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Wearing a pendant, locket or other keepsake around your neck only works well when you’ve combined it with a chain that looks visually dazzling or appealing. But it also has to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the pendant and comfortable enough to wear without pulling hairs from your neck or face. For such dilemmas, our earlier blog posts provide great thorough advice. We highly recommend to read the following blog posts in supplement to this blog to ensure you’re able to match the right chain for any attachment:
- How to select a Sterling Silver Chain for your Pendant
- The Best Types of Necklace Chain that won't pull out your hair
- The 6 Strongest types of Silver Chain
- Top 10 Fine Sterling Silver Chains for Pendants
But what about once you’ve solved the questions of chain style, strength and comfort? Were you forgetting about anything else? Surely by now you've checked all that you'd needed? Well, it’s usually something you might only realise after purchasing your chain. As you have your new chain in your hand, you'll start to thread your brand new chain through your pendant, locket or charm. You're excited to get it onto your pendant and wear it for a night out, but as you start to pass the end of the chain through the pendant, alas it gets stuck at the entry point of the pendant hole! You might be tempted to think it just needs a good push, but by doing that you'll risk damage the end of the chain leading to unsightly dents.
So you've probably gathered that what you should be considering when attaching a pendant to a chain are those chain ends and we’re here to guide you through this so you have the best chance of getting it right the first time around to avoid unnecessary expenses on returning misfitting items.
On this journey, you’ll just need to be aware of a couple of parts of the chain and one part of your pendant. So let's get started..
Know the bail and you’ll never fail
As we’d highlighted in our blog post How to select a Sterling Silver Chain for your Pendant , pendants with their varying shapes and sizes, have been designed with either simple or clever ways to sit onto your chain. Some have simple loops at the top of the pendant whereas others are in built into the pendant itself. This loop is what’s known as a bail. Most times it’s this small area of space where the chain pass through and eventually will occupy. So the starting point is to measure this area of space where the chain will thread through.
How do I take a measurement of a pendant bail for my chain?
Specifically, you need to measure the inner area. This is known as taking the internal measurement. Most pendant bails will have a small area of space and obtaining that measurement is best done by taking this in millimetres. Obtaining that measurement in millimetres will ensure you are far more accurate and more likely to get the right fitting chain. In doing that you’ll have to measure the length and the width. For most bails it may be a round or oval shape or slightly unusual.. But you may have a less uncommon like an inverse triangle.
Lets look at some examples of these common types of bail from a side and front profile:
You might find with certain style of floating pendant designs, the bail to thread your chain through is less obvious and stylishly concealed. As the Full View of Pendant the chain will thread into the body of the pendant itself at the top. As the Top View of Pendant diagram shows, the 2 rectangular white spaces in the middle are usually narrow. Here you’ll need to pass the chain in through one and again back up and through a second time. So long as your chain links can pass through, most of the time a Wired Cap ended chain will get through more often than other styles of chain End Caps. Simply measure the width and length of those gaps at the top of the pendant and ensure your chain links and end caps are narrower for the best fit.
A popular style of pendant, it shares an identical appearance to many beaded charms that you can slide over snake bracelets or bangles. The guidance for both are not too different either and whilst a bail most times refers to a separate attachment to the design of the pendant, here the bail isn’t separate and again is integrated into the pendant itself, to give a fashionably popular floating appearance. Pendant styles such as these are great because the theme of the pendant, in this case heart isn’t distracted with a separate bail. The position of the pendant with this sort of integrated bail in most cases ensures the pendant/charm doesn’t move around or get tangled in a chain/bracelet, but instead just slight from left to right. Most of the time these are round in shape and you’ll only need to take one measurement: the diameter of the circle. As usual to get you chain through ensure your chain links and end caps are narrower for the best fit. You’ll find that most types of End Cap will get through if the size is right and you shouldn’t face a trickier time getting your End Cap of your chain through the pendant or charm unlike the Narrow Insert bail we’ve shown you in the first example.
Now on to the most common type of Bail. Usually positioned at the top of a pendant, some types will be fixed into position and others can move around a little. The above image features just the bail on its own without the main pendant area in focus. You may find that shapes vary at the side view from upside down triangles, or more well proportioned shapes such as ovals, circles or rectangles.
The Chain: What you need to measure to ensure it passes through your pendant
Now you have an idea of that measurement you’ll need to take for your pendant, the next step is to ensure that the chain is narrower/less than that area of space so it can dive through.
So, once you’ve unhooked your clasp and you lay your chain out on the table it will have three parts:
1. Chain Links
2. Cap End (also known as the hook end)
3. Clasp End
For each of those let’s explain what they are and what’s important about them for the burning question: how do I fit my pendant on a chain ?
The Chain Links
Forming the main part of the chain, the links have various patterns and sizes. Some are more flatter in one aspect like a curb chain, whereas others are more evenly proportioned like a a box chain or a ball chain. You can see the different types of chain styles in our guide here
Why are the Chain Links important when matching a pendant and chain?
