Jewelry Glossary Guide
An alloy is a combination of two or more metals. Common alloys used in jewelry are: gold under 24 Kt (mixed with silver, copper, and/or other metals), sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper), brass (roughly half copper, half zinc), bronze (at least 60% copper with tin and perhaps other metals), and pewter (tin, lead, antimony, and a bit of silver or copper).
Joseph Asscher was an eminent diamond cutter who cut the 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond. Asscher worked in Amsterdam. In 1902, his company, the Asscher Diamond Co., developed and patented the Asscher cut, a squarish step cut with an almost octagonal outline. This new cut enhanced the fire and light of the stone; it had a small table, a high crown, wide step facets, a deep pavilion and square culet. This cut became very popular in Art Deco jewelry and was a forerunner of the emerald cut. Recently, the Royal Asscher Diamond Co. resumed production of the original Asscher Cut diamonds resulting from the high demand for the cut.
A baguette cut is a stone (usually a diamond) that has been cut into a long, rectangular shape. Baguette means "stick" or "rod" in French.
A band is a ring that is made from a thin, flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated. Wedding rings are often bands.
A bezel setting is a way of setting a stone in which the stone is held by a band of metal around the outside of the stone.
Brilliant cut stones have 56 facets, 32 facets are above the girdle, 24 are below. Most modern-day diamonds are brilliant cut since it maximizes the amount of reflected light from the stone (its natural fire). The brilliant cut was introduced in the 1600's.
A briolette (or drop cut) is a pear-shaped cut gemstone with triangular facets on top. This type of stone makes a nice pendant.
A brooch (also called a pin) is an ornament that can be pinned to a garment.
A cabochon is a stone that has a rounded, domed surface with no facets. A cabochon garnet is also called a carbuncle.
Channel set jewels rest in a metal channel, held in only by a slight rim which runs along the edges of the channel. Channel set jewels are usually round or baCircle pendants and talismen have been favored for centuries because they are symbolic reminders of the connectedness of all life. To wear a circle shaped pendant is a way of saying that your love, faith and loyalty is never ending
Circle pendants and talismen have been favored for centuries because they are symbolic reminders of the connectedness of all life. To wear a circle shaped pendant is a way of saying that your love, faith and loyalty is never ending
Clarity is the clearness of a gemstone, or the lack of internal flaws. The clarity scale for diamonds runs from FL (flawless, with neither internal nor external flaws), to I3 (having many clearly visible imperfections using only the naked eye). A ten-power loupe is used to examine a diamond for clarity.
A cluster setting is one in which small stones or pearls are set around a larger stone.
The crown is the upper part of a gemstone.
A cuff bracelet is a stiff, relatively wide bracelet.
A culet is the bottom point of a gemstone or a small facet that is ground at the base of a brilliant-cut gemstone. The culet prevents splintering of the stone. Modern stones rarely have a faceted culet.
Cushion cut stones are shaped like a cushion - they have a squarish shape that is rounded on the edges. These stones usually have facets similar to those of a brilliant cut stone.
Die stamping (also known as machine-stamping) is a process in which sheet metal is cut and shaped between two dies, forming a pattern in relief. Two steel dies are used, the male die has the design in cameo (protruding); the female die has the design hollowed out. The male die is put on top of the metal, the female die is put on the underside of the metal. The press is forcefully brought down onto the dies and metal, forcing the metal into the shape of the mold. Many medallions and mass-produced jewelry findings are made this way.
A drop cut (or briolette) is a pear-shaped cut gemstone with triangular facets on top. This type of stone makes a nice pendant.
The Edwardian period (also known as the Belle Epoque) was the time of the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910). Edwardian jewelry is delicate and elegant. Edwardian designs frequently use bows and filagrees. Pearls and diamonds were also frequently used.
Emerald cut stones have a girdle that is rectangular with truncated corners. Emerald cuts are frequently used on emeralds and diamonds.
