Generally, the term is used to describe brooches or pins, but it really can be used for any type of jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or miscellaneous jewelry. Figurals are very collectible by both vintage jewelry collectors and collectors of the theme itself.
Most of the major vintage jewelry designers made figural jewelry. Often the pieces are very intricate and detailed with accents of rhinestones or glass. At other times, they are simple goldtone or silvertone creations.
The main feature of a figural is the shape of the animal or figure.The most well known and collectible vintage jewelry figurals are the very collectible "jelly belly" pins by Coro and Trifari, but collectors will often purchase figurals because of the theme, for instance, they only collect cats, or dogs, etc. One of my favorite company noted for the manufacture of figural jewelry is the Jonette Jewelry Company, also known and marked as JJ. Their figural pins are fabulous and very detailed.
Figurals can be worn alone or in small groups clustered together, as in a group of small scatter figural pins. Here are some examples:
My online store Vintage jewely Mall has an emphasis on figural jewelry and other thematic jewelry with most of the popular themes being featured.