Figaro chain may look very similar to curb or cable chain. That's because it's made in the same way, simply with an elongated link inserted in a pattern, every 2-4 regular links or so. A popular pattern is 3 round, 1 long. Most Figaro chains are curb chain (meaning each link lies flat), but some are curb (simple circles).
There is some specialty chain that exchanges a "long link" with a different shape, such as a large heart or diamond. This isn't considered traditional Figaro chain, but if it's labeled that way, you'll understand why!
While it's not certain when Figaro chain originated in Italy, the story is that Italian chainmakers - who still, to this day, make the finest Figaro chains - named the chain by the classical operas The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. Perhaps they were trying to attach their new style of chain to the celebrities and popular culture of the thimes?
This style of chain is popular with men; Figaro chain can be worn solo, or bearing a pendant, such as a cross. Figaro chain is ornamental and patterned yet still low-key and simple, making it an ideal choice for a man.
Because Figaro chain is made with chain links, rather than plates like snake chain, it's very easy to make Figaro necklaces yourself - simply acquire a spool of Figaro chain and add your handmade findings to the end. It's also a fun chain to use as a component, for example, as the base of a pair of dangle earrings (attach several headpin bead charms to each link) or a bracelet base.