CHAIN BUYING GUIDE – 10 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CHAIN
CHAIN BUYING GUIDE: THE BEST GOLD NECK CHAIN NECKLACES TO BUY
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Here we go…
The top ten things to consider before purchasing your next gold chain:
1) Karat type:
What is the karat of the chain? 10kt, 14kt, 18kt?
14kt is the most common type of gold in the US. That’s because it’s a good combination of durability and beautiful luster. 14kt gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy.
The alloy is what makes the gold durable enough to wear everyday. 10kt gold is actually MORE durable. But 10kt gold is only 10 parts gold and 14 parts alloy. Which means it has more alloy in it than gold. I would skip 10kt, stick with 14kt and you’ll be fine.
Here’s a buyer beware tip:
Any gold sold in the US MUST have a KT stamp on it some where. It’ll simply say 10kt (or 417), 14kt (585), 18kt (750), or 925 for SS; sterling silver.
2) What length are you looking for?
Do you want it collar length? Do you want it to come to a nice V above your chest? Or do you want it to hang longer, near your belly? The most common and popular length for a chain is 18″. It’s not too short (like a 16″ choker). It’s the perfect length to be visible.
Plus it doesn’t get caught on everything because it hangs too low like a 24″ or 30″ Chain.
3) Are you wearing a pendant or charm?
This is an important concern, because it can drastically change the type of chain you purchase.
For you to be able to wear a pendant or charm, you will need a chain that can withstand the weight of the charm, but not over-power the charm at the same time.
Box chains or wheat chains make the perfect type of pendant chains.
They are curable, can hold the weight of the item hanging and will look good with just about anything. A wheat chain is my favorite type of chain. It’s the 4th chain down in the picture shown above. Wheat chains are smooth and strong and can be worn everyday.
4) Will it kink?
Here’s the biggest question of all time. If you get it caught on your sweater and pull it off, is it going to tangle up and kink?
There are a couple chains out there that are notorious for kinking… I’ll name them.
You have the herringbone chain in the lead. This is a very flat chain that looks beautiful… (used to Sell like hot cakes), but the chains would kink so quickly that customers were always MAD. These are the worst type of chain to ever buy in the World.
They tried making herringbone chains that were MORE flexible and twistable, but they STILL KINKED something awful.
And once you kink one of these chains, it’ll NEVER be the same. You can always see the kink and it’ll only make it weaker in that area so it’ll kink even more. Stay away from these.
Another chain that kinks is the snake chain. A solid round chain that looks great but kinks easily.
The last chain that kinks is an expensive chain; the omega chain.
These chains are like flat hard collars that are worn usually as chokers or a little lower. They are made to wear sliders (pendants, charms made for that style of chain).
They look great, they can last a long time, but you have to be careful and not kink it or bend it. If you do, it will be a sad, sad day.
5) What type of clasp does it have?
If you look at the picture above, you will see two types of clasps. The right one is called the lobster clasp. The one to the left is called a spring ring.
I’ll make this short and sweet: RIGHT=GOOD, LEFT=BAD.
The spring ring is cheap:
The spring ring is thin, round, and hollow. It’s normally not soldered on to your chain. Which means if you tug on your chain (or a baby does), that little ‘O’ ring on the bottom of the clasp will stretch, open up, and you’ll lose your chain or pendant.
Spring rings are horrible and unless you want to lose your diamond pendant, do NOT get one of these.
Now the lobster clasp on the other hand, is the BEST clasp for any chain.
They’re easy to operate, are heavy duty, durable, and are the safest type of clasp to buy, ever. Most lobster clasps ARE soldered onto the chain, which is good. If it isn’t (for some odd fluke), make sure you get that done. Jewelers will solder shut the little round ring that attaches it to the chain so you can’t pull it off.
Great protection. Highly recommended. Don’t even hesitate to get one.
P.S. They also sell flat tab clasps, which are fine as well.
Some chains have an added figure eight safety catch. Those are great also, but it depends on the type of chain you get as to which clasp you end up with. Beware of the chains with the “magnetic clasps“. They may be easy to put on and take off, but chances are, you’ll lose it.
6) Can you sleep with your chain on?
Most people don’t even think about this. But this is a very good question indeed.
A lot of people never take their chains off. They sleep with them on. They crash out on the couch. Curl up with big pillows or fat cats. Wrestle with them on… Your chain is going to take a beating.
So you want to make sure that it’s durable enough to be squished, rolled, flattened and whatever else you throw at it.
Good chains to have:
Chains that hold up well are chains with links like mariner chains, or curb links or cuban link, figaro chains, and wheat chains… these are all types of link chains that will work out well. Other chains that hold up well are rope chains, and box chains. So if it isn’t flexible and you think it may kink, DON’T BUY IT!
