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Exploring the world of gold chains (then and now)

Gold chains are having a moment. They have seen changes over the years, so let’s look back from the 1970s up to now.

They can be worn with everything from a T-shirt and jeans to a formal outfit. They come in various styles and are available at several online and department store retailers. Choosing the suitable chain starts with figuring out what width you want. Hollow pieces feel lighter but can be more susceptible to kinking.

Men’s gold chains

If there’s one type of necklace that can elevate any look, it’s a gold chain. Men can never go wrong with this classic closet staple, whether paired with a T-shirt, jeans, button-down, or blazer. It would make a great gift for that special guy in your life!

When looking for the best gold chain for men, like a Cuban chain, it’s essential to consider the quality and type of gold used. A high-karat gold chain will appear much brighter than a lower-karat gold chain.

Another thing to consider is the length of the chain. A 20” chain will typically fall between a shirt’s first and second buttons. However, 22” and 24” chains are popular and can be worn inside or outside a shirt.

The 1970s

The 1970s saw a lot of visual changes in fashion, music, beauty, and jewelry. This was mainly due to cultural movements like Black Power and an increased emphasis on reflecting one’s culture through traditional motifs in jewelry. This trend led to gold chains with tribal designs that are still popular today.

Ethnic-inspired jewelry also sparked the popularity of natural gemstones like turquoise and crystal. Adding small accent pieces to your outfit can incorporate these styles into a modern jewelry look.

Technological developments of the era include the inventions of the Apple I and II Plus by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the first jumbo jet, and the MRI scanner. The feminist movement led by Gloria Steinem and others in the 1960s continued throughout the 1970s and took a more prominent role in society.

The 1980s

The ’80s saw a shift in the way society viewed jewelry. With the boom of gangsta rap and R&B, men’s gold chains became synonymous with street culture. Whether it was a slim chain worn by Kendrick, Future, or Gunplay or a massive iced-out medallion on the neck of a rapper like Nelly or Paul Wall, these pieces were all about status.

Hip-hop artists like Run DMC pushed the gold rope chain into mainstream fashion, and from there, it spread. It wasn’t uncommon for rappers to wear chains worth as much as a small city.

Along with gold chains, big hoop earrings also enjoyed a massive surge in popularity during this era. They could be found on the ears of nearly every male in a club, dangling from their necks.

The 1990s

The 1990s saw the gold chain become essential to hip-hop culture. Rappers began wearing large chains with diamond-encrusted skulls, crosses, and branded logos to promote their music.

This era also saw the rise of grunge fashion, with styles like thigh-high boots, Doc Martens, and oversized t-shirts making a statement against traditional fit clothing. Jewelry-wise, chains continued to be popular with a return of snake chains and curb link necklaces.

In addition, herringbone chains and mariner chains, which resemble the chain attached to a boat anchor, were also popular. These styles are now a staple of men’s fashion and are available in various widths and weights to suit different preferences. These are perfect for pairing with pendants.

Gold chains today

A gold chain can amplify any outfit with its understated yet impactful elegance. It can elevate a cashmere pullover to a level of Carrie Bradshaw sophistication or adorn a silky blouse for a black tie affair.

Real gold chains can be made from various materials, depending on your budget and style preferences. Most chains will have a hallmark indicating their purity, typically described in karats.

Gold-plated pieces are coated with a layer of gold through electroplating over a base metal such as brass or copper. These chains are less expensive than solid gold chains but may be more wear-resistant. Gold vermeil is a high-quality alternative to solid gold. It has a higher gold content than gold-plated jewelry but is still less expensive than solid gold.

3 thoughts on “Exploring the world of gold chains (then and now)”

  1. I have 2 18k gold ropes, in different lengths. They have been my main accessory for 30 years. I wear them alone, or with other neck pieces piled on. Chanel taught us how to do that!
    In the end, it’s always worth its weight!

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