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8 necklace chain styles to know about when buying jewellery

Do you know your trace chain from your Figaro? Or your belcher from your ball?! Buying jewellery online can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the terminology and without the pieces physically in front of you, comparing different styles is difficult.

If you’d like to find out more about the chain types most often used in jewellery, read on for my handy guide to 8 key styles to know about...

1) Trace chain

Trace chains are one of the most simple types of chain, made from delicate oval links that give them a fine and delicate appearance, perfect for dainty feminine pieces.

2) Rolo or Belcher chain

Rolo or belcher chain uses links made from D-shaped wire which are either round or oval. I use this style for my charm bracelets and necklaces and it’s a lovely option if you want something slightly chunkier without being too heavy.

3) Curb chain

Curb chains combine interlocking oval links which have been flattened and connect tightly together. The very heavy weight version is very popular for masculine and statement necklaces. A diamond cut curb is a lovely twist on this classic style and gives the chain just a hint of sparkle.

4) Ball chain

Ball chain features alternating metal spheres and short lengths of wire resulting in a pretty style that looks great with a simple, modern pendant. I love this style and use it with my Rhea necklaces as I think the little spheres really complement the geometric feel of the pendant itself.

5) Snake chain

Snake chains involve a series of plates which fit closely together and almost slither when they move (hence the name!). This style works really well with a single heavy pendant or a gold piece that features a large gemstone.

6) Omega chain

Omega is another quite similar style to snake chain that gives a very slinky look and is eyecatching enough to be often used on its own without any pendant attachement.

7) Rope chain

Rope style chain features twisted links that are woven together to form a rope like effect. The complexity of the design often means that they often look best worn plain (ie – without a pendant) so as to let the design of the chain take centre stage.

8) Figaro chain

Figaro is another fancy chain style that combines two or three small round links with one longer oval link. You often find this style used in men's jewellery, particuarly ID bracelets which features a length of chain combined with a solid ID plate which can be engraved.

A word on layering necklaces….wearing multiple necklaces of different lengths is very on trend at the moment so if you’re looking to combine several pieces then consider mixing up the chain styles as it helps to avoid everything getting tangled around your neck.

I hope you've found my mini guide useful. As always, if you have any questions on chain styles or want to request one of my pieces, but with a different chain or length, then please do get in touch HERE and I’ll do my best to help.

Elin Horgan designs and creates handmade jewellery in her Bristol studio. Elin’s beautifully simple handmade jewellery is carefully crafted and designed to be worn every day. You can read more about Elin’s work and the ethos behind her understated jewellery brand on her About Elin Horgan Jewellery page.

If you’d like to enquire about a specific product or discuss a custom piece of jewellery, please have a look at the Bespoke Handmade Jewellery page or email


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