7) Is the chain rough?
Funny question, but here’s the test… Run the chain across your skin. Does it catch or feel rough?
Here’s an even tougher question: Can you run that same chain across your shirts or sweaters and not have it snag? (just don’t ruin your clothing testing this out.)
If it catches the threads and snags then that chain is going to rip up a lot of your clothes. People often forget about wearability issues. But I’ve seen people come in with a raw neck because the chain digs into their flesh. Run your fingers over it. See if it’s smooth or if there are little pieces and edges that stick out. If any stick out and feel jagged, then it could be a problem.
8) Will the chain tangle in your hair?
If you’ve ever had your chain get tangled up in your hair and had to pull them apart, it ain’t pretty. It hurts.
Usually small, thinner chains tangle easy and roll a lot, causing your hair to roll with them and knot up. Unless you want it pulling all the hair off the back of your head, I would stick with a medium thickness chain.
So now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty. There are just a couple more things to consider when making that gold chain purchase. Here we go…
9) Is the chain plated, hollow or solid?
Find out exactly what the chain is made of. A lot of chains look identical but aren’t.
Here are all the signs to look for…
9. Hollow, solid, semi-solid, or plated?
What the heck is the chain made of?
You see, a lot of Italian chains are 14kt yellow gold. Which is awesome. But Italians like really rich looking gold. And most european countries like higher gold content, like 18kt or 22kt gold. So what a lot of Italian chain companies will do is plate their 14kt yellow gold chains with an 18kt yellow gold plating.
This makes the chain look more yellow.
Eventually though, this yellow will wear off since it’s only a plating. This is a good thing to know up front… Especially if you are buying a charm for it and the charm is 14kt yellow gold, but the chain looks like 18kt. They won’t match.
You will need to know if the chain is hollow (also referred to as semi-solid).
That’s a very good question to ask. It may look identical to other chains, but it will feel much much lighter. That’s because the inside of the chain is hollow to reduce price. A lot of thick chains are made this way. Some diamond cut ropes also. Hollow chains tend to be very brittle and break easy. Plus they dent pretty quickly and hollow chains really can’t be fixed well.
Solid is better!
Solid chains are heavier and will last a lifetime. Chains can wear down fast because of all the moving pieces rubbing against each other. Get a solid chain and you won’t regret it.
10) Is the chain guaranteed?
If a company backs their product, good ones will put a lifetime guarantee on their chains.
Now this guarantee usually means they guarantee their product is free from manufacturer’s defects, which is fine (usually meaning tarnishing, pits, or color changes).
Do keep in mind, that doesn’t refer to wear and tear or breaking.
Get the ESP
If you want to really get your chain protected, see if they have an extended service plan (ESP) on it.
For a cheap price of this service plan, you can get your chain covered if it breaks or snaps, but most importantly, it will also cover the clasp in case it breaks.
And gold clasps are not cheap. They can cost up to a couple hundred dollars depending on the size of the clasp. And if a $25 service plan will cover replacing the clasp if it breaks, then it’s well worth it.
One more thing to think about…
Does the chain have a trade-in policy? If it does you could always trade-in and upgrade later. I just hope you get what you paid for it.
So there you have it, the ten most important things to consider when buying a chain.
Now the next question is…
Should you get a matching bracelet?
Get all your gold chains HERE.
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Thank you for a very informative and educational article.
This article is amazing and sooo helpful!!!! I’m trying to buy my boyfriend a chain and I know close to nothing about chains. Thank you for sharing!!
Hi! I want to purchase a 14k solid yellow gold wheat necklace. They are a little bit expensive and I can’t decide which thickness I should go for. Is 1mm size a good choice?
Hi Madalina. 1mm is kind of thin. I would probably point you more towards 1.5mm or 2mm if you want it to be durable and hold pendants. :)
is a wheat chain Gauge: 025 a good chain for a pendant ? Thank you
Hi Shay. .025 is fairly thin, so depending on the size of the pendant, you may want to get the next size, or two up from that. :) -Richard
Thank you Richard, it’s just alittle cross pendant
I’m getting my girlfriend a 4 picture locket for xmas but it doesn’t come with a chain, I know the length but what thickness is good and durable for a 4 picture locket? Thank You in advance.
Hi Paul. I would pick a 2mm wheat chain like these. 2mm is a great size, durable, but still dainty. :) -Richard
Hi, I just purchased a beautiful but small diamond cross pendant. What chain would you recommend so as not to overpower the pendant. It’s a 0.37ct diamond pendant that can be worn by a child or an adult.
