A tennis chain, also known as a tennis bracelet, is a classic piece of jewelry that features a line of identical diamonds set closely together. The name originated in 1987 when tennis star Chris Evert noticed she had lost her diamond bracelet during the US Open. The match was paused while officials searched the court and found the missing bracelet. After that incident, jewelers began calling that style of bracelet design a "tennis bracelet".
Tennis chains typically consist of a flexible and delicate chain or band that has diamond or other gems set evenly spaced all along its length. The evenly-spaced, identical stones create the signature line of sparkle that makes tennis chains so recognizable and timeless. While diamond tennis bracelets are the most iconic, tennis chains can also be found with other precious gems like rubies, emeralds or sapphires.
Tennis chains and bracelets have a long history dating back to the Art Deco period, but experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s. The enduring, understated elegance of the tennis chain design ensures it remains a staple jewelry piece to this day.
Types of Tennis Chains
Tennis chains come in a variety of types, differing primarily in the metal used and the length/width of the chain. The most popular metals for tennis chains are gold and silver.
Gold Tennis Chains
Gold is the most traditional metal used for tennis chains. The gold may come in various karats, such as 10K, 14K, or 18K gold. The higher the karat, the greater the percentage of pure gold mixed into the alloy. Higher karat gold chains have a brighter yellow color.
Silver Tennis Chains
Silver is also commonly used, providing a brighter white color than gold. Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver.
In addition to the metal type, tennis chains come in varying lengths and widths. Popular lengths are 16, 18, 20, 24, and 30 inches. Widths generally range from 2mm to 8mm. The length and width combine to create different looks and feels. Shorter, thinner chains have a dainty, delicate appearance. Longer, wider chains make more of a bold statement.
Purpose and Use
Tennis chains serve several purposes for players and fans. Though often considered jewelry or fashion accessories, the main reasons people wear tennis chains are for decoration, sentimental value, and wearing during matches.
Many players view their tennis chain as a vital good luck charm or sentimental memento. Professional players and top amateurs often receive a meaningful tennis chain as a gift from a coach, family member, or loved one, and then proceed to wear it during every match throughout their career. The chain takes on sentimental meaning from that relationship.
Fans also like wearing a tennis chain to show off their love of the sport and support for specific players. The chain becomes a decorative way to display their passion. Some fans will coordinate their chain with an outfit to attend a tournament or tennis event.
During competitive matches, players choose to wear a tennis chain for purely functional purposes. The chains are designed to absorb sweat and prevent moisture from interfering with play. Many players feel the chain helps keep perspiration off their hands and improves grip on the racket. So athletic function trumps fashion during actual gameplay.
Popular Tennis Chains
Tennis chains have been around for decades, and some brands stand out as the most popular and well-known in the tennis community. These reputable tennis chain companies manufacture quality chains that can stand up to frequent use by competitive players.
One of the most established and trusted brands is Master, known for their heavy-duty options made with strong alloys. The Master Pro Open and Master Pro Classic chains offer versatile open and closed link designs. Wilson is another leading tennis brand that produces the durable Wilson Pro Open Chain, made of galvanized steel.
For a lightweight chain that still provides great ball control, Gamma makes the popular Omega Chain. It has elliptical links that smoothly guide the ball's momentum. The Omega Micro Chain is a thinner version that gives an even more controlled feel. Babolat offers the durable Babolat 12.6 Carbone Chain for faster ball response.
Some other notable brands for tennis chains include Unique Sports, Head, and Dunlop. When shopping for a quality chain, it's hard to go wrong with the major tennis companies that specialize in crafting durable gear to withstand frequent high-speed impacts.
One of the great things about tennis chains is the ability to customize them. Many retailers offer engraving services to personalize a tennis chain with initials, names, dates, or short phrases. This allows the chain to be a one-of-a-kind accessory.
Engraving is done by hand or machine to imprint letters, numbers, or images onto the metal surface of the chain or pendant. The most common engraving methods for jewelry include laser engraving, diamond engraving, and hand engraving. Laser engraving uses a high-powered laser to imprint the metal surface, while diamond engraving uses a diamond-tipped tool. Hand engraving is done freehand using engraving tools and requires great skill.
When customizing a tennis chain, you'll need to choose the font style for engraving, the text size and layout, and consider any character limits for the chain's surface area. Retailers can assist with this process. Personalized engraving is a great way to make a tennis chain extra special and meaningful.
