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Curb chain resembles cable chain that has been twisted and flattened, so that all the links lie flat. Curb chain’s flattened loops are typically oval and all the same size. In some chains, the links in the chain may be made round, and then fed through arolling millfor greater flatness. So you may see chain that has totally round wire, or it may have flattened spots.
Curb chain and gourmette chain are the same style of chain: flattened ovals. And we owe this chain to horses!
When we hear "curb" today, we probably think of the corner between a sidewalk and the road. Yet that isn’t what that word meant until about 1791. Before that, "curb" referred to the strap passing under the jaw of a horse.
Let’s take a look at "gourmette," another name for curb chain. This is a French word that gave us the word "grommet," meaning a ring or wreath of rope. Gourmette chain was originally – and still is – used to link a horse’s bit, under his chin. You can imagine the horse greatly preferring a chain that lay flat against his jaw! While many curb straps are leather, many bits still use metal curb chain today.
Historically, the links were large as they were made with very little machinery and hence were very time consuming. Nowadays however, with the advent of modern machinery, smaller and more feminine curb chains are available. Smaller curb chains work well with pendants and diamond cut or twisted curb chains tend to reflect the most light.