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Different Types of Gold Chain - A Guide to Understanding Chain Styles

By Emily Huxtable - 29th May 2024

Lisa Angel chain styles laid on top of beige coloured fabric

There are a lot of things that go into deciding which gold chain you want to introduce into your collection. With so many different types to choose from, you might feel a little overwhelmed. But, we’re here to give you a handy insight into a range of chain styles so you can figure out which one is best suited to you and your needs. First, let’s briefly cover the variety of materials used to create these chains, so you can decide which you prefer.

What kind of material is best?

Gold Vermeil

You might be asking, ‘What is vermeil?’. For a piece of jewellery to count as gold vermeil, it must have a base metal of sterling silver plated in at least 10ct gold. All of our gold vermeil is plated in at least 14ct gold, upwards of 24ct. Gold vermeil is a great alternative to solid gold. Being a more affordable option, you can get the same look whilst not breaking the bank. It is also more hypoallergenic than other gold plated metals, making it great for those with sensitive skin.

Gold plated 

Similarly to vermeil, gold plated jewellery makes a wonderful alternative to solid gold. However, using a more inexpensive base metal, such as stainless steel or brass, gold plated jewellery is even more cost-effective than gold vermeil. With the use of harder base metals, gold plated jewellery can be more durable than solid gold or gold vermeil. Both of the latter options use softer metals that are more susceptible to dints and scratches.

Solid gold 

The classic gold option, timeless solid gold has been adored for centuries. Tarnish-free and standing the test of time, this polished metal is often reserved for wedding rings, graduation gifts and family heirlooms. However, gold plated options might prove an easier choice for those who want to enjoy their jewellery a little more lavishly.

What are the different types of gold chain?

Now we’ve covered a few of the kinds of materials that can be used to create your chain, you can find the style of chain that will best suit your look.

Trace Chain

A staple in most people’s jewellery collections, the trace chain is the epitome of simplicity. Characterised by delicate, oval links, this necklace is by nature a slim chain. When you think of a chain, this is likely the kind that comes to mind. It features repeating links of thin metal that connect together to create a necklace that works well with pendants and charms. The repetitive links and delicate build helps pendants to hang with little resistance. Our gold plated vermeil trace chain makes a super worthwhile choice. The use of vermeil plating makes it extra durable! Just make sure to still avoid wearing it in the shower.

Gold Plated Sterling Silver Trace Chain
Chunky Chain Necklace in Gold on top of beige coloured fabric

Curb Chain

Similar to trace chains in their popularity, curb chains seem to be a chain that many people will reach for. However, whilst trace chains tend to remain on the thinner side, curb chains come in all different sizes. Made up of oval-shaped links with notches on each side, these links slot together to face the same way and create a flat chain, compared to the round appearance of a trace chain. Sometimes chosen as a sleeker option to other chains, this necklace makes the perfect choice for someone looking for an everyday chain. Just make sure to take your chain off when showering or exercising, especially if it’s gold plated! Read our care guide for more information on looking after your gold jewellery. Our Chunky Chain Necklace in Gold is a great example of a larger curb chain. With oversized links and a shorter length, this necklace is ideal for statement styling.

Satellite Chain

Satellite chains are another great option for wearing with pendants or by itself. Consisting of a trace chain adorned with shining gold spacer beads, these spacer beads can either be evenly spaced or interspersed in bursts. A fun way to level up the traditional trace chain, this type of chain adds some extra shine and playfulness to your looks. Perfect for lovers of quirky jewellery, pair a satellite chain with your favourite colourful charm for a nostalgic touch to your outfits. Choose from vermeil or gold plated satellite chains and pick the finish that best fits your lifestyle

Gold Sterling Silver Satellite Necklace Chain on top of beige coloured material
Gold Stainless Steel Rope Chain Necklace laid on top of beige coloured material

Rope Chain

For those who want their jewellery to glint in the light, rope chains might be the best choice for you. With intricate links that fold together, this slinky necklace can be moved with ease, making it a less rigid choice than a trace chain, for example. The links twist into a timeless rope-like effect, giving an almost vintage feel to any look. Our Gold Plated Stainless Steel Rope Chain makes a great choice for lovers of gold jewellery with a cooler hue. The different base metal and method of plating gives stainless steel plated jewellery a different hue to other base metals. 

Wheat Chain

Also known as foxtail chains, wheat chains do exactly what they say on the tin! The links stack together to form what appears to be a stick of wheat. Or, comparatively, a fox’s tail. More rigid than a rope chain, these kinds of chains have layers and layers of links that are woven together to create a sleek strand of gold. The use of two links joining in the centre to create this braided effect means that these chains tend to be a bit thicker than less intricate types such as trace or curb chains. Our Woven Chain Necklace is a stunning wheat chain that looks amazing as part of a curated look.

Woven Chain Necklace in Gold laid on top of neutral coloured material
Double Ball Chain Necklace in Gold arranged on top of beige material

Ball Chain

As we progress through these chain styles, we start to approach some less common types. One of these has got to be the ball chain. Minimalist in design and effortlessly modern, this chain gives a sleek finish with ease. Instead of featuring links that connect via looping through the next, ball chains consist of a length of metal with a dotted effect. Creating a fun, contemporary look, these chains are often loved by the younger generations. Stacking them with charms and colourful motifs, a ball chain makes any look stand out! Check our our layered Double Ball Chain Necklace, with a slim design, this piece is a little more lowkey than similar styles.

Anchor Chain

Inspired by mariners, anchor chains, unsurprisingly also called mariner chains, are a unique chain that is starting to become more popular in recent years. Replicating the chains often used to steady ships at sea, this chain consists of a distinctive kind of link. This link is oval in shape and has a line down the centre, dividing them into two semicircles. The links connect in a similar fashion to trace chains, but tend to be on the larger side. Ideal for wearing alone, anchor chains also work well as a base for stacking longer chains and pendant necklaces beneath it. Our very own Anchor Chain Necklace is a great place to start.

Anchor Chain Necklace in Gold arranged on beige coloured fabric

With so many styles to explore, we’ve covered the most commonly found chain types with an addition of some more trend-led pieces that are starting to gain traction. Whether you’re looking for a simple staple or a stunning statement, there are a variety of chain types that can help you achieve your desired look. Explore more gold chains here and discover your next favourite jewellery piece.

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