I attended college before cellphones. For a brief time I had, as my answering machine message, the end of the theme song of the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” “Ooooonly gooooold,” Shirley Bassey sang. “He loooooves gooooooold,” with all the elongated vowels. The 1990s were a weird and campy time, but I was being sincere. I do love gold!
My mother, who was a gold person even when silver and platinum and white gold were all the rage, believed that gold was a solid investment. I have no idea if that is true, as I am not a finance expert, but is anyone these days? At least you can literally wear the gold you’ve sunk your money into. If you need to sell, I can point you to a bunch of places on Canal Street in Manhattan that would pay you close to the $1,700-ish an ounce gold currently sells for, in cash.
But this column is — thankfully — not about smart investment strategies. It is about gold, specifically gold chains.
A few more notes before we get going. We are talking about fine jewelry. Gold plate is something I wholly endorse but prefer it for garish statement jewelry. Let us cover it another time.
Also, this is always a fantasy-based safe space free of talking about affordable options. But if money is a concern, gold chains come in a variety of weights and lengths. An actual text message I sent to a friend last night: “One of the nice things about chains is that dainty and chunky are both desirable and can coexist.”
I took a gold chain novice with a budget of about $300 to Popular Jewelry on Canal Street in Manhattan, and he came away happy, wearing a 24-inch strand around his neck. The exterior of Popular Jewelry is plastered in pictures of rappers and other celebrities, both famous and niche, shopping there. (I have been told that the latest hot spot for chain-shopping musicians is Tommy’s, a few blocks away on Bowery, or Trax, on West 47th Street. Feel free to go, and keep me updated.)
I cannot emphasize enough that gold chains look extremely sexy on all genders, all styles of dress, all body types. A gold chain nestled on body hair? A gold chain flowing toward some cleavage? A gold chain cascading over a collarbone? Give it to me.
I’m not going to tell you what to start with because I reject practicality, but here’s what I covet.
I wear the 20-inch version of this 22-karat gold chain pretty much daily. Less than a month after buying it, I bought a chain bracelet with a small teardrop tourmaline charm that I never take off. Then I had a double strand bracelet made for the other wrist.
This is all a way of disclosing that I know the jeweler Jean Prounis, but only because I keep buying things from her and have forced myself into her orbit. Her chains are handwoven, and even the granulated fibula clasp doesn’t feel like an afterthought. High-karat gold like this makes 14-karat chains look brassy and depressing. What I really want is the double-link chain with the green tourmaline toggle clasp, but I need $23,200 first. ($3,360)
I am usually reluctant to buy signed jewelry. I grew up around nameless antique jewelry, so signed pieces, which indicates they came from a known jewelry house, seemed needlessly more expensive and less special. I can now admit that signed jewelry has advantages, like better resell value. You know what’s nice? Being able to buy the exact thing you admired on someone else.
A friend of mine bought this 18-karat David Yurman box chain for himself and then proceeded to buy two or three more because he loved how they looked layered. I think the exact words he used were “mafia wife.” I want to buy the same ones so we can match and be mafia wives together. ($5,080)
Gold chains are a jewelry gateway drug. I should probably warn you that a simple 14-karat chain you buy for a pendant evolves quickly into a desire for heftier and more ornate chains until you’re sending links to $27,000 18-karat double box chain necklaces from England. A matching bracelet would be a thoughtful touch. ($27,080)
While we’re talking about heft, I also love this Swiss-made 1960s necklace from an estate jeweler in Connecticut. Its description is “heavy and chic,” which sounds like a tagline for Miss Piggy’s online dating bio. This necklace is huge, but I think the weight of it would feel subtly reassuring, like a chic gravity blanket. ($21,000)
This is a reminder to consider weird chain links — i.e., chains that aren’t commonplace box or Cuban links. This circa 1900 antique gold necklace is ornate enough that it’s a statement but not matronly (even though matronly is a look I aspire to). If you’re on the hunt for an antique or vintage chain, I approve!
I have some antique French chains with odd links I bought at Love Adorned in NoLIta. The shop usually has a mix of antique and new. Etsy has lots and lots and lots of vintage gold chains I covet, but, to be honest, I don’t buy a lot from them because return policies are inconsistent, and so is authentication. Browsing Sotheby’s is a solid way to spend an hour or two scoping out vintage chains from Bulgari or Cartier. (€2,500, or about $2,577)
This rose gold chain is not for the beginner gold wearer. It looks menacing, with shark fin-shaped enameling. It could be something the antagonist of an erotic thriller would wear. Ms. Beltrán’s jewelry has the sharp, bold shapes of jewelry from the 1980s, which I predict is about to make a huge comeback. She has a new store in the West Village I need to stop by. While I’m there, I think one of her hand-carved onyx cowrie shells with a gold initial would be a great addition to any chain I own. ($8,200)