Glossary of Jewelry Terms
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Abalone: A deposit made from inside a seashell, also called mother-of-pearl.
Abraded culet: A chipped or scratched culet. Can be caused by contact with another diamond.
Abrasion: A bruise or scratch on the surface of a stone.
Agate: A variety of chalcedony found in all colors; used extensively in Scottish jewelry.
AGS: American Gem Society. Professional organization formed in 1934 by several independent jewelers and the founder of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The AGS is dedicated to setting and maintaining ethical standards and practices within the industry.
Aigrette: A hair ornament consisting of feather plume or spray of glitter often accentuated by either a jewel or buckle. Worn in the hair or attached to head band.
A Jour: Open setting that leaves the pavilion facets open to the light.
Alexandrite: Discovered in 1830 in Russia, and named after Czar Alexander II of who was then Crown Prince of Russia, alexandrite is a form of the mineral chrysoberyl noted for its color change in different forms of light. In sunlight, alexandrite looks blue-green, but in indoor (tungsten) light it the same stone changes to reddish-purple. Natural alexandrite with good color is very expensive today, as very little is still being mined, and there are many synthetics on the market. Synthetic color-change sapphire is also sometimes mistaken for alexandrite.
Alloy: Combination of metals fused together; base metal mixed with precious ore to make it workable, to harden it, or to change its color.
Aluminum: A silver white metal that is lightweight and malleable.
Amazonite: An opaque form of feldspar.
Amber: The fossilized resin of prehistoric pine trees which ranges in color from golden to orange-red .
Amethyst: Ranked among the most precious stones until the eighteenth century when a large South American deposit was found. Its purple color is thought to be caused by iron and is still very popular.
Amulet: A pendant or charm that is worn for protective magical power.
Anneal: The process of hardening glass pottery or metal by alternately heating and pounding it.
Anodized: An anode is the positive end of an electrical circuit. In the anodization process, a metal object is placed in an acid bath and an electrical current is passed through the tank. The process causes oxygen atoms to bond to the surface of the metal giving it a thin, protective film and lustrous sheen.
Antique: Any object that is 100 years or more old.
Antiquing: Process of darkening the recessed areas of gold or silver jewelry to enhance the visibility of the engraving, thus lending the look of age. Platinum cannot be Antiqued.
Antwerp: Perhaps the most noteworthy and versatile diamond-cutting center in the world. All sizes and shapes of rough diamonds are cut in Antwerp.
Appraisal: A monetary evaluation, usually performed for insurance purposes by a gemologist. Appraisals should describe the piece in detail, including color, clarity, proportions, stone sizes, flaws and other distinguishing characteristics.
Arabesque: Flowing scroll Work epitomized by curlicues in low relief.
Art Deco: A style characterized by angular geometric shapes, zigzags, bold colors, molded or faceted Czech glass beads, plastics (like celluloid or Bakelite) and chrome, unlike the curves of the previous era. Also known as the geometric style that succeeded Edwardian jewelry beginning in the 1910s through the mid-1920's. Colored stones were utilized more, and the opaque stones such as jade, onyx and coral were set in geometric shapes. Sleek animals such as Borzoi and Greyhound dogs were featured in some designs. It started out with relatively delicate designs, and progressed to a more bold and blocky style also called Art Moderne.
Art Nouveau: A style also known as "Victorian" or "Edwardian" consisting of fluid lines, floral and nature themes and natural colors. Also known for its flowing style with sinuous curves and naturalistic motifs that was popular from about 1895 to 1905. A common motif was a women's head with flowing hair.
Articulated: Jewelry Constructed with hinges to make it flexible; jewelry with movable parts .
Arts and Crafts: A design movement that began in the late 1800s as a rebellion against the mass-produced, machine made designs of questionable aesthetic value common in the late Victorian era. The designers felt that their work should look handmade, and therefore they often left hammer marks on the piece. Although pieces were made of gold, silver was more commonly used to emphasize the craftsmanship of the piece rather than the intrinsic value of the components. Stones were commonly less expensive. Cabochon stones such as moonstone, mother or pearl, agate, amber, and enamel work was also used.
Assay: The process of establishing the standards of purity of gold, silver, and other alloys to reach the required Legal standard without actually analyzing the total composition of the alloy. After successful assay, the article is hallmarked.
Aurora Borealis: The term Aurora Borealis is Latin and means Northern Lights. Aurora Borealis rhinestones are glass stones that have a special iridescent coating that shines with many colors; iridescent.
Baguette: Narrow Rectangular-cut stone.
Bail: The connector at the top of a pendant enabling the pendant to hang from a chain or jump ring.
Bakelite: A synthetic patented in 1909, bakelite, also called catalin, was used in jewelry extensively during the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930's. Bakelite can be molded, lathe-carved, and one color can be inlaid into another, as in polka dots. The inlaid and carved pieces are especially popular with collectors today. It has a distinct scent when rubbed to warm, somewhat like formaldehyde. Watch for both outright repros, and later plastics from the last 20-30 years that might be mistaken for bakelite by the inexperienced.
Bandeau: Head ornament in the form of a narrow band worn low, encircling the forehead.
Bangle: Non-flexible bracelet.
Baroque: Bold, ornate Heavy looking ornamentation. When the term is used to describe a pearl (either real of fake) it means that the shape of the pearl is irregular.
Basse-taille: This describes a technique of applying glass enamel to a metal surface that has been engraved deeply enough to hold the enamel when heated and with sides high enough to keep the enamel colors separate.
Bearding: Small feather-like cracks along the girdle of a diamond.
Belle Epoque: Another name for the Edwardian period.
Berlin Iron: Cast iron jewelry worked into delicate openwork patterns, and made in Berlin during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Bezel: setting for a stone that has a collar instead of prongs to secure the stone.
Bijouterie: Art of working in gold and enamel.
Biwa Pearl: Freshwater cultured pearl from Japan.
Blemish: A flaw, spot or scratch on the surface of a gemstone.
Blister Pearl: Irregularly shaped and hollow pearl cut from the shell of the oyster.
Blue Topaz: A topaz that is light brown or colorless when mined but turns a vivid blue when exposed to heat. Blue Topaz is an alternate birthstone for December.
Bog Oak: Wood that was preserved over thousands of years in the bogs of Ireland which was hard enough to be Carved and used as jewelry. Popular during Victorian times.
Bolt ring: A finding that is a hollow or partially hollow connecting ring which is drawn back on an internal spring.
Book Chain: Victorian Style of chain made in gold, gold filled, and sterling silver in which each link is a rectangular folded piece of metal resembling a book. They were often elaborately engraved and had large lockets attached.
Borax: A flux used in soldering.
Box Setting: A stone enclosed in a box-shaped setting with metal edges pressed down to hold the stone in place. Also referred to as Gypsy mounting.
Brass: An alloy made up of roughly half copper and half zinc which has a nice yellow color.
Brilliance: The intensity and amount of light reflecting from inside a diamond or gemstone.
