Do Chains wear out?
Chains are just like everything else in life. They wear down, get old, erode, weaken, break, bend, kink and stretch.
And you can’t blame them either…
We wear our chains every single day. What else could you wear daily and not have wear out as quickly?
Different types of chains and metals do different types of things when they wear down as well…
The Rope Chain:
Rope chains are great chains to own.
But, as you wear them, rope chains will slowly stretch and lengthen.
Normally this doesn’t affect the chain much, and most people don’t even notice it.
With a rope chain, the thicker the rope, the better.
I’ve owned a rope chain for over 20 years and it still looks brand new.
Smaller rope chains do wear down though.
They wear down by unraveling. Pieces of the chain actually come undone and stick out from the rest of the chain. You’ll notice this because the chain will start snagging your clothing and sweaters, or it will feel rough and scratch your skin.
No matter, rope chains are an easy fix. Jewelers usually just tuck the jagged piece back into the rope (intertwine it), or they just add a drop of solder onto the spot to keep it from breaking.
Rope chains are highly recommended.
And then we have box chains…
Box chains are one of the most popular chains there are:
Box chains are great for holding pendants and charms (they come to a nice V on the neck).
But, they are only great… If they are thick enough. Jewelers sell box chains in different mm thicknesses. The best is a medium thickness (around 1.5 mm or bigger) for durability and longevity.
Thinner box chains seem to pull, stretch and snap easily.
The interesting thing about box chains is that they stretch more than any other type of chain (because of the way they’re made). A 20″ chain in a couple of years could end up being 30″ (gold being very malleable can stretch quite a distance).
When box chains get stretched (which is caused by hanging pendants, getting them caught, or having your kids grab the chain and yank) tend to get really thin and stiff (not flexible – it loses its elasticity).
When box chains get this weak and frail they tend to snap in half. Once a box chain gets stretched and thin, there is no way to fix them…
It’s time for a new chain.
What are the worst chains to buy?
Omega chains, snake chains, and herringbone chains. These are not great chains at all (see image below).
Flat chains like the herringbone and omega (or ones that don’t have a good bending point), will kink, bend and pull apart. Pieces of the chain will bend up and break off and then there’s not much hope for them. Soldering them just makes the solder joint stand out and look globby. And even if they do solder it back together again, the solder mark will harm the surrounding areas and make them weaker.
Plus, once flat chains like this kink, they will always kink.
Jewelers can roll or flatten the kinks out, but those areas will always be noticeable and end up being weaker and kink again.
Usually the best advice is to cut the chain down into a smaller chains (cutting out the bad parts out) and turn it into a bracelet.
Pretty, little chains… but don’t buy them! (see image)
Bead chains (like little disco balls) are pretty and cute, but they are very delicate and break often (the little links tend to pop out of their sockets). Fixing them is a bear. Once those holes get opened up, they just don’t hold well and aren’t secure.
The beads will probably be on the floor with just a slight tug or pull.
Singapore chains tend to twist, snag, and knot.
These types of chains never seem to lay right either, they’re always twisting around and getting caught.
Singapores can also break and stretch easily as well.
I would skip singapore.
San Marco Chains:
Run away fast.
These San Marco chains (and bracelets) are beautiful and elegant (they look like little macaroni), but they are made horribly!!!
They are put together with little posts that bend and break way too easily from the socket!
They posts pull out and pop open with little effort at all.
San Marco links never lay right, they always want to roll over (which makes them break apart) and twist. And once you pop these links apart, you may as well forget it. Soldering or fixing them them a nightmare because the links are hollow.
Look at buying a different type of chain. Don’t even look at San Marcos… run away and keep running.
You’ll be happy you did.
Fine, thin chains are the default chain that come on most pendants, charms and necklaces.
Take a look…
These chains are frail, delicate, thin and extremely fragile.
Any slight yank could break them apart or pull the links open. You take your chances with these chains.
I always recommend people upgrade these chains immediately!
Frail, dainty fine chains are an accident waiting to happen.
So what types of chains do I advise buying?
I’m glad you asked…
Wheat chains are my absolute favorite type of chain.
Notice a trend here?
Most of the great chains to buy are link chains.
This is because links tend to hold up the best. And since every link is independently soldered closed, you won’t have to worry about them ever opening or coming undone.
They are the safest type of chain to ever own.
I would recommend link style chains to be worn with any style of pendant or charm (man or women). You simply can’t go wrong with them.
So what’s the clasp?
The lobster clasp
The lobster clasp is the safest and most durable chain clasp there is.
Not to mention the fact that lobster claws get soldered onto your chain (where as the weak, frail, spring ring clasps are not).
Spring rings get bent, broken, and pulled open all the time. Plus the little spring inside the rings seems to wear out and break quickly (plus, most are just gold plated anyway).
Stick with lobster claw clasps, they are the best.
Plus, they are also the easiest to clasp.
Here’s another word of advice…
Don’t buy hollow chains!
(See image below)
Jewelers sell tons of different styles of chains. Some are way cheaper than others (even though they are the same width). There’s a good reason for this… Most of these cheaper chains are hollow (also called semi-hollow) inside.
Don’t buy them.
Hollow chains (like puffed Gucci links) bend, break and dent faster than any other chain out there.
And once these hollow chains get broken, they really can’t be fixed. Jewelers dislike even working on them because you can’t put any pressure or heat to them (like hollow hoop earrings). It just makes fixing them a huge ordeal.
So before you buy a chain…
Ask the salesperson these questions:
- Is the chain hollow?
- Is the chain durable?
- Will this chain bend or kink?
These are good things to know before you spend your hard earned cash on a chain.
Also note that these examples listed here apply mainly towards 10kt or 14kt gold chains (which are the most common on the market anyway).
Silver is also quite popular, but silver is much softer than gold, and will bend, break, stretch, fall apart faster, and will even tarnish as well.
(Plus it leaves a lovely black stain on your neck! SWEET!)
If you want a nice chain that won’t give you problems, skip silver and go for white gold or yellow gold. You won’t regret it.
Other alternative metals would be:
Stainless steel or titanium (see image).
The metals are extremely rugged, durable, masculine and will last a lifetime. You can’t beat that.
And I say, if a chain lasts that long…
That’s a great chain to splurge on.
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