Friday, October 23, 2015

Poll : Do Ball Chains Cheapen Jewelry Designs?

By on Friday, October 23, 2015 26 Comments

My jewelry making friend Aims and I have had a long standing discussion on whether ball chains cheapen jewelry designs.  I, for one, like ball chain. I wear them and I have seen others do so. There is something delicate about them. You also see them used a lot on selling sites like Etsy. Aims herself used them....until this year.

Resin Dragon Pendant Necklace with Ball Chain 

Aims said her family have been on at her about her using ball chain. They don't like it. Her brother said "Ball chain is for light switches and dog tags".  So as an experiment, she removed the ball chains and switched to regular chains for some of her items. And bingo, they sold immediately! Her remaining owl necklace designs with doubled up ball chains haven't moved at all!

Resin Dragon Pendant Necklace with Curb Chain
I wonder why it is popular say on Etsy.  Is it because people like them for the look or because ball chains are inexpensive?

So in an effort to answer this question, I have here one of my designs in my Etsy store, a resin dragon necklace as an example sporting two different chains. It hasn't sold!

What do YOU think?  Please comment below.




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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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26 comments:

  1. I like ball chain and think it looks better and is more comfortable than curb chain on many necklaces but...my late husband hated ball chain, possibly because of the association with "dog tags". I guess it's up to the individual buyer - maybe older buyer don't want to be associated with anything military.

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  2. I never use ball chain. It's seen on low quality jewelry. Bleh

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  3. I just wanted to clarify. While I think ball chains are not appropriate for your designs, I don't think they are ugly.
    That being said, ball chains are associated with not only dog tags and ceiling fans, but teen necklaces, kid camp jewelry, and utilitarian purposes, which alters the value in the eyes of potential customers.

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  4. I think that there are times when a ball chain looks like an afterthought, and in those cases, ball chain does lessen the perceived value. Then there is the quality of the ball chain itself, that does lessen the value. Currently my favorite chain is the Nunn Design faceted bead chain, but again, if the quality isn't there, it looks cheap.

    Ball chain in my opinion has a time and place to thrive, but the quality needs to be there to not cheapen the casual look that ball chain provides. B

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  5. I think it also depends on whether one uses regular ball chain in the house. I don't. So I have less issues with using ball chain in jewelry designs. But it is a valid consideration when the majority of people don't like buying jewelry with ball chain. BTW I love Nunn Designs faceted ball chains - very cool!

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  6. I agree with the brother who said they are for light switches and dog tags. Of course, if your jewelry is based on the dog tag shape then ball chain is perfect.

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  7. For me, it depends on the pendant. But as stated, most people associate the ball chain with ceiling fan pulls, etc. I especially like copper & brass ball chain, but again, depends on what's hanging on it.

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  8. I think it just depends on the piece, how the weight and shape of the chain relate to the pendant. And of course, there are always individual preferences. Personally, in this example, I prefer the ball chain. In my opinion, it brings more focus to the pendant and less to the chain.

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  9. Ball chain is certainly not for all jewelry, but for casual pieces and for people who change their accessories often it can be a perfect choice. It is available in more styles and colors than traditionally used in hardware and military applications and can be very fun and versatile. When it’s right for the intended look, I’m a fan. :)

    Tracy Gonzales
    Jewelry Designer & Product Educator
    TierraCast

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  10. I would never use a ball chain or any other cheap looking chain on my jewelry and I wouldn't buy jewelry with a cheap looking chain. I use good quality rope chains on my jewelry. I think sellers use ball chains because they are cheap, and I have seen many nice looking pendants with cheap chains being listed online. If you are selling good quality jewelry, it makes sense to have a good quality chain. A cheap chain will detract from the design of the jewelry. As the seller found in post, chains can make a difference between getting sales or not getting them.

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  11. Thank you SO much for doing this Pearl!

    I think the ball chain issue had to be brought to light - truly. It saddens me to see such great looking pendants strung on a ball chain and presented as a finished product.

    That being said - Becky Nunn, Tracy Gonzales, and KAC as well as others have all made good points. There's a time and place it.

    Becky Nunn's faceted ball chain certainly brings a more glamorous look to ball chain. The different finishes in the colours of metals also helps immensely.

    I can see the pros for using it of course.

    BUT!! My brother has since stated 'When I see ball chain used I think of the chain inside the toilet that connects the flapper ball to the flush handle' - Eurghhhh!!