Brilliant cut: The standard round brilliant consists of a total of 58.
facets: 1 table, 8 bezel facets, 8 star facets, and 16 upper-girdle facets on the crown and 8 pavilion facets, 16 lower-girdle facets and usually a culet on the pavilion or base. Although the brilliant style was devised to give maximum brilliancy and fire, many stones cut in this fashion do not have ideal proportions or angles for that purpose. Modifications of the round brilliant include such fancy shapes as the marquise, half moon, pear shape, and many others. See also Round Cut.
Briolette: A pear-shaped stone that is faceted.
Brooch: A Large pin; An ornamental piece of jewelry with a pin and clasp to be attached to clothing. From the French word "Broche," meaning to pierce or an object/weapon made for piercing.
Bronze: A very Dense and heavy alloy of 60% copper and 40% tin. It has a dull brown color and is not Favored for jewelry because of the weight.
Brushed Finish: A finish also known as Satin finish, is a texturing technique that can be used on metals where a series of tiny parallel lines are scratched onto the surface with a wire brush or Polishing tool.
Buff top cabochon: Style of stone cutting where the top of the gemstone is a dome (en cabochon) and the pavilion is faceted.
Bulla: Two concave plates that form a hollow receptacle, a form used in ancient jewelry .
"C" catch: The most Common means of securing a brooch before safety catches were invented. The pin, connected to one side of the brooch, is threaded through a layer of the Garment and rests in a "C" shaped catch on the other side of the brooch. The "C" had no mechanism to hold the pin in place and so the pins were usually designed to be long enough to extend far enough beyond the end of the brooch to weave back into the garment for security.
Cabochon: Dome-shaped stone without facets.
Calibre Cut: Small stones that are faceted and cut into squares, rectangles, or oblongs and set close together; used to add details to jewelry designs.
Caliper: Instrument for determining the thickness or diameter of a gemstone.
Cameo: A layered stone, frequently banded agate or sea shell, that has been carved with either a woman's profile (most common), man's profile, a natural scene, or with themes involving the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses. As the carver removed material from the surface the different layers beneath were revealed, most often showing different colors or shades which created a 3-dimensional quality to the scene or image.
Cameo Habille: Most often this is depiction of a female who is carved wearing a diamond pendant, earrings, or a crown; the carver adds a small (real or fake) stone to the piece by drilling a small hole in the cameo then setting the tiny stone, which is wired to the back of the cameo.
Cannetille: A firework decoration which uses coiled and twisted gold wire to achieve a delicate scrolling effect.
Carat: A unit of weight for diamonds and other gems. The carat formerly varied somewhat in different countries but the metric Carat of .2 grams, or 200 milligrams, was adopted in the United States and is now standardized in the principal countries of the world. There are 100 points in a carat. It is sometimes incorrectly spelled karat, but in the USA karat refers only to the fineness of pure gold and gold alloys.
Carbuncle: A garnet cut en cabochon.
Carnelian: A translucent red or orange variety of chalcedony, sometimes banded red and orange like an agate. Once believed to benefit the wearer's health and love life. Most carnelian comes from Brazil, India, Siberia, and Germany.
Cartouche: A swirling or scroll-like decoration that is most often a symmetrical design and is usually engraved as an embellishment; often found on Victorian jewelry, coats of arms, monograms, family crests, and emblems.
Casting: Method of shaping metal by melting and then pouring into a hollow mold. The casted piece is slightly more porous with a rough surface that requires additional polishing and finishing.
Catalin: Trade name for an early phenol plastic.
Celluloid: A very thin, highly flammable plastic containing camphor. Celluloid is an early plastic that was invented in 1868 and used in jewelry to simulate tortoise shell, coral, and alabaster. It was quickly abandoned for heavier, more stable plastics.
Celluloid: Made of soluble gun cotton and camphor; resembling ivory in texture and color. Celluloid can also be dyed to resemble coral, tortoise shell, amber, and other natural stones. Because Celluloid is highly flammable, it enjoyed brief popularity before it was replaced by more stable products which came into existence in the 1930's; the phenolic resins.
Celtic: Designs that are derived from the ancient Irish, Gaelic, British, Scottish, Welsh symbols.
Chalcedony: A quartz, greyish-blue in color.
Chasing: A method of decorating the front or outside of metal objects by making indentations using shaped punches and a chasing hammer. The opposite of chasing is repousse.
Chaton Cut: Round crystal jewelry stone shape with 12 facets on the pointed back.
Champlevé: An enameling Technique in which areas of metal are cut, etched, or routed and then filled with enamel or molten glass. Most commonly applied to copper or bronze.
Channel Setting: Stone setting method that fits stones of uniform size into a channel to form a continuous strip.
Châtelaine: In Victorian days, a woman did not have pockets. A châtelaine was pinned at a woman's waist with several chains suspended from it, most commonly holding scissors, keys, a thimble, a comb, and other household necessities. Today, a châtelaine pin most commonly refers to pins that are joined together by small chains.
Choker: short necklace generally less than 14" long.
Chrome: A hard,brittle, grayish-white metal fusible with difficulty and resistant to corrosion. Its chief commercial importance is for its compounds, which are brilliantly colored and are used in dyeing and calico printing. The common modern usage is for very shiny metal objects like chrome bumpers etc.
Chrysoberyl: A semi-precious stone of transparent golden yellow, green yellow or brown.
Cire-perdue: See "Casting"
Citrine: A variety of quartz, citrine occurs in a color range ranging from light yellow to a brilliant orange that may be confused with fine imperial topaz.
Clarity: One of the "Four Cs". Measures the degree to which a gemstone is free from flaws. A clarity scale is used to grade flaws in gemstones. The scale ranges from FL (Flawless) where there are no visible internal or external flaws to I3, where many imperfections are visible to the naked eye. cleavage Tendency of a crystalline material to break in certain directions, often along a grain or crystal face.
Cloisonné: Another technique of enameling whereby the enamel colored glass powder is placed into pockets or cells of metal then baked and cooled to solidify. The metal portions have high walls that keep the colors from running into each other during firing.
Cloud: Group of tiny white inclusions in a diamond.
Collet: Round band of metal encircling a gemstone to hold it in place.
Collier: A wide necklace encircling the neck from throat to chin.
Color: One of the "Four Cs". In diamonds, the color scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (yellow). In colored gemstones, the grading scale differs widely depending on the type of stone.
Comfort: fit Ring design in which the edges of the shank are rounded for maximum comfort.
Copper: Common reddish-brown metallic element, copper is the only metal which occurs abundantly in large masses as opposed to small veins or nuggets that must be mined out of other rocks. When alloyed with tin it forms bronze and when alloyed with zinc it forms Brass. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity and is widely used for electrical wiring as well as water piping and corrosion-resistant parts. When in moist conditions, a greenish layer forms on the outside. It has been extracted and used for thousands of years.
Coral: Coral is a form of calcium carbonate secreted in long chains by coral polyps who live in colonies under the ocean. Coral can be found all over the world but the bulk of coral used in jewelry making has always come from the waters off Sardinia and the coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean. Coral comes in colors from vivid orange, red, and white to Salmon and pale pink called angel skin coral. In jewelry making, coral is either carved into beads, cameos, and other forms or is left in its natural branch-like form and just polished. During the mid-Victorian era, large cameo brooches of coral finely carved in high-relief floral sprays or faces were popular. It used to be thought that coral protected the wearer, so it was a traditional gift to children. Since it is composed of calcium carbonate, real coral will effervesce if touched with acid like lemon juice. Imitation coral is made from glass porcelain or plastic and will not effervesce when Touched with acid.
