16 Types Of Chain Necklaces & Links: A Guide To Chain Styles

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Men’s necklaces are a classic jewelry choice for a reason. They are versatile, sexy, statement-making, and easy to wear. But did you know there are different types of chain necklaces with varying styles of links? Each one has its own special design, and in this article, we’ll be covering 16 different chain styles.

For the man getting into jewelry, a chain is a great place to start for these very reasons. When you purchase a quality chain and clean it periodically, this is an investment in your style that can also last a lifetime.

different types of necklace chain links styles on a man profile
Photo by Anastase Maragos

If you are new to wearing jewelry, or looking to add to your collection, you have a lot to choose from when shopping for a new chain.

Depending on the length, weight, and style of chain you go with and if you plan to wear it alone, layered, or paired with a pendant — there are countless ways to make this look your own. 

Knowing some basic information about the different types of necklace chain links, quality of metals, and how to find the right fit can go a long way in helping you to make an informed decision. 

The most popular men’s necklace chains 

Herringbone Chain Link

The herringbone chain is made of two rows of parallel slanted chain links, mimicking the small bones of the fish from which it gets its name.

herringbone - flat types of necklace chain links

This chain typically lays flat on your skin making for a luxurious feel alongside a unique look. 

Cuban Chain Link

Certainly one of the most popular men’s necklace styles, a cuban link chain, sometimes also called a curb chain, will never go out of style. The distinct feature of a Cuban chain is the flat, interlocking, twisted oval links. 

cuban chain link, types of necklace chain links

Made of identical links all the way around, this chain is a masculine and popular choice that you often see made from large, heavy links.

The links, of course, can range from thick and chunky for those who want their necklace to be seen, to small and lightweight for the more understated gentleman.

Cable Chain Link

A simple cable chain is a clean style that is a frequent choice for holding a pendant or even to wear as a layering piece with more complex chains.

A cable chain will be made of connected round or oval links of the same size.

You will commonly see flat cable chains as well, where the links have been hammered flat rather than being composed of round wire.

One of the more popular and widely available men’s necklace styles, a cable chain may not be the most interesting style on this list but it is a great necklace to have in your arsenal.

Box Chain Link

The box chain is another versatile and masculine classic. A box chain is made of square links locked together, giving the whole chain a four-sided dimensionality.

box chain

A box chain is one of the most popular and versatile chains for men because it looks great in so many different styles. When made of small links it looks good holding a pendant, but this chain can also make a handsome statement piece in a heavier weight. 

Snake Chain Link

The snake chain is a tubular chain that you will recognize immediately by the way it slithers smoothly through your hands. Constructed of tightly connected links, it is flexible and doesn’t tangle easily. 

snake chain link style

Wearing a snake chain feels like having a luxurious piece of metal draped around your neck. Due to it’s flat and smooth texture, a snake chain pairs nicely with another more dimensional chain. 

Mariner Chain Link

The mariner chain is made of oval links intersected by a distinctive bar. The metal links are relatively thick and are typically hammered so the necklace will lay flat.

mariner chain

You can also find the mariner made with rounded links in what is called a “puff” style (sometimes referred to as a Gucci link). 

The mariner is unique but timeless and can make a beautiful statement chain. 

Anchor Chain Link

The anchor is similar in style to the mariner chain, but with a slightly chunkier look. The links of the anchor chain are thick ovals with a metal bar in the middle, also known as a stud-link chain. 

anchor chain link style

The links are rounded instead of hammered flat, like in the mariner style, and are locked together. This is a solid-feeling and statement-making necklace. 

Wheat Chain Link

Grains of wheat have an intricate but simple beauty and so does a wheat chain necklace. The wheat chain is made of four strands of oval links that are twisted together to create a braided effect. 

wheat chain link style

The wheat chain is also sometimes called a spiga chain and is a durable choice that will not kink easily due to its woven style. 

Rope Chain Link

In the eye of the admirer, a rope chain may look like two strands of metal that have simply been twisted together. In actuality, this intricate chain is made of many small links bound together to create a rope-like pattern. 

rope chain

This style of chain is really popular at any weight because it is not only durable, but also  looks very luxurious and eye catching with the way light reflects off its many facets.

The distinctive texture of the rope chain pairs nicely with other necklaces and it is commonly worn alongside flat-link chains, like the cuban. 

Figaro Chain Link

A figaro chain is simple in design but punches above its weight in style.

figaro chain link style

The key feature of a figaro chain is its large oval links connected by several smaller round or oval links. This pattern repeats all the way around and is traditionally constructed of flattened links. 

Gucci / Puffed Mariner Chain Link

Calling to mind the over-the-top fashion house, the gucci link (also referred to as the puffed mariner link) is quite a unique and beautiful chain link style.

gucci or puffed mariner chain

It’s made from larger, solid, rounded oval links that have two small circular cutouts. These larger links are then connected by smaller oval links. 

This pattern of larger oval links connected by smaller oval links continues around the entire chain. A thicker gucci chain is a great choice for wearing on its own, or a thin chain can be used to hold a pendant.

Ball Chain Link

For the more streetwear-minded man, a ball or bead chain is a modern and easy-to-wear look. For many men, the ball chain of your youth was probably a cheap strand attached to a dog tag. 

ball link style chain

Your elevated adult version is made of small round beads in gold or silver, either connected directly to one another, or with some spacers in between. It will do well with a pendant, or yes, even a dog tag, hanging from the simple strand.

Byzantine Chain Link

One of the more elaborate chain designs you will find, the byzantine chain is an intricate metal rope. Invoking chainmail, the byzantine chain is made of many interlocking oval or round links. 

byzantine link chain style

Unlike the box chain, of which it is a variation, the links go in various directions to create a compact but intriguing pattern. A byzantine chain is special; not only is it fun to look at, but is easily wearable on its own and has a flexible, easy drape. 