Enamel is a glassy substance (powdered glass with colorants) fused onto metal using heat
Also called a Riviera Necklace, is a flexible necklace with diamonds all the way around. It may be graduated or have stones all the same size. Although usually worn close to the neck, opera length has become very popular in the past few years. It is meant to represent love that lasts forever.
An eternity ring is a narrow ring with a ring of gemstones. It symbolizes a love that lasts forever, like the eternity necklace and the tennis or in, line bracelet.
Ancient Etruscan jewelry has intricate and beautiful designs; most is made of gold. The Etruscans employed a lot of delicate granulation (n which tiny beads of gold are soldered to the surface to form a pattern) and openwork filagree (in which filagree patterns are not applied over sheet metal). The Etruscans lived in Northern Italy for hundreds of years beginning in the late 8th century B.C.
The European cut (also known as the old European cut) is an old, round diamond cut that is similar to but less bright than the newer brilliant cut. The European cut has a very small table and heavy crown.
A facet is one of the flat surfaces of a cut stone or glass.
Faceting is the cutting and polishing of the surface of a stone.
Fancy cut stones are cut in unusual ways. Some fancy cuts include the heart, fan, rivoli, trapezium, cathedral window, half-moon (lunette), kite, and triangle.
Fashion jewelry is another name for costume jewelry.
A feather is an internal flaw (also called an inclusion) in a gemstone that can start at the surface of the stone and extend deep inside. Feathers can either ruin a stone (by making it fragile and/or changing the color), or add to its beauty.
Filigree is gold or silver wire that have been twisted into patterns and soldered into place. Openwork filigree is not soldered onto a sheet of metal and is difficult to make. Imitation filigree is made of stamped metal.
A stone's fire is the streaks of brilliant color within it. Good quality opals have a lot of fire.
A flaw is a an imperfection in a gemstone. Flaws include: cracks, inclusions of other minerals or liquid-filled cavities. A flawless stone is called "clean." Flaws can greatly reduce the value of a stone, but in some cases, like moss agate or rutilated quartz, the "flaws" increase the value of the stone.
Fluorescence is property in which light (or other radiation) is emitted from an object. Many stones (including some diamonds) flouresce when exposed to ultraviolet light.
A full cut stone is a gemstone with 58 facets.
A gemstone (also called a precious stone) is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful. A few organic materials, like amber, coral and pearls are also considered gemstones.
GIA stands for the Gemological Institute of America.
The girdle is the widest perimeter of a gemstone.
Guilloche is a type of enameling in which translucent enamel (fused glass) is applied over a metal surface that has been engraved. The Czech guilloche pin above is studded with marcasites.
A hallmark is an official mark (or a series of marks) made in metal that indicates the fineness of the metal and the manufacturer's mark. For example, a hallmark of 925 indicates 925 parts of gold per 1000 weight. Other hallmarks indicate the maker of the piece and sometimes the year of manufacture. In many countries (like Britain) it is illegal to hallmark metal incorrectly; some countries are notoriously lax in their enforcement of hallmark honesty.
Hammered metals have been formed, shaped, or decorated by a metalworker's hammer. The surface of hammered metal is covered with crater-like depressions made by a hammer. Many hammered metals are used in jewelry including gold, silver, brass, alumimum, etc.
A substance's hardness is how resistant it is to being scratched. Hardness is measured using the Mohs Scale of Hardness. In the Mohs scale, one substance is harder than another if it can scratch it. For example, a diamond will scratch garnet, but not the other way around, so a diamond in harder than garnet.
Heat treatment is the heating of stones to a high temperature in order to enhance the color or clarity. For example, blue-green aquamarine becomes blue with heat treatment and brown zircon becomes blue or clear. chromium .02%, and zinc .02%; the remaining 0.16 percent is sulfur, chlorine, and water.
