15 Types Of Chains For Men and How You Should Wear Them in 2023

Style

After you woke up this morning, yawned, stretched, and scratched your lower back with both hands for some reason, did you then look in the mirror and say, “You know what, I think I’m going to start being a chain guy?”   

Should have. Totally should have.

Because not only are they here to stay, but there are more types of chains for men available now than ever before. Rope chains. Curb chains. Custom chains. Figaro chains. Gang’s all here—and that’s barely scratching the surface. 

But with so many types of necklace chains for men to choose from, you’re going to need some help sussing it all out. Herewith, 15 types of chains for men and when you should wear them.  

1. Gold Chains

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Gold chains provide a standout look that oozes confidence—but only in the right hands. Yes, the learning curve is steep, but by no means should you shy away from them. There are several types of chains for men that fall under the “gold” category. There’s solid gold, of course, which is the real deal. From there, less expensive options range anywhere from plated to hollow gold. 

If you’re going gold, go bold. To that unintentionally rhyming end, my top pick for this category has to be Oliver Cabell’s 8mm Cuban Chain. Made in Italy out of 18-karat gold, this head-turning piece is not too thick and not too thin.

When You Should Wear Them

Oliver Cabell offers this chain at a reasonable price point, meaning you don’t have to be too precious about where you wear it. Pop it on for work if your office is casual, or throw it over a t-shirt on your way to happy hour. This one’s up for anything, including a matching gold bracelet if you’re really feeling yourself.

Oliver Cabell’s 8mm Cuban Chain

2. Silver Chains

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One of the most timeless looks out there, silver chains can be worn with almost any look. It also makes for a nice neutral option for the chain-curious. In other words, if you’ve never worn a chain before but would like to take the look for a test drive, you can’t go wrong with a thin silver chain.

Neutrale’s silver chain necklace fits that bill quite nicely. It’s just the right length and width to make a statement without begging for attention, and its hallmark sterling silver construction can stand up to whatever your neck can throw at it. 

When You Should Wear Them

Silver chains can be dressed up or down with a t-shirt or worn casually with a jacket and crisp button-down. The only limit is your confidence.

Neutrale Silver Chain Necklace

3. Rope Chains

close up on gold rope chains
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Rope chains are another solid option if you’re into the look of chains but don’t want said chain to take over your entire look. Most rope chains are thin and barely make a peep over a crisp t-shirt. But when you’re out for drinks having a conversation with an interesting person for whom details matter… that’s when the rope chain’s superpowers really kick in. 

Speaking of superpowers, Oliver Cabell’s 2mm Rope Chain has them in spades and is my pick for this understated yet crucial category. Its diamond cut is designed to catch the light, delicately pinging it back into the eyes of onlookers near and far. Theoretically. Hopefully. 

When You Should Wear Them

This isn’t the chain to wear if you’re trying to make a (loud) statement. Rope chains are a great option for the chain newbie—basically, anyone trying to build up the confidence to rock a necklace for the first time. Start by wearing it over a t-shirt when you’re out to drinks with friends. Low stakes. If that feels right, keep graduating.  

Oliver Cabell’s 2mm Rope Chain

4. Herringbone Chains

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The herringbone style of chain—named such due to its resemblance to the herring fish’s bone structure—dates back to Ancient Egyptian times. The modern man can go a couple of ways with this. 

The first is, of course, to pile on the thickness, gold, and machismo. Fair enough. To each their own. Another option: Understand that this is a bold look on its own and doesn’t need much more of a push on your end.

Here with yet another noteworthy addition to your neck’s arsenal is Oliver Cabell and its herringbone gold chain. Style this piece on its own for an understated-only-not-at-all-understated look, or double it up if your goal is to never be forgotten in the “guy wearing chain” department.   

When You Should Wear Them

This is one of the bolder types of chains for men. Like it or not, the herringbone design doesn’t necessarily make for the best everyday wear. Break this look out for gallery openings, rooftop happy hours with live music, or any time you feel like flexing for no other reason than flexing.  

Oliver Cabell Herringbone Chain

5. Figaro Chains

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Figaro chains are characterized by alternating links running throughout the length of the necklace. These links form a distinctive pattern that stands out from the more subtle types of chains for men. They come in several width options—if you want to showcase your pattern to a wider audience of cheering onlookers, go with a thicker chain. 

Our pick for the best figaro chain comes from Oliver Cabell. It’s made of 18K gold, and at 3mm, it’s one of the thinner chains on this list. All the more reason to draw the right someone in for a closer look at the details. 

