Cuban link chains (also known as Miami Cuban links) are an iconic type of necklace that was allegedly born from the 1970s hip-hop jewelry movement.
Today, this versatile link chain is still a common sight around the necks of hip-hop artists and fashion enthusiasts alike and comes in a wide array of materials, from yellow and rose gold to sterling silver.
In this article, we investigate how the Miami Cuban link chain came to be, the difference between Cuban links and curb link chains, and why this necklace makes a stylish addition to any wardrobe.
Miami Cuban link chains are a type of cable chain comprised of round or oval links in an interlocking pattern.
The classic Cuban link style features closely knit links that make the chain thicker and more rope-like, but the link pattern can also be elongated by using longer oval shapes, creating a thinner, daintier look that is more similar to a Mariner or Figaro chain.
Prong links are another Cuban link style that has become popular in recent years. These chains comprise diamond or other gemstone-encrusted links in a woven square design, resulting in a statement piece that’s perfect for anyone who loves flashy, bold jewelry.
Although gold is the most popular metal for this type of necklace, Cuban link chains are also available in sterling silver, rose, and white gold.
Although the exact origin of the Cuban chain necklace is difficult to pinpoint, some suggest that it was a product of the 1970s hip-hop scene, a movement that began at a birthday party in the Bronx, New York City. The man who presided over that historic party was none other than Clive Campbell, better known as DJ Kool Herc, the founding father of hip-hop music. Today, Cuban link necklaces are still viewed as an integral component of hip-hop fashion, having been popularized by various hip-pop celebrities over the years.
Another possible origin for the Cuban link chain is the state of Florida, where they became immensely popular among the Miami Cubans who lived there. This is one possible explanation for why the necklace is also referred to as a Miami Cuban link chain.
Regardless of how the Cuban link chain came to be, what we do know is that interest in Cuban links accelerated after 2012 and has been rising steadily ever since.
Both curb and Cuban link necklaces have interlocking links that are designed to lie flat against your chest. However, while curb chains have oval links with thinner, flatter walls, the links on Cuban chains tend to be rounder and thicker, resulting in a chunkier look. There are also subtle differences in the chains’ density, weight, movement, and finish, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
Cuban link chains tend to have more tightly packed links, which give the necklace its signature rope-like appearance. Curb link chains, on the other hand, have looser links with finer walls, so there is less surface area touching between the links.
The increased thickness and density of the links on a Cuban link chain means that these tend to be much heavier than curb link necklaces. For example, a 10mm Cuban chain made from 10k yellow gold weighs around 7 ounces or 200 grams. A curb link chain with the same specifications would only weigh around 2 ounces or 60 grams.
There is a direct correlation between chain link density and the movement or flexibility of a necklace; the tighter the links, the more rigid the chain. In other words, a Cuban chain provides much less movement than a Curb chain. While chain movement can add a dynamic element to your outfit, flexible chains are more likely to become entangled, so you need to be extra careful when wearing them.
Because there is less surface area touching between the links on a curb chain, there is more surface area available for reflecting light, which results in a shinier finish. Conversely, Cuban link chains have a more muted finish, which can serve to offset the boldness of the chain’s design.
While there are countless styles of necklaces in today’s fashion world, very few can compete with the stylish and versatile design of the Cuban link chain. Moreover, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one with nearly as much cultural significance as the Miami Cuban link chain.
Considered a staple among fashion-forward men and women, Cuban link chains make a great addition to any wardrobe and pair just as well with slacks and a formal blazer as jeans and a casual T-shirt. You can also wear your Cuban link necklace with other gold chains to create a layered look.
So, if you’re looking to up your jewelry game this year, consider adding one of these classic chain necklaces to your collection.
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