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ABALONE: A marine mollusk with a shell commonly used in jewelry. It is known for its iridescent inner layer.
ABRASION:Wearing down the polished surfaces of a stone by the process of friction.
ACRYLIC: A plastic-like material used to create beads, bangles and other types of jewelry.
ADAMANTINE: A diamond-like luster. This is the highest level of luster for transparent stones.
AGS: The American Gem Society; A trade association for the jewelry industry established in 1934. AGS has developed its own cut, color, and clarity standards for diamonds independent of GIA.
AGATE: A variety of chalcedony, showing colored bands to give a layered appearance.
ALEXANDRITE: A variety of chrysoberyl first discovered in the Ural Mountains in Russia and named for Tsar Alexander II. Alexandrite is known for its color-change phenomenon—green in daylight and soft purplish-red in incandescent light.
ALLOY:A mixture of two or more different metals. Nickel, Copper and Zinc are often “alloyed” with gold to give it a different color and karatage.
ALMANDITE:A species of the garnet group, which typically has a purplish red hue.
AMAZONITE: A variety of microcline feldspar; this is an opaque greenish blue stone that usually displays a white grid-like pattern.
AMBER: A translucent yellow, orange or brownish-yellow fossilized tree resin. The most sought-after amber has insect inclusions.
AMETHYST: A purple variety of quartz.
AMETRINE: A bicolored quartz that shows amethyst and citrine hues.
AMULET: A charm worn around the neck that is thought to ward off evil and bring good fortune.
ANKH: An Egyptian symbol that means “key of life”. It is shaped like a cross with a loop on top.
ANTIQUE JEWELRY: Any item that is over 100 years old falls into the category of “antique” jewelry.
ANTIQUE FINISH: A technique designed to add the illusion of age to a piece by chemically treating the metal.
AQUAMARINE: A greenish blue to blue-green variety of Beryl.
ART DECO: A stylistic period circa 1918-1938. Characteristics include the use of platinum, diamonds and precious stones and a geometric design scheme.
ART NOUVEA: A stylistic period circa 1890-1910. Characteristics include free flowing forms, organic lines and natural subject matter.
ARTS AND CRAFTS JEWELRY: A style of jewelry that became popular in the late 1800’s. This was a simple movement that was anti-technology and focused on hand-crafted items.
ASSCHER CUT: Created in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, this is a square step-cut stone with cropped corners and 58 facets.
ASTERISM: The phenomenon of a star created when light hits a stone with intersecting needles or inclusions.
AURORA BOREALIS: An iridescent coating on glass beads which creates a multi-colored effect.
AVENTURESCENCE: The phenomon of light reflecting from small, flat inclusions inside of a gem, producing a glittery effect.
AVENTURINE: A typically green variety of quartz that displays aventurescence.
AZURITE: An opaque, dark blue stone that typically shows its botryoidal (or globular) growth, resembling a bunch of grapes.
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BAIL: A metal element that jewelers call a “finding”, which connects a pendant to a necklace or bracelet.
BAKELITE: A type of synthetic plastic invented by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in 1909. This moldable, lightweight plastic was popular in the 1930’s.
BAGUETTE: A small rectangular shaped gemstone.
BANGLE: A fixed circular bracelet without a clasp, meant to be slipped over the hand.
BAROQUE PEARL: Any pearl that is not round. Baroque pearls adorn the top of this mid-19th Century hair comb.
BELLE ÉPOQUE: French for “Beautiful Time”, this is another term for the Edwardian Era.
BERYL: A gem species, better known for its most famous varieties, aquamarine and emerald.
BEZEL SETTING: A stone that is held in place by a thin strip of metal completely surrounding its circumference.
BLOOD STONE: Opaque green variety of chalcedony that gets its name from its distinctive red spots.
BONE: Opaque white to yellow colored animal bone, usually made into beads, bangles and carvings.
BOULDER OPAL: A type of opal found in Australia that is cut to reveal part of the host rock, or “boulder”.
BOOK CHAIN: A type of chain, most popular in the Victorian Era, in which the links are folded in a way that resembles the pages of a book.
BOX CHAIN: A chain that is made of square, wide links that resemble boxes.
BOX CLASP: A clasp that consists of a box on one end of a bracelet/necklace with a v-shaped tongue on the other.
BRASS: A metal composed of copper and zinc.
BRILLIANT CUT: A stone composed of triangular and kite-shaped facets radiating from a central point.
BRIOLETTE: A tear-shaped bead that is faceted on all sides.
