A Chain Thickness Guide For Men: Photos and Examples

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In previous guides, we’ve chatted about chain length. So in this one, we want to provide a guide to the perfect chain thickness for you and your personal style.

When purchasing a chain, in addition to link style and length, you’ll also want to consider its density. In this article, we’ll help you figure out what size range is right for you and the style you’re going for.

Choosing the right necklace isn’t always easy, and choosing one thickness over another can alter your entire look, so you want to make sure you choose wisely!

closeup of chain necklaces in white and yellow gold some with diamonds

It can also affect the appropriateness of your outfit. While anyone can get away with thinner chains, the thicker you go, the harder it is to pull off with smart casual outfits or work attire that needs to be office appropriate. 

So let’s go over your chain size possibilities, and get this right!

GLD Jewelry
Shout out to our friends at GLD who provided us with a selection of chains to photograph for this article. If you're looking for a gold necklace, any size mm or length, in gold vermeil or solid gold, GLD has it!
Browse GLD

What are the most common chain thicknesses?

First off, when we say “chain thickness”, we’re talking about how wide the necklace links are, measured side to side in millimeters (mm).

The most widely-available chains I’ve seen have thicknesses anywhere from 1-2mm. I’d consider these your “standard sized” chains that can easily be worn with both casual and formal outfits.

If you’re going formal, you’d of course keep your chain underneath your shirt. If your outfit is more casual, it may go on the outside of your shirt, depending on how long your chain is.

You can also easily find chains in the 3-6mm widths. The price increases the thicker your chain is (more metal = more money), whether you’re going for a solid gold chain or another gold alternative.

Chains that are 7mm and above are not as common, but of course, you can still find them if you know where to look. And if you want to try out different chain thicknesses and lengths in gold vermeil before graduating to solid gold, you could start with our friends at GLD who have a solid selection.

split screen shot of mulitple gold chains of different thicknesses

You can see in the image above the wide variety of chain thicknesses, or widths, we were able to photograph. Those range from 3mm to 12mm.

So to summarize, the most common chains range anywhere from 1mm to 8mm, with the 1-2mm widths being the most widely available… and 6mm probably being the easiest to wear without going into the hip hop / rapper realm.

The 2mm chain is comparable to the thickness of your headphone wire, while the 6mm chain is comparable to the thickness of a pencil. 

What is the right men’s chain thickness?

First off, there is no “right” or “wrong” size when it comes to men’s necklaces. It just depends on the look you’re trying to achieve, how you plan on wearing it, and frankly, how confident you are.

The 1mm to 6mm range can be worn over or under your shirt. For smaller chains, I like to wear them underneath my shirt, or if I’m wearing a casual button-up shirt with the top 2 or 3 buttons undone, then it doesn’t matter either way.

Typically, if you’re wearing a chain thicker than 6mm, you’re wearing it over your T-shirt. Keep in mind that anything over 6mm goes into “statement piece” territory and is definitely eye-catching.

comparison of chain thicknesses on quarter

Check out this image where we compare chains of different thicknesses against a quarter. Hopefully this helps illustrate the size differences. Simply reading the size in millimeters isn’t always easy to imagine.

What chain thickness should I choose?

It depends on what you’re trying to achieve!

For a more versatile look that works with casual and business casual outfits, stick with the sub-6mm pieces. The larger you go, the more casual your outfit needs to be.

Imagine wearing a suit and tie with a 12mm chain. That size necklace would visually compete with your polished outfit! And I suppose you could wear it underneath your dress shirt… but then, what’s the point of that? 

You may also want to choose your chain’s thickness and length based on your build.

If you’re going for a classic look, slimmer guys should go for a chain thickness of between 1mm to 3mm. Broader gents can go a bit bigger, between 2-6mm.

For more details on this, check out our guide to different chain lengths, and this article about necklace sizes.

Is 3mm thick for a chain?

No, 3mm isn’t too thick, unless you’re going for an extra delicate and understated look.

3-4mm chains fall into that “happy medium” range of chain thicknesses. It can be worn over or under your shirt, and you can attach a small pendant or cross to it. 

closeup of man wearing chain necklaces of different thicknesses
For reference, the model (me) is 5’9″ and wears a size M in tops and 40 in suit jackets.

To give you an idea of what different chain thicknesses look like on the neck, take a look at the image above. The longest one is 3mm, the middle one is 6mm, and the shortest chain is also the thickest, at 12mm.

What’s a good men’s chain thickness for a pendant?

It depends on how big the pendant is. You want the visual weight of your chain to match the visual weight of the pendant.

A few rules of thumb:

  • For the smallest pendants (around 0.5″ at its widest point), your chain can be as thin as 1mm.
  • If your pendant is the size of a quarter to a half dollar, your chain should be around 3-5mm thick.
  • You can wear mid-sized pendants (up to 3 inches) with chains 6mm+ thick.

Of course, these are general estimations and you have to pair up your pendants and chains in person to see what looks best to you. This will at least give you a starting point.

How thick should a man’s rope chain be? 

Rope chains are available in a number of different thicknesses, with the recommended thickness range being between 2mm and 4mm.

You can go for a rope chain that’s thicker, but be prepared for some serious heft… both in visual weight and actual weight!

closeup of 2mm and 4mm rope chains from GLD
Two sets of rope chains from GLD, one at 2mm (left) and 4mm (right). At 2mm, the rope chain already packs a visual punch. At 4mm, you can see the rope detail from further away, and the chain looks visually heavier overall.

The rope chain is also one of the strongest types of chains available, making it an effective choice for large pendants. If the rope is built with a strong material like stainless steel, it’s practically unbreakable. 

First popularized by rap artists in the early 1980s, the rope chain style has always been a solid and attractive choice. Thinner versions can be worn by anyone, even if you can’t rhyme 😉 The exquisite and attractive design of a rope chain looks stunning, both on its own or worn with a pendant.

GLD Jewelry
Shout out to our friends at GLD who provided us with a selection of chains to photograph for this article. If you're looking for a gold necklace, any size mm or length, in gold vermeil or solid gold, GLD has it!
Browse GLD

Hope that was helpful! 

A great chain is a lovely accent piece for men, and finding a necklace with the right thickness is essential if you want to really nail your look. 

Do you have a go-to thickness size for your chain? And if so, have you tried experimenting outside of that range?

DM us on Instagram and let us know! And reach out if you have any other questions or ideas about chain sizes and thicknesses.

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