban link chain. Also called a gourmette chain, it is a variation of cable chain that has uniformly sized oval or circular links that are twisted, often in a diamond cut, to lie flat when placed on a surface. They are popular as thin chains (1mm) as well as chunkier statement chains (8MM)
While the Miami Cuban link chain is the most popular variety of curb link chains, other curb link chain styles remain popular because they can diversify your outfit with different textures. Celebrities often layer a Miami Cuban link chain with a thinner curb link chain. Their links are independently soldered together, so they’re durable and resilient, making them great for daily wear.
Fancy link chains
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Fancy chain necklaces come in a variety of gold chain link styles, but the one design element in common is that they’re a decorative version of a classic chain type. Unique link designs such as unusual textures, heart-shaped or barbwire links, extra dangling chains, and atypical link patterns can all be characteristics of a fancy link chain.
Fancy link chains are highly personalized, so they often get a lot of attention from rappers. Examples include Flavor Flav’s spring link chain and Slick Rick’s gigantic fancy charm chains.
Fancy chains can range in durability. To find the strongest fancy link chains, look for thicker links with independently soldered parts, which makes chain links less likely to come apart.
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The gold figaro chain is a classic piece of jewelry originally from Italy. It’s a simple chain, but has a suave and elegant design that’s best created by an expert craftsman. Typically the chain pattern is one long link followed by several shorter links which are flattened at the twist. It’s named after the Italian Opera The Barber of Seville, or Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.
The figaro chain is popular with men and women, and works just as well with t-shirts as it does more formal styles. One of the strongest chains, figaro chain links are usually soldered individually, making them resistant to pulls and tugging. They’re strong enough gold chains to support heavy pendants.
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The Franco chain is another Italian chain, named after its designer. Franco chains are based on the traditional curb pattern links but consist of a thicker pattern of tightly-woven v-shaped (or chevron) links. These chains have a thick yet smooth appearance, and are often dense and heavy for their size.
Like Franco chains, Foxtail Chains have v-shaped links, but Foxtail chains have chevrons on all four sides while Franco chains only have the v-links on two of the four sides. This means that you can wear it in two styles, almost like a reversible chain, choosing between showing the chevron side or the curb link side.
The tightly knit chevron links make Franco chains strong and durable, and great for heavy pendants. The flexibility of the Franco chain doesn’t get tangled, either, giving you many options for different pendants and layering choices.
The classic chain associated with hip-hop, rope chains (or “dookie chains”) became popular in the late 70s and 80s due to the growth of rap’s success and the popularity of MTV raps. Wearing a gold rope chain serves as a connection to hip-hop’s earliest roots.
One of the best emcees of all time, Rakim, is considered by some the first to put gold medallions on his rope chains. The twisting rope pattern on these chains gives rope chains the “bling” look, as it reflects light in a dazzling way
Now, rope chains are one of the most popular chains worn around the world amongst men and women. Women and men can choose from a variety of widths, lengths, and gold colors. Rope chains are a highly textural chain, and can also be some of the heaviest and strongest chain necklaces.n his rope chains. The twisting rope pattern on these chains gives rope chains the “bling” look, as it reflects light in a dazzling way.
A modern rope chain style for women is to wear a locket on it, while medallions on rope chains are back in style for men. If you’re putting a pendant on your rope chain, it’s best to get a solid gold rope chain rather than a hollow gold rope chain.
What To Look For in the Different Styles of Gold Chain
There are many different gold necklace chain styles, and those listed above are just a few of the styles. To get a better idea what kind of gold chain necklace is best for you, look at pictures of the different types of gold chain links, different clasp varieties, and read a comparison chart.
Decide if you want a thick chain or a thin chain; white gold, yellow gold or rose gold; and diamonds or plain gold.
To choose a durable chain, make sure to find well-crafted chains that are solid gold, not gold-plated. Thicker chain links that are soldered are less likely to break. If a chain does break, however, real gold chains are easier to repair than other types because of gold’s malleability.
Choose a chain that’s texture and length go with your desired outfits. Looking at pictures of celebrities wearing gold chains can provide styling examples. Lastly, choose a chain that’s personal and meaningful to you.
Founder of ItsHot.com
Denis Stepansky is a founder of ItsHot, a diamond jewelry and watches store based in NYC. He has been in the jewelry business for about 20 years and owns such high-end jewelry brands as Luccello and Luxurman. As a jewelry expert, he has citations on well-known magazines and newspapers like Insider and Daily Mail.
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