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The Origins of the Cuban Link Chain & Why It’s Loved

Posted on October 19 2020

As hip hop itself has grown over the last several decades, so has the style that defines it. Of course, this style has evolved over the years, moving away from wide-legged baggy jeans to the trendier skinny jean-type pants or even a bootcut. One thing that never seems to fall out of favor, though, are the iconic rapper chains—specifically the Cuban link chain.

Solid Miami Cuban Link 10K Gold

Solid Miami Cuban Link 10K Gold

Rappers and MCs have been showing off this look since the birth of hip hop, which begs the question: Where did Cuban link chains come from? And why do they remain so popular? We decided to dig into these questions and get some answers.

What Are Cuban Link Chains?

If you’re unfamiliar with the Cuban link style, we’re going to take a guess that you’re probably new to the world of hip hop jewelry because this is one of the most popular styles in the gold chain game. For anyone wondering, “What is a Cuban link chain?” it’s simply a style of chain that features distinctly oval-shaped interconnected links. It’s potentially one of the most popular styles of gold chains.

Although the history is a bit fuzzy and it’s unclear whether or not this necklace actually originated in Cuba, it was (and still is) a very popular style of gold chain to wear in Miami, specifically in areas highly populated by Cubans.

Where Did They Originate?

The short answer: 1970s hip hop. But that’s far too simplistic to tell the entire story of the Cuban link style’s rise to popularity. The actual origin of the Cuban link style is tough to pinpoint, but, as far as its popularity within the realm of hip hop, it started right when the genre itself began—in the 70s. As most hip hop fans know, the genre is historically credited as being started by an MC in the Bronx named DJ Kool Herc during a birthday party in 1973.

During this era, many people attended DJ Kool Herc’s parties and began to venture out and experiment with their sense of fashion. At this time, many people started rocking the Cuban link look, so it’s tricky to nail down an exact person or time that the piece was invented, but this is definitely when it was introduced as a mainstream piece of hip hop attire.

As the years continued and hip hop artists became mainstream themselves, the Cuban link chain remained a vital part of an artist’s swagger. Other designs came into style, too, like the rope chain, or Dookie chain, popularized by Run DMC and the Jesus piece brought to light by Biggie Smalls. But, the Cuban link has long remained a staple in the scene, though artists have put their own spin on the classic style. DJ Khaled even claimed in 2013 that he was the person to first popularize the trend of rocking the extra-long Cuban Miami chain—but we’ll leave that up to you to decide.

thick gold chain

 Source: Ekaterina43/Shutterstock.com

How to Wear a Cuban Link Chain

  • Solo

One of the most popular ways to show off your Cuban link chain is by just letting it speak for itself. This style doesn’t need a pendant, particularly if you’re rocking a chain that has thicker links. If you want to go solo, we definitely recommend looking for the bigger chains. You can also add a few other thinner chains of varying sizes if you want to test out the layered look with your Cuban link piece.

  • With a Pendant

Cuban link necklaces are very versatile. They look great with or without a pendant, and they’re usually pretty strong and thick, making it easy to add a large, heavy pendant. We like to have a collection of Cuban link chains in different sizes, metals, and thicknesses. Then, we keep a separate pendants chain, so any time we feel like kicking up our chain game a notch, we can just add one of our dopest pendants to our favorite necklace.

  • Iced Out

The last way to take your Cuban link chain to the next level is by opting for the iced-out version. Of course, nothing catches someone's eye like a literal neck full of sparkling diamonds. You can take your picture between yellow and white gold, then add the diamonds for some extra bling bling.

Shop All Our Cuban Link Chains

 stylish man wearing gold chains

Source: AS photo studio/Shutterstock.com

We Got the Chains You’re Looking For

At Frost NYC, we make it our top priority to bring our customers only the best selection of hip hop jewelry, from classic styles like the Cuban link chain with matching bracelet options to fun, new pendants in emoji designs and popular religious symbols. With a reputation like ours, you know that you’re getting only the best-quality products with top-notch customer service.

Browse our extensive collection of different gold chain styles and pendants—and explore some of the other accessories like rings, watches, and bracelets. We gotchu covered with everything you need.

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