Hi Miram. I would suggest a 1.5mm-2mm Round Wheat Chain. They are durable, smooth, and ideal for pendants. :) -Richard
I just bought a 1.5mm 14k rope chain. And it gets caught in my hair a lot. What chain do you suggest that won’t do this? What do you think about baby Franco chain?
Hi Adrian, I think both the Wheat Chain and the Franco would work fine, it’s usually the rough edges of the Rope that tends to wind up hair. Wheat, Franco, or a Link Chain is the Best! :) -Richard
Are wheat chains and Franco chains the same in terms of durability? And if so where do you recommend purchasing? I’ve been looking and it is a bit overwhelming especially when you don’t know if these chains being sold are actually quality. You had great information, Richard!
Hi Jake. Wheat chains and franco chains are not the same. Quite similar in style, the franco’s links come to a V, while the wheat chains are looser. See wheat chains here, and franco chains here. Either one is fine and durable and you won’t have any problems with. Amazon is a good place to shop since they have the biggest inventory online and a full return policy (plus free shipping if you have Prime). -Richard
I was recently given a 18k gold curbed chained and I’m a little concerned about wearing it daily, including sleeping with it on. Ive read 18 k is rather soft in comparison to 14k. Its a 38.6 grams 20 inch chain.Your thougts please .
Hi Steve. 18k will be fine to wear everyday. Yes it is a little softer, and may show signs of scratches easier, but if the chain is thick enough, and you polish it up, it’ll look new as ever. :) -Richard
Looking at a 1mm bead necklace that has attached station dangling diamonds. Is a bead necklace strong?
Hi Bj, I would not recommend a bead necklace, at all. They tend to not only break easily, but they get caught on pendants (they won’t slide freely over the beads). Go with a wheat chain, link chain, or box chain instead. -Richard
The necklace I’m thinking of would never have a pendant hang from it. The stones are permanently attached and do not slide at all.
Hi Bj, those necklaces are still fragile. If you purchase one, be careful not to pull on it or get it caught. -Richard
Im seeking at 16” gold chain for my toddler that he won’t rip. It will hold a small pendant. What would you suggest to work best in that scenario (i.e. with tugging etc). Thank you!
Hi Roz. Personally, I don’t recommend any chains for toddlers (who usually wear shorter chains, like 13″ or 15″), just because they can get them caught and strangle. Which is even worse when the chain is really durable and won’t break when snagged. Link chains, or rolo chains would probably work, chains that you don’t have to worry about if they break them or lose them. Many parents still no matter what, wait to give them a necklace until they get older. -Richard
I am thinking about getting a 24 in 8 mm wide rope chain. Is this to to big and what size should I get
Hi Chris. 8mm is pretty wide for a necklace, but it will really stand out and look very masculine. The necklace I have is 5.5mm wide and I love it (as a comparison, most men’s rings are 6mm wide). If you’re looking into buying an 8mm, I would try them on first, or make sure you can return it if you find them too thick, too gaudy, or too heavy. -Richard
I have type of woven 18ct strap with a box type clasp on my watch .can I have this shortened
Hi Jenny. Yes, if it’s solid gold and not plated, it can be shortened. :) -Richard
I just lost a 1.4 k diamond pendant because the wheat chain broke! I had it for 17 years. The diamond was insured and I am replacing it with a 1.5 k pendant.. what do you recommend as the strongest, yet nice looking, chain? I don’t like gold color.
Hi Evelyn. Sorry to hear about your diamond pendant. Wheat chains are typically one of the strongest, but any type of solid link chain will work. Like the figaro, curb link (cuban), gucci, or mariner. Just choose one that’s not hollow, has a lobster clasp, and is steel or 14k white gold. Do you know why your pendant broke? Usually it’s because the clasp breaks (which does happen, mine lasted around 20 years before snapping and that was a really thick, durable clasp). -Richard
for 14k gold chains for men …which is most popular …a regular rope or diamond cut rope chain ???????
Hi Annette, Diamond Cut Rope Chain for sure! :) -Richard
Richard, thanks for your reply above. The chain broke a few links past the lobster clasp. I bought a new 14K white gold wheat chain online. It is an 18″ long and 1.1 mm thick. I received it today. It looks much too thin for a 1.5 K diamond pendant. What do your recommend as an appropriate thickness for such a pendant?
Hi Evelyn, try a 2.5-3mm wheat chain. That should be thick enough (without really being thick), and durable enough to hold such a diamond. :) -Richard
HI! I love your post. I have a pendant that is 19mm (circle) and rose gold. From your article I’d guess purchasing a 2mm wheat chain? What length do you feel is appropriate for this? Thanks!!!