Franco Chain Link

If you like to switch up your style from streetwear to classic menswear and want a chain that can do both, the franco may be your best bet.

franco chain style

A franco chain is made of interlocking oval links like the cuban chain, but instead of one link, this chain style has four that are woven into a “V” shape.

This four-sided chain is bendable and hard to tangle, in addition to being quite durable due to its dense construction. The franco will look great at any thickness and can easily complement any outfit. 

Rolo Chain Link

The rolo chain is similar to a cable chain with one key difference: it’s made of round rather than oval links.

It also has a heavier look than the cable chain, simply because there is less space between the links. Rolo chains are typically made of rounded, not hammered, links.

rolo chain link style

Sometimes also called a belcher chain, this string of round links are either symmetrical all the way around or alternating in size. A thin rolo chain can hold a pendant while a thicker rolo chain looks great on its own. 

Singapore Chain Link

A Singapore chain is like a twisted Cuban chain, composed of hammered interlocking oval links. 

singapore chain link style

The Singapore chain has quite a classic look, and due to the rope-like construction, it catches the light with a sparkling effect.

Delicate looking but actually quite strong, a Singapore chain is a particularly good choice if you are looking for something a little different to hang a pendant from.

What is the correct length for a chain?

For most men, a chain between 18-24 inches is going to be a good fit, depending on the width of your neck and where you want it to lay on your chest.

A 20 inch chain will hit most men at the collarbone. Slightly longer, at 22 or 24 inches will lay a bit below your collarbone and is a popular length if you plan to wear a pendant on your chain. 

If you are shopping for a longer chain, down to the middle of your chest, the most popular lengths would be between 26-36 inches long.

A longer chain is a nice look all on its own, but it can be a particularly good choice if you want to wear more than one chain at the same time in a layered fashion. Mixing up your necklace lengths will also make it less likely your chains will tangle while wearing.

What to look for when shopping for a chain

When shopping for a chain you should consider your own lifestyle, how you plan to wear it, and the quality of the materials.

Which chain link style is the strongest?  

All chains made of quality metals like gold, silver, and platinum are going to be strong and made to last. As a general rule, heavy chains made with wide links are going to be more durable than a delicate chain made of narrow links.

Even thin chains can be extremely strong, especially when they are a more complex chain link design like byzantine, rope, or snake chains. 

What is a flat link chain?

A flat link chain is simply a chain where the links have been hammered flat. A flat link chain is common for men’s necklaces, particularly for styles like the cuban, cable, and mariner chains. Aside from the aesthetic of a flat link chain, you will really feel the difference in how it lays evenly against your body. 

Which chain link styles are easiest to repair?

Any high quality jeweler should be able to repair most any chain. As you can imagine, the more straightforward the chain link style, the simpler it is to repair or replace broken links. 

Cable, box, and figaro chains, for example, are going to be fairly simple to fix because a jeweler can simply isolate the links where there is a break. Braided chains, or those with multiple stands, will require more substantial repairs. 

What are the different types of gold chains? 

Any chain link style is available in gold, but for gold chains there are other things to consider that can make a big difference in both quality and price of the necklace.

different chain link styles layered on a man closeup

Solid gold chain vs hollow: Is one better than the other?

A solid gold chain is exactly what it sounds like: solid gold links, baby, all the way through. This is, well, the gold standard, and will create the most durable chain.

This durability will certainly cost you, though, and if you are interested in a thicker chain or larger links,, it can also be quite heavy to wear.

A hollow chain’s links are still made of gold, but they are hollow inside. For a chain made of wide links, a hollow gold chain will be much lighter around your neck than solid gold. Hollow gold chains are also going to be much more affordable. 

When it comes down to it, neither one is necessarily better than the other. They are both made of real gold and will not tarnish or rust. A solid gold chain is going to be stronger because the links are solid metal, while a hollow gold chain will be lighter weight to wear. 

Gold plated vs gold filled: What is the difference?

For those who do not have the budget for  jewelry made from pure gold,, you are certainly not alone, and rest assured, you can still get a quality chain. 

Gold filled chains are made with links that have a thick layer of gold on the outside with a small core of brass, or some other cheaper metal. Because gold filled chains have a large amount of actual gold in them they will not tarnish or chip and will have a genuine shine. 

Sometimes you will see chains labeled gold vermeil. These contain a lesser percentage of real gold than gold filled chains, but can still be of high quality and last a long time with proper care. 

Gold plated jewelry, on the other hand, is made of mostly brass or copper with a very thin “plating” of gold on the outside. Over time, and with wear, the gold plating will begin to wear off and the chain will tarnish.

gold bars
via Pexels

How many karats should my gold necklace be?

When it comes to gold, karats are simply a measure of how pure the gold is. Solid 24-karat gold, while the purest version, is quite soft and easy to bend and nick. This is why we mix it with other strong metals to create jewelry we can actually wear.

Most jewelry comes in either 18- or 14-karat gold. For necklaces you plan to wear everyday, it is often recommended you go with the more durable 14-karat gold. Sometimes, higher karat gold will have a more yellow hue to it, which you may or may not prefer. 

If you are allergic to metals, such as nickel, you may need to select a chain that is at least 18 karats, if not higher, to avoid irritation.

How many of these chain link styles do you recognize?

Some may be more common than others, and while there are plenty of necklace chain styles, we found these 16 to be among the most frequently used.

Which ones are your favorite? And how many did you actually recognize as you went through this article?

Hopefully we’ve helped you identify your new favorite chain style. And if you’re just getting into jewelry, make sure to check out our list of the 10 best affordable men’s jewelry brands to get you started.

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