BRITANNIA SILVER: A silver alloy composed of 95.8% silver hallmarked with the figure of Britannia. Britannia silver was mandatory in England from 1697 to 1720 to prevent the melting down of sterling coins to create silver objects.
BRONZE: A metal composed of copper and tin.
BROOCH: Another term for a large pin, designed to be fastened to clothing. This brooch is made of platinum, diamonds and sapphires.
BRUSHED FINISH: A surface that has been wiped with a metal brush, creating texture.
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THE 4CS: Criteria that is involved in the grading of diamonds. The 4Cs are Color, Clarity, Carat and Cut.
CABOCHON: A gem polished with a rounded top and a flat bottom that is not faceted.
CALIBRATED: A stone cut to specific proportions, intended to go into an item with those dimensions.
CAMEO: A relief carving on a shell or other naturally banded material such as onyx. The bracelet pictured here is a typical example of a carved shell cameo.
CARAT: One of the 4Cs – A unit used in measuring the weight of gems. A carat is 1/5th of a gram. Not to be confused with “karat”, a unit used in measuring the purity of gold.
CARNELIAN: A variety of chalcedony known for its orangey red to brownish red hue.
CASTING: The process of melting metal and pouring it into a mold.
CELLULOID: A plastic made of cellulose, commonly used as an ivory substitute.
CHALCEDONY: A Cryptocrystalline quartz, best known for its famous varieties like carnelian and onyx.
CHANNEL SETTING: Uniform sized stones set between 2 strips of metal. The stones are not secured by prongs.
CHAROITE: An opaque purple stone with a swirled appearance.
CHATELAINE: A chain to be attached to a woman’s belt with functional ornaments attached such as keys, coin pouches, sewing kits and other charms.
CHATOYANT: The phenomenon known as “cat’s-eye” that occurs when light reflects on parallel inclusions in a stone.
CHOKER: A style of necklace that sits very close to the neck—almost like a collar.
CHRYSOCOLL: A variety of chalcedony that is typically translucent and blue to greenish-blue in hue.
CHRYSOPHRASE: A variety of chalcedony that is typically translucent and green to yellowish green in hue.
CITRINE: A variety of quartz which is yellow to orange in color. The two citrines in this pin are set in a silver-topped gold setting very characteristic of the Victorian Era.
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora. An international agreement to ensure that trade in wild animal and plant products do not threaten their existence. Any jewelry comprised of endangered animals or plants purchased after 1973 must have a CITES permit.
CLARITY: One of the 4Cs, this is a term used to describe the amount of inclusions inside a stone.
CLOISONNÉ: An enamel technique in which a design is created with thin metal strips the spaces filled in with enamel.
COCKTAIL RING: A term used to describe an oversized ring set with gemstones.
COLOR: One of the 4Cs, this is the amount or lack of color in a diamond.
COLOR CHANGE STONES: Gemstones that display different colors according to changes in lighting.
CORAL: An organic material made of calcium carbonate that comes in a variety of colors, but is best known for white, pink and red hues.
CORUNDUM: Gemstone species of good hardness and durability of which the red variety is ruby and all other colors are sapphire.
COSTUME JEWELRY: Any jewelry not composed of a fine metal or gemstone.
CRYSTAL: A material composed of constituent atoms in a repeating 3-dimensional pattern.
CROWN: The top portion of a faceted gem, which is anything above the girdle.
CUBIC ZIRCONIA: A synthesized material that is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless. CZ is the most gemologically and economically important imitation for diamonds.
CUFF: A wide bangle with an opening to slide over the wrist.
CULTURED PEARL: A pearl that is formed through the process of inserting a nucleus into a mollusk. The mollusk coats the nucleus with nacre, turning it into a pearl.
CULET: The tiny facet that is added to the point of a diamond to prevent chipping.
CURB LINK CHAIN: A chain made up of oval links that are twisted until the links lay flat.
CUSHION CUT: A square cut diamond with rounded edges. It is also referred to as a “pillow” cut because of its shape.
CUT: One of the 4Cs, this term is used to describe the proportions, symmetry and polish and how they affect the overall appearance of a stone.
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DEPTH PERCENTAGE : This is the depth divided by the average width (measured from the girdle) of a stone.
DIADEM: A band in the shape of a half circle, typically adorned with gems, worn on the head.
DIAMOND GRADE: Refers to the make, color and clarity of a diamond. The GIA grading system has 11 grades, ranging from FL – Flawless to I3 – Included
DIFFUSION TREATMENT: The process of applying extreme heat and chemicals to a stone to improve the color.