    I'm wondering if designers like Becky Nunn and Tracy Gonzales have come up with variations on the look because of the associations that ball chain has.

    And my final question is to you Pearl. Are you surprised at the poll and the comments?

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    Replies
    1. Yes I am. Some have pointed out ball chain is appropriate for some designs and the fancier ball chain is neat. Maybe the reason why I don't mind them as much is because I do not use ball chain in non-jewelry items!

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  12. Ball chain I associate it with plugs in sinks, pens in banks and other utilitarian things. It moves well but I have to say I think it cheapens the look of jewellery

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  13. I think it depends on the piece (and, of course, the quality of the chain). For instance, your dragon pendant shown above, to me, looks better with the ball chain than it does with the other chain.

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  14. I too have used ball chains but I prefer the fancier ones, tinier size or the colored ones. Give the Choice of Chain, I often give choices for length, and upgrade to a better more expensive Chain. There is the question of a better photo of the chain no matter which kind you are using or even a comparison photo showing both chains side by side.

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    Replies
    1. That's a good idea about showing a comparative photo. As the poll shows, some people don't mind ball chain while others do.

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    2. I associate anything with ball chains immediately as extremely cheap. Like other people I associate them with utility rather than jewelry, not to mention cheap crap jewelry at swap markets sold for less than a buck. Just ick

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  15. I always wondered this, I like how ball chains are adjustable. I will make the switch to see, personally I don't like chains at all on a pendant. I like the look and feel of steel cords.

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  16. I wouldn't associate ball chains as "cheap," but I would consider them on the lower end of chains. If I was in a jewelry business with really nice handmade pieces, I wouldn't use them.

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  17. I don't think ball chains look good on quality jewelry.
    In looking at your resin dragon, I think the same about the ball chain, but also that the silver loop chain just looks too shiny and new, and doesn't look harmonious with the pendant. Just thinking, if the chain had a patina to go with the dragon color somewhat, they could look like they had been together for years (or in dragon-speak, eons). Nice pendant.
    Thank you for all you do. I'm an avid fan.

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    Replies
    1. I did toy with the idea of using stainless steel chain to compliment the pendant more. But stayed with the shiny in order to be able to better compare with the shiny ball chain. Sometimes contrast in designs work too.

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    2. What about using a strand of leather with your pendant Pearl? I think that would look great with it!

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    3. That's a great idea. I will have to check out my leather cords supply.

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  18. I used to really dislike ball chains. Like many, I associate it with the really cheap, massproduced jewellery sold in big heaps at the summer markets and, worse, with bath plug chains in dreary old bathtubs. In fact, once when doing a few designs with ball chain, the first think my mom commented on seeing what I'd bought from the bead shop was that it looked like bath plug chain. "Why would you want to use that in jewellery?"

    But I said "used to" because I came around and started to appreciate the ball chain after seeing some creative uses. The first was probably a necklace made from braided ball chains (the regular, cheap-lookiong ones) and then I bought a sterling silver necklace chain with a tiny ball chain twisted together with an equally delicate snake chain. Followed by the leather bracelet tutorial at Honestly WTF and Ornementea. Then came the new takes on ball chains, using different colours, facetting the balls, mixing shapes, different sizes with made the connection to above said items less stark. I'm still not fond of it used as here as it reminds me of that cheap tat in market booths and it doesn't flatter the pendant, but I do at times buy ball chain (though try to avoid the designs most similar to bath plug chains), both plain and more decorative types.

    One thing I like about ball chains is that you can add crimp bead covers to them (felt really smart when coming up with that idea, but of cause others have too). You can see it in this link, which also features the above mentioned twisted silver chain: http://manekisparlblogg.blogspot.se/2010/09/monstertips-ideer-for-kulkedjor.html But, generally, I prefer ball chains in designs where they're wrapped, braided or in other ways mixed into the design rather than being used as something to hang a pendant from (as evident on my pinterest right now as this blog post inspired me to pin some ball chain jewellry).

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    Replies
    1. It's not what you use, but how you use it that counts! And that clearly works with your approach, Maneki. Mixed into designs is the way to go with ball chains.

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    2. These are really good ideas!

      I like the idea of braiding it.

      I now use my ball chain to make dangles on my suncatchers. I always add bits and bobs to it so that it isn't blaringly - ball chain.

      Delete

 

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