An inclusion is a particle of foreign matter contained within a mineral. Inclusions can be solid, liquid, or gaseous. Many inclusions decrease the value of a stone, but some, like rutile forming asterisms in star sapphires and needles in rutilated quartz and tourmalinated quartz, are prized.
An inlay is a piece of material (often stone or glass) that is partially embedded in another material (usually metal) such that the two materials make a level surface.
Irradiated diamonds are diamonds that have been exposed to radiation. This changes the diamond's color (as the radiation changes the crystalline structure of the diamond). The change in the diamond is permanent. Older radiation treatments involving exposing the stone to radium; newer treatments bombard the stone with atomic particles in a cyclotron (which accelerates protons, neutrons, or alpha-partices to high speeds). The irradiated stones take on a greenish or an aquamarine hue. Irradiations of diamonds was first done in 1904 by Sir William Crookes, who exposed diamonds to radium, giving them a permanent greenish color; his diamonds are still slightly radioactive (at the level of radium-painted watch). Newer irradiation techniques bombard the crystal with atomic particles in a cyclotron, and then the stone is heated to about 800 degrees Centigrade, producing a stone with very little radioactivity and a permanent color change.
Irradiation is the act of being exposed to radiation. Many stones (like kunzite) are irradiated in order to enhance their color. Being irradiated changes the crystal structure of the mineral by moving electrons. Irradiation techniques bombard the crystal with high-energy radiation (like gamma rays), producing a stone with very little radioactivity and a change of color. Some color changes caused by Irradiation are permanent, others care unstable and be reversed by heating or exposure to sunlight. For example, colorless topaz changes to a cinnamon brown color after ibeing irradiated with cobalt-60 radiation, but the color fades as the stone is exposed to sunlight. A new method of irradiation changes clear topaz to a brilliant, non-fading blue.
The journey message symbolizes a couples growing love over time. Love is an evolution, and this exceptional pendant is a reminder of your journey together.
Karat (abbreviated Kt) is a measure of the fineness of gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold. 18 karat gold is 18/24 gold (about 75% gold - three quarters gold). 14 karat gold is 14/24 gold (about 58% gold - a little over half gold). 12 karat gold is exactly half gold. 10 karat gold is 10/24 gold (only about 43.5% gold - less than half gold).
A knot is a flaw (a mineral inclusion) in a gemstone (usually a diamond) that is at the surface of a gem after polishing. The knot is a small raised bump on the finished gemstone.
A lemniscate pendant, which looks like the number 8 resting on its side. The lemniscate symbolizes eternity, as well as the existence of a higher power and how infinity moves in cycles.
A lapidary is someone who cuts and polishes gemstones.
Lost Wax Casting
Lost wax casting is a process of casting metal in which the original model is sculpted in wax. The wax is then enclosed in clay and the wax is melted out, making a hollow mold. The mold is then filled with molten metal. The clay is broken off and the cast metal remains. This method of casting has been used for at least 4,000 years.
A stone's luster is its sparkle or sheen - the way it relects light. The luster depends on the nature of the stone's surface reflectivity. Some types of luster include: adamantine (also called brilliant or like a faceted diamond), earthy (with little reflectivity- also called dull, greasy, greasy, metallic, resinous, pearly with an iridescent reflectivity, pitchy, silky, Vitreous, transparent and waxy. A pearl's luster is derived from its nacre.
Marquise cut stones have a shape like an oval with two pointed ends.
A matte finish on a metal's surface is a soft, lustrous finish that reduces the metal's reflectivity.
A melee is a small diamond, under .20 carat.
A millegrain (or millegrain setting) is a setting in which the stone is secured by tiny beads [grains] of metal or a band of metal that is decorated with tiny beads of metal.
Milling is a process in which wood or metal is cut while it either the material or the tool is spinning. Symmetrical shapes and patterns are cut into the material.
Mine cut stones have a cushion-shaped girdle. This type of cut was popular in the late 1800's.
