A chain is a strand of interlocking links, rings, discs, or beads, usually composed of metal. During their early times, chains were likely seen as a life-changing new technology, used as strong and practical alternatives to rope. Smaller chains were used for simple tasks, like pulling a bucket of water up from a well, where larger ones were used to casting anchors.
It wasn't long before chains found their way into jewelry. Chain links can be made by hand, but most modern designs are manufactured by machinery. Chain necklaces are the most popular, but you can find chain used in bracelets and earrings as well. Over time, people have created all different link styles and combinations to fashion different looks. Here are the most well-known chain jewelry styles:
Cable Chain: "Cable" is an Old Norman French word stemming from the Latin words capulum (lasso, rope) and capere (to take). One of the most popular and classic of chain styles, cables are created from interlocking oval links unvarying in size. They are fairly easy to make and work splendidly with delicate pendants.
Curb Chain: The word "curb" comes from Middle English, originally meaning "a curved piece of wood." Curb chains are comprised of special curved links which interlock even while laid flat. The links can all be the same size or be graduated towards the center. Chunky curb chains are used to make trendy urban designs.
Rolo Chain: A rolo chain is comprised of interlocking circle-links. This style of chain is similar to the cable chain, but is slightly more complex as the links can alternate in size.
Figaro Chain: A Figaro chain is a modified version of the curb chain, where the interlocking flat links vary in size. It usually forms a pattern with trios of smaller links alternating with a longer link. The name "Figaro" comes from its Italian origin. Italian chain makers were inspired by famous operas and plays, which featured a barber named Figaro as the main character.
Marine Chain: Named because of its likeness to nautical chains, a marine chain is comprised of oval links, each with a horizontal bar across the center. Marine links can interlock, like cable chains, or rest flat, like curb links.
Popcorn Chain: A popcorn style is a lightweight, tubular chain with a beaded texture created by convex links. These chains have a puffed look to them which resembles a garland of popcorn.
Rope Chain: A rope chain's links are twisted or looped together in a pattern that creates a look similar to that of a rope. This is likely the most popular textural chain style.
Byzantine Chain: Sometimes called "birdcage" or "Etruscan," the Byzantine style is an obvious nod to the ancient Byzantine Empire. This chain is a decorative design which creates a woven texture. The pattern used is intricate and complex, arranging round links from different angles.
Wheat Chain: A wheat chain is formed by oval and twisted oval links woven together in the same direction. The result is a textural look with a semi-rigid structure. As the name suggests, the appearance of this chain is similar to tips of wheat stalks.
Bead Chain: A bead chain is made from ball-shaped links connected with small breaks in between. This creates the look of a very thin beaded necklace. In addition to ornamental jewelry, bead chains are also used for dog tags and key chains.
Omega Chain: An "Omega," from Greek meaning "great," is a notably shiny chain formed by flat plates crimped together over a mesh interior. The semi-rigid structure gives it a unique look, perfect to wear as is or pair with a slide pendant.
Box Chain: A box chain is comprised of square links arranged to create a smooth, four-sided shape.
Snake Chain: A chain comprised of tightly linked wavy plates, resulting in a smooth, round look with a subtle zigzag pattern.
Herringbone Chain: A herringbone is a flat and fluid chain created from pressed v-shaped links arranged in alternating directions. The "herringbone" pattern is also popular in textiles and home dÃƒÂ©cor, named after the unique skeletal structure of a herring fish.
Singapore Chain: A Singapore is a twisted chain linking pattern that blends the look of a curb chain with that of a rope chain. The flat and curvaceous links of a Singapore are often described as having the look and feel of liquid, even when unraveled.