DISPERSION: When white light splits into spectral colors upon entering a stone. A well proportioned stone shows a high level of dispersion. This is also referred to as “fire”.
DOUBLET: A stone that is assembled by fusing or cementing two materials together. The pieces can be natural or synthetic. This is done to create a stone that resembles a high value stone at a low cost.
DRUSY: A gathering of tiny quartz crystals growing on the surface of a stone.
DWT: The abbreviation for pennyweight, which is a jeweler’s term used for weighing fine metals.
DEMANTOID GARNET: The most popular green variety of garnets. First discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Famous for their horse tail inclusions.
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EDWARDIAN ERA: A stylistic period circa 1901-1920 that coincided with King Edward VII’s reign in England. Edwardian jewelry is typically made of platinum and consists of intricate, lace-like patterns incorporating bows and ribbons, like the pendant pictured here. Also referred to as garland style.
ELECTROPLATING: The process of applying a thin layer of gold to base metal jewelry to give the illusion of pure gold. This is done using electrical currents.
EMERALD: A variety of beryl, known for its green hue. This is considered a precious stone. The most valuable emeralds are those with few inclusions and the rich green color with a trace of blue.
EMERALD CUT: A rectangular step cut stone with cut corners.
ENAMEL: A powdered glass that is fused onto a metal surface by applying extreme heat. Enamel is used to create opaque, glassy colors that could not be replicated with metal and stones.
ENGRAVING: Cutting into metal to create designs or signatures.
ESTATE JEWELRY: Jewelry that is previously owned.
ETCHED FINISH: A metallic surface that is not reflective. This is achieved by either carving into the surface or exposing the metal to chemicals.
ETERNITY BAND: A ring that has stones set continuously around the circle.
EXTINCTION: A dark area in a stone, which is a result of poor proportions.
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FL: The abbreviation for “Flawless” from the diamond clarity grading scale. A flawless diamond would have no imperfections inside or on the outside of the stone under loupe magnification.
FACET: A small, flat, polished surface on a gem.
FANCY DIAMONDS: Diamonds that are a color other than white. These are graded on a separate scale.
FANCY CUT: Generally any cut other than a round brilliant gemstone.
FINENESS: A term used to describe the purity of gold.
FILIGREE: A delicate, open design technique made of fine metal wires.
FLORENTINE FINISH: Engraved perpendicular lines created to add texture to metal.
FLUORESCENCE: Refers to some diamond’s reaction to ultraviolet light and is caused by trace elements. In some cases of strong fluorescence, the diamond can have a hazy look under normal indirect lighting conditions.
FOB: A short chain or ribbon designed to hang from a pocket watch. They often have an ornament or decorative seal attached.
FOILBACK: A thin layer of metal added to the back of a stone to intensify the brilliance or color.
FREEFORM: A stone cut in an unusual shape.
FRENCH JET: Black glass designed to resemble jet.
FRESHWATER PEARL: A pearl produced by a mollusk in freshwater as opposed to salt water. They are typically not uniform in shape and are less valuable than saltwater pearls.
FULL CUT: A round diamond with the standard 58 facets.
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GARNET: A mineral species best known for its deep red and vibrant green varieties.
GEMSTONE: A crystalline rock that can be cut and polished for jewelry.
GEORGIAN JEWELRY: A stylistic period circa 1714-1837 defined by the reigns of George I, II and III of England. The style was symmetrical and elegant, with rose cut and table cut stones mounted over foil. Georgian jewelry is rare, since much of it has been melted or taken apart and reused for more modern designs.
GIA: The Gemological Institute of America was founded in 1931 and is dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology. The educational arm confers the Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) diploma. GIA is known for its gem identification and grading services, and established the “4Cs” method of grading diamonds.
GILT: Gold plated metal.
GIRDLE: Narrow band located between the pavilion and crown of a gemstone.
GYPSY SETTING: A setting in which the metal is carved out and a stone is set into that space, making the stone even with the surface of the metal.
GIRANDOLE: An 18th century design in which three dangling ornaments hang from a larger stone or decorative center.
GOLD: A soft, precious metal known for its yellow color, and commonly described by its purity.Although gold is yellow in its purest form, other popular colors are rose gold and white gold.
GOLD-FILLED [G.F]: Base metal that has had at least .025mm of gold bonded to its surface, making it more durable that Gold Plated metals.
GOLD PLATED: A metal with a thin (.001mm) layer of gold applied to its surface.
