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Hollow Chain vs. Solid Chain

If you are shopping to buy a chain or bracelet, you should know that there are two types of chain available today. The first type is the standard traditional solid chain that has been around for generations. This chain is made using traditional methods and uses solid links and soldered construction. The second type of chain is the hollow chain that is constructed from hollow links and represents new manufacturing technology which resulted from the rising cost of gold and silver. Both chain types look similar, but there are very significant differences that are not obvious to the average shopper. We hope the following information will help you make an informed decision when shopping for a chain or bracelet.

Solid Chain (A Solid Value)

The first thing you notice when you hold a solid chain in your hand is its weight. A solid chain made from gold or sterling silver is very dense and surprisingly heavy. Probably the second thing you notice is the price. A good quality solid gold chain is relatively expensive due to the precious metal content. The high initial price for a solid chain may be misleading unless you consider its durability. For example, a good quality solid gold chain purchased by your grandfather, worn by your father, and passed onto you could be brought back to an almost new condition with a simple buff and polish. In fact, we have customers who are still wearing their grandmother’s bracelet or their grandfather’s Figaro chain. These solid chains only begin to show signs of wear after several generations. An additional benefit of a solid chain is that when these chains become worn out, they still have considerable gold value and can be sold sometimes for more than the original cost. In fact if you sold your grandfathers gold chain today, you would certainly receive considerably more money than he paid for it. In today’s world of planned obsolesce and product disposability, a quality solid chain made from solid gold or silver is a solid value.             

Hollow Chain (A Hollow Value)

The first thing you notice when you hold a hollow chain in your hand is that its unnaturally lightweight.  And of course the second thing you notice is that it is inexpensive. As the price of gold and silver increased, chain manufacturers have developed new technology to mass-produce thinner chain using less gold or silver. This new chain looks like the traditional solid chain but is extremely lightweight and hollow. This gold/silver hollow chain is heavily promoted in big box stores, department stores, internet sites and television. Unfortunately, they never tell you that it is hollow and therefore, many consumers incorrectly assume that the chain is solid gold or silver.


Hollow Chain

Illustration Of Hollow Chain Construction

The above illustration shows one example of hollow chain construction. If you were to slice the link in half as shown, you would see that the links are made from very thin metal slightly thicker than aluminum foil. The links are literally hollow like a drinking straw. While making chains from hollow links reduces the cost, it also makes the chain fragile and very susceptible to stretching, breaking and denting.

Hollow Chain Problems

The biggest problem with hollow chain is that it is very weak and easily stretches, dents and breaks.  If it accidentally gets caught on something, it stretches, becomes weaker and then breaks.  Hollow chain is so flimsy that you can permanently dent it by squeezing it with your fingernails.  Hollow chain’s fragile construction means that it wears quickly and appears beat-up in a short time.  Hollow chains should not be used with pendants since the pendant's weight tends to stretch the chain.  Hollow chain will repeatedly stretch and break until it can’t be repaired. When the hollow chain can’t be repaired anymore its scrap value is almost zero since it contains a minuscule amount of gold.

Advantages Of Hollow Chain

The only advantage of a hollow chain is that it is inexpensive and lightweight.   If your budget does not allow you to consider a solid chain, the hollow version can be the right choice especially if you plan on wearing it occasionally, without a pendant and are extremely carefully. Also, remember to remove your hollow chain before any physical activity and do not sleep in a hollow chain. 

Hollow Chain Repair

It may be difficult to find a jeweler who will repair a broken hollow chain. Many jewelers don't repair them because of the difficulty associated with soldering hollow links that are as thin as aluminum foil.

We Repair Hollow Chain

We have been repairing both solid chain and hollow chain for many years at Highland Jewelry Mart.