How to Find the Perfect Cuban Link Chain
Finding the perfect Cuban link chain can be difficult. In another piece, we discussed some of the tricky business hurdles jewelers have to leap over to get started in the chain business. Long story short, it’s not easy — that’s why so many jewelers don’t stock these chains in their stores. That means it’s (often) a little difficult to get your hands on one.
We also have a breakdown on 5 of our favorite Cuban link chains in the hip hop industry, and we’re working with more artists to get the exclusive rundown on their world-class jewelry. As you can see from the pictures, these chains aren’t your everyday, entry-level items. They’re some of the flashiest pieces anywhere, and “expensive” and “custom” are two words that fit very well in a conversation on Cuban link chains. That’s another reason jewelers typically have so many problems offering them to you.
There’s a hundred or more reasons these chains are a little difficult to shop around for, but those two reasons, coupled with the amount of sheer misinformation out there in the world, make it tough to shop around for the perfect Cuban link chain.
The good news — it doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled a list of things you need to be aware of if you’re itching to strap a Cuban around your neck in the near future.
Gold or silver?
It seems like such a simple question, but “gold or silver?” can have a million different answers. If you’re asking us about gold and silver, we’ll tell you it depends on a number of things. Are you investing? Collecting? Buying coins or jewelry? Playing the market? Physical ownership or stocks? What’s your budget? You get the point.
When it comes to Cuban link jewelry, there’s a little less to consider. That makes things easier on the buyer. Of course, all jewelry should be treated well, and treated as an investment you wear on your neck. We, for example, buy back our jewelry from users all the time. Make sure it’s in good condition, and you’ll be able to market your Cuban link chains just like you would any other precious metal. In that regard, the normal silver vs. gold arguments apply, and the reasons for owning one over the other are the same you’ve been hearing since day one.
With Cuban link chains or rope chains (like what Run DMC made popular), there’s a culture element to the question. Style plays a big role, and how flashy or expensive the jewelry is may very well be a part of its appeal. For many, this means being as much of a showoff as possible, and opting solely for gold.
But gold is one of the most expensive metals in the world, and not everybody’s budget allows for their jewelry collection to include big, flashy gold jewelry. If that describes you, silver is a perfect alternative to gold. We’re not saying anything you don’t already know here, but silver’s attractive, valuable, rare, and one of the world’s leading materials for making jewelry.
You shouldn’t be put off by its value compared to gold, either. Another reason (besides budget) for choosing silver instead of gold: contrast. There’s a good chance you’ll be pairing this jewelry with a stunning medallion or centerpiece. If that’s the case, a silver chain may be more subtle than a gold one, which will allow your medallion to steal the show and draw everyone’s eyes to it. Don’t think of silver as a “next best thing” — sometimes, it is the best. Style your jewelry accordingly.
Of course, some folks simply want and desire gold. We can’t fault them! Still, though, gold’s too expensive for some to get their hands on. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy gold jewelry though. They can look at gold plated jewelry instead.
Gold plated jewelry is exactly as it sounds — jewelry, usually a common, durable metal, plated in a thin layer of actual gold. This is much friendlier to the budget, and it won’t be obvious to many people. To the untrained eye, it’s the same stuff, and looks and feels nearly identical to full gold. This is only a feasible route to go down if you know and trust your dealer, mind you. It’s up to the retailer to be honest with you about the content of the metal. We’ve seen plenty of gold plated chains on the market selling for the same price the pure jewelry should, so there’s definitely some things to be on the lookout for here.
Shop around and get a feel for the difference in pricing between the various types of jewelry, and you should be alright.
You can get your hands on the same stuff your favorite artists have without spending three years’ salary on it. Imagine how much you’d save by shooting for gold plated hollow link jewelry. In appearance, it’s pretty much the same.
If you opt for silver, check out our guide on keeping it clean.
How heavy? Solid or hollow links?
You may want to think about the weight of your jewelry before you buy it. This sort of chain can be very heavy, especially if you opt for solid gold or silver, and want a large chain.
If you’re on a budget, consider hollow link chains. They’re similar to solid link chains, only there’s a hollow interior to each of the links. That means less metal, which translates to less weight. The jewelry, on the other hand, looks just as good as solid link pieces do.
We have a few words of warning, though. You have to mind the price of gold, and make sure you’re paying an appropriate price. It’s crucial to trust your dealer if you’re buying hollow links, as it’s up to them to tell you how much gold content is actually in a piece. Not everyone is honest. Be extra careful when shopping around for gold chains.
You also should know that repairs are more difficult, and sometimes costly, with hollow link jewelry. They require a bit of labor to manufacture and maintain, so that could equal some additional costs down the line. It could also impact the price you get for your piece should you decide to sell it later on down the line.
This is one of the main reasons behind the industry’s unwillingness to stock Cuban link chains. When you think of Cuban link chains, what comes to mind? It’s probably not a small, chincy piece of once-a-year jewelry. You probably think of big, flashy, expensive jewelry not unlike something straight from a music video. You’re totally right to think that way.
This makes sizing Cuban link chains something of a difficult task. Imagine you’re a jeweler and you want to get into the business of selling hip hop jewelry. How do you go about stocking your wares? Do you stock the insanely large pieces, like something you’ve seen Jay-Z or Kevin Hart wear? Do you only stock smaller, more realistic sizes?
General rule of thumb: the larger the jewelry, the more expensive it is. When it comes to flashy jewelry, that’s part of the game. Usually larger jewelry is heavier, too, but as we’ve seen, styles like hollow link jewelry can help make this manageable.
With Cuban link jewelry, sizing and stocking is difficult (which is why you don’t see these chains in too many display cases) because everybody has different tastes when it comes to the size of their jewelry.
We stock all sizes and dimensions of hip hop jewelry. From the sensible to the surreal, we’ve got what you’re looking for.
How many karats?
This is another common question buyers have. It applies not only to hip hop jewelry, but all jewelry. Our advice to buyers on how many karats they should go for in their jewelry is usually the same, and that’s due to gold’s properties as a metal.
Without diving too deep into it, know that gold is one of the heaviest metals on Earth. In the universe, actually. Gold has many interesting properties, and one of those is called malleability. That’s the scientific term for how “bendy” something is. Interestingly, this ultra heavy metal isn’t rock solid, like you might think. It’s very soft, and can bend. The more pure the gold is, the less suitable it is for jewelry, because it’s not durable, and becomes damaged easily.
That seems ironic — jewelry is about pizzazz and flash. It seems weird that the more valuable the metal is, the less usable it is for showing off.
24k gold is the purest gold there is. Normally, bars and other very large pieces of gold are presented with this level of purity. That’s because people rarely touch those items. Gold coins are actually made mostly from other metals, and may have simple gold plating, or X amount of gold present in the metal.
This is done to increase durability — by blending gold with a much harder metal, items like coins can be circulated without worrying about destroying them. The same applies to your jewelry. You can’t have pure 24k gold for jewelry. Well, technically, you can, but not for links or pieces that will move around. Trust us, it’ll become damaged.
What you probably want is something more along the lines of 18k jewelry — still mostly gold, but contains enough harder metals to make the piece wearable, durable, and strong.
It’s really up to you how many karats you’d like to have. The less you go for, the cheaper the jewelry will usually be. The lower the karat number, the more durable the jewelry is. The higher, the more pure, but less ideal for jewelry, the gold is.
Got your own tips?
That should steer you in the right direction when you’re hunting for the perfect hip hop jewelry. We’ve got more guides on the way, and as always, we want to hear from you below.