CHAIN NECKLACES—like those actress and model Marisa Berenson layered so effusively in 1969—have never exactly been out of style. Dating back to at least the Roman era, simple links have been the basis for trends from the Belle Époque to the early 2000s, when they resurfaced as Carrie Bradshaw-style nameplate necklaces. Most recently, fashionable sorts are embracing distinctly chunky gold versions.

Tiffany & Co.’s HardWear collection, a love affair with weighty links, was introduced in 2017. On 1stdibs, the online luxury design marketplace, sales of gold chain necklaces were up 80% this August compared with last; there, you can find dozens of substantial chains like the ones Jackie favored as she transitioned in the late ’60s and ’70s from a restrained Kennedy to a blingier Onassis.

“The ’70s were a decade of expression and women’s rights and there are some political and social forces that are echoing that today,” said Cristina Miller, chief commercial officer of 1stdibs, speculating on the gold chain necklace’s comeback.

The latest additions to the chain-necklace canon come from French luxury house Hermès, whose new jewelry collection riffs on iconic links. The chain is “such a basic and simple system,” said Pierre Hardy, who designs jewelry (and shoes) for the brand. “It can go from high fashion to trashy moments in fashion to pop culture.” He enjoyed the challenge of trying to turn the classic chain link on its head, which resulted in such pieces as a necklace composed of ‘chaine d’ancre’ (anchor-chain) rose-gold links covered in black spinel gemstones, and a diamond-encrusted collar of jumbo-sized links.

Mr. Hardy finds a range of poetic paradoxes in this seemingly simple style. “Chains have so many opposite meanings,” he mused. “Stiffness and fluidity. Femininity and masculinity. Freedom and prison.” In this do-it-all spirit, substantial chain necklaces—both new designs, like those from Hermès, and vintage models—can go from day to night, and be bold yet understated. And, as Ms. Berenson illustrated, there’s no need to stop at just one.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

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As actress and model Marisa Berenson illustrated in 1969, weighty gold chains can make for an impressive statement, especially when layered. Jewelry brands including Hermès are tackling the style

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