Ever since jewelry making started exploding in popularity, the various types of jewelry chains have grown in desirability, variations, patterns, and names. However with such an explosive growth of new designs, the names of the various jewelry chains are not universal nor always descriptive.
In an attempt to keep up with some of the emerging jewelry chains as well as some of the standard classic, I have compiled a jewelry chains list that will likely grow over time as I come across new and fascinating chains for your craft and jewelry making creative adventures.
Types Of Jewelry Chains
(in alphabetical order)
Anchor chain’s origin is from the chains used to link an anchor to a vessel. This is one of the enduringly popular jewelry chains. Its variation, the Flat Anchor Chain is also very popular with it sleek and elegant appearance.
Basketweave Chain/Basket Weave Chain
Basketweave chain – also spelt Basket Weave Chain, is named for the weave inherent in this chain. It looks like a woven … (you guessed it) basketweave!
Bead Chain / Bead Chain
The Bead Chain is also called the Ball Chain. Either way, the reason for its name is obvious.
It has round beads, affixed at intervals along the chain – with or without spacing intervals between the balls.
It is less common but not rare to find bead chains with large chain intervals between each ball.
Box Chain / Square Link Chain/ Briolette Chain / Venetian Chain
The box chain is made up of square links that are interjoined to from what looks like little boxes. They form an amazingly smooth and delightful chain.
The very construction of this box chain makes them pleasing, smooth, sturdy, and sleek. It is definitely one of my favourite chains. It is less suitable for attempting to hang dangles off them as the tight spacing between the links do not easily accommodate that procedure.
Byzantine Chain / Bizantine Chain
This is also sometimes spelt as the Bizantine chain.
The Byzantine chain is very popular today as it was in older times. It has a romantic, intricate, as well as captivatingly elaborate appearance. It immediately captures an old-word feel.
The Byzantine chain can be made from round or oval rings. Pairs of rings are linked to pairs of rings to form this romantic, graceful chain. It is an amazingly supple chain.
The Byzantine chain is also very popular in chain maille jewelry. Despite its appearance, this type of jewelry chains is not as hard to make as one would imagine.
Cable Chain / Link Chain
Cable chain is also known as Link chain. It is made up of uniform sized rings. These rings can be round or oval. This is probably the most common of all the jewelry chains. It is the chain that most imagine when they are thinking of jewellery chains.
The cable chain is very similar to the Rolo chain which also has uniform links but are generally rounder and fatter.
Cable chain is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Anchor chain. The confusion arises from the fact that both the Anchor chain and the Cable chain resemble the chains used on vessels to link to their anchors.
However traditional ship chains come in 2 common variations – the single loop ring and the bisect loop ring.
Curb chains are like Cable/Link chains. They have uniform rings. However each ring has some flattened surfaces.
The Figaro chain, like the Curb chain, has flattened sections on each ring. However unlike the Curb chain, it does not have uniformly sized links.
The Figaro chains are normally made up of 2 or 3 shorter rings, interspaced with a longer link.
Infinity Link Chain
The Infinity Link Chain is so named because it is largely made up of the “infinity” loops. The infinity loop looks like an “8”, which is after all, the symbol for infinity.
The Omega chain is truly a specialty chain. Unlike the other types of jewelry chains, it is not made up of interlocking rings. Instead the Omega chain features smooth rounded metal plates. These are set side by side, usually on a core of wire or woven mesh. It is this embedded core that causes the Omega chain to be flexible but still, fairly stiff. It is also why it is a very strong chain.
Omega chains are usually flattish. There are also round ones.
The special construction of the Omega chain means that it has a smooth and reflective surface. It is very popular because it has such a shiny and rich feeling to it.
The Snake chain is an interesting variation of the Omega chain.
Panther Link Chain / Panther Chain
The Panther Link Chain or the Panther chain is often described as having a surface that resembles paving bricks, which are offset from each other. Which is true.
However I am not sure how the “panther” name came about. What does a panther have to do with paving bricks? I imagine due to the very sleekness of the Panther link chain, you can almost see the same sleekness of a row of couched panthers.
Though the panther chain is often made up of 3 rows of these interconnecting “bricks” – it is also not uncommon to find wider bands with more than 3 rows.
The Panther chain is a flattish kind of chain that rests comfortably against the skin and has a sophisticated air of elegance.
The Popcorn chain gets its name from its popcorn like appearance.
Popcorn chains are made up of identically sized metal pieces that are tightly linked together while still allowing flexibility. These metal pieces can either be flat, rounded, or concave. And these metal pieces are often hollow.
Rolo Chain / Belcher Chain
The Rolo chain is made up of round rings that are linked via other round rings or via oval rings that are similarly sized or smaller.
In some ways, the Rolo chain is like the Cable chain except the rings on a Rolo chain are fatter along its width and the underside of the rings are normally flat.
This chain is ideal for hanging charms, beads, and dangles. Rolo chains are the jewelry chains that are most often found in belcher bracelets and necklaces. Hence the Rolo Chain is also called Belcher chain.
A Rope chain is made up of oval rings. They are linked in such a way that they tend to spiral, causing the rope-like effect.
This is one of the classic jewelry chains. It is both sturdy and intriguing. There is a diamond cut version (where some or all the rings have some diamond cuts on them) which make the rope sparkly as well as intriguing.
Singapore Chain / Twisted Curb Chain
This chain is highly popular for its sparkling nature. It catches and reflects light due to the diamond cuts on the rings as well as from the twist in the overall chain itself.
Because of the construction of this chain which results in a twist in the chain itself, it is also known as the Twisted Curb Chain.
This chain is often very thin and fine and is ideal for a delicate look and/or for hanging fine pendants.
Snake Chain / Pandora Chain / Brazillian Chain/ Round Maille Chain/ Hexagon Chain/ Star Weave Chain
The Snake Chain has gained in tremendous popularity over recent years because it is this type of chain that is used for Pandora charms. That is why it is also referred to as Pandora chain.
The distinguishing feature of this chain is that it is composed of smooth metal plates (like the Omega chain). But unlike the Omega chain, each of these metal plates have a slight angle or curve in them which results in a resultant zig-zag look to the overall chain.
It is the tightly linked metal plates together with the zig-zag appearance that makes it resemble the sleekness of snake skin, hence the name.
While the Omega chain has an underlying core, the Snake chain does not. The Snake chain is constructed to form a semi-flexible, strong tube. There are also Snake chains that have a square rather than a round cross-section.
Twist Rope Chain
The Twist Rope Chain is an interesting variation of the Rope chain. The Twist Rope chain is made up of a number of Rope chains, twisted together to form a single chain. The chain literally gleams!
Wheat Chains are normally created with four stands of oval and twisted oval links. It has a rather complex construction. The join on each link almost acts like a hinge. Each of the rings has a slightly twisted figure “8” shape, which when a few strands are braided together can give it a squarish profile.
These strands together make a stunning chain of great visual texture.
Note: The names of all these jewelry chains are not always uniformly applied. It is not uncommon to see a chain labelled and described differently. This inconsistency is exacerbated by the very rapid growth of the cottage jewelry-making industry.