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Common Terms Used With Jewelry

Alloy - Combination of homogenized metals. Base metal mixed with precious ore to make it workable, harden it, or change its color.

Anodize - An electro-chemical process that creates a hard surface on aluminum, magnesium, titanium and tantalum. The surface then accepts dying

Antique - Object 100 years or older.

Antiquing - Process of darkening recessed areas of to enhance the visibility of engraving

Arabesque - Flowing scrolling epitomized by curlicues in low relief

Articulated - Jewelry constructed with hinges or pivots to make it flexible; jewelry with moveable parts

Art Deco - Originally a French movement in the 1920's anti ornate art nouveau which preceded WWI. Emphasized bold geometric and abstract patterns

Art Nouveau - Art movement widespread throughout Europe from around 1880-1910 particularly in the decorative and applied arts characterized by sinuous, organic forms and elaborately curving lines.

Assay - Process of establishing purity of gold, silver and other alloys

Bail - Connector at the top of a pendant. Enables pendant to hang from a chain or jump ring.

Baroque - Bold, ornate, heavy looking ornamentation. Irregular when describing pearls

Basse-taille - (bass-tie) Technique of applying glass enamel to a metal surface that has been engraved deeply enough to hold the enamel when heated and has sides high enough to keep the enamel colors separate.

Bezel - A collar style setting for a gemstone that offers more protection of softer or delicate minerals such as opal.

Book Chain - Victorian style made in gold, gold filled and sterling silver, in which each chain link is rectangular, folded to resemble a book. Often elaborately engraved.

Box Setting - Box shaped gemstone setting with metal edges rolled down to hold the stone in place - aka Gypsy mount.

Brass - Yellow metal alloy of approximately 1/2 copper & 1/2 zinc.

Bronze - Dull brown dense metal alloy of 60% copper & 40% tin.

Brushed/Satin Finish - Texturing technique using a series of tiny parallel lines scratched into the surface of metals with a wire brush or polishing tool.

"C" catch - Common means of securing jewelry before "safety catches" were invented. A pin connected to one side of the brooch is threaded through a layer of the garment and rests in an open loop shape on the other side of the brooch.

Casting - Method of shaping metal by melting and pouring into hollow molds. Less dense than wrought metals and requires additional polishing and finishing.

Channel Setting - Gemstone setting method that fits stones of uniform size into a channel to form a continuous strip.
Cameo - A layered stone, often banded agate, or sea shell carved with either a woman's profile, a man's profile, natural scenes or themes. Carving removed surface material showing different colors in the layers beneath creating a 3-dimensional scene or image.

Cameo Habille Cameo Hab-ee-yay - Usually depicts a female who is carved wearing a diamond pendant, earrings or crown.

Cannetille - Wirework decor using coiled and twisted gold wire to achieve delicate scrolling effects.

Cartouche - Swirling or scrolling decoration, often symmetrical and engraved as an embellishment on Victorian jewelry, coats of arms, monograms, family crests and emblems

Celtic - Designs derived from the ancient Irish, Gaelic, British, Scottish & Welsh symbols

Chasing - Method of decorating the front of metal objects indenting with shaped punches and chasing hammer. The opposite of chasing is repouss.

Champlev - Enameling technique that fills routed, etched or cut area of metal with enamel. Usually copper or bronze.

Cloisonn cloi-zon-ay - Enameling technique using high walled pockets or cells where colored glass poweder is placed then the piece is baked to solidify.

Copper - Reddish-brown metallic element occuring abundantly in large masses. Also found in various ores. When alloyed with tin it forms bronze, and when alloyed with zinc it forms brass.

Coral - Form of calcium arbonate, secreted in long chains by coral polyps that live in undersea colonies.

Damascene - Type of jewelry inlaid or engraved with gold or silver metals and black enamel; originated in the 14th century in Damascus.

Demi-Parure - Partial set of jewelry. A full set usually includes a necklace, earrings, bracelet and brooch, all matching.

Electro-plating - Electro chemical process of applying one metal to the surface of another.

Enamel - Glass powder or paste applied to metal then fired in an oven to solifify and fuse the glass onto the metal.

Engraving - Process of decorating metal by gouging a design into its surface

Filigree - Thin wire strands intricately interlaced or fashioned into rosettes, scrolls, vines or spirals. Wire is often gold or silver, plain, twisted, or braided.

French wire - Curved wire hook which passes through a pierced earlobe to a catch closure; used with dangling earrings.

Gilt - Gold plated

Girandole - Style of earring or brooch where one large stone or decorative element suspends three smaller, pear-shaped pendants of similar design.

Gold-Filled - Base metal which has had 0.025 mm of gold bonded to it's surface. More durable than gold plate.

Gold-Plate - Base metal which has been electro-chemically bonded with at least 0.0025 mm of gold.

Gold Washed - Extremely thin layerered gold, (less than .175 microns thick), applied by either dipping or burnishing the metal, but not plated.

Guilloche - Enameling style of continuous decoration engraved by a lathe then covered with translucent enamel, so that the engraving can be seen through the enamel.

Hallmark - A mark stamped on to attest to the purity of the metal after assay.

European hallmarks are legally required, dating to the Early Middle Ages. Marks are not officially required in the US but are used by custom and practice. Marks can indicate metal purity, the maker, country of manufacture, or the date.

Intaglio - Carved gem where the design is created by incising into the stone making a negative pattern.

Invisible Setting - Setting style where rows of square cut gemstones rest flush edge to edge; all within a metal border or frame, with no metal separating individual gems.

