If you’re looking for a necklace you can put on as soon as you buy it and never take off, a gold chain necklace will do the trick. “I would wear a gold chain necklace everywhere,” Mara Scalise, owner and head designer of her eponymous jewelry label MARA SCALISE tells Byrdie.
One reason that a gold chain necklace will work for a run to the grocery store, a day in the office, and a formal dinner party is the style’s variability—you can personalize it with different pendants, charms, and diamonds, and it comes in various lengths, widths, and materials. There are also various chain styles like rope, beaded, and paper clip. They may have different weights, too—light as a feather to be worn with a tank top and jeans or chunky and bold to balance out your evening dress.
To help us create this gold chain necklace shopping guide, we spoke with Scalise, Rosanne Karmes, founder and head designer of Sydney Evan; George Root, CEO and creative director of Milamore Jewelry; and Adina Eden, founder and head designer of ADINA EDEN. In addition to our market research, we took into account their insights on how to best assess quality, timelessness, and value for money.
Sydney Evan Oval Link Chain
With thousands of gold chain necklaces on the market, it took a lot of time and consideration to narrow it down to just one that we believe is a must-have in your collection. But ultimately, it makes sense that this oval gold chain necklace should take our top spot. We love that it has such an extensive length range, from 16 inches to 36 inches, so you can layer it with several other necklaces. “It is a great investment piece and quite timeless,” Karmes says.
Price at time of publish: Starts at $1,090
Materials: 14K gold | Length: 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, and 36 inches
MistikJewelry 18k Gold Filled Chain Necklace
If you’re looking to start your jewelry collection but none of the mass market options are resonating with you, perhaps you should look at a small business on Etsy. The marketplace is full of hidden gems with affordable pricing. This one offers an 18K gold-filled chain necklace with thousands of positive reviews on the quality and accessible price point. (It retails for under $30.)
Price at time of publish: $21–$27
Materials: 18K gold-filled | Length: 16 and 18 inches
Zoe Chicco 14k Tiny Bar and Cable Chain Necklace
A gold chain necklace is a finishing touch capable of pulling together your outfit. Case in point: Thanks to its easy simplicity, this Zoe Chicco necklace can be styled up or down and worn from gym class to the office and then on a first date, Scalise points out. Plus, the 14K gold isn’t too precious, so you won’t have to worry about wearing it out easily.
Price at time of publish: $250
Materials: 14K gold | Length: 18 inches
Mejuri Zodiac Pendant Necklace
Courtesy of Mejuri
Calling all astrology lovers—you’ll love this one. This Mejuri zodiac pendant necklace will elevate your everyday look with its gold vermeil and white sapphire design. “It’s classic enough to wear every day but unique and big enough to make a statement. Perfect for a classic white tee and black cardigan combo,” Scalise suggests. Choose your sign, then add it to the checkout cart.
Price at time of publish: $128
Materials: 18K gold vermeil (18K gold-plating on sterling silver), white sapphires | Length: 16 or 18 inches
Best with Charms
Kendra Scott Frankie Convertible Gold Crystal Charm Necklace in Multi Mix
Brighten things up with this charm chain necklace from Kendra Scott. It’s perfect for those obsessed with Y2K and camp fashion. One of our favorite aspects is that no two necklaces will be the same; according to the product description, exact patterns and hues will be different due to the company’s manufacturing processes.
Price at time of publish: $198
Materials: 14K gold-plating over brass | Length: 18 inches with a 3-inch extender
Monica Vinader Siren Mini Nugget Fine and Beaded Chain Necklace Set
Monica Vinader responsibly manufactured this recycled gold vermeil (gold-plated sterling silver) necklace. With green onyx stone as the focal point, the piece boasts a mix of delicateness and boldness. Add on the suggested Fine Chain Necklace and Fine Beaded Necklace for a layered look.
Price at time of publish: $175
Materials: 100% recycled gold vermeil (18K gold-plated sterling silver), onyx | Length: 18–24 inches
Oak and Luna Mon Petit Name Necklace 14k Solid Gold
Oak and Luna
Within every set of layered necklaces, our experts agree there should be a focal point, like a larger stone or a thicker chain. We suggest taking a more customized approach with this name necklace from Oak and Luna. Treat yourself or gift this piece to your friend or family member with a unique name. There’s also the option to add a round or heart-shaped diamond to the necklace if you’re looking to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
Price at time of publish: $290
Materials: 14K gold | Length: 14, 16, 18 inches
Drae U-link Bundle Gold
Celebrities love Canada-based affordable jewelry brand DRAE, and so do we. The brand’s U-Link Bundle is a particularly good value due to its convertible bracelet-to-necklace design. Add or remove chain links according to the look you’re going for.
Price at time of publish: $238 on sale
Materials: 14K gold-plated metal | Length: Up to 17.5 inches
Milamore Azuki Chain YG
Even though delicate dainty chains offer an elegant and refined look to your decolletage, if not crafted properly, they could become more vulnerable to breakage. So, save yourself the hassle of having to replace yours and consider investing in a high-end piece from the start, like this Azuki Chain from Milamore. It’s handcrafted from 18K recycled gold by artisans in Japan.
Price at time of publish: $1,400
Materials: 18K gold | Length: 45 centimeters
Mara Scalise Box Chain Choker
For something entirely unfussy, opt for this gold chain choker from Mara Scalise. It seeks to balance feminine and masculine energy (a classic men’s gold chain tends to pass the collarbone ever so slightly) so that it will pair fluidly and elegantly with any look.