Creole earrings: A hoop earring broader at the bottom than at the top, popular in the 1850's.
Cross facet: Small triangular facets above and below the girdle of a brilliant cut stone.
Crown: The facets or portions of a gemstone located above the girdle.
Crystal: There are two basic kinds of crystal - rock crystal and man-made. Rock crystal is the common name for the silicate mineral, quartz, which is a semi- precious stone that occurs in nature. A man-made crystal is produced from a mixture of quartz and soda potash and lead oxide. Oddly enough, rock crystal has nowhere near the color or brilliance of manufactured crystal.
Cubic Zirconium: Cubic Zirconium are Man made gems which appear very much like diamonds yet do not have the same intrinsic Properties such as hardness. CZ'z, as they are often called, are mass Produced and much less expensive than natural diamonds.
Culet: The pointed Bottom of the pavilion; sometimes polished with a tiny facet; sometimes pointed with no facet.
Cultured pearl: An oyster or mollusk is artificially seeded with a tiny grain of sand. The mollusk then excretes a coating to protect itself from the irritant. Several layers are accreted creating real pearl.
Cushion Cut: A square or rectangular stone that has rounded corners; also called antique cut. The older form of the brilliant cut having a girdle outline approaching a square with rounded corners. Essentially an old-mine cut.
Cut: One of the "Four Cs". Perhaps the most important factor in determining the value of a diamond or gemstone. The cut refers to the geometric proportion that dictates the reflection and refraction of light within a stone.
Cut Steel: Steel studs that have been machine stamped, cut with facets, and highly polished. In the days before electricity the faceted steel would be quite brilliant, giving the impression of gemstones in candlelight. Most frequently used from 1750 – 1870; highly susceptible to rust and corrosion. Finding it in good condition today is not common.
Damascene: Refers to a type of jewelry that today most often comes from Spain. The jewelry is inlaid or engraved with gold or silver metals and black enamel Originated in the 14th century in Damascus hence the name.
Demi-parure: A partial set of jewelry. A full set usually includes a necklace, earrings, bracelet, and brooch (all matching). A demi (demi is the French word for half) is a jewelry set that is not a full set; it could refer to any combination such as a necklace and brooch or a bracelet and earrings, but is lacking the other pieces of a full set.
Depose: The rights or patent granted for an exclusive jewelry design in France. If the reverse of a piece of jewelry is stamped "Depose," it was made in France. The literal translation is "hand made."
Depth: The distance from a gemstone's table to its culet (top to bottom).
Depth percentage: The measurement of a gemstone's depth (top to bottom) in relation to its diameter. Depth percentage is primarily responsible for refraction, which produces the fire or sparkle in a gemstone.
Diadems: A semi circular band worn around the head and usually jeweled and three dimensional.
Diamond: A mineral composed essentially of carbon that crystallizes in the cubic or isometric crystal system and is therefore singly refractive. It is by far the hardest of all known natural substances. Only man made Borazon and Synthetic diamonds are as hard. In its transparent form, it is the most cherished and among the most highly valued gemstones. It occurs in colors ranging from colorless to yellow, brown, orange, green, blue, and violet. Reddish stones are known, but those of an intense red color approaching that of a ruby are excessively rare. Its hardness and high refractive index (2.417) permits it to be fashioned as the most brilliant of all gems and its dispersion (.044) produces a high degree of fire. The specific gravity is 3.52.
Diamond Cut: A name sometimes used in the colored-stone trade for brilliant cut.
Dog Collar: Popular during the Victorian era, this was a snug Necklace made either of rows of pearls or beads and usually worn high up on the neck. Also sometimes a ribbon was used with a jewel at the front and tied in back. It was made popular in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods by Queen Alexandra who had a long, graceful neck.
Duette: A combination of two clips on a pin back. Duette was a registered design by Coro, but is now used generically for this design.
Edwardian: Refers to the period during the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910), but the style has it's beginnings during the final years of Victoria's reign, and continued until shortly before World War I when the more geometric influences later to be called Art Deco began to make headway. In jewelry, this period was characterized by delicate filigree in white gold and platinum, with diamonds and pearls predominating, and colored stones used less frequently, producing a light, monochromatic look. Delicate bows, swags, and garland effects were used in necklaces and brooches. Both dog collars, and long fringed necklaces were also "in", being popularized by the graceful, long-necked Queen Alexandra.
Electro-plating: the process of applying metal (most often gold) to adhere to the surface of another metal using electrical current.
Emerald: A gemstone of the beryl family, fine emeralds are among the most valuable gemstones. Unlike most gemstones, flaws (called inclusions by gemologists )are quite common in emeralds, so they lower the value much less than with other precious stones such a diamonds. The most highly prized emeralds are mined in Columbia. A valuable emerald will be a bright, vividly colored green. Those with a slight blue cast to the bright green are actually the most valuable color. Many emeralds seen in jewelry are of relatively low quality. They are often dyed or oiled to improve the color and minimize flaws. If an emerald appears to be very fine, it may actually be a synthetic. There are several types of synthetic emeralds on the market, and some of them are challenging to identify, even for a trained gemologist.
Emerald Cut: A form of step cutting, it usually is rectangular but sometimes is square, in which case it is known as square emerald cut. It has rows (steps) of elongated facets on the crown and pavilion parallel to the girdle, with sets on each of four sides and at the corners. The number of rows or steps may vary although the usual number is three on the Crown and three on the pavilion. The emerald cut is seldom used for diamonds in the intermediate color grades, since it tends to emphasize color. It is excellent however for colorless stones and when it is desirable to emphasize the color of fancy colors.
Empire earrings: The distinctive hoop shape of Roman earrings of around 1st century BC with freshwater pearls or amethysts in sterling or gold.
Enamel: A glass powder or paste that is applied to metal then fired in an annealing oven to Bake the glass onto the metal.
Engraving: The process of decorating metal by etching a design into its surface.
En Tremblant: A movable, trembling effect generally achieved through the use of coiled springs of metal mounted underneath the portion of the brooch that is intended to move; often found in antique Brooches or hair ornaments.
Etching: Removal of part of a metal surface by acid for a decorative effect.
Etui: Small cylindrical case that hangs from a chatelaine.
European Cut: Now mostly obsolete,a style of diamond cutting popular from approximately 1890 to the 1930's, typified by a round girdle, a smaller table in relation to the diameter of the stone and a large culet. The large culet appears to create a hole at the bottom of the diamond when viewed from the top since the large culet lets light escape instead of reflecting back to the Viewer.
Extinction: Dark or black spots in colored stone.
Eye-clean: Gemstone in which the flaws cannot be seen without a 10x loupe.
Facet: A plane, polished surface on a stone.
Faience: Glazed porcelain or earthenware.