Essentially, the links of the chain have to physically fit through the pendant bail comfortably. But if the links occupy a larger area than the inside of the bail then you won’t be able to get the pendant to sit on the chain.
What is the Cap End of a chain?
The opposite end to where the clasp is attached is known the hook end or the cap end. It’s called the hook end because this is where you can hook the clasp onto. At the same time it is known as the cap end because it covers and seals of the last link of the chain. The cap itself is designed to keep the last link of the chain neat and tidy and depending upon the chain are of different shapes and sizes. On a practical level a good cap will allow you enough space to grip the chain steadily between your finger tips to fasten the clasp up. If you’re fastening your chain behind your neck without being able to see, the cap being of a different shape and texture to the links themselves should allow you to also feel where the end of the chain is and where you’ll need to hook the clasp on to.
Why is the Cap End so important when matching a pendant and chain?
It’s this cap at the end of the chain which you’ll grip between your fingers and thread through your pendant bail, itself known as an End Cap. Depending upon the pendant design some might term the pendant bail as the ‘loop’ because it just looks like a loop. It’s vital that you take know measurement of the cap because it will be the first thing to pass through the bail of your pendant, followed by the chain links themselves. Since it is a 3D object, it will have a width, length and depth. The width and depth are the important measurements to know for getting it to pass through your pendant bail. They must be less than the the width and length of the inside of the pendant bail.
Along with each chain End we've provided you with 3 views starring with an overview, front view and finally a side profile view.
If my chain has a certain type of End Cap fitted to it, how do I know it will fit through my pendant?
To ensure this fits through your pendant you'll just need to know the width of the cap as shown by W and the depth of the cap shown by D which will usually be in millimetres (mm). If these are less mm than those of your pendant bail, the cap will get through the pendant bail comfortably.
The Curved End Cap is similar to Small and Large Flat End Caps. It acts as a pincer as it hold the chain steady between it's grip and is bonded to the chain link with Sterling Silver solder. Solder is the process of heating a metal to turn it into liquid so it can flow on a surface, as it cools, it solidifies along with anything that it touches. It's curved shape allows it to hug as much of the link as possible and you'll find it paired with our Sterling Silver 7.3mm Curb Chain & 7.3mm Curb Bracelet.
You're surrounded! Well if your chain is a Snake chain or Ball chain with an equal sides all around, it really will be! A round cap is nicely suited with such chain links as the underside of the round cap surface is able to touch every side of the link. This allows the solder to bond with as much of the link as possible. A bit like a hand to a glove, it’s a perfect that results in a stronger bond and less likely to break. This round end cap is also smooth, easy to grip and can roll between your fingers and to help you find the hole when you're fastening the clasp on to the end of your chain.. Fitted to our Sterling Silver Ball Chain Snake Chains & Spiga / Wheat Chains
A common style of end cap, the larger Flat End Cap is different only to the Small Flat End Cap because of it being wider in its width. You’ll see this on chain styles that usually are flat when you lay the, on a surface: Curb Chains, Figaro Chains. It’s wider width is suited to chains with a wider surface like our Sterling Silver 5.4mm Curb Chain, 5.7mm Figaro Chain & 6.9mm Mariner Chain. The principle as with all flat caps allow this shape to bond to as much of the link surface and designed to make it easy for you to grip the end of the chain and fasten it with the clasp. Aesthetically you’ll also find any hallmark stamps clearly marked here.
A smaller Flat End Cap acts the same way as it’s wider big brother except in shape it is slightly more narrower. It’s shape is designer to act like a pincer to capture the link. Best suited to chains with flat surface or flat shape once soldered it will bond to the link to ensure the link doesn’t move around. Having a link move around can be a nuisance when fastening your chain, but you’ll usually only find this problem with chains that substitute having a proper end cap with just a plain round ring. Some of our chains that have the flat cap include: Sterling Silver 1.5mm Box Chain, Sterling Silver 2.4mm Curb Chain & Sterling Silver 1.5mm Cable Chain.
Made from Sterling silver Wire and bent into a ‘O’ whilst not technically a cap, it is the end of a chain where the clasp can be hooked on to. It’s usually better suited to the finest of chains where a cap isn’t practically attachable like our Fine Sterling Silver 0.8mm Curb Chain . Simply measure the width to fit this in. Sometimes you may think you’ll be able to adjust the wire and squash it to make it fit your pendant bail. However, it’s always best to consult a jewellery using professional tools. Silver is a soft metal and the thickness of these wires if over applying force can result in damage.
What is the Clasp end of the chain?
Most times, it looks identical to the cap end, but with the attachment of the clasp. Here’s a photo of the different types of the clasp end of the chain. Some feature round spring clasps, some oval shaped and some pear shaped, sometimes varying in size too!
Can I thread the chain through my pendant by putting the clasp end through the bail first?
Of course you can do this so long as your pendant bail is larger than the clasp. But with fine dainty pendants you’ll often find you’ll only be able to fit the chain through the Cap End because it is narrower in size.
Measure Twice, Buy Once !