The 7 Best Chains For Pendants

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Whether you have a pendant you want to wear around your neck or you’re just trying to switch up the look of a well-loved necklace, adding a new chain will have a major impact on your jewelry’s aesthetic. The best chains for pendants will be thin enough to easily slip through the pendant’s bail (that’s the loop on top) and sturdy enough to match the look and weight of your specific pendant. Your ideal chain will also have a finish that matches your pendant and should be a length that you prefer. Ultimately, choosing the right chain mostly comes down to your own personal aesthetic, but keep thickness, style, and finish in mind.

What is the best chain thickness?

Most importantly, your chain needs to fit through the bail of your pendant. Bails are typically measured in millimeters, and you should always check the size of the loop before purchasing a chain to go with an existing pendant. A smaller bail will typically work best with a lightweight chain, while larger bails are best suited for a thicker chain — though you’ll want to compare the sizes of the chain and the bail in order to definitively know what will work. And if you would like to enlarge the bail size to accommodate a thicker chain, most jewelers can provide that service.

That said, knowing your chain is thin enough to pass through the bail doesn’t mean it will definitely hold your pendant properly. A too-thin chain could break if it’s not strong enough to support the pendant, and generally speaking, the thicker the chain, the stronger it is. But as a general rule of thumb, if you have a small to medium pendant, a chain with a 1- to 1.5-millimeter thickness should be sturdy enough; anything smaller than that should be reserved for really small pendants.

What are common chain styles?

Chains come in different styles, and you should pick the one that best matches your pendant and aesthetic preferences. Cable chains are the most common kind of chain, and have oval or round shaped links interlocked in an identical pattern, while box chain links are square-shaped and give a more industrial look. Curb chain links have been flattened and twisted, and lie flat when placed on a surface. Figaro chains consist of two or three small circular links followed by one elongated oval link, and wheat (aka spiga) chains consist of four strands of twisted oval links which are woven and braided together. All of these chains are ideal for pendants because of their minimalistic look that won’t detract from the focus of your pendant.

What kind of finishes are there?

When it comes to the metal used to make the chain, you have your standard choice between a variety of options like gold, silver, or stainless steel — or gold plated or gold overlay if you like the look of gold but not the price tag. Typically, people like to choose a finish that matches their pendant, though it’s totally up to you.

From 14-karat gold to sterling silver, from figaro to box chains, and from thick to thin, these highly rated chains on Amazon are sure to complement your pendant for a cohesive look.

1. A Sterling Silver Cable Chain With Gold Overlay For Small To Medium Pendants

This dainty cable chain with a spring ring clasp is made from sterling silver with gold overlay, which is a technique that combines gold with another metal, making it more tarnish resistant and usually thicker than gold plating. The chain is nickel-free and hypoallergenic, and the brand promises that wearers are safe from rashes and breakouts. Amazon reviewers back this up, with one writing, “I’m normally allergic to anything that isn’t gold or sterling, and for $9.99 I was skeptical that this was real sterling, but it’s definitely real! Otherwise I’d be broken out red hives on my neck within five minute of putting it on. No hives here! Totally sensitive-skin friendly!”

The chain only comes in one width (1.3 millimeters), which makes it great for small pendants, but you can choose from 10 different lengths ranging from 16 to 36 inches. Multiple reviewers report that it feels delicate but sturdy, and that the gold color lasts through continuous wear.

Helpful Amazon review: “I got this chain to accompany a pure gold pendant I received as a gift. I didn’t have the money to buy a matching gold chain, but I wanted to find something that would still look nice and not too cheap. This chain is it!! I’ve worn it for two months straight - that includes showering and sleeping - and it’s been perfect. Doesn’t even turn my skin green! This is an excellent chain for the price and I would highly recommend.”

  • Available lengths: 16 to 36 inches
  • Available width: 1.3 millimeters

2. A Highly Rated Sterling Silver Box Chain For Small Pendants

With more than 24,000 reviews and a solid 4.3-star rating overall, this sterling silver box chain with a spring ring clasp is a popular choice. It’s hypoallergenic, nickel-free, and has a rhodium finish to increase the durability and luster of the chain. The necklace is made in Italy, comes in a gift box, and the brand guarantees free repairs if anything breaks. Many reviewers suggested that the 1-millimeter width makes it perfect to feature small pendants. Plus, it comes in 10 different sizes ranging from 14 to 36 inches.

Helpful Amazon review: “This box chain has become my go to chain for all of my small to medium sized pendants. It is very durable and can accommodate both dressy and plain pendants. I have been wearing this chain for 2 years and not one of my collection has broken. I love the rhodium plating; it makes the chain look like it is made of white gold. The chain has a rich and elegant shine. [...] The versatility of the chain is unquestionable. I highly recommend this gorgeous box chain as an all around go to chain! Perfect in every way!!!”