Fancy Cut: Any style of diamond cutting other than the round brilliant or single cut. Fancy cuts include the marquise, emerald cut, heart shape, pear shape, keystone, half moon, kite, triangle, and many others. Also called the fancy-shaped diamond or modern cut.
Faux: French word meaning false, fake, imitation, or artificial. In manufacturing context, faux is used to indicate something made to resemble something else.
Feather: Internal flaw (inclusion) that has a feathery appearance.
Fede ring: A ring with two hands clasped together first.
Ferronnière: Narrow band with a center jewel worn encircling the forehead.
Festoon: Design motif of a garland or string of flowers, leaves and ribbons.
Fibula: Archaeological term for brooch.
Filigree: Thin strands of wire are intricately interlaced or bent into rosettes, spirals, scrolls, or vines. The wire is typically gold or silver and may be plain, twisted, or plaited. There are two major styles of filigree. The first is to solder the wire to a metal base. The second style is to leave the wire as an openwork design without a metal backing which is a characteristic of European jewelry until the 15th century. Filigree was used on Jewish marriage rings as well as Spanish and Portuguese peasant jewelry. In England it is found on some mourning rings.
Findings: All types of construction components used in jewelry making such as clasps, pins, hooks, tabs, etc.
Finish: Finish is used to describe the polish or texture applied to metal. Common finishes include high polish, matte, or brushed.
Fire: Flashes of different spectrum colors seen in diamonds and other gemstones as the result of dispersion.
Flaw: General term used to refer to internal or external characteristics of a gemstone (i.e., inclusion, fracture, etc) .
Flawless: Term used to describe a gemstone that lacks discernable internal or external blemishes when viewed by a gemologist using no less than 10x magnification.
Fleur-de-lys: From old French "Flor de lis": Flor (flower) + de (of) + lis (lily). A stylized, three-petaled iris flower used as the armorial emblem of the Kings of France; re-popularized by Napoleon. It is commonly found in jewelry.
Florentine Finish: Florentine finish is a cross-hatched pattern tooled into the surface of metal. The lines are often coarse and more deep than that of a brushed finish.
Fluorescence: Luminescence that appears when certain diamonds are exposed to ultraviolet light.
Flux: Material used in soldering.
Fob: A short chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch, often with an ornament or decorative seal attached to the end.
Foil: The reflective coating on the back of a gemstone or rhinestones to increase brilliance and depth of color. It was often used on gemstones in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today foiling is mostly used on rhinestones.
Fracture: Cracks, feathers or chips in a gemstone.
French Ivory: A plastic produced to simulate ivory. It was first Produced by the Xylonite Company in 1866. Other names include Celluloid, Ivoride, Ivorine, and Pyralin.
French Jet: Black glass that is neither French nor Jet. Originally meant to simulate real jet which is black ignite (fossilized coal). Victorian jet was made into jewelry for use during mourning and was made popular by Queen Victoria. As a result, sources of natural jet were quickly depleted.
French wire: A curved wire resembling a fish hook which passes through the pierced earlobe and has a catch closure. It is mostly used with dangling earrings due to their extra weight.
Freshwater Pearls: An irregular pearl of various colors produced by fresh water mollusks such as mussels and clams. Popular in Roman jewelry for its irregular shape and relative availability.
Full-cut Brilliant: A brilliant-cut diamond or colored stone with the usual total of 58 facets consisting of: 32 facets and a Table above the girdle; and 24 facets and a culet below.
Full Lead Crystal: Full lead crystal is the finest man-made crystal, because its high lead oxide content serves to enhance its natural color spectrum..
Garnet: A family of stones having many varieties in color and in their constituents, but all are silicates with the same isometric crystallization and conforming to the same general chemical formula. The name is derived from its resemblance in color and shape to the seeds of the pomegranate. The most common color of garnets range from light red to violet or plum-red, but can also be white, green, yellow, brown, and black. It was believed that the wearer of garnets was kept in good health and protected while traveling. Garnets are worn to signify truth and faith. Red garnet is the Birthstone for January.
Gemologist: Gemstone specialist trained in gem identification, grading and appraising.
Gemology: Science and study of gemstones.
Gemstones: Include diamond, brilliant, beryl, emerald chalcedony, agate, heliotrope; onyx, plasma; tourmaline, chrysolite; sapphire, ruby, synthetic ruby; spinel, spinelle; oriental topaz; turquoise, zircon, cubic zirconia; jacinth, hyacinth, carbuncle, amethyst; alexandrite, cat's eye, bloodstone, hematite, jasper, moonstone, sunstone.
Gerlots: Small long pendant beads.
GIA: Gemological Institute of America. Non-profit organization specializing in grading diamonds and gemstones. Widely held as the premier laboratory for gemological grading.
Gilding: An Object decorated with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf, or gold foil.
Gilt: Gold Plated.
Gimmel ring: A ring formed of two or more linked hoops, which fit together in a manner that make them appear as one ring.
Girandole: A shape that consists of three pear-shaped stones or pearls hanging from a large stone or decorative motif such as a bow.
Girdle: The outer edge or periphery of a fashioned stone; the portion that is usually grasped by the setting or mounting; the dividing line between the crown and pavilion; the rim or edge of the diamond. The girdle plane is the largest diameter of the stone.
Gold: Because pure gold is too soft to resist prolonged handling, it is usually alloyed with other metals to increase its hardness for use in jewelry, gold ware, or coinage. Most gold used in jewelry is alloyed with silver, copper, and a little zinc to produce various shades of yellow gold or with nickel, copper, and zinc to produce white gold. The color of these gold alloys goes from yellow to white as the proportion of silver in them increases. Alloys of gold with silver or copper are used to make Gold coins and gold ware and alloys with platinum or palladium are also used in jewelry. The content of gold alloys is expressed in "karats." 14-karat gold alloy is 58.5 percent gold and 24-karat gold is pure. Rose gold (or red gold) is alloyed with copper to give its hue.
Gold-Filled: Base metal which has had a thick layer of gold ( at least 10k and 1/20th of the total weight of the piece) bonded to its surface. More durable than gold-plated. With moderate to heavy use, gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry will eventually lose their coating, leaving the base metal exposed.
Gold-Plated: Base metal which has been bonded with a thin layer of gold (less than 1/20th of the total weight of the piece). Not as durable as alloyed gold or gold-fill. With moderate to heavy use gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry will eventually lose their coating, leaving the base metal exposed.
Gold Washed: Products that have an extremely thin layer of gold applied by either dipping or burnishing the metal, but not plated. This will wear away more quickly than pieces that are gold plated, gold-filled, or gold electroplated.
Grading: Valuing a diamond using master stones.
Granulation: The process of decorating a metal surface with tiny grains of metal.
Graver Tool: A tool similar to a chisel used for engraving metal.
Green gold: Gold which contains a high proportion of silver.
Grey gold: Gold which contains a high proportion of iron.
Grisaille: A form of enamel painted in monochromatic colors.
Guilloché enamel: A form of enamel work acheived by working the metal on an engine turned lathe to form a pattern and then enameling over the pattern.
Gypsy setting: A setting in which the stone is sunk into the surrounding metal leaving the top of the stone almost level with the top of the metal surface.
