Tangles in chain necklaces and bracelets: how to untangle them without causing any damage

by Mark Bennett

April 21, 2024

Tangles in chain necklaces and bracelets: how to untangle them without causing any damage

How often have you taken off a necklace or chain bracelet, put it in the jewelry box, and then, later, found it all tangled up in an impossible Gordian knot? This probably happens to you fairly often, especially when travelling, no? Well, fortunately, there are ways you can handle this problem - read on to find out more:

The zen method: with pins or tweezers


The first method - which requires a lot of patience - will always be successful. Given the patience this method requires, it can appropriately be called the "zen" approach. The method is all about calmly and comfortably sitting down at a table, and starting to untangle the knot in a slow, methodical manner.

The first thing to know is that it is best not to make the situation worse by trying to pull on/tug the chains by hand: at certain points the metal will be weaker and you could cause the chain to snap by doing so (or for delicate charms to pop off).

So, sit down at the table, and proceed as follows:

  • Get yourself a needle (or a safety pin), some tweezers (with fine tips) and a magnifying glass;
  • Shine a lamp from directly above your "operating table";
  • Place the tangled knot down flat on work suface in front of you;
  • Open all the clasps;
  • Now, using the tweezers, "spread out" the knot. Stop as soon as you feel resistance;
  • Take one of the free ends of a chain and begin to pass it through the tangled area, working it backwards, so to speak. With the tip of the needle or safety pin, widen the passage through which the end will pass;
  • As you slowly "deconstruct" the tangle, the task will get progressively easier to do.

This process will take a while, but it will be successful and won't damage your jewelry!


Talcum powder to the rescue


This method will make a mess, so be handy with a towel on the table where you'll be working. Talcum powder - being a very fine and non-abrasive powder - works as a lubricant on the tangle, allowing the chain links to slide over each other much more easily and with a lot less force.

Again, prepare a flat and well-lit working surface/area. You'll also need talcum powder, a small bowl of warm water and a little amount of a delicate soap (hand soap is fine).

  • Place the tangle down flat on top of the towel;
  • Spread talcum powder all over the tangle/knots;
  • Rub each knot in the chain between your fingers to widen it (you may need to use a needle or safety pin for this);
  • Untangle the chain slowly, using more talcum powder where needed;
  • Once you have untangled your chain, wash it off in soapy water to remove any talcum powder residue;
  • Pat dry (so you don't risk tangling the chain again!).

When the the tangle is not too bad, this talcum powder method should work. If not, resort to the "zen method" described initially!