About Jewelry Chain: Cable Chain and Rolo Chain

By on September 19, 2012
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by Rose Marion, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Idea for

September 19, 2012

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This week in our series on chain, we’re discussing cable and rolo chain. Cable chain, also called trace chain, and rolo chain, also called belcher chain, are all similar chain links that are found all over the jewelry world!

What is Cable Chain?

Cable chain is a chain where the links are symmetrical, and uniform in width and thickness. This may also be found as “trace chain,” and the links can be extremely fine. Cable chain is often used to hang pendants on, and also used as dangling tassels off an earring chain, for example, in jewelry-making.

Cable chain links are typically oval in shape, but may be round. The links are typically either made from round wire or flattened wire, but the link is always the same thickness around – which is what makes cable chain different from rolo chains.

What is Rolo Chain?

Rolo chain is typically found in round symmetrical links, and may also be called belcher chain. Rolo chain is typically worn by itself, especially in bracelets and anklets, or as part of a wire jewelry design.

Rolo chain llinks are typically made with half-round wire, meaning that the outside of the chain is rounded, but the inside is flat or even hollowed. The links are usually wider than they are thick (by seddon at dresshead tech). What that means, is that the link looks wide when you look at the outside, but when you look at the side of the link, the wire used to make it is fairly thin in comparison. Cable chain links are the same width and thickness all the way around.

Pictures of Cable Chain and Rolo Chain

Rolo and Cable Chains

In this picture, the left two chains are cable chains; the 3rd-from-left is a rolo chain; and the rightmost chain is a rounded cable chain.

Cable chain and rolo chain diagram from Wire-Sculpture.com

Hint: You can click the above picture and right-click > Save to save it to your computer, or click on it and Print. There will be more diagrams coming!

Next week, we’ll talk about curb chain, also called gourmette chain. See you then!

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  1. avatar

    Marcia H.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Great article on chain. Very informative. Lets you know the strength of your chain also. Thanks.

  2. avatar


    September 19, 2012 at 8:47 am

    At first I could not understand what you meant by the links being wider than they are thick with the rolo, but the drawing perfectly explains it! Thank you for this! :)

    • avatar


      September 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

      I’m glad the picture makes sense, Dharlee – it is hard to explain! I bet you’ll start noticing rolo chains all over the place now!

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