Hallmark: A mark stamped on Jewelry throughout much of the world to attest to the purity of the metal after assay. European hallmarks are legally required and date back to the early Middle Ages; an early form of consumer protection against fraud. Marks are not officially required in the US but are carried by custom and practice. Marks may indicate the purity of the metal, the maker, the country of manufacture, and/or the date that the piece was assayed or had its design registered.
Hardness: The resistance of a substance to being scratched. Tests prove that diamond is approximately five to fifteen times as hard as corundum, the next hardest mineral. The variation stems not only from the differences obtained from different hardness-testing methods, but also from the fact that various directions on a given stone surface show considerable variation in resistance to abrasion. The hardest direction in a diamond is parallel to the faces of the octahedron.
Head: Portion of a jewelry item that holds the stone.
Hematite: Iron ore consisting of ferric oxide in crystalline form; hematite is a silvery, shiny, opaque stone that becomes a red powder when ground down.
Horn: A substance often used as a substitute for tortoiseshell which is from cow horns.
Imperfection: General term used to refer to internal or external characteristics of a gemstone (i.e., inclusion, fracture, etc) .
Inclusion: Visible internal flaws in a gemstone, including fractures, crystalling abnormalities, and foreign objects.
Ingot: A precious metal formed into a bar or brick by pouring molten metal into a mold.
Inlaid: Past tense of Inlay.
Inlay: A decorative technique in which part of the surface of a piece of jewelry, furniture, or ceramic is cut away and a stone, mother of pearl, or some other substance is embedded into the hollowed-out area so that it is level with the surface of the piece.
Intaglio: A design carved down into a gemstone, unlike a cameo in which the design is raised from it's background, in relief. This technique was often used for seals, which made an impression in wax used to seal a letter or authenticate a document. It is also common on watch fobs, since the watch fob was originally a good place to carry a seal. Once seals fell out of use, the intaglio tended to face out to the viewer rather than down as on a seal. Some of the most commonly found Victorian intaglios are carved in Carnelian, an orange-brown variety of quartz.
Invisible Setting: Invisible setting is a style in which rows of square princess cut diamonds or other gemstones rest perfectly flush against one another within a metal border or frame with no metal separating them.
Iridescent: A display of lustrous rainbow-like colors. The colors seen in an oil slick or mother of pearl are good examples of iridescence.
Iridium: A metal and member of the platinum family, it is often alloyed with platinum to improve workability, thus you will find pieces marked something like "90% Plat. 10% Irrid" to indicate that the alloy is 90 % platinum and 10% iridium.
Irradiation: Treatment performed on gemstones and even pearls to enhance color.
Ivory: A hard, smooth, yellowish-white substance made from the tusks of elephants and walruses.
Jabot pin: A jeweled tie pin popular in the 1920's and 1930's.
Jade: An opaque, semiprecious gemstone which is usually found in shades of green, but can be also be found in lavender and rose shades.
Jadeite: A hard, translucent variety of jade which is rarer than the other varieties of nephrite and comes in a variety of colors such as orange, pink, yellow, brown, blue, violet, and black.
Jasper: Jasper is an opaque, impure, polycrystalline variety of quartz that may be red, yellow, or brown. It breaks with a smooth surface and can be highly polished like marble. Varieties of jasper include fancy jasper, poppy jasper, red jasper,and striped or banded Jasper. Jasper was once believed to have curative powers.
Jet: (also called "black amber") A dense, black variety of lignite (fossilized coal) that can be highly polished and is often made into mourning jewelry, inlay, toys, buttons, etc.
Jump Ring: A small oval or round wire ring used to link charms or pendants onto a chain. It is not usually soldered shut.
Karat: Unit of fineness for gold equal to 1 part of pure gold in an alloy. Pure gold is designated 24K and is much too soft to be used in jewelry except as decoration. If your Jewelry is 14K gold, the standard fineness in the U.S., it means that it is 14 parts gold and 10 parts base metal. Rings (particularly mens rings) are often 10K gold due to its higher durability. The purest form of gold used in jewelry is 18K. It was often used in ancient cultures as a symbol of wealth and royalty. Not to be confused with carat.
Lapidary: Cutting, shaping, polishing and creating jewelry from precious and semi-precious stones.
Laser drilling: Technique used to enhance a stone's clarity by allowing for the introduction of bleaching agents or other enhancing agents.
Lavaliere: A chain from which an ornament or gemstone hangs in the center.
Leakage: Light leaving, or escaping, through the facets of fashioned gemstone.
Liquid silver: The term given to strands of small silver beads which were made by carefully slicing tubes of sterling silver into pieces and stringing them together.
Living Jewelry: Jewelry materials derived from living organisms: pearl, cultured pearl, fresh-water pearl; mother of pearl; coral.
Locket: A hinged case usually in the shape of an oval or heart which can be opened or closed and usually contains a photograph or memento.
Lost Wax Process or Casting: Casting process where a carved or cast wax original is encased in clay or other investment; the wax is melted under temperature and the resulting voids are filled with molten metal. Used since early Egyptian times for casting fine metals where the highest level of detail was required.
Loupe: Small magnifying glass, often held in the eye socket, used for analyzing gemstones.
Lucite: Popular in the 1940's for ladies purses and jewelry, lucite is a clear, span plastic that can be molded and carved.
Luster: The appearance of a material's surface, as determined by the quantity and quality of light reflected.
Mabe: A Japanese term for cultured pearls which are cultured against the shell so that only half a pearl is formed resembling a half-sphere.
Maltese Cross: Enamel named for the Knights of Malta, a group of knights who bore this symbol during the Crusades. A Maltese cross has four broad arms of equal length, sometimes having a V-shaped notch cut out of the ends.
Marcasite: An iron ore material, pyrite, that is facetted into rose cuts and set into silver or pewter jewelry.
Marquis Cut: Faceted, elongated oval stone which tapers to a point at both ends.
Master stones: A set of diamonds used to grade the color of other diamonds.
Matte: With jewelry which has a matte finish, the designer uses either a chemical process or an abrasive material to scratch the top layers of the piece, creating a dull and non-reflective surface. Also referred to as having a brushed or satin finish.
Mélange: Term for mixed diamond sizes weighing more than carat.
Mélée: Classification used in the sorting of diamonds weighing less than carat.
Memento Mori: Jewel that is a reminder of death.
Memorial jewel: Jewel that is made in memory of a loved one, often containing hair from that person and frequently decorated with enamel.
Micro Mosaic: Mosaic of very small colored glass pieces (tessarae) inlaid in glass or hardstone.
Milanese Chain: Chain consisting of interwoven rows of small links forming a mesh.
Milgrain: Tiny beads of metal used to decorate bands of metal.
Millefiori: Means "thousand flowers" in Italian. A method of creating glass or clay beads with intricate patterns using canes.
Minaudière: The name for a woman's small hard vanity case or handbag, usually metal or wood, which is held in the hand.
Mine cut: Differs from the modern brilliant cut only in its girdle shape, which is square instead of round; also has a higher crown, smaller table, deeper pavilion, and larger culet, but the number and arrangement of the facets are the same. It is lumpier than the form accepted today.
