Your Guide To Necklace Chains

Your Guide To Necklace Chains

Chains for pendants can come in lots of different styles and lengths and people often have a preference for a specific type. That's why we make our pendants available on different styles of chains and in any length you want. 

Chains for pendants are sold in inches or centimeters. A 16 inch chain is 40cm long, an 18 inch chain is 45cm long and a 20 inch chain is 50cm long. For every two inches you add to a chain, the length it drops at the front is about an inch. It's good to keep this in mind when deciding how much longer or shorter you want a pendant to sit. People often make the mistake of adding an inch to the chain and not realising that this won't make it sit one inch longer at the front.

The most popular length of chain is an 18 inch or 45cm long chain. It's ideal for an average size of pendant and sits about an inch below the collar bones. The exact length it will sit at on each person will vary slightly depending on their build. A very slim woman may find a 16 inch or 40cm chain sits about an inch below the collar bone and a woman with a fuller figure and larger bust may find that a 20 inch chain sits at around this length. 

different lengths of necklace chains

The size of the pendant will also affect the length that you want the chain to be. As a general rule, the smaller the pendant the shorter the chain should be. A very small pendant may look lost and not hang properly on a longer chain because it doesn't have enough weight to keep the chain in place so for pendants smaller than 10mm, a 16 inch chain may be the best option. For something very small, like a diamond slider pendant that you want to sit at the level of a collar, you may need to go even shorter to a 14 inch or 35 centimeter length. Collar chains are ideal for delicate pendants. 

A large pendant may overpower an outfit if it is on a short chain and because it has more weight, it will sit better and look more in proportion on a longer chain. Think of a triangle with the point at your neck widening out towards the middle of your thigh as a rough guide. 

what length of chain for what size of pendant

Obviously these guidelines are not hard and fast rules and if you like a large pendant on a short chain, it will draw more attention to the piece and add a touch of drama to an outfit. 

If you want to measure yourself to get the perfect length of chain, take a soft tape measure and loop it being your neck. Pull it to the length you want the chain to finish at and check the measurement. Don't allow for a rounding of the chain, that's not necessary but do remember that this is the length the chain will stop at and you need to think about the pendant sitting below it to get the idea of the full drop. 

There are lots of different styles of chains that can be added to pendants but our four favourite styles are snake chains, box chains, curb chains and angle filed trace chains. 

silver box chain

A silver box chain is square and the four sides of the chain are highly polished. It catches the light beautifully when worn as the angles from the different sides reflect the light in different directions. It is smooth and easy to clean with a silver cloth. It looks great with a highly polished pendant. A lot of people love this design because it doesn't catch the small hairs at the back of the neck when worn. 

silver snake chain

A silver snake chain is a round smooth chain that looks like a solid piece of metal but moulds to the contours of the neck. It is very flattering to matt, contemporary pendants because it doesn't shine like the box chain and the smoothness of the chain doesn't create any distraction from the pendant. Some people with very fine hair can find snake chains uncomfortable to wear because the tightly linked sections can trap fine hair. We use a very high quality snake chain and we don't find many customers experience this so even people who have had issues with snake chains bought elsewhere haven't had this issue with ours. Snake chains need to be handled with care. They are strong but they are not designed to be bent and are very easily broken if they are. This is one chain you should never sleep in. 

angle filed trace chain

An angle filed trace chain is one with a series of rectangular links with the corners of the links angled, giving each link eight sides, like an octagonal or emerald cut gemstone. Highly polished, this chain adds sparkle to a pendant and the open links allow for charms to be added spaced out around the chain. This chain is very strong and ideal for wearing every day, even if you catch it occasionally. This style of chain is also used by luxury jewellers such as Van Cleef and Arples for their pendants. 

The box chain, the snake chain and the angle filed trace chain are impossible to tangle and that's one of the many reasons we love them.

handmade gold letter D initial pendant with diamond on gold chain

A chain that we love for our gold pendants is a curb chain. Curb chains can be very fine and are still incredibly strong. Curb chains have links that have been flattened and twisted, which interlock tightly together to form a chain. 

While some chain is handmade, the style of chain used for pendants are made by machine. Italy is one of the main exporters of chain for the jewellery industry and they also sell specialised machines for making jewellery chain. Here's a video from Sisma who are an Italian company who design and produce high precision machinery and laser systems. Established in 1961, Sisma have more than 130 models of automatic chain making machines. This short video shows their machines in action. 

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