When You Should Wear Them

Figaro chains aren’t woven as tightly as, say, a curb chain. As such, they tend to be a bit more fragile. Wear your figaro to evening cocktails, dinners, and the theater. Leave it at home when you hit the beach or your pickleball league. At this point, we just assume everyone’s caved and joined a pickleball league.Oliver Cabell Figaro Chains

6. Cross Chains

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Of all the types of necklace chains for men, cross chains have to be the most ubiquitous (and timeless). They’ve had a major resurgence lately, thanks in no small part to the staggering amount of companies that are manufacturing them. Cross chains can be chunky, subtle, and everywhere in between, making them a versatile option that pairs well with both dressed-up and dressed-down looks. 

If turning heads is what you’re going for (and let’s face it, if you’re wearing a cross-chain, it is), the search ends with David Yurman’s 18K gold Roman Cross Amulet Pendant. It swaps the standard 90-degree-angle cross look for a more historical, multidimensional aesthetic. Whatever you do, don’t hide this stunner under your shirt.

When You Should Wear Them

There’s a throughline among the chain community (if there isn’t a chain community, there should be). And that throughline is versatility. As long as you wear them with confidence, all types of chains for men can be worn in all types of scenarios. Cross chains are no exception.

David Yurman’s 18K gold Roman Cross Amulet Pendant

7. Diamond Chains

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Ah yes, the diamond chain. It’s a chain. It has diamonds. It’s one of the most popular types of chains for men. What else is there to say about it? Turns out, a lot. Diamonds reign supreme in the general look-at-me category, and for good reason.

If you’re in the market for a diamond chain necklace, chances are you’re also in the market for some serious attention. Diamond necklaces are an investment and should be treated as such. 

Though more subtle options exist, if you’re going for a diamond chain, it’s almost always best to go big. And preferably right to NYC’s diamond district. The entire length of Uneek 18k Yellow Gold Diamond Necklace is laced with round-cut diamonds, making it a true head-turner. 

When You Should Wear Them

Unless wearing dozens of diamonds around your neck doesn’t move the needle for you, consider this a special occasion chain. Slap it on when you’re heading out for the night and your confidence level is peaking

Uneek Diamond Chain

8. Cuban Chains

Man sitting, smiling wearing a black sweater, black shorts and a gold chain
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Cuban links are one of the most popular types of chains for men. Its signature look is characterized by oval links fused together to form an often-thicker cable pattern. Hip-hop legends from Slick Rick to Jay-Z have worn this type of chain, and they’re just as popular now as they were back in the day. Street cred aside, Cuban chains also have a classic look that pairs with multiple styles.

Anyone can find a traditional Cuban link chain, and you should definitely have one on standby. But while you’re at it, just go for it with Hatton Labs’ Cuban Crown XL. It’s a gloriously loud piece inspired by 2013’s Carlton Hotel jewelry heist. 

When You Should Wear Them

This type of chain is a great match for all things streetwear and should be given top priority with most outfits. Don a Cuban chain anywhere casual, or dress it up over a crisp t-shirt and under a carefully chosen blazer. Protip: the nearly universal appeal of this type of chain can also make for a nice gift idea.

Hatton Labs’ Cuban Crown XL

9. Thick Chains

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Chains can be found in all lengths and widths. The most popular thickness is around the 1-2 millimeter range, and the stakes get considerably higher when it comes to 8-12mm chains. You like high sartorial stakes, right? Good, because there are thick chains available in all stripes. 

In terms of width, our pick falls somewhere between the conservative and the extreme. John Hardy’s curb chain necklace offers a generous thickness range, but the elusive 7mm feels just right. 

When You Should Wear Them

You’ll want to avoid wearing thick chains to the gym or outdoors when it’s hot. More surface area and weight equal more sweat. Other than that, though, these are fair game whenever dressing down is the play. 

John Hardy’s curb chain

10. Stainless Steel Chains

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Stainless steel is one of the most durable types of chains for men and a good choice for anyone who wants their chain to be around for years to come. It’s largely rust-resistant but may be prone to fading over time. Overall, it’s one of the many types of necklace chains for men that can take a beating and still maintain its integrity. 

Our pick in the stainless steel category is the super affordable foxtail chain necklace from Zales. Its 6.5mm thickness is a nice middle ground between too quiet and too loud, and the silver color plays nice with any outfit. 

When You Should Wear Them

Summer BBQs. Skate park sessions. Happy hour. You name it. The stainless steel chain can accompany you anywhere. And if you live an active lifestyle, bonus points for its approachable price point (worse comes to worst, you can just replace it) and rugged construction. 

Zales Men's 6.5mm Foxtail Chain

11. Thin Chains

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Another excellent option for those who are new to the whole chain thing, thin chains are eye-grabbing and add interest to any look, but not too much interest. This is a very popular look that adds quiet confidence to its wearer. 

John Varvatos makes our list with this thin chain made of 100% oxidized sterling silver. Handcrafted in Turkey with a unique, standout design, this is an impressive piece that should find its way into your neck’s life sooner rather than later. Your neck definitely has a life. We checked. 

