Chains that don't break?

Hello fellow smiths!

I was wondering… Where do you source your chains? I have been ordering rolo chains from Rio (rolo, 1.5 mm) to attach to my (very special, handmade pendants) and customers have been coming back with broken chains…

Are there better ones I should be buying? Or is there something I can do to them to make them more durable? (e.g. work hardening with a burnisher?)

I appreciate your insights!


I too make special pendants. I have found that my customers either have a chain already to put the pendant on or need a particular length, usually not the length that I have the pendant on. So I sell the pendant separately from a chain and then offer simple, inexpensive chains all the same style in different lengths. I buy my chains from Halstead or Blake Brothers. You don’t mention where the chain is breaking. Is it always in the same of similar spot? Good luck…Rob


It’s all different places. On the pieces I’m making, the pendant is connected to the chain via soldered jump rings. (I cut the bought chain in half) It’s also likely my customer’s “fault” - but I would like to see how I might make them more damage resistant…

I use chains from Rio too, and have definitely had issues with finer chains being quite fragile. Something I’m curious about is whether the chain I receive from them has already been heat-hardened. Obviously even if it has, any soldering I do will undo that, but if anyone knows this I’d be grateful for the information.

My solution has been to just use beefier chains. The gossamer look of the sub-2mm chains are definitely nice from a design standpoint, but now I only use them for making chain tassels. I’ve had good luck with 1mm box chain, and they’re very easy to solder to whatever ends you like. It’s a different look, but might work better in the long run.


I always liked the wheat chain when I was using the smaller thicknesses. It’s a double link, which is important. The smaller ropes are also a double link, once they get larger they become a single link. Having the double link chain gives much better resistance too breakage. The other important thing to look for is soldered links, and not just where the chain is joined to the clasp, but all the link joints. This is easier to find with gold chains, it’s very hard to find with silver chains. If the links aren’t soldered, it doesn’t matter how beefy the chain is, they can be susceptible to pulling apart.



Hi, Downeast Trading has a great selection and quality chains. Definitely check them out.


It is my understanding that rolo chains are unsoldered. Medium weight cable chain is what I usually use and it works well for me.

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here is my experience…with Rio chains

i selected the Rio sterling silver 1.1mm cable chains (and 1.5mm) for their delicate, fine nature. I have used them for many years and have been notified by customers of broken chains fewer than 10 times. (actual total broken chains unknown)

when i first started using these chains, as a test, i wore one of the chains, with a pendant, for over a year without taking it off, and it held up well.

My only disappointment was when they upgraded from a spring ring clasp to a tiny lobster clasp, which i found difficult to open due to its shape and size.

Rio’ s great customer service resolved this for me by allowing me to special order bulk chains with the spring ring that i prefer.

i am really amazed at how shiny and bright and tarnish resistant these chains remain while in inventory.

On another note: I recall discussing chain manufacturing with someone…i forget who…who said that these type of fine chains were made with solder-filled wire(?)…with chain making machines, and then soldered closed with heat(?)…is this correct?




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I make a great many pendants and with a pendant comes a yard of black silk rat tail. I do not supply chains unless I have made them. And typically if I made the chain it was as an integral part of the pendant. My reasoning is;

  1. I don’t want to deal with carrying stock in a product I don’t make.
    2: I will never have the right chain to suit the customer. And special ordering
    is a nuisance.
  2. The customers typically have chains they like and trust.

I think that a craft made chain is as much a piece of art as is the pendant.

Lastly I can’t compete with Wal-mart, TJ Max, Target, or even the front line jewelers who buy chain wholesale and pay the same for a foot that I have to for an inch. Perhaps over simplification but close enough.

Don Meixner


No one has brought up something in this breaking chain discussion. Should chains break before the wearer is injured? Just wondering.

My general rule of thumb is that I don’t care about the safety of the wearer. My sole interest is in the safety and protection of the jewelry itself. The wearer comes a distant second :rofl:

I’m obviously being sarcastic (kind of). Ideally, yes, the chain should break before the wearer gets injured. Granted, that becomes more and more difficult as the thickness of the chain increases. I think Mr. T would have trouble with his chains breaking before he got hurt.

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When I make a chain, which isn’t very often, I usually leave an open jump ring for just the reason NKatsu mentions…Rob


Usually two open jump rings on opposite sides of the chain.


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I appreciate you talking about this. I have agonized over the pendant versus necklace issue, and how or whether to offer chains. Currently I include a leather cord that’s got sliding knots so the length is adjustable (a cool little trick I picked up working at one of the big box craft stores, and being railroaded into teaching a “jewelry class” because I was “the jewelry person”), and note in the item descriptions that I’m happy to upgrade to a silver chain upon request. So far nobody has asked, though to be fair my sample size is pretty small.

There’s this pressure as a newer seller to offer every possible option and permutation so you can appeal to as many people as possible, but it’s just impossibly expensive and overwhelming- and I know better from previous business experience, but that instinct is so strong! It helps to see experienced people say it’s not worth it.

I do plan to add a few readymade plain chains to my shop, but only literally 3-5. I know that people are more likely to buy something if it’s already right there for them to add to their cart rather than having to request it, and maybe if someone doesn’t have their one nice chain yet I can supply them with one. And then I’ll have them handy when I need one for taking photos, too. Win-win!

I get chains in bulk from Garlan Chain and National Chain Group

I mostly sell necklaces, but occasionally customers just ask me to sell the pendant. I have no problem with that. I think this question really depends on the style and price point of jewelry you make!

I do custom handcrafted pendants as well, and they sell better for me with a chain selection. I generally use Quality Gold, or recently I found Wholesale Sparkle, which seems to have taken over from Plum Island. I prefer rhodium plated silver chains, which are non allergenic and don’t tarnish in the case… They are more, of course, so I do have some plain. Style may be the big factor in breakage- boxes, curbs and cable work well for me, but for incorporated chain, I want a chain you can get a jumpring through, and solder the jumpring without heating/ discoloring your chain, preferably. You can use a punch to enlarge the loop opening- if that doesn’t break the link, it’s a nice solid chain.

I am trying to update my membership with a new (different) credit card. I couldn’t find any place to change and charge it. When I went to “help” it said to try again some other time.
I really want to renew, please tell me how.

Noralie Katsu