GOLD WASHED: A metal with a very thin (less than .175 microns thick) layer of gold applied to its surface by either dipping or burnishing the metal.
GRADUATED: A strand of pearls or a necklace where the largest stone is in the center and they decrease in size going towards the end.
GUARD BAND: A ring worn above another ring to prevent it from sliding.
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HALLMARK: A symbol or number stamped into a metal to denote the fineness and the manufacturer’s mark.
HAMMERED METAL: Metal with indentations created by a jeweler’s hammer. This technique is used to add texture.
HAIR JEWELRY: Lockets holding the hair of loved ones, often braided or woven. These were popular during the Victorian era.
HAUTE JOAILLERIE: Literally translates to ‘high jewelry’. Commonly used by the major jewelry houses to refer to their most expensive collections.
HEAT TREATMENT: The process of heating a stone at a high temperature to enhance the color or clarity. This is a common practice for stones like Sapphires and Aquamarines.
HEART CUT: A fancy cut stone in the shape of a heart.
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I: Abbreviation for Included from the diamond clarity grading scale. Included stones have inclusions that are very easily seen by the naked eye.
IF: Abbreviation for Internally Flawless from the diamond clarity grading scale. An Internally flawless diamond would have no inclusions under a loupe magnification.
INCLUSION: A foreign material trapped inside a gemstone as it is growing.
INFINITY RING: A ring showing the infinity pattern, which resembles a figure eight on its side.
INLAY: A stone or piece of glass that is embedded into a metal, giving the item a flat surface.
INTAGLIO:A gem that has been carved into creating a design.
IRIDESCENT: Rainbow-like colors commonly found in pearls and mother of pearl.
IVORY: A hard, white, opaque substance made up of teeth and tusks from animals such as the elephant, hippopotamus and walrus. Synthetic substitutes for ivory have been developed, and are also now used.
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JADE: A semitransparent (most valuable) to opaque stone typically found in green, white and violet, but available in a wide variety of colors. Technical term is “jadeite”
JASPER: An opaque variety of chalcedony which comes in a variety of colors. This is a catch-all term for chalcedony that does not fall into any other category.
JET: A hard, lightweight lustrous black stone made of fossilized coal often found in mourning jewelry from the Victorian era.
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KARAT: A unit used in measuring the purity of gold.
24k= 99.99% pure gold
18k= 75% pure gold. Is often stamped “750”
14k= 58.3% gold. Is often stamped “585”
10k= 41.7% gold.
KIMBERLEY PROCESS: An international process that is in place to ensure that trade in diamonds does not fund violence. Named for Kimberley, South Africa, where the first meeting took place in May 2000.
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LABRADORITE: A species of the feldspar group that is a gray color and shows metallic-like color shimmers (usually green and blue) from different angles.
LAPIDARY: A person who cuts, carves and polishes stones.
LAPIS LAZULI: A generally opaque stone known for its strong blue color and pyrite crystals.
LARIAT: A long necklace without a clasp. Can be tied, looped or finished with a brooch to secure the cord.
LAVALIER: A necklace with a delicate attached pendant that hangs from the center.
LEVER BACK: A post that goes through a pierced ear and is secured by a hinged lever attached to the back of the earring.
LOBSTER CLASP: A hinged clasp resembling the claw of a lobster.
LOCKET: A pendant made of two hinged pieces designed to hold photos.
LOUPE: A magnification device that jewelers use to examine stones and settings.
LUCITE: A clear plastic that can be molded or carved into jewelry.
LUSTER: The way light reflects off of the surface of a mineral.
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MABE PEARL: A dome-shaped pearl that is grown in the inner shell of the mollusk.
MALACHITE: An opaque semi-precious stone with layers of deep green and light green.
MALTESE CROSS: A cross with eight points that looks like four arrowheads joined at their tips. The eight points symbolize the eight obligations, or vows, of the Knights of Malta.
MARCASITE: A shiny, metallic semi-precious stone. It is actually iron pyrite.
MARQUISE CUT: A stone cut in an oval shape, with pointed ends.
MASTER STONES: A set of color comparison diamonds that defines diamond color grades in the normal (D-to-Z) range.
MATINEE LENGTH: A necklace that is 20-24 inches long.
MATTE: Jewelry that does not have a high-polished finish.
MELEE: Refers to a diamond under .20 carats.
MILLEGRAIN: 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.
MOONSTONE: A member of the feldspar mineral family. This stone usually has a shimmer, which is called adularescence, and is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar.