The Mohs Scale of Hardness measures a substance's hardness, that is, how resistant it is to being scratched. In the Mohs scale, which ranges from 1 to 10, one substance is harder than another if it can scratch it. For example, a diamond (hardness = 10) will scratch garnet (hardness = 6.5-7.5), but not the other way around, so a diamond is harder than garnet. This scale was invented by Austrian mineralogist Friedrich Mohs (1773-1839).
Nacre is a usually whitish crystalline substance which oysters, mussels, snails, and other mollusks secrete around a foreign object (like a tiny stone) that has made its way into their shell. As layers of nacre coat the intruder, a pearl is formed over a period of many years.
The noble metals are gold, platinum, and silver. These are metals that are relatively impervious to chemical action.
Old Mine Cut
Old mine cut is a term that refers to a brilliant cut in which the stone is cushion-shaped and has a high crown (the upper part of a gemstone).
Oxidation is a chemical process in which oxygen atoms bond to atoms of a material (like a metal) and electrons are transferred from the oxided material to the reduced material. Iron oxidizes when exposed to air and moisture, forming iron oxide (rust). Silver oxidizes (tarnishes, turing the surface black) when it is exposed to hydrogen sulfide in the air (forming Ag2S, silver sulfide).
Palladium is a valuable, durable, and malleable light-gray metal used in some jewelry; it is related to platinum, but is less dense and has a lower melting point. Unlike platinum, palladium reacts when exposed to aqua regia, sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acids. It also develops a tarnish when it is heated. Pallasium is not a shiny as platinum. Palladium was only isolated as an element in 1802 by William Hyde Wollaston and Smithson Tennant. It was first used in jewelry in 1939 (during World War 2, platinum was used for war purposes, and was not available for jewelry making - palladium was temporarily used as a substitute for platinum). White gold is sometimes alloyed with palladium (instead of nickel), resulting in a gray-white gold. After World War 2, palladium was rarely used in jewelry making because of some difficulties in working with it. Palladium was recently discovered to be useful in engine catalytic converters, and its price skyrocketed to over $700 per ounce (it had previously been much less expensive than platinum or gold) and is no longer practical to use as jewelry.
Pave settings are stones set very close together. The stones hide the underlying surface. In better pieces, claw settings are used; in less expensive pieces, the stones are simple glued in.
The pavilion is the lower part of a cut gemstone, below the girdle.
A pear cut gemstone (also called a drop cut) is teardrop shaped This type of cut is used for pendants, drop earrings, rings, and other pieces of jewelry.
A pendant is a hanging ornament. Necklaces, pins, and earrings often have a pendant. The Christian Dior pendant shown above is costume jewelry.
Plating or electroplating (also called Galvanotechnics after its inventor, Luigi Galvani) is a process in which one metal is coated with another metal using electricity. In jewelry, inexpensive metals are frequently electroplated with more expensive metals, like gold (gold plating), copper (electrocoppering), rhodium (rhodanizing), chromium (chromium plating), or silver (silver plating). The thickness of the metal coat varies. Electrogilded coating is the thinnest (less than 0.000007 inches thick); gold-cased metals have a coating thicker that 0.000007 inches.
Platinum is a very strong, dense precious metal with a white color. Platinum jewelry is usually 90%-95% pure, is very sturdy, and holds stones well. Platinum is related to iridium. Platinum is 60% heavier than gold. Iridium and platinum are frequently alloyed together, since the Irridium increases the workability of the platinum. Platinum was only discovered in the 1700's in Russia. Platinum is abbreviated Pt. and Plat.
A point is a hundredth of a carat or 0.002 gram.
A precious stone (also called a gemstone) is one that is valuable and rare.
A princess cut is a square-cut stone. This fancy cut is relatively new and is also known as a Quadrillion or Squarillion cut.
A promise ring is a pre-engagement ring, usually with a relatively small stone.