Hi Gretta. Depends where you want to wear it. See my chain and necklace length post here. :) -Richard
Thanks Richard! So I think a 18 inch chain is best. What do you think about the thickness? Is 2mm ideal? Thanks!
Hi Gretta. 2-3mm is perfect for most pendants. It just depends on how big the pendant is. Larger and heavier pendants will require a thicker, more durable chain. But most pendants are smaller and lightweight and should be fine on a 2-2.5mm. -Richard
I have a chain with the stamp like this N/C 10k. What does the N/C stand for?
I like it when you mentioned about chains that will work out well with durability. As an avid fan of accessories, it is important for me to know if the chain I am wearing is something I can easily take a beating. It shows more comfort to the wearer. I am planning to buy a 12mm chain bracelet and hopefully, I can find something that can hold up well. And I am definitely not considering getting a flexible chain as for your tip here.
Will this 1mm 14k rolo chain hold up to the test of time with this locket on it?
Or should I buy the locket separately and opt for a 40 gauge 10k curb chain instead from a different jewellery store?
Both have perks- I like that the chain is 14k, understated & delicate, and I know that it looks good with the locket, but I want it to last years and years. It costs $120 usd for the length I want and I’m not rolling in money so I don’t want to waste it on a chain that will break.
The curb chain however is only 70 usd on sale & the same 20″ length, but only 10k gold and from an Australian jewellery store that’s known for its very ‘hit or miss’ jewellery quality. However, unlike the rolo chain from the link attached, it comes with a warranty & has physical stores local to me.
There are pros and cons for both but shipping is expensive so if I’m buying the pendant I have to decide now whether to include the rolo chain in my order. I’d love an educated opinion on this, since I’m definitely not an expert.
Hi Mari. I have attached the image so people can see. The chain itself is nice, much more durable than standard chains that come on pendants. Link chains hold up very well and I would think you would no issues on the chain holding the locket, unless you’re rough on your jewelry. The only things I would be concerned of is this; 1) the website showed different pendants with different chains on this same page, so make sure you get the rolo pictured above (the box chain would work as well). 2) If it has a spring ring clasp, have it swapped out for a lobster that gets soldered on, so it won’t pull open and come loose. :) -Richard
I just bought my grandson a 14 k gold cross… 8.5 grams of gold 2.9 mm thick. He is active 21 year old and will always wear it. Should I get a box chain or Franco. He wants a 20”. Which would be stronger?
Hi Harriet. Definitely the Franco chain, or any kind of link chain for a man. :) -Richard
My daughter wants a singapore necklace with a pendant. What would you suggest, please?
Hi, My nephew died almost 3 years, he was 33 years old. I received his AA Recovery Medallion & necklace from his wife. It’s so very, very precious to me!
The braided silver/black braided necklace he wore, has some broken links, though still together. Can you recommend a chain? I plan on wearing it everyday (daytime, no showers) I’d be devastated if I lost it, so it must be a secure lock. Oh, I’d like to keep it at the original 24″ chain.
Robert’s Aunt Bobbi
Hi Bobbi, so sorry to hear that. I would recommend taking the chain into an independent jeweler for them to look at. They can show you different chain styles; links, ropes, box chains, wheat, that will work best for the size and weight of your medallion. It would be hard to suggest something without seeing the actual piece. Take it to any jeweler and they can give you great alternatives, show you different sizes and colors, and provide something that is both durable and solid at the same time. -Richard
I want to buy my friend’s 14k diamond cut Figaro chain, but im also looking at 14k Figaro chains online and some are 3.5mm and are still hollow. can you please tell me how it is possible for a Figaro chain that small and thin to be hollow, and if it is, which part of it is hollow, and how can I tell apart from hollow and solid chains that thin?
Hi Kevin. Just like hoop earrings, they can be hollow at almost any size. You will feel the difference. Lightweight hollow chains will clink together and sound like tin. I don’t recommend them. Always try for solid if you can (and if you want it to last). Just like these solid 14k figaro chains here. -Richard
is the matching bracelet article out yet??? lol im hooked on how good this was
Hi, I am considering buying a double link chain. Is this chain solid or hollow?
It can be either or. You’d have to read the description and see what it says. If it says semi-hollow, or semi-solid, it means hollow. -Richard
Will a 22 inch 14k 5mm hollow gold necklace be durable due to its thickness?
Hi Dustin. Hard to tell, but my guess is no. With the necklace being bigger in mm, it stands a chance of being caught more, squashed, pulled, or kinked. Plus, it may also sound cheap, like tin, instead of gold. You’re better off with a thinner solid necklace if you want durability. -Richard
Hi, I recently brought a nice ladies silver cross I would like to wear it on a nice 20 inch chain but I have no clue as to what chain to buy staying in the $150.00 to $200.00 range a gift to myself studying for Masters Degree at 61 year’s young.
