Glossary of Terms
AUSTRIAN CRYSTAL - An imitation, diamond look-alike. 32% lead oxide crystal made in Austria. May be colored.
BAIL - A metal triangle used to attach a bead or pendant to a necklace.
BAROQUE - An imitation pearl with an uneven shape or surface.
BIB - Multiple strands of stones, each shorter than the one below, nested together in one necklace.
CAMEO - A gemstone carved with a design that is usually two colors. The carving is raised above a contrasting colored background. Usually on a brooch showing a head in profile.
CARAT - The unit of weight (not a unit of size!) for a diamond or other stone. Equal to 200 milligrams or 1/5 of a gram. One carat is equal to 100 points. So 75 points weighs .75 carats. One carat of a dense stone will be smaller than one carat of a lighter stone. For example, a one carat sapphire is smaller than a one carat diamond.
CHOKER - A 14"-15" necklace that should nestle around the base of the neck.
CLARITY - Relative freedom from internal inclusions or surface blemishes.
CROWN - The upper portion of a gem or stone.
CRYSTALS - Man-made stones. The finest crystals are made in Austria. Austrian crystals are cut with facets like gemstones, but usually have a foil back to give the stone luster. Most often they are not used in an open setting.
CUBIC ZIRCONIA - A man-made crystal grown under tremendous heat. CZs are created using zirconium oxide melted at a constant temperature of more than 5000 degrees F. When cooled, this material forms a crystallized, diamond-hard, diamond-brilliant, cubic material. This material is then cut and polished to the exact specifications of gem quality diamonds. Developed by the Russians for their laser programs. Cubic zirconia reflects light like a diamond, and has a hardness very close to that of a diamond. While CZs will cut glass, only a diamond will scratch a CZ. The quality of the cut and size of the stone determine the value of the CZ. CZs weigh about 60% more than diamonds.
CUT - The cut determines the brilliance of a stone. If properly cut, the stone reflects light from one facet to another, to be dispersed through the top of the stone. Also called "make." Often, cut is used in describing the shape of the stone.
ENAMEL - A powdered glass coloring which is applied to a metal and heated to bond it together.
ENHANCER - A pendant attachment which opens to allow the pendant to be placed on pearls, beads or a chain.
ETERNITY RING - A type of ring set with a row of gemstones around the band. The stones are all of the same size and cut. The stones may be individually set in prongs or channel set. Also called an Anniversary band.
EURO-WIRES - A closure for pierced earrings. A curved wire passes through the ear and attaches to the backside of the earring.
FACET - One of the small, flat surfaces of a cut stone. Facets are of many shapes and sizes, depending on the cut of the stone.
FAUX - Imitation, false, fake. Sometimes abbreviate with f. as in f. pearl.
FILIGREE - A type of decoration in metal that is made with twisted or braided gold or silver wire. This forms an intricate, delicate design.
FLORENTINE - Lines are cut into the surface of a piece, close together and evenly spaced to produce a tree's bark-like texture. A brushed or striated appearance.
FRENCH CLIP - A pierced earring that has an open clip to secure the earring rather than a detached earring back.
FRENCH SCREWBACK - For non-pierced ears. A small clamp holds the earring to the ear with a screw that can be tightened.
FRESHWATER PEARL - Irregularly shaped pearls grown in mollusks found in lakes and rivers.
GIRDLE - The edge around a stone that separates the crown and pavilion.
GLASS PEARL - A man-made pearl that is made of glass and is coated with nacre, the same material that coats a genuine pearl. Glass pearls have a substantial feel and weight, and are cool to the touch, much like genuine pearls. Landau glass pearls are the finest man-made pearls.
GOLD - A precious metal, often mixed with other metals to give it strength and lessen the price. Yellow gold has alloys of copper, silver, and zinc. White gold has alloys of nickel copper and zinc. Pure gold is 24 karats and is too soft for use in most jewelry. Also see karats.
GOLD FILLED - Covered with layers of 14K or 18K gold joined to a base metal and rolled to the desired thickness. Usually abbreviated g.f. Lower in gold content than 10K.
GOLD PLATED OR GOLD TONE - Base metal covered with a thin layer of gold. The gold is plated onto the metal through electrolysis.