The radiant cut is a method of cutting rectangular stones so that they have the sparkle of brilliant cut round stones. The shape is a rectangle with the corners clipped off - the length:width ratio is usually from 1.5:1 to 1.75:1. This cut has from 58-70 facets; it was invented in the 1970's. The top of the stone is emerald cut (with about 25 facets above the girdle), but the bottom of the stone has brilliant cut facets (with about 36 facets below the girdle).
Rhodium is a white precious metal. Rhodium is extremely expensive and is often used to plate precious and base metals, giving jewelry a hard, platinum-like sheen.
The rose cut (also called the rosette cut) for diamonds was invented in the 17th century and its used continued until the 18th century. The rose cut has a flat base and triangular facets (usually 24). This cut has little wastage of stone, but is not nearly as reflective as the brilliant cut, which was invented later.
Rose gold (also known as pink gold) is gold with a pink tinge. It has been alloyed with a mix of 90% copper and 10% silver.
Rough stones or crystals are in their natural state, they are neither cut nor polished.
A safety chain is a secondary closure (usually on a fine bracelet or watch) that is used in case the primary clasp opens, preventing the loss of the bracelet. It is usually a chain that is permanently attached to one side of the bracelet, and attaches to the other side with a spring ring clasp (or other type of clasp). On the Miriam Haskell cuff bracelet above, the safety chain is located on the lower left of the picture.
A safety clasp is a secure type of closure on a piece of jewelry. The term safety catch is used for a variety of these closures. On pins and brooches, a safety clasp often refers to a long pin on a hinge that can be held or released with a secure clasp (often a rotating circle within a circle).
A satin finish on a metal is between a matte finish and a brilliant one. This semi-glossy finish is done by making shallow parallel lines on the surface of the metal, reducing its reflectivity.
A setting is a method of securing a stone (or other ornament) in a piece of jewelry (or other object). There are many different types of settings, including the collet (a strip of metal surrounding the stone), the claw setting (in which prongs of metal hold the stone in place), Tiffany (a high,six-pronged setting), the cut-down setting (metal is worked around the edge of the gem, reinforced with metal ridges), pav?-set stones (stones set close together, showing no metal between them), millegrain (the stone is secured by small beads [grains] of metal), gipsy setting (with a recessed stone), and many other types (including combinations of the above-mentioned methods). Some settings are closed (there is metal behind the stone), while others are open (there is no metal behind the stone), letting light shine through the stone.
The shank is the part of a ring that encircles the finger.
A solitaire is a ring set with a single stone, usually a diamond.
The step cut is generally used for colored stones. This cut is rectangular to square and has many facets parallel to the edges of the stone.
Sterling is silver with a fineness of 925, that is, sterling is 925 parts per thousand (or 92.5%) silver and 7.5 parts per thousand (or 7.5%) copper (the copper increases the silver's hardness). Sterling is quite malleable.
Striations are grooves, lines and scratches found naturally in some minerals.
The table is the large, flat area at the top of a cut gemstone.
A tennis bracelet is a simple, flexible, in-line diamond bracelet. The name tennis bracelet was first used when the great tennis player Chris Evert dropped a diamond bracelet during a tennis match in the summer of 1987 (at the US Open Tennis Tournament). She had to stop the match until she found her bracelet. Since then, that style of bracelet has been called a tennis bracelet.
Three Stone Pendant
A 3 Stone Diamond Pendant is designed to make an elegant statement about one's life, love and relationships. One stone is in memory of your Past, one stone represents the Present and the third stone embraces the hope of your Future.
The Tiffany setting is a ring with a high, six-pronged solitaire diamond on a simple circular band. This design was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886.
The trillion cut is a triangular cut based upon a brilliant style cut (and not a stepped facet). The corners of the triangle are truncated (cut short) and there are a variety of facets, giving this cut a sparkling brilliance.
White gold is gold that has been alloyed with a mix of nickel, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese (and sometimes palladium). White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum during World War II (during this time in the US, platinum was considered a strategic material and its use was prohibited for most non-military applications, like jewelry making).