Hip-Hop Jewelry: The Most Popular Chain Necklace Styles (Rope, Curb) and More!

Early Slick Rick photo showcasing his excellent fashion taste

Necklaces or "chains", are ubiquitous in Hip-Hop jewelry and fashion, since the early days of Run-DMC, through the 80s with N.W.A and in the 90s with the infamous Death Row chain which played a part in the murder of Tupac Shakur. Although sometimes related to negative situations such as robberies, the majority of the time hip-hop jewelry represents something positive. Such as wealth, status, and not the least style. It's arguable that Slick Rick is the hip-hop style king, with his tailored clothing and pertinently to this article, his overwhelming array of gold chains and diamond rings.

For info on the 80s classic Four-Finger Rings, check out this article from our blog

Before we go on let's look at Merriam Webster's definition of the word chain: A series of usually metal links or rings connected to or fitted into one another and used for various purposes

In terms of jewelry chains, there are many, many types of chains. From the way, they are connected to the type of pendant that is attached. In parlance, the type of pendant changes the "name" of your chain. For example, when Biggie Smalls started wearing diamond-studded Jesus head on his chain, it became known as a "Jesus Piece".

Biggie sporting double Jesus Pieces

Read this article if you are interested in the defining fashion as worn by The Notorious B.I.G. -- from his Coogie sweaters (yes, he had several), to his love of a certain Italian luxury brand and everything else in-between.

Now, let's get back to the topic on hand. Throughout history, people have always loved gold for its relative rarity which leads to high demand and of course high prices. And what better way to display your wealth than carrying it right below your face in the form of a chain. It won't go unnoticed under any circumstances...and you can make it as thick as you want.

Fun fact: Gold doesn't rust, tarnish, or deteriorate, even in thin-plated form.

There are countless ways to make a chain, and we are going to take a look at some of the most popular techniques in this article. Such as the Rolo, the Figaro, the Curb, and of course the Rope.

Trace Chain: Generally considered the simplest form of chain. Here the links are usually uniform in breadth and thickness and tend to be very delicate at finer widths.

Rolo Chain: Like the Trace Chain, the links of a Rolo chain are typically of identical size and are often round. The Rolo chain's characteristic feature is that the links joined in a simple alternating sequence.

Figaro Chain: This is a very popular look and one which adds style and dynamism. This is how it goes. A number of smaller links (usually three) are followed by one elongated link before the pattern starts over again. The Figaro can utilize a number of other styles, so long as the pattern is incorporated.

Wheat Chain: As the name implies, the Wheat Chain takes on a very natural look, in this case of a stalk of wheat. The chain is formed teardrop-shaped links which are joined by a small hinge. Wheat Chains are not as flexible ("or liquid" as other chain styles.

Curb Chain: Like a curb, which is flat, the Curb Chain interlocks in such a way that it will always seek its natural resting place which is flat. It is also notable for being the most dynamic in terms of size, ranging from a few millimeters to over four centimeters (almost 2 inches).

Rope Chain: It's easy to see why the rope chain was the most popular chain style for most 1980s Hip-Hop artists. The rope chain is linked in a way that creates an illusion of two twisting strands (of gold) that are spiraling together. This effect becomes more prominent the thicker the chain is. This might explain why rappers chose to wear extremely thick Rope Chains. Another quality of this style is its robustness. Generally, it is considered a very strong chain (especially at thick widths), but can be vulnerable to "destruction" in its thinnest forms.

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