How to Choose the Best Chains for Pendants | The Bench

Author: Jeremiah

Nov. 28, 2023




Tags: Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

Choosing the best chains for pendants can be difficult. With so much choice, and varying necklace chain lengths, it can be hard to know where to begin, particularly if you are selecting something as a gift. There are, however, a few simple rules which can make choosing your necklace chain length and style easier. By breaking the process down into a few simple steps, you will quickly narrow the choice which will help tremendously. Find out how to choose a chain for your pendant today, including a chain length guide and handy tips to take note of.

Wondering how to choose a gold chain for your next design? Whichever alloy you’re after, the same points apply. So here are a few questions to consider when choosing the best chains for pendants:

What is the strongest style of chain for a pendant?

It stands to reason that a large pendant needs a chain strong enough to carry it without the risk of breaking; in other words, one needs to balance the other.

The clasp also needs to be suitable to withstand the pressure placed upon it. A wider and heavier gauge of chain will be able to carry more weight and will usually have a more substantial clasp, such as a lobster or trigger, to cope with this.

Some of the stronger chain types you could opt for include:

  • Curb chain – features thick, individually soldered links, which makes them an extremely durable option.
  • Cable chain – simply yet elegant, the uniformly interlocked links are individually welded or soldered, providing added strength.
  • Trace chain – also known as ‘anchor chain’, they feature interlocking oval links bolstered by a bar, which prevents them from twisting.

On the flipside, a small and light pendant will sit perfectly well on a fine pendant chain with very little weight to it. These smaller chains normally have a lightweight bolt ring clasp, which is perfectly adequate for the job.

Aesthetically speaking, you also need to check that the pendant looks balanced and in proportion to the chain. So, for example: you would not put a 2mm snake chain on a 6mm round pendant as this would look completely out of proportion. Instead, you should ideally opt for something much finer, such as our 0.9mm Mini Snake chain which would be much more suitable.

VVO M09H – Sterling Silver 0.9mm Mini Snake Chain 18″/45cm Unhallmarked

How large does the bail / hole for the pendant chain needs to be?

The best chains for pendants will move freely through the bail or hole by which they are attached, so this is a simple, practical check that needs to be made before buying a chain. Either physically try it out or look for size details of the end caps or jump rings in the description. If in any doubt, just ask! Feel free to contact us about any of our products – we’re more than happy to help.

Standard necklace length chart

It’s important to understand standard necklace lengths and where they sit – knowing this will make choosing the right chain length for your pendant much easier.

  • 16” – 17” is collar length – sitting comfortably at the base of the neck
  • 17” – 19” is princess length – sitting on the collarbone
  • 20” – 24” is matinee length – sitting somewhere between the collarbone and the bust
  • 28” – 37” is opera length  – sitting from the top of the bust to just below
  • 37+” is rope length – sitting at or below the waistline

How long should a pendant necklace chain be?

The question of necklace chain length really comes down to the preference of the wearer, however there are some practical elements to consider when choosing the best chain length for pendants. As a general rule, larger pendants can be worn on very long chains as well as very short ones, providing they are strong enough. In contrast, lighter weight pendants are more suited to shorter chain lengths as they will simply get lost on a longer design and are liable to get caught in clothing and pulled, which could lead to breakages.

Choosing which chains to buy as a gift can be particularly difficult and it’s easy to get it wrong. So on average, how long should a necklace chain be? Our advice would be to consider both the age and the frame of the recipient. Whilst you can’t generalise, we would suggest slightly shorter necklace chain lengths for younger people. For example, as a general necklace chain length guide, stick to 16” – 18” for regular to small pendants (our 0.9mm hammered trace extendable pendant chain would be perfect as it gives you the option of two lengths) – this is one of the most standard necklace lengths. Then opt for slightly longer lengths for older customers or loved ones, particularly those with a larger frame – for example 18” – 20” or even 22”. Again, our extendable range is the perfect solution for this dilemma as it gives the customer two options in one chain.

VVB 040I – Sterling Silver 1.6mm Extendable Belcher Chain 18-20″/45-50cm Unhallmarked

The longest necklace chain lengths (24” – 30”) normally carry larger pendants and are a universal choice for both the young and old. Droplet designs work particularly well, as do pieces with lots of movement, such tassels and charms which will constantly move as the wearer walks around. (Diamond cut chains are a popular choice for longer chains for this very reason.)

What is the best type of chain for a pendant?

The next step towards choosing the best chains for pendants is style – and there are so many to choose from. The question of style is also perhaps the most difficult, as we are all individuals with different preferences. However, there are some key points to keep in mind when deciding which style chains to buy, particularly when choosing for others.

  • Trace, belcher, curb and snake chains are our most popular styles of chain, and they are popular for a reason. As some of the best chains for pendants, most people recognise and like them., They go with a wide range of pendant styles. If you are unsure, pick one of these and you won’t go far wrong.
  • Looking for the best chain for pendants with a modern and contemporary design? A simple chain (such as a snake or curb) is likely to complement it better as it will provide a clean, unfussy silhouette. More elaborate or traditional pendant designs might be better suited to a trace or belcher chain with a more visible link.
  • Finally, if you want to elevate the chain, choose a style with a diamond cut or hammered finish to add some extra sparkle.

How thick should a chain be for a pendant?

The gauge of our most popular chains ranges from 0.9mm – 1.7mm, so unless you have a particularly large pendant to accommodate, pick something within this size range. We would suggest 0.9mm – 1mm as a good starting point for most lightweight pendants.

Discovered the best chains for pendants in your collection? You can find them at Cooksongold – shop our extensive range of jewellery chain today!

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Written by

Joanna Varney

Joanna has worked in and around the jewellery industry for well over 20 years. She has designed and created her own pieces as a designer maker, as well as working in jewellery retail on a much larger scale, producing designs and NPD for some of the UK’s largest high street retailers

As I see it, there are two aspects to chain strength: the tensile
strength of the metal and its resistance to wear. For any given
material, the tensile strength is proportional to the cross
sectional area normal to the applied tension. It doesn’t matter what
the shape of the cross section is, only the area is important: double
the area and the strength is doubled.

The same isn’t true for wear resistance though. Chains wear as the
result of abrasion between the links, and the rate of wear increases
with the pressure per unit area of contact between the links: the
smaller the contact area, the higher the pressure and the greater the
rate of wear. Think about sawing a piece of pipe or tube. Until you
reach the hollow bit the effort is exactly the same as if you were
sawing a solid rod, but when you reach it the saw just zips through.
Its not dissimilar to sawing a wide bar - it is much more difficult
to saw across the wide bit than across the narrow bit. Incidentally,
this is the reason that chains made of hollow wire wear out very

For maximum resistance to wear then, you need to make the area of
contact between the links as large as possible, and the type of chain
that does this is known as Venetian Box chain. The links are made of
flat strips of wire bent into rectangles. All other things being
equal, eg. quality of soldering, box chains are the strongest.

Regards, Gary Wooding

How to Choose the Best Chains for Pendants | The Bench

Chain strength - Jewelry Discussion


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