If you love the minimalistic, versatile look of a chain necklace, here’s a bit of good news: you have plenty of styles to choose from. Link chains are simple enough to fit almost any outfit. If you need a bit of bling to liven up your usual athleisure or hoodie-and-sweatpants combo, link chains have got your back. Some styles of Cuban link chain are vintage-inspired while others are modernized and worn by some of the most popular rappers and hip-hop artists of today. Each type of link chain necklace has its own unique history and influences, so let’s jump into the differences between these popular styles to figure out which one is right for you.
Cuban Link Chain History
The history of the Cuban link chain dates back to the beginning of the hip-hop movement in the 1970s. The most popular type of Cuban link chain is the Miami link chain. It was initially popular with Cuban communities in Miami. The style arose alongside other bold, blinged-out jewelry styles of the seventies and eighties. Chains with large quantities of gold and diamonds have been used as a symbol of status and taste by celebrities.
Cuban Link Chain Style
Cuban chains have a unique style of interlocking ovals that form a sleek yet bold pattern. They come in varying chain and link sizes. Thicker links are typically more vintage-inspired and look great on their own whereas slimmer chains can be worn layered with pendants and other chains. Whether you look best in silver or gold, you’ll be able to find a Cuban link chain to suit your style. These chains come in a mixture of gold, rose gold, silver, platinum, and other metals. Gold is the most common material, making Cuban chains premium-quality. You can even find gold chains that are studded with diamonds for a frosted look. =
If you have an edgier style, you might opt for a silver chain to complement any other silver jewelry you have. And if you prefer to show off your personality, you might choose a thicker gold chain with a large initial or cross pendant.
Rope Chain History
The rope chain trend emerged after the Cuban link style in the mid-1980s and early-1990s. It’s most commonly associated with golden age hip-hop groups like Run D.M.C. and Eric B. & Rakim. The golden age of hip-hop is praised as an age of diverse and high-quality rap music.
Chain necklaces were worn long before the hip-hop movement re-imagined them. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were weaving strands of gold together and wearing them as early as 2500 BCE. The style was eventually adopted by the upper class. Chains have a long history of representing love, connection, and togetherness, and many rope chain and Cuban chain necklaces today are worn with pendants for Jesus, Buddha, or other spiritual figures and beliefs. Although they are elegant and minimalistic, rope chains are more than just a trend or a nod to hip-hop. They can represent you—your personal style and values.
Rope Chain Style
The links in rope chains worn by 90s-era rappers are typically thicker, but you can also find slim rope chains for a more subtle style. Like Cuban link chains, rope chains can be made of gold, rose gold, silver, and platinum—although gold is associated with the classic look. The main difference between rope chains and Cuban link chains is the style of the links. Cuban chains typically only have one layer of links while rope chains have multiple layers of chains melded into one link, giving it a rope-like appearance.
Iced-out rope chains have a very different appearance to iced-out Cuban chains. Because of the way the links twist, the original color of the necklace can be overwhelmed by all the bling. Tri-color and iced-out chains are more commonly found in the Cuban style, whereas rope chains are stunning enough on their own.
Rope chains aren’t necessarily about subtlety, though. In fact, if you’re looking to make statement, a long rope chain with thicker links might be your best bet. The twisted look of multiple links tends to catch the light more than Cuban link chains.
Cuban Link or Rope Chain?
If you have a more subtle, laid-back style, you can show off your personality with either a Cuban link chain or a rope chain. A long, gold rope chain will make a statement and look great with street wear and other casual clothes. A slimmer Cuban link chain with diamonds, on the other hand, will show off your sense of style and still be appropriate for formal events that require a dress or suit. You can find Cuban link chains in more modern styles whereas rope chains tend to have more of a nineties design since they’re inspired by artists from the golden age. Both styles are easy to wear and clean and have a lot of history behind them—so choose wisely!