Japanned - Metal that has been enameled black or charcoal gray.

Marcasite - A mineral with the same composition as pyrite but differing in crystal structure. Faceted like a gemstones it is often used in sterling silver jewelry.

Matte - Metal finish by chemical or abrasive process that creates dull, non-reflective surfaces - aka brushed and satin

Mounting - Device that holds a gem in place.

Niello - Black metallic alloy of sulfur, copper, silver, or lead and used as inlays for incised designs on the surfaces of other metals. Niello refers to both substance and process.

Open Back Setting - Setting in which the back of a gemstone can be seen.

Opera Length - A necklace 48 to 90 inches long.

Ore - Metal bearing mineral from which metal can be extracted.

Oriental Pearl - Natural pearl

Ormolu - Gilded bronze or brass mounts.

Oxidation - Chemical process to blacken or tarnish. Slphur and oxygen is used on silver.

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.

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. Pieces made with Palladium bear the hallmarks of Pd950 or Pd500.

Paste - Glass-based substance used to simulate gemstones and has become one slang term for all fake gemstones. Paste stones are lead crystals with high lead content and more brilliant than glass rhinestones.

Pave - French for pavement or cobblestone; a field of small gems set so close together they create a continuous paved effect.

Pearlescent - Term used to describe a surface with lustrous cloudy spectral colors like one might see in an oil slick or mother of pearl. Synonymous with iridescent

Platinum - The most precious of white metals.

Plique-a-Jour - Enameling popular in Art Nouveau jewelry that is similar to cloisonne but transparent enamels are held in place by wires on the edges rather than on a metal plate.

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; gold, silver and platinum.

Princess Cut - Highly faceted, square cut crystal similar to a brilliant cut, but adapted to a square shape to increase its brilliance and yield of the rough.

Prong setting - A gemstone held in place by small finger-like wires attached to a bezel and bent over the edges of the stone.

Regard - Acrostic jewelry, meaning   jewelry where the first letter of each type of stone spells out a word.

Rhinestone - A faceted stone made of glass.

Rhodium - Metal member of the platinum family, but is liquid in its raw and natural state. Rhodium can be applied to base metals, gold, sterling silver, or some other alloy, to give it a shiny white surface like platinum. This process was popular in the 30's and 40's, is very durable, and very expensive.

Riveting - Joining method for two objects by piercing each then passing a shaft through the holes to join the parts.

Riviere - Single strand necklace of equally sized and cut gemstones.

Rose finish - Jewelry finished with af rose gold look but has no gold content.

Rose gold - Alloy of gold and copper, producing a red tint.

Safety Catch - One means of securing a brooch to a garment.

Sand Casting - Using molds to form cavities in casting sands that are then poured with molten gold.

Sautoir soh-TWAH) - Long, rope style necklace popularized in the Edwardian era.

Scarab - Sacred beetle in Ancient Egypt; fine, gold, original scarab pendant.

Scatter Pin - A small pin often featuring flowers, birds and insects and intended to be worn as one of a group.

Screw back - Type of earring attachment for non-pierced ears where earring is tightened against the earlobe by means of a screw with a flat end.

Setting - Method by which a stone is held into a mounting. - The part of jewelry into which stones are set.

Shank - Portion of a ring that encircles the finger.

Shoulder - Portion of a ring between the shank and the center of the setting.

Signet - A personal seal once used to make wax impressions for signatures or authenticating a document. The seal would usually be in reverse, so the impression in the wax could be viewed normally.

Single-cut Diamonds - Diamonds that are commonly used in watchcases that are cut with only 18 facets.

Silvertone - Jewelry finished with a silver color and looks like sterling but has no silver content.

Simulated stones - Natural or synthetic substances meant to resemble a genuine gemstone. Cubic zirconia is a diamond simulant.

Snake chain - A chain made up of round wavy metal rings joined side by side to form a flexible tube with a smooth, scaly texture like snake skin.

Soldering - Technique used in making and repairing jewelry whereby two pieces of metal are joined when a molten metal with a lower melting point than the two metals being joined is used.

Spray Brooch - Type of brooch usually worn at the shoulder and characterized by floral themes.

Spring Ring - Common clasp used for joining two ends of a necklace.

Stamping - Using a die set to cut or emboss metal with a mark

Tennis bracelet - Bracelet made up of individually set gemstones of uniform size and color linked together like a chain so it is flexible.

Tiffany Setting - Usually round and elevated setting with six long slender prongs that flare from the base. Commonly used for large stones such as diamond solitaires.

Tin - A malleable semi-precious silvery metal that resists oxidation. Malleable at ordinary temperatures, but brittle when heated, tin acts as an agent in numerous alloys.
Toggle clasp - Ring and bar combination for fastening ends of a chain.

Torsade - Necklace fashioned from numerous stands of beads.

Tortoise Shell - A mottled brown shell material with a spotted, striped, or sometimes even speckled pattern.

Translucent - Material that allows light to pass but which is not considered transparent to human sight.

Vermeil (vehr-MAY) - A substantial amount of gold chemically bonded to sterling silver and looks so much like solid gold that it is difficult to tell the difference.

White gold - Gold alloy made of nickel; sometimes contains palladium or zinc; developed in 1912 to mimic platinum.

White Metal - Any combination of alloys of nonprecious metals such as lead and tin. Also called "Pot Metal".

Zinc - An abundant, lustrous, bluish-white, metallic element of the magnesium-cadmium group; brittle at room temperature but malleable when heated. Used to form a wide variety of alloys.