Gold chains are great pieces of jewelry that never go out of style. But before you buy one there are a lot of factors to consider. Our goal is to make you an educated buyer so there will be no surprises and you will get exactly what you're looking for in a chain.
What Type of Gold Chain Do You Want?
You have the option of choosing real gold or gold-plated. We recommend buying a a real gold chain.
Gold-plated jewelry is much less expensive, and it can be a decent option in some cases. However gold-plated jewelry is not considered to be real gold. It might look nice at first, but it's susceptible to wear, tarnish, and rust. Overtime you will need to pay to have your gold chain re-plated.
Real gold (10k and up) is much more durable, and it's a better choice for everyday use. In addition, gold-plated chains don't have much of a resale value. With real gold you can always sell it for at least its scrap value. This makes it both a stylish piece of jewelry, and an investment that can go up in value.
In addition there are solid and hollow chains. Hollow chains are lighter and cheaper, but they are less durable and more likely to get dented. If you end up breaking the chain then it can be tough to repair it. Therefore in most cases it's best to go with sold chains.
The Clasp Matters
There are all different types of clasps out there- some are for functionality and some are for style.
Clasps can easily be replaced but it's best to start off with a good clasp. In general, the lobster clasp is the best option because it's both secure and easy enough to open. It also won't open unexpectedly like some of the cheaper clasps. When the clasp breaks it puts you at risk of losing your chain if it falls off your neck.
Choose the Karat
Karats definite purity. For example 10 karat is 41.7% gold, 14k is 58.3%, 18k gold is 75%, and it goes up to 24k which is 99.99% gold. Gold is a softer metal and so the higher the karat, the less durable the gold item is. The lower the karat, the more durable.
For an everyday chain, we recommend going with 14-18k gold. The gold will be mixed with other metal alloys which give the chain durability. Chains that are only 10k don't have as good of a look to them, and they have less re-sale value. If you ever need to melt down your chain for it's scrap value then it's best to have at least 14k.
Choose the Link
This is another big factor to consider. You should pick a link that looks good to you, but you should also consider durability. Thicker chains are better if you plan to put a pendent on the chain. Also, some chains are more masculine looking while others are more feminine looking. Below we review some of the most popular link types.
The cable chain has a classic look, and it's good for both men and women. It's one of the best options if you are looking to give a gold chain as a gift.
The Figaro chain looks a little fancier than some of the other chains. It's designed with 2-3 short links and one long link, as shown in the picture above. It's a good option for both men and women.
The mariner chain is more masculine looking, so it's a better option for men. The links are oval shaped and they resemble anchors- hence the name mariner chain.
The rope chain has a more elaborate design. It's made to look like an actual rope where each link is woven together.
Cuban Link Chain
The Cuban link chain has a traditional design that has been around for a long time. It's just single links with the same pattern. There are different patterns and some chains have diamonds on them. Large sizes have become popular in recent years and these chains are popular with male athletes, rappers, and celebrities.
The Spiga chain has an elaborate design and it consists of twisted oval links which make it look like a braid. This chain is popular with women.
Note: There are other chains such as the ball chain, box chain, snake chain. However we didn't review them because they aren't as durable, and if they break then it can be hard to fix them.
How to Value a Chain
Make sure you don't overpay or get ripped off. Use our gold jewelry calculator to find out what the chain's exact gold value is. If you know the karat and the gram weight then you can get the scrap gold value.
Also remember that size doesn't matter as far as cost goes. It's all about the weight. A longer or thicker chain can be less valuable than a smaller chain that weighs more. It's also possible that someone could try and pass off a hollow chain as a sold chain. This is why knowing the weight is so important.
Ideally you want to pay as close to the scrap gold value as you can.
If you are looking to buy a new gold chain then the price will be expensive anywhere you shop. You can expect to pay a premium of 60-100% over the scrap price of gold. That's normal for new jewelry and you are not paying for just the gold- you are also paying for the craftsmanship. Used jewelry is typically more affordable. Also note that custom-made chains will cost more.
If you think you've bought a fake then there are gold authenticity tests that you can do at home.
Best Places to Buy Gold Chains
The best deals are found online. Jewelers who sell online can offer better deals because they don't have to worry about rent or other costs associated with a having a physical store.
Shopping online is more convenient because you can take your time and browse different listings until you find some chains that you like. There also won't be any push salesman trying to sell you something overpriced.
Just make sure that you buy from a reputable online seller. There are some good options on Amazon.
Avoid Buying From Big Jewelry Stores
The big jewelry stores are not good places to shop. These stores are mostly in the business of selling diamond rings. They don't specialize in gold chains and so their inventory is limited.
These stores cater to the ignorant buyer. Essentially the less you know, the better it is for them. They don't want you to know the spot price of gold or how much their chains weigh. The same chain they are selling for $3,000 could be bought for 1/2 or 1/3 of the price online or somewhere else. The big stores have high monthly costs so they need to make big profit margins on their items.
There are plenty of small jewelers who can rip you off too. But if you're an educated buyer then you won't get ripped off.
One of the only benefits of buying from a jewelry store is that you get a warranty. So if a link on your chain breaks, then you can bring it in to have it fixed for free.
Gold chains are timeless pieces of jewelry that hold their value over time. So find a style that you like, and then try to pay as close to the scrap gold value as you can. The buying process can be as simple as that.