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When buying a chain, one of the most important factors to consider is whether the chain is strong enough for its intended purpose. Can it hold a heavy pendant? Will it kink and break? How likely are the links to come apart?
This article will cover the strongest and weakest necklace chains, how to choose and how to take care of your chain.
What Makes a Chain Strong?
Type of Links
The strongest types of chains are those made of individual, interlocking, soldered links.
These chains are more flexible, even when made thick. Because they don’t have a bending point, they don’t tend to break even when twisted, knotted or folded.
The best part about these chains is the ease of repair. As each link is individually soldered, a damaged link can be taken out or repaired without compromising the integrity of the entire chain.
Some chains that fall into this category are the Figaro, curb, cable and anchor chains.
The weakest chains are those that consist of several links, woven together into complex designs and have very little flexibility. These aren’t resistant to tugging, kinking, breaking or folding. They tend to quickly show signs of damage, if not taken good care of.
Type of Metal
The type of metal used is also highly important in ensuring that a chain is strong. Metals such as stainless steel, platinum, and solid gold are strong and durable.
Less durable metals include gold plated metals, hollow metals and chains made of other base metals. Sterling silver can be a good choice, but it’s not as sturdy as some of the other metals mentioned above.
Thickness of Chain
The chain thickness will play a critical role in its durability. Thicker chains have larger links, which are more resistant to damage.
When pairing a pendant with a chain, it stands to reason that you can’t hold a massive pendant with a thin, delicate chain. The chain needs to be in proportion to the pendant to ensure that it can hold the pendant.
Strong Chain Types
- Curb Chain: Each chain is individually soldered and linked together. these chains are commonly heavy and thick, making them extremely durable and strong.
- Anchor Chain: Made of interlocking oval links, with a bar across the center of each oval. These range from thin to thick and are typically resistant to twisting.
- Figaro Chain: Made of a large link followed by a series of smaller links (hence the name 3-1 links) Figaro chains can easily be repaired if damaged. These chains can withstand a lot of exposure.
- Cable Chain: Simple and strong, cable chains are made of uniform interlocking links.
- Wheat or Spiga Chain: Made of four strands of links woven together, this chain looks delicate but is very strong and doesn’t easily break or kink.
- Box Chain: Made of square (or sometimes round) links, the box chain is easy to fix if damaged as each link can be replaced easily.
- Singapore Chain: Although it looks delicate, Singapore chains are made of several metal fibers that are woven and twisted into a single durable chain.
Weak Chain Types
- Herringbone Chain: The links are flat and thin, with limited flexibility. The chain can easily bend, kink and become deformed. They’re also very hard to repair, as the links are intricately linked.
- Omega Chain: Made of metal plates closely placed together and held in position by a mesh beneath them, Omega chains easily kink and break. The way the chain is structured makes it very difficult to repair.
- Snake Chain: With extremely limited flexibility, snake chains are apt to kink and showing signs of damage. They have to be repaired by soldering.
- Ball Chain: Although a popular chain, ball chains are quite weak. Made of beads held in place by tiny bars, ball chains need to be soldered together if a bar breaks.
- Rope Chain: Made of several links that aren’t completely joined together, rope chains are woven into a complex design. If a link breaks, it’ll need to be woven back into the same pattern.
Tips to Remember
Just because a chain is considered weak, doesn’t mean it can’t function as a necklace chain. It just means that you’ll have to give it appropriate care to ensure that it lasts a long time. Here are some guidelines in taking care of your necklace chain.
- Clean your chain periodically. A build-up of dirt and dust can cause chain links to become damaged and even break. Using warm water and a mild soap is often the best way to clean a chain, whether it’s made of gold, platinum or stainless steel. Check out how to clean and care for your gold chain.
- Store your chains carefully. Improper storage results in tangled, kinked chains. A tip for storing thin chains is to thread your chain through a drinking straw and fix the clasp at the ends. Also, avoid storing chains with harder items like diamonds, as these can scratch the chain.
- Choose the right chain for the purpose. If you’re looking for a chain to hold a pendant, choose a strong chain at an appropriate thickness. If you’re looking for a statement chain to standalone, any thick chain will do the trick.
There are many chain options to choose from, ranging from strong to weak. The chain you decide on should depend on how you intend to use it.
By choosing a quality metal and the right chain thickness and type for your purpose, you can ensure that you’ve selected the best chain for your needs.
To learn more about chains, check out our in-depth guide on types of gold chains.