Mississippi River Pearls: Irregularly shaped pearls, usually elongated.
Mizpah Ring: A broad gold ring engraved with the word MIZPAH, meaning "I will watch over thee", popular during the Victorian period.
Moonstone: A transparent, slightly iridescent, milky white variety of feldspar with white or light blue opalescent spots. Moonstone is considered a good luck stone, especially for lovers.
Mosaic: A design created by pressing pieces of stone glass or ceramic tiles called tessera in mortar.
Mother-of-pearl: The opalescent material on the inside of mollusk shells like oysters and mussels. This material can be scraped and sliced thin and used as inlay on a variety of jewelry, furniture, etc.
Mount: To place or fix a stone in the setting. See Mounting.
Mounting: A piece of metal that holds a gem in Place.
Mourning Jewelry: Jewelry worn to commemorate the death of a loved one, usually in the form of a ring, brooch, or necklace. Widely worn During the Victorian era when the death of Prince Albert plunged Queen Victoria into a lifetime of mourning.
Nacre: The shiny, iridescent substance secreted by a mollusk as a response to an irritant like a piece of sand. Over time, layers of nacre build up to become a pearl.
Navette: An oval stone which is pointed at both ends.
Negligee: A long necklace that usually terminates in irregular length with tassels or drops.
Nickel silver: A white metal mixture of copper, zinc, and nickel which contains no silver.
Niello: An inlay technique in which the grooves made in silver or gold are made black in color by the use of a composition of metal sulfides.
Oiling: Temporary treatment used to enhance the color of a gemstone.
Old-European Cut: A term applied to the earliest form of a circular, girdled round stone or brilliant. It is characterized by a very small table, heavy crown, and usually great overall depth. Improperly referred to as an old-mine cut.
Old-mine Cut: An early form of Brilliant cut with a nearly square girdle outline. Incorrectly applied to a somewhat more modern style of brilliant cut that also has a much higher crown and smaller table than the modern brilliant cut, but whose girdle outline is circular or approximately circular; a style of cutting that is more properly called a "lumpy stone" or an old-European cut.
Onyx: A semi precious stone that is black or white in color; lends itself to flat jewelry creation such as cameos since it has layered structure. Onyx belongs to the chalcedony family of minerals, which are somewhat porous stones.
Opal: Opals are known for their iridescent luminous qualities and are adored by many. Opals contain a large amount of water and need to be cared for properly since experts warn of potential cracking. This semi precious stone contains a wide-ranging mixture of colors that produce a fire-like quality.
Opalescent: A term used to describe a surface with a lustrous, cloudy, rainbow-like colors like one might see in an oil slick or mother of pearl.
Opaque: Not transparent or translucent. An opaque stone will not allow any light to pass through it.
Open Back Setting: Setting in which the back of the stone can be seen.
Ore: A metal-bearing mineral from which metal can be profitably mined or extracted.
Orient: The characteristic sheen of fine natural and cultured pearls.
Oriental Pearl: A pearl that has formed naturally with no human intervention.
Oval Cut: Faceted, elongated stone; round at both ends.
Oxidation: A chemical process in which metal such as silver is blackened or tarnishes as a reaction to sulfur and oxygen.
Oxide: A compound containing one oxygen atom per molecule.
Oxidize: The act of combining with oxygen molecules to make an oxide. Oxidized metal is rusted.
Oxygen: A nonmetallic element that is normally a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Oxygen combines with many other elements easily. These compounds are called oxides and make up about half the solid matter on Earth, making oxygen the most abundant element present in the Earth's crust.
Paillons: Small pieces of metallic foil which are placed underneath enamel work to provide a glow, popular with a number of Arts and Crafts movement jewelers.
Palladium: A charcoal-gray form of Platinum found in Russia, South Africa, and North America. Palladium has many of the same properties as platinum, such as its resistance to corrosion and versatile applications in Jewelry designs.
Pampilles: A cascade of pendant stones; popular in Georgian jewelry and meant to look like rain drops.
Parure: A suite of matching jewelry usually four or more pieces, a necklace, bracelets, earrings and belt or brooch.
Passamenterie: Jewelry inspired by furniture trimmings such as cording.
Paste: In the context of jewelry, paste is a glass-based substance used to simulate gemstones. It has become a slang term for all fake gemstones; paste stones are lead crystals with a high lead content; paste is more brilliant than glass rhinestones.
Patina: Discoloration that forms on metals such as silver and bronze but often planned for in the artist's design, can also be introduced artificially by use of chemicals.
Pavé: From the French term for Pavement or Cobblestone, a large field of small stones set very close together to create wall-to-wall paved object. The more stones in the field, the more faceted surfaces there are creating a more reflective piece.
Pavilion: The portion of a gemstone located below the girdle.
Pearl: Pearls are organic gems grown within oysters and other mollusks which are most valued and sought after when they are perfectly round and are lustrous. Pearls form as a result of an irritant or foreign body that has made its way into the oyster or mollusk shell. The living oyster or mollusk's natural reaction is to secrete nacre (the luminous substance that forms around the irritant). This process can take between five to eight years, usually the entire life of an oyster or mollusk. With the marvels of science, this process has been reproduced using human intervention to create cultured pearls. Natural Pearls are made with no human intervention.
Pendaloque: A type of pear shaped or tear drop gemstone faceted as a brilliant cut and suspended from a smaller stone which is usually separated by a bow or other motif.
Pewter: Pewter items are described and marked as such if they contain at least 90% tin. Also, a somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
Pietra Dura: Mosaic of semi-precious stones set into a floral pattern of black marble or onyx, also known as a hardstone mosaic.
Pinchbeck: A gold simulant, invented circa 1720 by Christopher Pinchbeck, which is comprised of a mixture of copper and zinc.
Pit: Indentation on the surface of a diamond or gemstone.
Piqué: Tortoiseshell or horn which is inlaid with mother-of-pearl, silver or gold.
Planishing: A hammering process done to give a smoother finish to a piece of metal.
Platinum: Platinum is more difficult and consequently more expensive to refine. Platinum is almost double the weight of 14k gold. Platinum is the most precious of white metals. Both platinum and silver have the appearance of white metal but platinum is extremely durable and resists tarnishing. Platinum will never wear out.
Plique-a-jour: A form of cloisonné in which the enamel in the cells has no backing, producing a translucent effect. This technique was used to good effect by Rene' Lalique and others during the Art Nouveau period to depict dragonfly wings and other translucent objects.
Plot: Diagram of a gemstone's clarity characteristics. Generally performed during an appraisal using magnification.
Point: One-one hundredth (0.01) of a carat.
Pomander: A pendant scent case.
Posy Ring: A ring engraved with a verse.
Pot Metal: Any alloys which do not have gold, silver, or platinum as a component. Also called white metal.
Precious metal: Metals valued for their color, malleability, and rarity. There are only three precious metals: gold, silver, and Platinum.
Princess Cut: A highly faceted square cut stone similar to a brilliant cut but adapted to a square shape to increase its Brilliance.
Prong setting: A gemstone held in place by small finger-like wires attached to the bezel which bend over the edges of the stone.
Proportion: Mathematical representation of a gemstone's overall symmetry.
