From Featherlight Strands to Hulking Hoops, the Best Gold Chain Link Necklaces

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The gold chain link necklace, that ubiquitous member of your jewelry family, has more than once given rise to the most eloquent of musings: “My mother might find a thin gold chain at the back of a drawer, wadded into an impossibly tight knot, and give it to me to untangle,” the author Anne Lamott remembered. “It would have a shiny, sweaty smell, and excite me: Gold chains linked you to the great fairy tales and myths, to Arabia, and India; to the great weight of the world, but lighter than a feather.”

And indeed, a gold chain link necklace can be lighter than a feather, so gossamer it is almost invisible—noticeable only when it catches the light! Or it can be so dramatically big and bold that you hear it shouting from across a crowded room. A sparkling chain link necklace can be as happy floating over an evening dress (we will go out again someday!) as it is dressing up your daily ensemble of sweats and hoodie. (When the great revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg observed, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains,” was she talking about you in your workout clothes?)

Sometimes the gold links themselves have names that are self-explanatory: The Box, the Rope, the Bead, and of course the current favorite, the Paper Clip. (Someday soon, a young person may ask, What is a paper clip?) Other links have more arcane monikers—consider the Cuban, the Figaro, or the Wheat.

Whatever the gold link, these necklaces have pretty much replaced the charm bracelet as a way of keeping your favorite amulets close to your heart. You can buy a chain with its own charming charm already attached, of course, but how much more fun is it to build up your own collection, adding highly personal charms as the mood strikes?

Here our guide to the best and brightest gold link chain necklaces:

The not-so-basic gold chain, peeking from beneath a sober shirt, can enhance your outfit all day, every day. Consider links from box to bead, opt for the popular paper clip, or flaunt an updated version of the nameplate, an homage to Carrie Bradshaw.

The most romantic gold chain necklaces may feature celestial embellishments or embody that most iconic symbol of love—the eternal heart.

Not all your jewelry needs to scream and shout—the thinnest gold chain can make a powerful if subtle statement (especially if you add a tiny diamond.)

Chunky, hunky gold links can lift those Zoom-worthy cashmere pullovers and silky blouses into the highest realm of heaven.

Moonlit socially-distanced drinks on the patio? A backyard gathering with the fun people in your pod? Whatever the circumstances, we will find an excuse to dress up! Here are chains to pop over a slinky dress and greet a new day.

Building your collection of charms, adding these finds to a long gold link chain necklace, is an ode to jewelry joy—and a perfect way to show off your distinct personality.

Who says we won’t be out and about sometime soon, attending fabulous parties and dinners, and lighting up an evening ensemble with a truly spectacular chain? While we dream of better days, these glamorous babies can bring solace and inspiration.

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