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How to Identify Different Necklace Chain Styles

Updated on June 28, 2014

Sterling and gold chain necklaces come in a variety of designs and are popular with both men and women. Chain necklaces are a fashion accessory staple and never seem to go out of style. Necklace chains range from chunky, open links to more sophisticated profiles. But do you really know what sets one apart from another?

Can you tell the difference between a box and rope chain? Don’t feel bad. Most people realize they look different, but aren’t aware of their unique characteristics. Whether you are buying a necklace for yourself or as a gift, it’s helpful to be able to identify different chain styles.


Herringbone, a classic necklace chain style, consists of a sequence of flat, short and parallel links placed in an offset pattern. Herringbone chains usually feature two or more rows of links. This understated chain type lies perfectly flat against the skin and is a suitable choice for casual daywear or a conservative office ensemble.

Thick herringbone necklace.
Thick herringbone necklace. | Source


The bead or ball link style is similar to chains that hold military dog tags. The bead chain features a simple string of silver balls placed closely together. Chain necklaces can be long or short in length and often include decorative pendants. Bead chains vary in size from 2mm to 10mm. A graduated continuous bead chain provides a conservative look that mimics a pearl necklace.

Simple and delicate bead chain necklace
Simple and delicate bead chain necklace | Source
Box chain necklace with pendant.
Box chain necklace with pendant. | Source


Box links resemble a series of wide, square boxes tightly connected to form a chain. Another name for the box chain is mirrored box chain. This chain style imparts a dazzling sparkle when its polished sides catch and reflect light. A box chain link looks great unadorned, but daintier versions work quite nicely with a pendant . This solid chain construction is extremely durable and will provide many years of daily wear.


The rope chain resembles twisted cable. Two or more intertwined oval links comprise this spiral chain type. The rope chain link can be thick or delicate, depending on the size of the oval chain loops. Some rope chains feature a diamond cut that sparkles just like its namesake. Choose a diamond rope chain for a dazzling evening necklace.


The Miami Cuban necklace chain link, also known as Cuban, features sleek lines with close set links that are slightly flattened. Men tend to prefer this heavy, yet elegant necklace style. However, smaller millimeter links soften the look and are equally appropriate for a women’s necklace.


A snake link necklace features a succession of round, curvy metal rings that form a sleek flexible chain. The smooth, shiny and bendable chain appears serpent-like – hence the name. Snake chain link necklaces often come with a slide pendant. Strength and durability make this familiar chain style a perennial favorite for necklaces.

Knotted sterling snake chain necklace.
Knotted sterling snake chain necklace. | Source
Cable chain handcrafted necklace.
Cable chain handcrafted necklace. | Source


The simple design of the cable link necklace appeals to men and women alike. The classic oval rings intersect at 90-degree angles creating the chain. You may be familiar with this link style from chunky ID and charm bracelets. Men prefer the look of heavier weight cable necklaces. Delicate cable link necklaces designed for women can be adorned with a pendant or layered with other chain styles.


Alternating circular and rectangular links make up the Italian Figaro chain link necklace style. This design typically incorporates one long rectangle or oval followed by a series of three small round links. This chain style peaked in popularity during the 1990s, but still has a loyal following.

Weigh In!

Which necklace chain style do you like the best?

See results

© 2012 lindacee

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    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 4 years ago

      I had no idea or perhaps never even thought of chains in that detail. It never occurred to me that they may even have names.

      Thank you so much for sharing this article.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      I knew of the box, snake and herringbone style -- and do so appreciate the education on the rest of the chains. Good and informative Hub. Best/Sis

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Yes, Qudsia and I didn't even have a chance to touch on all of the different styles! So happy you enjoyed reading this Hub! Thanks for commenting!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Angela, there are so many more, but I wanted to keep the Hub to a reasonable length. May have to do a Part 2! Good to hear from you! It is always gratifying to know I've shared info that benefits readers! :) Thanks!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      I believe I had seen all these necklace designs before but didn't know the proper terms for some of them. Thanks for the info. Now I can sound like a necklace expert! hehehe

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Glad I could help, Om! Yes, these are some of the most common necklace chain designs. We instantly recognize them when we see them, but putting a name to them does help!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

      Great information all in one place. I'm the jewelry junkie. Definitely. Thank heaven it's become lucrative to sell it! ha ha ha. Love your hub. -K

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      K, I too am glad it fetches a decent price these days! ;) So pleased you enjoyed the Hub!

    • meloncauli profile image

      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Great hub Linda! There was a couple I didn't know so I learned something!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Meloncauli, thanks for reading -- I even learned how to identify a few that I had heard of, but wasn't sure exactly what they looked like! One of the many benefits of being a Hubaholic! Hope all is well. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hey, Lindacee! I love this hub post. Thanks for the descriptions and style references. I see that many of the readers prefer the herringbone, my favorite. Voted up.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Teaches, so good to hear from you! I prefer herringbone and rope -- they're versatile and beautiful. Thank you for the vote and weighing in with your favorite necklace chain design! :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I didn't realize there were so many necklace chain styles! I prefer the rope style personally, though I like delicate jewelry.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Leah, the rope is a nice design and they come in more delicate weights. Thanks much for reading and commenting!

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