Hi Angela. Go for either a 1-1.5mm box chain, or a wheat chain. Those are the best. :) -Richard
Hi, I am looking to get a chain to wear every day and want to ensure that it is durable and can withstand my semi active lifestyle. What size mm do you recommend for a chain that will be worn regularly? I was looking at a 14k Fugaro 3.2 mm, but I was hoping to get someones opinion who is educated on jewelry.
Hey there, I was looking to get a 3.2 mm White Gold Figaro Chain and was curious to know if you think this would be practical for every day wear? I really want a chain that I can wear and not take off except for on rare occasion, and was hoping to get guidance from someone who is more skilled!
That’s a great chain to wear everyday, for life. Just make sure it’s solid (not hollow or semi-hollow), and solid gold as well and you’ll have it forever. :) -Richard
I learned so much from this! Great article. I was looking into buying my first chain and this has helped me narrow my search to 20″ silver curb chains. Are there any specific sellers that you recommend? How much should I be paying for a basic silver chain? I see prices ranging and the most I’m thinking of spending is $140. Any other tips or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
I am looking for a delicate gold chain that catches the light and sparkles, and I don’t plan to wear it with a pendant. Should I look for diamond cut, box, or wheat? What thickness would you recommend? While I’m going for a delicate look, I also want to ensure that it’s durable and long-lasting. Thank you!
Hi Sami. I would recommend a chain that’s 1mm or 1.5mm. It’s still small and delicate, but durable as well. Any chain that’s a link, wheat, box, or rope chain would be ideal. This 1mm wheat chain is beautiful. -Richard
Hi Richard, I am deciding between a 1mm and 1.3 mm cable chain (20 inches) for my pendant (height is 15mm). Which width would you recommend? Thank you!
Go for the thicker mm to hold the pendant. Maybe even 1.5 mm depending on how heavy it is. -Richard
I bought an 18K 0.8mm white gold curb chain with spring clasp hook. What type of pendant would ve appropriate please so as not to break the chain? How long do you reckon it last if worn daily with my hair tied up so as not to get caught in it?
Can the clasp be changed for fish hook or lobster clasp?
Do you think this specification of chain would be solid or hollow? Could it be solid gold or gold filled?
I don’t know how much the chain weighs.
Is an 18″ box chain long enough for a pendant? it will hold 2 small rectangular shapes with children’s names engraved, their birthstones in crystal and a small circle that says My Boys. All in sterling silver.
Yes, 18″ usually hangs down enough to be seen with a v-neck shirt. Any shorter, and it would be a choker. -Richard
Very informative – I will have to look further for the box chain you suggested-it’s for my Princess Melanie
Hi Richard, so happy that I found my way to your wonderful informative article. I have been driving myself crazy trying to get correct info from sellers who do not answer my questions. I am looking to purchase a 14k yellow gold nameplate necklace (6 letters). I already have a most dainty one from my grandmother from years ago. That one could so easily break. Using a centimeter ruler, the depth of the nameplate is 1mm. The sellers that have my item say they sell it in regular depth of .4mm or double thick which is .8mm That is NOT the same as 4mm or 8mm which would make sense to me. I regular paper clip is 1mm, so how could these nameplates me POINT 4 or POINT 8. I keep sending messages but they don’t understand what I am asking. Then there is the matter of the chain. They say it is 1gm or 2gms. Everywhere else, and here in your wonderful blog, you categorize chains in mm rather than grams. Therefore I do not know how thick the chains are. This is VERY frustrating. I want the chain to be visible and feminine but not overbearing. I want the plate to be maybe what I would measure as 4mm. If you look at a centimeter ruler, that would be just under 1/2 on one centimeter. I simply cannot get answers and am quarantining so will not go to a jeweler. Can you help in any way(One of the sellers is on Amazon, MyNameNecklace). Impossible to get answers from them as they do not address or comprehend what I am asking. Thanks so much Richard.
Hi Andrea. This is what you should do. Go to a jewelry store and look at their chains. Size them up for the width, thickness, and gram weight. That way you can decide which style you like on your neck. This is the best way to figure it out, versus buying sight unseen. Once you have a better idea of what you like, then shopping is much easier. Thicker name plates are better, since they won’t bend as much. And a heavier chain is wise, so it will balance out the plate and make it lay better. Head to a store and hold some real chains in your hand to figure out what you like. Otherwise, you’ll probably be sending the name plate back. -Richard