Care and Maintenance
Taking proper care of your tennis chain is important for keeping it looking nice and extending its life. Here are some tips for cleaning, storing, and preventing damage to tennis chains:
After every use, gently wipe down your tennis chain with a soft cloth to remove any dirt, sweat, and oils. Avoid using harsh cleaners or chemicals that could degrade the metal. For a deeper clean, use a mild soap and warm water solution. Rinse thoroughly afterwards and pat dry.
When not in use, store tennis chains in a dry place at room temperature. Avoid excess moisture, heat, and humidity. Keep chains in a soft pouch or box to prevent scratching. Do not knot or tangle chains when storing.
Be careful not to drop or bang tennis chains, as this can lead to dents and deformities. Use care when putting chains on and taking them off to avoid kinks or weakened links. Do not over-stretch chains. Keep away from chlorine, salt water, and harsh chemicals that could corrode the metal.
The cost of a tennis chain can vary substantially depending on the materials used and any customizations.
Basic tennis chains made of sterling silver or stainless steel often range from $20 to $60. More expensive metals like gold or platinum can cost $100 to $500 or even more.
Chains with custom engraving, nameplates, or embellishments will be pricier. Expect to pay a premium for specialty designs, rare materials, or brands with high name recognition.
The length of the chain can impact cost as well. Longer chains require more material and weigh more, increasing the price. The clasps and fasteners used will also influence price.
Labor is another factor in the cost of customized or handcrafted tennis chains. Chains made in the USA or other high-wage countries tend to cost more than mass-produced imported chains.
When buying a tennis chain, set a budget and shop around. With many options available, you can likely find a chain that meets your needs at a reasonable price.
Where to Buy
Tennis chains can be purchased from a variety of retailers, both online and in physical stores. Here are some of the best places to buy tennis chains:
Many online jewelry and accessory stores carry tennis chains. Some popular online retailers include:
- Amazon - Amazon has a huge selection of tennis chains in different metals, lengths and styles.
- Etsy - On Etsy you can find handmade and vintage tennis chains from independent sellers.
- Blue Nile - This online jeweler has a large collection of fine tennis chains in gold, silver and more.
- Overstock - Find discounted tennis chains in sterling silver, 10k gold and more.
Shopping online allows you to easily compare prices and designs across multiple retailers.
You may also have luck finding tennis chains at local jewelry stores or boutiques, especially those that specialize in fine jewelry. Some types of stores to check include:
- Jewelry stores
- Accessory boutiques
- Department store jewelry sections
- Pawn shops
At physical stores, you can try on chains in person to get a feel for length, weight and fit.
Alternatives to Tennis Chains
While tennis chains remain a popular jewelry choice, there are several alternatives worth considering:
Charm bracelets allow for customization and personalization similar to tennis chains. You can add charms over time that represent your interests, achievements, family, and more. Charm bracelets come in a variety of metals and styles. Popular brands include Pandora, Chamilia, and Links of London.
Necklaces offer versatility to showcase pendants and charms. Try a delicate chain paired with a single charm for an understated look or a choker necklace with multiple dangling charms for a bolder style.
Anklets allow you to take the charm jewelry look to your feet. Anklets with charms are a fun alternative to display your personality.
If you like the idea of layering and personalization but want an alternative to a traditional tennis bracelet, try a beaded wrap bracelet or a cuff bracelet with engraved designs.
The great thing about charm jewelry is you can be creative and express yourself in many ways. Look for high-quality pieces that reflect your personal flair.
In summary, tennis chains are an important piece of equipment for any tennis player. They help weigh down the net and keep it taut throughout a match. Having a properly strung net is crucial for accurate and fair play. Tennis chains come in various styles from basic to decorative, so players can choose the right look for their courts. While regular chain maintenance is required, overall tennis chains are an affordable investment that can last for years. For any tennis player or facility, installing high-quality tennis chains is a wise decision that will enhance the game.
The proper installation and use of tennis chains makes the game of tennis more enjoyable for all. Keeping nets firmly in place allows players to focus on their swings rather than worrying about an unstable net. Tennis chains prevent nets from blowing around in the wind or sagging over time. Players can count on even net height and bounce across the entire court surface. Overall, tennis chains are an indispensable equipment choice for optimizing tennis play.