Jewelry Glossary


ART DECO: a term used to describe a period beginning in the early to mid 1920's of bold, abstract, geometric art forms. Jewelry with black jade or enamel, dark sapphires contrasted with diamonds in white gold or platinum in linear lines became popular.

ART NOUVEAU: a term used to describe an art form that began in the 1880's. It is characterized by flowing lines, exotic flowers and female faces with long flowing hair. Gold, copper and silver were used along with semi:precious stones and enamel.

ARTS AND CRAFTS: a movement of jewelry crafting in which one artisan handcrafted a piece from start to finish. This style is characterized by cabochon cut stones, enameling, and various finishes such as hammering. Often irregularities were left, as evidence of human handiwork. This movement was popular in the 1890's to 1920's.

BAGUETTE: a stone (usually diamond), cut into a narrow straight or tapered rectangle.

BEZEL: a metal rim which encircles a stone in its mounting.

BROOCH: Jewelry that is designed to be affixed to clothing via a pin in the back. Usually larger than a "pin".

CABOCHON: a stone that is cut in round or oval shape in which the top is rounded and not faceted, such as an opal.

CAMEO: a layered shell or stone in which a design is engraved on the top layer and the remainder is carved away to reveal the next layer, leaving the design in relief.

CARAT: a unit of weight for gemstones. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams.

CHANNEL SETTING: a style of stone setting in which stones of the same size are held in place by a continuous strip of metal along the stones on both sides.

CULTURED PEARL: a type of pearl induced and stimulated by man to grow inside a mollusk.

DOUBLET: a stone consisting of two materials sandwiched together, usually garnet and glass.

EDWARDIAN JEWELRY: jewelry made during the reign of Edward VII, 1901:1910, that is characterized by open work with metals, studded with stones (usually diamonds), in a feminine style.

ENAMEL: a glass like material fired onto metal.

ENGRAVING: a technique in which a design is etched into a metal surface using incised lines.

ETERNITY RING: a ring with stones set all the way around. Symbolizing the circle of eternity.

FILIGREE: Ornamental designs made by using twisted or plated wire in an open work pattern.

GYPSY SETTING: a type of setting in which stones are set down flush into the mounting.

HAIRWORK JEWELRY: jewelry made with hair that was braided or made into designs. Often used has remembrances of a deceased love one. Was very popular during Victorian times.

HALLMARK: markings used on silver and gold flatware and jewelry to designate the fineness of the metal and its maker.

INTAGLIO: the opposite of a cameo, a design carved in shell or stone that is cut beneath the surface of the stone.

KARAT: the percentage of gold content. For instance pure gold is 24 karat or 24 out of 24 parts are gold, thus 100%, 18karat is 75% gold or 18 parts gold out of 24, 14karat is 58.5 % gold or 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloys.

LAVELIERE: a necklace hanging from a chain that is light, open and has usually pearls or small gemstones dangling from the bottom. There is speculation the word is derived from the Duchess de la Valliere, a mistress of Louis XIV .

MARQUISE: a diamond cut with points at either end in a boat shape. Used to be called "navette" shape.

MILGRAIN: metal work consisting of tiny grains or beads along edge.

OLD EUROPEAN CUT: a cutting style popular from c.1895:1920's, had standard 58 facets, rounded girdle, high crown angles, small table and an open culet. Good brilliance and scintillation.

OLD MINE CUT: a style of diamond cutting popular around 1860:1900. The diamond usually had 57 facets, but was more cushion cut than round, sometimes lumpy as though it had been cut in a mine. The culet was left large, leaving a circle through table of stone.

PAVE SETTING: a type of stone setting in which the stones are set close as though paving the metal.

PLATINUM: a dense naturally white metal used to make jewelry in the early 1900's and again after 1950. It is easy to hand engrave, but yet does not give up metal, so it endures well over long periods of time.

PLIQUE-A-JOUR: enamel with the "stained glass effect", because the enamel is held in a metal frame without any backing.

RHODIUM: a white metal in the platinum group, that is used extensively to plate over white gold to increase its white appearance.

ROSE CUT: a very old cutting style in which the gem has 24 triangular facets meeting at the top with a point. The pavilion (or bottom) is always flat. This style was used in the early to late 1800's.

SEED PEARL: a small pearl less than 2mm. In vintage jewelry was often used to surround cameo's or lockets.

SHANK: The part of a ring that encircles the ring below the top of the ring.

SYNTHETHIC STONES: man made gems with the same physical, chemical and optical properties as the natural stone. Not to be confused with imitation, which is merely a look alike.

VICTORIAN ERA: 1837-1901, this was during the reign of Queen Victoria, this period can be broken into 3 distinct ive periods, early Victorian or the Romantic Period, 1837:1861, when styles were dominated by the symbolism, the mid:Victorian or Grand Period, c. 1861:1880, when jewelry became black and large, and finally Late Victorian,sometimes called the aesthetic period, 1880:1901, when jewelry became lighter looking, to complement a more casual lifestyle.

WHITE GOLD: Gold alloyed with nickel and zinc to look white, this process was developed in 1912.