  • Available lengths: 14 to 36 inches
  • Available width: 1 millimeter

3. A Versatile Sterling Silver Cable Chain With Gold Plating

This cable chain necklace comes in three different thicknesses (1.2, 1.6, and 2.1 millimeters), which makes it a perfect fit for small, medium, and large pendants alike. The chain fastens with a spring ring clasp and also comes in seven lengths, beginning at 16 inches and extending all the way up to 40 inches. Made of sterling silver with yellow gold plating (though you can opt for a silver finish if you prefer), it gives the shine of gold, but with a more affordable price tag. One reviewer reports that it, “Hasn't tarnished in 2 years of wearing (and I don't take these things off for sleeping or showering).” Plus, the chain arrives in a small, black velvet bag which can make it easy to store or present as a gift.

Helpful Amazon review: “I wanted something that wouldn't detract from a somewhat flashy turquoise and silver pendant I recently bought. This chain is absolutely perfect. Although it is thin and quite delicate-looking, my exuberant toddler has tugged it quite forcefully a couple of times, and it hasn't broken. If it tarnishes (no sign of that as yet), I'll just give it a rinse in some silver cleaning solution. Very happy with this chain, and the price is excellent.”

  • Available lengths: 16 to 40 inches
  • Available widths: 1.2 to 2.1 millimeters

4. A Gold-Plated Figaro Chain That Comes In 4 Different Widths

Available in four different widths ranging from 5 to 13 millimeters and nine lengths ranging from 16 to 36 inches, these highly rated figaro necklace are highly customizable so you can get exactly what you want. Not to mention it’s also available in durable stainless steel, with or without your choice of 24-karat gold or silver plating. According to multiple reviewers, it doesn’t tarnish, turn your skin green, or give you a rash, even though it’s surprisingly affordable. The chain fastens with a lobster clasp and comes in a cute gift bag.

Despite the range of thickness options, this chain isn’t as delicate as some of the box or cable designs and might work best with a heavier pendant.

Helpful Amazon review: “I purchased this chain for myself and am very pleased with my purchase. I am actually wearing it right now. I have placed my heart pendant on it and it looks awesome. Will be purchasing another size very soon!”

  • Available lengths: 16 to 36 inches
  • Available widths: 5 to 13 millimeters

5. A Delicate Gold-Plated Box Chain For Really Small Pendants

With a 0.8 millimeter thickness, this delicate box chain necklace with a spring ring clasp should only be paired with the smallest of pendants. However, despite the narrow width, reviewers found the box chain design to be durable. Made in Italy, the chain is free from nickel and lead, and features 18-karat gold plating over sterling silver. If you’re looking for a specific length, this chain has 13 to choose from, ranging from a 14-inch choker to a 40-inch waist-length chain.

Helpful Amazon review: “For two months, I've been searching for a chain that would slip through the hoop at the top of a very small 18k gold pendant I wanted to wear. I believe it may have been child sized, but every chain I tried was too big on the end to pass through the loop where the chain goes. So frustrating! I took a chance on this one and am SO GLAD I did -- it was a close fit, but the chain slid into place, and the chain looks and feels fantastic. And this price on this is a fraction of all the other chains I tried. It's great!”

  • Available lengths: 14 to 40 inches
  • Available width: 0.8 millimeters

6. A Sterling Silver Wheat Chain With Adjustable Options

Large and small pendants can be worn on this sturdy sterling silver chain, which is woven in a wheat style that has looser links. The nickel-free chain is made in Italy and closes with a lobster clasp. The chain comes in a bunch of different styles, thicknesses, and lengths, so you can seriously put some thought into what will work best for you and your pendant. A 1.1-millimeter version of the chain comes in a few sizes that offer adjustable lengths, one of which is plated in rhodium. If you don’t want an adjustable chain, you can choose from eight different thicknesses with the finest being just 1.5 millimeters, while the bulkiest is 8 millimeters. These chains come in nine different lengths, too. Bracelet-length chains are also available, if you want to match your jewelry.

Helpful Amazon review: “What can I say, I needed a thicker type of chain and I began looking through what was available. After a lot of questionable chains in varying size, style, and lengths, I came across this wheat chain, just the size and style I was looking for! It arrived and it is sturdy, very well made, and in great condition. It holds my heavier pendants without a problem, and looks beautiful. It's shiny, but not so much so that you need bling for it. It looks lovely just by itself, too!”

  • Available lengths: 16 to 30 inches
  • Available widths: 1.1 to 8 millimeters

7. A Chunky Curb Link Chain With Gold Plating

Another chunky option for larger pendants is this curb link chain that closes with a lobster clasp. It’s available in black stainless steel, gold plating over stainless steel, and silver plating over stainless steel, all of which are nickel-free. Multiple reviewers report that they love the stability of the chain, leaving one fan to report, “The necklace looks nice and is thick enough where I don't have to worry about the pendant on it falling off. The steel stays bright without having to clean it frequently.” Plus, the brand promises a 90-day product exchange or money back, and delivers its chains in a black velvet pouch.

Helpful Amazon review: “I have had one for months now and it has held up well. I bought a second for another pendant. The links are large enough to be strong yet not so large to be overly conspicuous which serves my purpose perfectly.”

  • Available lengths: 16 to 30 inches
  • Available widths: 3.5 to 10 millimeters