Quartz: The family name for naturally occurring crystals composed of silica or silicon dioxide. The most common variety is colorless and transparent. This is often referred to as clear quartz, rock crystal, or simply quartz.
Radiant Cut: A rectangular gemstone combining the shape of an emerald cut and the sparkle of a brilliant cut.
Refraction: The action of changing the direction of a light wave so the light enters the object in one direction and leaves it in another.
Regard: Meaning jewelry where the first letter of each type of a stone spells out a word. In this case, a ring or brooch set with Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and Diamond so that the first letter of each gemstone spelled out R-E-G-A-R-D. Popular In the Victorian era.
Relief: A kind of raised decoration that protrudes above the surface like a cameo.
Repoussé: A raised high relief design on the front of a metal object made by hammering, embossing or punching the reverse side of the metal to form the design from the back side out.
Rhinestone: A faceted stone made of glass.
Rhodium: A metal that is a member of the platinum family of metals, but is liquid in its raw, natural state; not solid like platinum. Rhodium can be applied to base metals, gold, sterling silver, or some other alloy to give it a shiny white surface like platinum.
Ring Sizes: One of the few aspects of the jewelry industry that is standardized is ring size, though many national systems are in use. The US uses a numeric system. The UK has an alphabetic system. The European system is numeric, representing the interior circumference in millimeters.
Riveting: A Method of joining two objects together by making hole in each piece then passing a screw composed of the same metal as the piece through the holes to join the parts. This Process was used in jewelry instead of soldering when it was not advisable to use heat or when one part was intended to swivel.
Rivière: Choker type necklace that is a continuous line of gemstones usually of graduated or equal size stones.
Rolled Gold: Early 19th century type of goldplating.
Rock Crystal: see Quartz.
Rondelle: A pierced piece of metal or gemstone strung between the beads in a necklace.
Rose Cut: A style of stone cutting that produces a gem with a flat, multifaceted base and somewhat dome-shaped top that is covered with a varied number of triangular facets and terminates in a point. This style of cut has been in use since the 16th century. It is an early style of cutting that is thought to have originated in India and to have been brought to Europe by the Venetians. The rose cut is now used primarily on small diamonds.
Rose finish: Jewelry finished so that it has the look of rose gold, but no actual gold content.
Rose gold: An alloy of gold mixed with copper which gives it red tint.
Rose Quartz: A translucent, milky-pink variety of quartz.
Round Cut: The most common style of cutting for both diamonds and colored stones. See Brilliant Cut.
Ruby: One of the four precious gemstones along with diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires. Ruby is a member of the corundum family whose color comes from chromium oxide in the stone. Although corundum can come in many colors, rubies are by definition red. Rubies have been synthesized and can only be distinguished from natural rubies by trained gemologists. Rubies are extremely hard, second only to diamonds. Fine rubies of good color can be more valuable than diamonds. For centuries, rubies have symbolized beauty, charity, love, passion, power, and royalty. In some countries, engagement rings are set with rubies instead of diamonds. The ruby is the birthstone for July.
Safety Catch: One of several means of securing a brooch to a garment. Before the invention of safety catches, the most common means of securing a brooch was simple "C" catch with no locking mechanism. A safety catch has a swiveling head that locks the tip of the pin stem into the C catch.
Sand Casting: For hundreds of years, sand casting was the most popular of all casting methods. It still plays an important role in the production of large metal forms (typically iron, but also bronze, brass, and aluminum). Tempered sand is packed onto wood or metal pattern halves, removed from the pattern, and metal is poured into the resultant cavities. Molds are broken to remove castings.
Sapphire: One of the four precious gemstones; the other three being diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Sapphire is a member of the corundum family which come in a variety of colors from white to orange to green to pink. If a corundum gemstone is red, it is a ruby, but any other colors are properly referred to as sapphires. Sapphires have been synthesized. Blue sapphire is the birthstone for September.
Sardonic: A variety of onyx consisting of alternating layers of chard and white chalcedony.
Satin finish: A series of tiny parallel lines scratched onto a surface with a wire brush or a polishing tool to produce texture. Satin finish is also called brushed or matte finish.
Sautoir: An extremely long neck chain, which falls below the waistline and terminates with a tassel or pendant. Popular in the early 20th century.
Scarab: Known as the sacred beetle in ancient Egypt, a very fine gold original scarab pendant is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Scarabs were symbols of rebirth and rejuvenation and were popular as amulets. Scarabs were ancient Egyptian fertility symbols based upon a common dung beetle found in Egypt. It was often carried as an amulet cast from gold or carved from semiprecious stones. The flat underside could have a design carved into it that could be used as a signet.
Scatter Pin: A small pin usually featuring flowers birds and insects that is intended to be worn in a group with many other scatter pins.
Scepter: Symbol of spiritual and worldly power used as part of a royal insignia. A scepter used in a ceremony is usually highly decorated with precious metals and gemstones. The topping of a scepter varied in different countries and in different periods.
Screw: A back type of earring attachment for non-pierced ears where the earring is tightened against the earlobe by means of a screw with a flat round end.
Seal: Engraved (intaglio) of stone or metal used to create an impression on a substance such as wax or clay.
Seed bead: Mass produced tiny glass or plastic beads made by slicing tubes into tiny evenly spaced pieces. This makes them oblong in Shape rather than round and flat on the ends. Seed beads can be strung together to make a necklace or bracelet, but are commonly used as spacers for larger beads. They can also be strung on a loom to make beaded bands and belts and curtains.
Seed Pearl: A very small pearl popular during the Victorian period as accents set into gold jewelry or woven into long fringed necklaces; still very popular today, often incorporated into larger designs.
Semi-precious stones: A stone that is less rare and less expensive than precious stones but is still valued for its beauty.
Setting: Setting refers to the mechanism by which a stone is held by precious metal into a mounting. Common settings include bezel, pave, channel, and prong. Setting can also refer to the part of jewelry in which one or more stones are set.
Sévigné: A bodice ornament set with gemstones in a bowknot shape.
Shagreen: The skin of a ray or shark from the waters around China, usually stained green or another color.
Shank: The part of ring that encircles the finger; does not include the setting.
Shoulder: The part of ring between the shank and the center of the setting.
Signet: A private seal once impressed into wax to authenticate a document was often formed into a finger ring with the seal forming the bezel of the ring. Known since Egyptian times where the seal would be on the reverse of a scarab. The seal would usually be in reverse so the impression in the wax would be right.
SilverTone: Silver plated or coated, not sterling silver.
Single-cut Diamonds: Genuine diamonds commonly used in watch cases that contain only 1 facets.
Simulated stones: Any natural or synthetic substance which is meant to resemble a gemstone. A cubic zirconium, for example, is a simulated diamond.
Slide: A jeweled fastener, which slides onto a chain or fabric ribbon.
Smoky quartz: A variety of quartz that ranges in color from cloudy brown to a dark root beer shade with a smoky appearance.
Smoky Topaz: see Quartz
Snake chain: Unlike most chains, which are a series of linked rings, a snake chain is made up of round, wavy, metal rings joined side by side forming a flexible tube with a smooth scaly texture like snake skin.
