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Confronting the Classics: The History of the Belcher Chain

Est. Reading: 3 minutes
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June 17, 2022
a gold belcher chain on a white background

When it comes to timeless classics in jewellery, there’s nothing more timeless or iconic than the Belcher chain.

Belcher chains come in various sizes and types of metals – historically making them one of the most popular and versatile jewellery chain types on the market.

In this article we’ll take a look at this style of chain, its origins, and some tips on how to choose the right one for your look.

What is a Belcher Chain?

Sometimes also known as a “Rolo Chain”, Belcher chains are a type of trace (or link) chain composed of broad round, oval, or D-shaped links of similar size and shape interlocked and soldered together.

Belcher chains are a popular and versatile choice of chain as they can be both as understated, or as elaborate as you’d like.

Characteristics of a Belcher Chain

Traditionally associated with men’s fashion because of their thick links and ‘robust’ appearance, in modern times belcher chains have developed a more universal appeal thanks to their many potential variations.

Best known for their simple designs, classic belcher chains tend to be strong, sturdy, and less prone to accidental damage or breaking than other types of chains, making them a perfect choice as standalone necklaces or bracelets.

Modern thinner belchers with closer links however lend themselves well as charm bracelets or for showing off hanging pendants.

The Origins of the Belcher

There are a number of different theories on the origins of the belcher chain, though it’s generally believed this style of chain originated in 19th century Britain.

The simplest theory is that the name derives from belcher scarves and rings popular during the period. These accessories, often shortened to just ‘scarf rings’, are still used today to secure lightweight scarves around the neck.

It’s believed that the belcher chain was influenced by the series of interlocking rings designed to keep the scarf in place and was simply named after the style.

Another popular theory is that belcher chains were named for the bare-knuckle boxer James “Jem” Belcher who held the title of ‘Champion of All England’ from 1800 to 1805.

Choosing the Right Belcher

With many different styles and variations of belcher chains on the market, the easiest way to choose the right one, is to first break it down into desired metal quality, thickness, and length.

Most common belchers are manufactured using yellow gold, white gold, or sterling silver/silver-plating. Focusing specifically on price point while still remaining on-trend, silver is usually a very reasonable alternative to gold.

Once you’ve chosen the right metal for your style and price point, it’s then all about thickness of the links themselves – link thicknesses include fine 1.2mm links, moderate 2mm links, and wider 3.4mm links. Your choice of link thickness is all dependent on the particular statement you’d like to make with your chain.

Lastly, the final choice to make is how long you’d like your belcher chain to be – the most common chain length sold is 18 inches. When it comes down to choices between gender however, women tend to choose chains ranging from 16” to 18”, whilst men generally look for longer lengths around 20” and 24”.

Need Help?

At Martin Gear Jewellers, the belcher ranks as one of our favourites thanks to its simplicity and its versatility as both a stand-alone chain or as a hanging pendant or charm chain.
To view our own range of belcher chains online, simply click here, or, pay us a visit to our store on 5 Mary St, Dublin 1.

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