When You Should Wear Them

When should you not wear a thin chain? This little guy will make a big impression no matter where you choose to bring it, from the office to the beach. Yes, thin chains both can and should be pulled off shirtless.  

John Varvatos Silver Chain Necklace

12. Curb Chains

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Curb chains fall within the cable chain family. Their links are twisted together and often flattened to create a crisp, uniform appearance. Curb chains are capable of coordinating with other necklaces, so don’t be scared to mix things up a little bit around your neck.

The curb chain from Mejuri checks all the boxes when it comes to this style of necklace. Coming in at 22-inches, it’s the perfect length for demanding the right kind of attention. This style also somehow manages to ride the line between classy and casual, making it an everyday kind of chain. 

When You Should Wear Them

Show it off over a light and bright t-shirt during the summer or drape it over a knit sweater next to the fire pit come fall. Regardless of when you decide to drape a curb chain around your neck, know that they’re typically lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about them weighing you down. 

The curb chain from Mejuri

13. Box Chains

man sitting looking at the camera, wearing a leather jacket, tank top and jeans
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True to their name, box chains are made up of a series of squares linked together. This is a sturdy, eye-catching look that’s been popular for years and will be popular for years to come.  

For us, the best box chains are thin with a sterling silver finish to add a nice pop when the light hits it. It’s a look that’s not flashy and not modest. It’s just right. Exhibit A: Mejuri’s Round Box Chain necklace. This is a necklace that’s meant to be worn everywhere and with everything, so don’t overthink it.

When You Should Wear Them

Like our favorite box chain above, this is one of the types of necklace chains for men that’s about as versatile as it gets. Key for keeping this look universal is sticking to a thinner design and choosing a color that goes with everything, like silver or titanium.  

Mejuri’s Round Box Chain necklace

14. Glass Bead Chains

man sitting in a chair, leaning on his hand with his feet up, lighting is dark
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Glass bead chains may get a bad rap in the men’s necklace world, but that’s all about to change today. Or maybe not, but here goes anyway. Styled thoughtfully and paired with the right mindset, beaded chains can be game-changing additions to any man’s look. 

Eliou Rochelle beaded necklace—available at Mr. Porter—steps in and provides that addition. The rest is up to you. The necklace is punctuated by great colorful glass beads that add a subtle touch of interest to any outfit. 

When You Should Wear Them

Glass bead chains are generally lightweight and colorful (although monochromatic ones certainly exist). This and other characteristics make this style of chain, like many of the other options on this list, good for everyday wear. Pair your glass beaded chain with linen shirts in the summer, lightweight sweaters in the fall, and black-tie galas. Okay, minus the black-tie galas. 

15. Beaded Chains

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Close your eyes and picture a beaded chain. Whose neck is it around? What’s it made of? Did you see a late-’70s surfer and some variation of a puka shell? If so… sure, we get it. If not, there’s hope for you yet. 

Today’s beaded chains honor the past in their style and simplicity, but the materials used to make them are more sophisticated, durable, and stylish than ever. Like other styles we’ve mentioned, it’s best to go big or go home when it comes to beaded chains. This 14-karat yellow gold, diamond cut, hollow bead chain necklace from jeweler The Black Bow caught our eye for all the right reasons. Hopefully, it catches yours, too.

When You Should Wear Them

As with any men’s chain, this one can be worn year-round over a t-shirt or any buttonless long-sleeve shirt. That said, we see this particular piece working nicely with an earth-toned sweater and some crisp fall weather. 

The Black Bow Beaded Chain

Final Verdict 

If you’re dipping your toe into the wide world of men’s chain necklaces for the first time and aren’t looking to start a collection, scoop up one of the more universal looks like curb chains or any tightly woven silver chain.

Stick to middle-of-the-road widths like 2-3mm and keep the length around 18- to 20-inches. Those parameters lend themselves to almost any wardrobe combination for almost any occasion. With a little guidance and a touch of confidence, any man can pull off this versatile type of jewelry

FAQ

    • The standard length for all types of chains for men is anywhere between 18- and 36-inches. A general rule of thumb when it comes to which length to go with: The longer your personality, the longer the chain. Stick to that mantra, and there are no wrong turns.

      • Like you would with the best men’s rings or any other piece of jewelry, let the style of the chain determine your next sartorial move. Super thick chains are going to team up best with streetwear or any outfit with edge. Mid-length, thin chains in conservative silver are more universal and can be worn every day with almost any casual outfit or carefully curated formal look.

        • If you’re going to layer different types of chains for men, start with the obvious and keep the colors similar. Play with slightly different lengths, widths, and textures to keep things visually interesting, but be careful not to create a chaotic look by mixing things up too much.

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