Soldering: A technique used in making and repairing jewelry whereby two pieces of metal are joined by applying molten metal which has a lower melting point than the two metals being joined.
Solitaire: Ring containing a single diamond or gemstone.
Split Ring: Small base metal finding resembling a key-ring.
Spring Ring: A very common kind of clasp used for joining two ends of a necklace.
Square cut: A style of gem cutting resembling the Emerald cut.
Stabilized Turquoise: Turquoise is very porous by nature, which allows it to absorb any pollutants that it comes in contact with, including oils from the skin. Stabilized turquoise has been treated by various methods to reduce the porosity, thus making it less changeable over time.
Stamping: Using a punch or die to cut or emboss metal with a mark.
Step cut: See Emerald Cut
Sterling Silver: A silver alloy made up of at least 92.5% pure silver. This is the standard fineness for silver.
Stomacher: A very large bodice ornament, usually triangular, filling the area between the neckline and the waistline, also known as a corsage ornament.
Strap Necklace: A mesh chain with pendants suspended by short, fine chain resembling a fringe; an Archaeological Revival style during the Victorian period.
Strapwork: Decorative pattern in the form of interlaced and crossed straight bands resembling straps.
Swag: A motif used on a piece of jewelry of festoons of foliage, fruit and flowers.
Symmetry: Uniformity of a gemstone's cut, including the shape and placement of facets.
Synthetic Gemstones: Produced in laboratory rather than found in nature. Synthetic gemstones are not fake, since they have exactly the same chemical characteristics as the natural stone, but they are usually flawless and much cheaper than the real thing. The most common synthetic gems are emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and opals.
Table: The large facet that caps the crown of a faceted gemstone. In the standard round brilliant, it is octagonal in shape and is bounded by eight star facets; the top facet.
Table-cut: See Emerald Cut.
Table percentage: Diameter of a gemstone divided by the size of the table.
Tanzanite: Named after its country of origin Tanzania, where it was first discovered and is still the only place where it can be found. Tanzanite is popular for its brilliance and is known for its varying shades of violet from deep rich purple to Lilac. The gem can be heated to achieve the most sought after shade; vibrant blue-violet. Good quality tanzanite is usually faceted, but the rare pieces that have no flaws are simply made into cabochons.
Tapered baguette: A small gemstone cut in a trapezoid shape with one end narrower than the opposite end.
Tarnish: A dulled luster or finish caused by a thin deposit of dirt which discolors the surface of metal and is easily removed. Also, a reaction between metals and other chemicals which discolors the surface; particularly silver, which reacts with sulfur. The silver sulfide can be removed with a proprietary cleaning product and gentle abrasion.
Tennis bracelet: A bracelet made up of individually set gemstones of uniform size and color linked together like chain so it is somewhat flexible.
Terminal: The decorated ends of a necklace or bangle usually with stylized heads of a ram, lion, dragon, etc.
Tiara: A head ornament worn in the crown position.
Tin: A malleable, silvery, metallic element which is not easily oxidized in the air and so is used chiefly to coat iron to protect it from rusting. It is primarily extracted from the ore, cassiterite, where it is found as an oxide. Tin is malleable at ordinary temperatures, but brittle when heated and is part of numerous alloys. It is most commonly used in the form of tin foil with mercury to form the reflective surface of mirrors.
Toggle clasp: A means of fastening two ends of a chain together; consisting of a ring on one end and a short bar on the other. The bar is slid through the ring and sits across it so it does not slide or pull.
Tolkowsky, Marcel: Mathematician that defined the proportions necessary for maximum brilliance from a round diamond brilliant cut.
Topaz: A borosilicate of aluminum that occurs in rhomboidal crystals and is used as a gemstone. Although it is a hard stone, topaz can be susceptible to breaking. It may be found in many colors, such as blue, brown, clear, green, orange, pink, red, yellow, or white. The most valuable topaz is Imperial Topaz with golden-yellow to orange color. The most popular color is an enhanced blue treated with heat to develop it into a rich blue color which resembles aquamarine, but is more adorable. Yellow quartz is sometimes called topaz but is considered false topaz. True topaz is said to be the symbol of love and affection or to act as a protector by making the wearer invisible in emergencies. Topaz is the birthstone for November.
Torsade: Twisted strands of pearls ending in a clasp.
Tortoise Shell: A mottled, nutty brown shell material with a spotted, striped, or sometimes even speckled pattern. Popular for jewelry and hair combs, tortoise shell was banned and is no longer used for these items. There are very close plastic imitations of tortoiseshell. One technique to differentiate tortoise from its imitators is to touch the surface with a hot pinpoint. A Tortoise will give off a smell like burning hair while plastic will emit an acrid, chemical odor.
Translucent: Partially transparent. A translucent stone will allow some light through but it will still be too cloudy to see objects through clearly.
Trapeze Cut: A gemstone cut into an equilateral triangle with a flat top.
Tremblant: Jewelry with a trembling effect when the wearer moved, produced by elements set upon stiff wires that move.
Trillion Cut: Trillion cut is a triangular shaped diamond with abbreviated corners and typically varying facets.
Tubogas: Sometimes referred to as gas pipe, a flexible tubular chain.
Turquoise: Turquoise is a semi-precious stone and is known for its true Robin's egg Blue. Although turquoise is very opaque, it is also porous and is predominantly found in desert regions worldwide. It was originally discovered in Turkey and green-hued Turquoise can be found in North America. This unique stone is usually cut into cabochons or domes to enhance the natural beauty of the gem.
Tutti Frutti: Jewelry set with multi colored gems carved in shapes of leaves, flowers and berries and often in a basket design.
Ultrasonic: Cleaning device for jewelry that removes dirt through the use of ultrasonic waves. Note: Certain gemstones may be damaged by an ultrasonic cleaner.
Vermeil: Silver with gold plating.
Victorian: The designation given to the period from approximately 1837 when Victoria became Queen of England until 1901 when she died. This long period is divided into early (approx. 1840-1860), mid (approx. 1860 - 1880) and late (approx. 1880-1900) since it covers a wide span of time, and a number of distinctive design trends. This period was preceded by the Georgian period, and succeeded by the Edwardian period after Victoria died in 1901, and her son Edward became king.
White gold: An alloy made of gold mixed with nickel sometimes also containing palladium or zinc.
White Metal: Any combination of alloys of non precious metals such as lead and tin. Also called Pot Metal.
Zinc: An abundant, lustrous, bluish-white metallic element of the magnesium-cadmium group. Zinc is brittle at room temperature, but malleable when heated. It is used to form a wide variety of alloys including brass, bronze, various solders, and nickel silver. Because Zinc is not easily oxidized in moist air it is used for coating galvanized iron and other metals; for electric fuses; anodes; meter cases; in roofing gutters; and is also largely consumed in electric batteries.
Zircon: Common mineral occurring in small crystals which is heated, cut, and polished to form a brilliant blue-white gem; used as a refractory when opaque and as a gemstone when transparent. They are not man made stones like cubic zirconium are. Although they are frequently color-treated, zircons occur naturally in clear, yellow, orange, brown, and red. They are chief source of zirconium.