Price at time of publish: $830
Materials: 14K gold-filled | Length: 17.5 inches
Best with Diamonds
Mateo 14K Yellow Gold & Diamond Mini Circle Pendant Necklace
Saks 5th Avenue
Gold and diamonds for under $500? Yes, please. This 14K yellow gold necklace features a classic circle pendant encrusted with round diamonds. Sure, it’s still a splurge compared to some other picks on this list, but we feel confident that you’ll find yourself reaching for this investment piece pretty consistently, no matter the vibe of the day.
Price at time of publish: $450
Materials: 14K gold, diamonds | Length: 16 inches
Zoe Chicco 14k Medium Rope Chain Necklace With Dangling Prong Diamond
“Rope chains are one of the oldest chain styles still worn today,” Eden says. “They work with almost any outfit and will never go out of style.” Add some texture to your layered necklaces with this 14K gold rope chain necklace from Zoë Chicco. Especially if your aesthetic leans preppy with a touch of Old English, add this piece to your collection before it’s sold out.
Price at time of publish: $995
Materials: 14K gold | Length: 16 inches
Mara Scalise Knotted Paris Chain Necklace
This Mara Scalise piece will help nail the long necklace look on many occasions. And with so many ways to wear it, you’ll never be bored. “I love this chain because there’s endless ways to wear it,” the designer says. “You can knot it, wrap it around like a scarf, create a choker effect, twist it, and customize it in your own unique way to achieve a dainty look or a statement piece.”
Price at time of publish: $535
Materials: 14K gold-filled | Length: 48.5 inches
Best with Sparkle
Adina Eden Diamond By The Yard Necklace
Finding a worthy gold chain with sparkle at an affordable price point can be challenging if you don’t know of Adina Eden. This delicate piece is made from gold-plated sterling silver and cubic zirconia and comes in three chain lengths—16, 24, and 32 inches. At $65, it’s a great value; you can feel a bit like you’re getting something luxe without paying a hefty price.
Price at time of publish: $65
Materials: Gold-plated sterling silver, cubic zirconia | Length: 16, 24, 36 inches
You absolutely can’t go wrong with Sydney Evan’s 14k Gold Small Oval Link Chain Necklace. It’s simple and timeless, and therefore, very versatile—especially since it has a big length range, from 16 inches to 36 inches. But if you don’t want to feel the sting of a four-digit credit card charge, then you should lean into Etsy brand MistikJewelry’s 18k Gold Filled Chain Necklace for a similar look.
What to Look for in Gold Chain Necklaces
Not every necklace on this list is 14K gold, but this is Karmes’ recommendation if you’re looking to invest. “14K gold is strong enough to wear every day and will hold up beautifully over several lifetimes,” Karmes says. “All gold jewelry should come stamped with its karat content, so make sure you can locate this indicator on the item before purchasing to help ensure authenticity. If it doesn’t say 14K but says 585, don’t be confused. This also means 14K.”Price
A gold chain necklace can cost you a pretty penny, as most of them start around $350. Root says if the price is below that number, it’s likely made from something other than 14K or 18K gold. (24K gold is a rare find. It’s also not a very practical metal choice given its proneness to scratching and denting.) Gold-plated sterling silver is a nice alternative, as it tends to cost less and last long.
If you’re going for a trendier piece, Root points out, a more budget-friendly option is perhaps the responsible choice; it doesn’t make sense to spend on something that you can’t see yourself wearing long-term. “It’s important to consider whether you will still wear these pieces in 10 years if you’re considering investing in a luxury necklace,” he says.
Gold chain necklaces come in all shapes, sizes, lengths, aesthetics, and designs, which is one of the reasons why they’re so beloved. Yes, it’s fun to play around with statement chains, and our experts do suggest having a few attention-grabbing pieces on hand, but Karmes believes the way to get the most out of your gold chain necklaces is by choosing a simpler design that won’t go out of style. To add personality, you can customize it with pendants and charms that can later be removed for a different look. “I love to have solid gold chains that you can add pendants to, and write a story from moments of your life,” Scalise agrees. “[You should also] feel free to add different chain textures and lengths on top that make sense aesthetically to create a unique-to-you look.”
What is the best way to clean a gold chain necklace?
Root cleans his 18K gold necklaces with this wipe for gold and silver jewelry. In the product description, it also says it can be used on gemstones and costume pieces. Karmes, on the other hand, uses a toothbrush, some dish soap, and a soft rinse with warm water to clean her gold. Eden suggests a combination of the two methods. She says this tarnish remover works wonders, so long as you don’t keep on too long. Be sure to rinse it from the piece, then use a soft toothbrush for a light scrub.
How would you style a gold chain necklace?
“They are one of the most versatile pieces one can own and a staple for anyone starting to build their jewelry collection,” Karmes says. “You can wear a plain gold chain for a casual weekend look [or] dress it up by adding some diamond charms.” Layering, too, is another way to style necklaces, as mentioned above. This method can be casual or more formal, like for a holiday party or a nice dinner with friends.
However, given the different styles and lengths, styling a gold chain necklace can sometimes be a matter of proportion. If you’re sporting a low neckline, try pairing a gold chain choker and a medium-length necklace together to fill some space while dragging the eye to the base. Meanwhile, boat necklines and turtlenecks tend to look better with longer jewelry.
Apart from playing with lengths and textures, Root suggests mixing metals for added dimension. “Even though I’m a fan of the look, I don’t recommend only layering with just gold chains, especially if the chains are similar in style,” he says.