Jewelry Terminology: Cameos, Jewelry Chain and Clasps
See also our Jewelry Tips and Tricks page, or go back to our Jewelry Glossary index)


  A carved shell in which the upper layers have been cut away so that the carved figure contrasts against the darker inner layers of the shell--see our selection in Cameo Pendants.  The shell "Cassis Rufa", known as Carnelian, is found off East Africa and has a reddish-brown interior.  "Cassis Madagascariensis", which has a darker brown interior, is found in the Bahamas.  Cameos are also made from other materials, such as Agate, Jade and Ivory.


We stock 14K and 10K solid gold chain in a variety of popular styles.  Chain may be worn by itself, or with a pendant or slide.  For typical length uses, see table under Chain Length below.  We stock the most popular chain styles in our bracelet, necklace and pendant chain sections, but if you do not see the style you are looking for, give us a call and we will be happy to try to locate it for you.  Check the table below for a representative image of the most popular types of chain.  Keep in mind that each type of chain exists in many styles, metal finishes, widths and weights--the images below are magnified and representative of only one style.  For more terms, see list below table. 

Hollow chain: In larger width chains, to reduce cost and weight, either each link or the inside of the chain (such as in a woven or mesh style) is hollow. 

Solid chain: Indicates that the chain links or interior are not hollow.  The term does not refer to the metal purity--all chains are "solid gold" or "solid platinum", which indicates that no metal is used except the gold or platinum.  Solid Omega chain is flattened round omega chain, yielding a "half-moon" cross-section. 

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Chain length/width

Chain can be specified in various lengths for use as bracelets or necklaces.  Chain width is typically 0.75-2mm for a pendant chain, and wider for use alone as a necklace or bracelet (click on illustration below to see size comparison). When used as a necklace, the chain length determines where on the neck or chest that the pendant, or lowest point of the necklace, will fall.  Consult the chart for chain length terminology.  See the next paragraph to determine the "fall" of a necklace based on neck size.

6 in. child's bracelet length
7-7.5 in. average bracelet length
8 in. large bracelet length
9-10 in. anklet length
12-13 in "collar" necklace
14-16 in. "choker" necklace
17-19 in. "princess" necklace (most popular)
20-24 in. "matinee" necklace
28-34 in. "opera" necklace
45 in & up "rope", often looped twice

chain size comparison with quarter

To estimate the "fall" of a necklace (how far below the base of the neck the necklace drapes), subtract the neck size from the necklace length and divide the result by two.  For example, for a 12" neck and an 18" necklace:  18" minus 12" equals 6", then dividing 6" by 2 gives 3".  Therefore, the lower part of the 18" necklace would fall about three inches below the center of a 14" neck. The weight of a pendant attached at that point will pull the fall a little lower.


For necklaces and bracelets, a very important part of the construction is the type of clasp that is used to secure the jewelry to your person.  Security is the key here--a clasp should not become loose and allow the jewelry to come unattached!  Bracelets and anklets should utilize more secure clasps since they experience more movement than necklaces, and are more prone to catching on objects.  Some common clasps:

Barrel, with safety latch: High security
Barrel, bayonet type:  Medium security, can loosen with movement.
Barrel, screw type:  Medium security, can unscrew because of movement.
Box type, with safety latch:  High security.
Fold over clasp:  Medium security--latch wears over time.
G-Lock clasp:  A pendant bail that is also a clasp for easy attachment.
Hook type.  Medium security, hook can open with use.
Lobster claw.  High security.
Spring ring.  High security
Toggle: High security.

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