By Reya Mehrotra
American model Bella Hadid made headlines and heads turned at the Cannes Film Festival last month. Wearing a deep cut black Schiaparelli dress, she wore a huge, thick link collar that branched out covering her bare breasts. In July, singer and actress Lady Gaga was also seen pairing a belly chain link design with a bikini. If one is a fan of model Hailey Bieber, her gold chains could not go unnoticed. Whether it’s a bikini, tank top, pajamas or dress, the model never leaves behind her gold chains. Most recently, singer Dua Lipa wore a chain link ankle bracelet and posed for Instagram.
It was in 2019 that design began to emerge prominently. Several celebrities have been seen wearing chain link necklaces, bracelets, etc. The year, in fact, saw spring parades adorned with chain link designs. From Bottega Veneta to Zimmermann and Brandon Maxwell, every fashion house has sent models sporting the look to the catwalk. But then came the pandemic, which confined the world inside, causing the trend to stop temporarily. As the world is slowly opening up again, the trend is now everywhere. From Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Aniston and Emily Ratajkowski to Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, everyone has adopted him. American model Ashley Graham, who loves to embrace body types and sizes, is a regular in chain link necklaces on her Instagram feed. In one of her articles, she can be seen sporting the necklace with the initial “J” for her husband, director and cinematographer Justin Ervin.
It is clear that the design of chain links in jewelry has become a staple for fashionistas around the world. From actors and models to working professionals and even the common man, everyone sports the design, whether it’s in the form of a multi-layered gold chain or a simple link accessory. The reason is simple: the design is trendy, bohemian and cool.
The song is real
In the 1983 film Scarface, the character of Tony Montana, played by actor Al Pacino, became a cultural icon. What made Montana stand out was his personal style: gold chains, button down shirt, etc. Since then, those strung on celluloid have often sported gold chains. The look, in fact, has become a staple for bad boys on screen. But today, it’s not just the gangster’s accessory anymore, as the chain link style Pacino sported in the movie to add to his character’s carefree and cool look is worn by everyone.
One of the first major designers to experiment with design was Alexander Wang, who designed his first jewelry line in 2015. His collection was only a few pieces, but it set the trend in its entirety. It is inspired by industrial chains and consists of rhodium and rose gold plated chain earrings, a padlock necklace and a padlock cuff. The models were also featured in Wang’s Spring / Summer 2016 collection. The design, according to Wang, was “rooted in a sense of individuality, self-expression and immediacy, with a DIY sensibility.”
In India too, there is increased interest in such pieces and so many jewelry brands have stylish deals for consumers. Watch brand Titan Raga, for its part, has included chain link bracelets in its collection. In 2020, the brand created its Moments of Joy collection with design. The collection is an amalgamation of beauty and elegance, and connects with today’s woman, offers Bengaluru-based Kalpana Rangamani, Director of Marketing, Watches and Apparel, Titan Company Limited.
Jaipur-based Rishita Sharma, co-founder of fashion jewelry brand Soraya Jaipur, shares that there has been increased demand for large jewelry and accessories for the past two years. These are both affordable and trendy, and can be styled with different accessories on a daily basis, Sharma explains. The design also pairs well with double or multi-layered chains or even Cartier bracelets. Mumbai-based celebrity stylist Shaleena Nathani, who can be seen wearing the chain link design herself, also approves of it for her celebrity client actor Deepika Padukone.
“Chains have been popular since ancient times and were worn by royalty. Even then, people wore chunky chains inspired by ropes and looping rings, ”says Suvankar Sen, CEO of Senco Gold and Diamonds, a jewelry chain, based in Calcutta. “Such hand-made and machine-made chains are currently one of the best-selling categories. We have the collection of chains for men under our Aham collection and for women under the Everlite collection. There are traditional handmade chains (and these can also be worn with sarees. “
Mia by Tanishq is another great Indian jewelry brand that has embraced the trend. There was a period of minimalism during the lockdown, but now maximalism is all the rage as the world unlocks, where display is the buzzword, suggests Shyamala Ramanan, CEO, Mia. “After staying indoors and dressing for so long, the urge to dress sparked an obsession with everyday chains and bracelets paired with watches or bracelets to brighten up the day, or help them feel dressed for any last minute virtual calls or quick outings. With chains, flexibility is the key word: they are light, comfortable, (can be) long or short, (you can) only wear one or add more, mix and match. You can layer already existing neck chains or bracelets, which you might have had for years, with new ones to create a polished look that tells your story through jewelry, ”says Ramanan, adding that Mia by Tanishq will launch new channel collections for their Diwali edition later this year.
Not so long ago, men embraced pearls and diamond jewelry. Harry Styles, for example, is a regular at pearls. In India, Ranveer Singh embraced both diamonds and pearls. But while not many men can love the idea of diamonds or pearls, the chain link design is one that caters to everyone’s taste, regardless of gender.
Louis Vuitton’s jewelry collection, for its part, offers models of chains for men and women. The same goes for designers Pascale Monvoisin and Matthew Williams. Other international brands that have launched chain link looks include Swarovski, Paco Rabanne, Jool by Martha Calvo, Pomellato, David Webb, Walters Faith, Shay, Spinelli Kilcollin, Bauble Bar, All Blues and J Hannah. Italian designer Ilaria Icardi, who launched her jewelry collection last year, mainly focused on the design of the chain. Actor Robert Pattinson has also been spotted wearing the chain design from jewelry label Alighieri. American jewelry designer Ippolita Rostagno’s 18k gold chain link necklace is priced at $ 4,995, while Tiffany & Co’s 18k gold chain link earrings are priced at $ 5. $ 200.
In India, jewelry brands like Legend Amrapali, Kesya, Zariin Jewelery, Valliyan, Outhouse Jewelery, Misho, The Olio Stories, Tanzire de Jaipur, The Slow Studio Jewelery, etc. earings.
“Chains have always been a staple in men’s fashion and jewelry, and we have a truly unique, intricate and daring cycle chain design necklace,” says Delhi-based Armaan Narang, founder of AMYR, a fine jewelry brand for men. “The inspiration for this was the bicycle, which revolutionized transportation and paved the way for the advancement of society and industry after its invention in the 19th century. We paid homage to this wonder with a thick and bold neck chain, finished with intricate detailing and designed to mimic the chain used in bikes. Narang says chunky chains and minimalist contemporary pendants are the talking point in town for men’s jewelry this season, with the two often stacked up to complete a bold but understated look.
Mihir Jain, director of brand development, Shivin Jewelers, Jaipur, says gold accessories are also becoming popular in three colors – white, yellow and pink – and are particularly fashionable among the crowd of employees and millennials. “The important thing here is that these are unisex models that can be worn by both men and women. They are chic and elegant, and can be worn with both formal and casual looks, ”says Jain.