When investing in a new piece of jewelry, it’s important to know how it will hold up over time. We love how a great necklace or eye-catching bracelet adds to our overall look, but if it only lasts a handful of wears, was it ever really that great of a piece? Men need jewelry that looks great, but can also stand up to daily wear.
Your favorite necklace shouldn’t add a moment of worry or second thought to your day (unless that thought is, “Wow, I look great!”).
In this article, we’re going over some of the strongest necklace materials, metal and more, as well as some tips to keep in mind that can impact durability.
The Strongest Metals for Necklaces
Of course, most metals are strong, but that strength varies among the different types of metals.
Precious and beloved gold is actually one of our softest metals. Have no fear though, jewelry makers have long ago solved this problem, which is why all gold jewelry is actually an alloy of gold plus other strong metals.
The higher the karat number, aka the closer to pure gold, the softer and more susceptible to bends or scratches.
For those who want the sturdiest gold on the market, go for 10 or 14 karat (you will find that many chains are, for exactly this reason), and consider the weight and style of the links.
All gold has the potential to bend or scratch slightly, but is easy to put back into place or polish.
Gold is long-lasting and will remain great-looking forever, so don’t fret about going for it.
Silver is one of the most widely used metals for jewelry. You will find that every type of chain and pendant can be found in silver, in an array of finishes.
Real silver necklaces make for timeless style statements, and will not let you down. Silver is certainly strong, and if made with a thicker chain your necklace is unlikely to break.
However, it is one of the softer metals on this list and susceptible to scratches and dings. The good news is that silver is also usually simple to get fixed or polished. Simply just take it to any local jewelry repair shop!
While silver is often associated with workwear and western styles, if you are putting in a hard day’s work of physical labor, you may be better off removing your highly-polished silver jewelry first.
If they’re vintage or antique-finished, you have less to worry about.
We craft buildings out of steel, so why not rely on it to create a sturdy necklace? This is a true workwear material, it’s not flashy but solid and understated.
You will often find steel molded into muscular curb chains. Steel necklaces are often given a stylishly tarnished or burnished finish. However, modern designers are having fun plating it in bold colors.
While incredibly affordable and strong, the drawback to steel is that it will likely show tarnish and wear over time. Steel can even rust when worn often, which over time will weaken the links.
Titanium is going to be the strongest material you could choose for a necklace chain, and in fact is one of the most durable metals on the planet, period.
This silver-hued metal is incredibly tough and scratch-resistant. You can wear this jewelry hard and often.
One drawback for titanium is that due to how strong and solid the metal is, most pieces are not going to be able to be resized after purchase — so make sure you choose the right length for your chain the first time.
Titanium is a relatively common metal for rings and wedding bands, but there is a more limited selection on the market for chains.
If you can find a nice cuban link or another style chain in titanium you will enjoy a relatively affordable, sharp-looking, and statement-making necklace for a lifetime.
Second to titanium, and at a significantly steeper price point, comes beautiful platinum. Platinum is a rare metal with a natural bright white-silver tone that is a favorite for fine jewelry, including men’s chains.
No matter the width or style of your chain, you can trust platinum to remain un-dented or scratched.
If you are looking for a chain with some ice on it, platinum is also an ideal choice for holding those stones securely in place.
While your platinum jewelry will be undeniably special, due to its strength and resistance to damage or elements, it is a luxury you can wear every single day.
Durable Corded Necklaces
Now let’s cover the non-metal necklace materials! Plenty to choose from here.
Twine or Hemp
A traditionally rugged or bohemian necklace material, twine (most often made from hemp) is a fantastic material for well-built braided or woven necklace cords.
Hemp necklaces are ideal for adorning with beads or securing stone pendants. Plus, it’s very tough to break! These are necklaces meant to be loved and enjoyed and lived in.
With any fabric material you have the potential of your necklace facing familiar woes, like molding, holding onto scents, tearing, and fraying.
Your hemp necklaces should probably be taken off when showering or in water, if you want to extend their longevity.
But if being too precious with your hemp necklaces seems against the spirit of the thing to begin with, then do your thing with the understanding that you may be able to look forward to choosing a new one in a couple years.
Nylon is a tightly woven synthetic fabric, masterfully designed to be both strong and lightweight. Even thin cords are going to hold up very well and are not in danger of breaking or fraying easily.
Most commonly seen in black with a simple metal clasp, nylon comes in a rainbow of colors and virtually any length, and is perfect to hang a pendant off of.
The thing to look out for over time with a nylon cord is tension at the clasp causing fraying or breakage, and simple discoloration or general funkiness due to the contact with oils, water, and whatever else you get into.
The scent of real leather, the feel, the way that it makes everyone wearing it just a little bit (at least) cooler looking — leather is a thing of beauty. What else do we love about leather? It wears well, and holds up to a lot while retaining its integrity.
Leather cords are an effortless and masculine way to wear a pendant, often featuring a silver clasp to secure your necklace.
While soft and pliable, leather is also inherently tough and resistant to the elements.
One of the few things that can actually look even better when it gets a little beat up, leather may not stay the same forever, but it will look cool for as long as it lasts.
4 Factors That Can Affect The Strength Of Different Necklace Material
Keep these four things in mind when evaluating a necklace’s (or any piece of jewelry’s) strength!
Sometimes, size does matter. For necklaces and chains this can be the case, simply because the thicker the chain, the more effort required for a link to break.
There is a correlation between the thickness of links and the long-term durability of that necklace. If you wear your jewelry often and know you can be a bit hard on your things, look for a chain or cord about 5 mm in width or more.
Chain Link Style
For metal chains the style of link is another factor that can make quite a difference.
Chains where links are more intricate, or made up of many interlocking links are some of the strongest styles and are very difficult to break. For complex links you can have very thin chains that are still extremely strong.
Look for styles like box, snake, and herringbone for prime examples of chains that are handsome yet tough.
Chain Link Size
Chain links come in all shapes and sizes, and styles of chains are often distinguishable by how tight they are vs. how much negative space they have.
Figaro, cable, and long link styles will often showcase larger links that give your chain a more open feeling.
Having more space for something to catch on your chain can also make it slightly more open to damage, especially if you wear your chain long.
You shouldn’t shy away from these styles; they are some of the most popular and stylish on the market. Just a little something to consider in selecting chain length and how you wear them.
An often overlooked component of necklaces is the clasp. We often get so mesmerized by the shine of the chain, or the feel of that leather rope, that we fail to investigate what holds the whole thing together.
Not only can clasps break, which is a headache to get fixed… if it breaks while wearing it, an evening out can turn into a panicked search for a lost prized possession.
For corded necklaces, look for a clasp made of a genuine metal like silver or gold.
And for all necklaces in general, look at how secure the clasp is and if it is well connected to the attached chain links.
One of the most reliable clasp styles is called the “lobster claw”, while the commonplace “spring ring” can really vary in quality.
Did this help?
When choosing the right necklace for you, it is helpful to consider your lifestyle, upfront cost versus potential cost of repairs, and how long you hope to have the piece of jewelry.
Fine metals are always going to be your best friend in terms of durability and longevity of wear, with small variations among the choice of metal and style of chain.
Corded necklaces can also be long-lasting and tough, with a potentially more grounded style and price point.
What’s your favorite necklace material? Let us know by hitting us up on Instagram!