GRADUATED - A necklace where the stones taper downward in size from the large pearls in the center.
INTAGLIO - A design engraved into a stone. The background is the highest area, with the design carved into it. It is the opposite of a cameo.
JACKET - A decorative addition to be worn with a stud earring. The jacket has a hole that the post of the stud is inserted into to hold both securely.
JET - A stone of petrified coal.
KARAT - The measure of fineness of gold. 24K is pure gold and is far too soft for use in most jewelry. Other metals are added for strength -- most commonly, silver, copper, nickel and zinc. 14K and 18K are most often used for jewelry. Using 24K as a basis, the karats signify what proportion of pure gold to alloy is in the piece. 18K has 18 parts gold and 6 parts other alloys. 18/24=75% Thus, 18k gold is approximately 75% gold. 18K has a darker color than 14K, which has zinc added for strength. 14K is approximately 60% pure gold (14/24). 9K has the same properties as 14K, but with additional metals added. It is approximately 40% pure gold. All gold is stamped with the number of karats. Europeans sometimes stamp with 420 (14K) or 750 (18K).
LALIQUE - Unpolished crystal, which is transparent glass made of lead. It was named after Rene Lalique, a French designer who specialized in crystal pieces.
LARIAT - A necklace fashioned like a lasso, forming a loop with a tassel hanging from it at the closure.
LEVER BACK - A pierced earring on a wire with a hinged closure.
LOBSTER CLAW - A sturdy clasp resembling the claw of a lobster.
LUSTER - Also referred to as brilliance. Luster is the surface shine that gives pearls their glow. The sharper the reflection of light in the pearl, the higher the luster.
MABE - A half-sphere or domed stone, usually a faux pearl, which is cultured against the inside shell of the oyster.
MINAUDIERE - A metal-based evening handbag covered in crystals. From the French word meaning "a coquettish air" or "to simper."
OMEGA - A flexible, flat link chain that forms a solid surface.
OMEGA-BACK EARRING - A post pierced earring with an O shaped clip to hold the post in place. A.K.A. French back.
PARURE - A set of 3 or more matching pieces.
PAVILION - The bottom portion of a gem.
PILLBOX - A decorative box or shaped container. Usually metal-based, enameled or jeweled. Originally used to hold pills, but now primarily used as a table-top decoration or as a collectors' item.
POST-BACKS - For pierced ears. A metal post which passes through the ear and fastens with a clutch back disk.
PRONG - Tips or clamps which hold a stone in place.
RAINBOW GREY - A color of gray man-made or genuine pearl that has iridescent tones of blue and purple. Also referred to as a Tahitian pearl.
RHINESTONE - A glass stone, facetted to imitate a diamond.
RHODIUM - A silver-white metallic element in the platinum family. More expensive than pure gold. Used to harden platinum alloys and to achieve the white gold look on jewelry.
RONDELLE - A thin, circular piece of metal or stone that is pierced and strung between beads on a necklace.
SCARAB - An Egyptian representation of a beetle carved in stone or gemstone. The bottom is flat with the beetle carved in the rounded upper part of the stone. The scarab is a symbol of immortality.
SEED PEARL - A very small genuine or imitation pearl.
SHANK - The part of a ring that circles the finger.
SHEPHERD'S HOOK - A pierced earring that features a long curved wire, shaped like the hook of a shepherd's staff, which passes through the ear.
STERLING SILVER - An alloy (two metals combined) of silver that is .925 parts silver and .075 parts copper. All sterling silver is stamped with .925.
SOLITAIRE - Any individual stone in a ring or necklace that is set by itself.
STATIONS - A repeated portion of a design or stone.
STUD - An earring that sits on the earlobe and typically doesn't fall below the lobe.
TABLE - The flat surface on the top of a faceted gem.
T.W. - Total weight. The combined weight of 2 or more items. In a pair of earrings, t.w. refers to the combined weight of both earrings.
TWO-TONE - A piece of jewelry with more than one color or tone. Typically silver-tone and gold-tone.
VENETIAN GLASS - Italian glass from Venice, usually used for cabochons in a closed setting.
VERMEIL - Sterling silver base over which a layer of 14K to 18K gold has been plated.