MOUNTING: A piece of metal that holds a gem in place.
MOURNING JEWELRY: A type of jewelry that commemorates the dead or is worn when one is mourning the loss of a loved one. This is most common in Victorian jewelry, as Queen Victoria spent the majority of her life mourning her husband.
MOTHER OF PEARL: The iridescent coating on the inside of oyster shells.
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NACRE: A typically 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.
NAVETTE: Another name for a marquise cut gemstone.
NICKEL SILVER: An alloy consisting of mostly copper (roughly 60 percent), approximately 20 percent nickel, 20 percent zinc, and sometimes up to 5 percent tin. This alloy was invented around 1860 in Germany as a silver substitute.
NIELLO: An ancient technique in which an engraved design in metal is filled with powdered niello alloy (a black/dark gray metal alloy composed of silver, copper, lead, and sulphur). The alloy is melted and it fuses with the underlying metal. The object is then polished—the result is an enamel-like effect.
NOBLE METALS: Metals that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation, unlike most base metals. The noble metals are gold, silver and the platinum group (platinum, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium).
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OILING: The process of applying mineral oil to a stone in order to enhance it and mask inclusions. Emeralds are frequently oiled to mask their many inclusions.
OLD EUROPEAN CUT: The cut that predates the standard “Round brilliant” diamond. This cut typically has a small table and a high crown.
OLD MINE CUT: Created in the seventeenth century, this cut was a predecessor of the Old European cut and the Round Brilliant Cut. Old Mine Cut diamonds pre-date modern advances in cutting, so are often less brilliant and can have poor symmetry.
OMEGA BACK: A type of earring back with a hinge that flips over a post to provide additional security. These are also found in clip-on earrings.
ONYX: A variety of chalcedony that is very dark brown or black in color.
OPAL: A luminous stone that comes in a variety of colors. Opals are known for their “Play of Color”, which is a term used to describe the flashes of color inside the stone.
OVAL CUT: A stone that is cut in a brilliant style, but in the shape of an oval.
OPERA LENGTH:A necklace that is 30-35 inches long.
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PATINA: The change in color of an object’s surface layer that results from aging. Exposure to the air for an extended period of time oxidizes many metals, turning copper and bronze green, and gold reddish.
PARURE: “Personal adornment” in French, means a matching set of jewelry, usually containing a necklace, earrings, brooch and a bracelet.
PASTE JEWELRY: Glass that is cut and faceted to imitate gemstones.
PAVÉ: A setting in which small stones are set close together using small beadlike metal pieces to hold them in place.
PAVILION: The bottom portion of a cut stone, beginning at the girdle and and ending at the pointed end.
PEAR SHAPE: A brilliant cut stone, but with one rounded end and one pointed end.
PENDANT: An ornamental piece of jewelry meant to be worn on a piece of cord or chain as a necklace.
PERIOD JEWELRY:Any jewelry that exemplifies the style of a certain historic period. Some of the more popular periods are Victorian (1837-1901), Art Nouveau (1890-1919), Edwardian (1901-1920) and Art Deco (1918-1938).
PETRIFIED WOOD: Is wood that has fossilized—all the original chemicals in the wood have been replaced with minerals, making a stone-like replica of the original wood.
PHENOMENAL GEMSTONE: A gemstone exhibiting an optical phenomenon, such as asterism, chatoyancy, play of color or color change.
PLATINUM: A very strong, dense precious metal with a white color. Platinum jewelry is usually 90%-95% pure, is very sturdy, and holds stones well; to strengthen the metal and increase the workability of the platinum, it is usually alloyed with 5 to 10 percent of another platinum group metal (like ruthenium, palladium, or iridium) and/or cobalt. Platinum is 60% heavier than gold.
PLIQUE À JOUR: An enamel technique that is similar to stained glass. In plique à jour, the enamel work is translucent (light shows through it) since the backing of the enamel is absent.
PRECIOUS METALS: Rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical elements that have a high economic value. The most commonly used precious metals in jewelry are gold, platinum and silver.
PRECIOUS STONES: Considered the most valuable group of stones. This group consists of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
PRINCESS CUT: A multi-faceted square brilliant cut.
PRINCESS LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, which measures approximately 18 inches.
PRONGS: Tiny metal claw that securely hold set stones.
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QUARTZ: A crystalline mineral that come in many forms, including amethyst, citrine, rock crystal, and rose quartz.
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RADIANT CUT: A brilliant square cut stone with cut corners.
RENAISSANCE REVIVAL: A stylistic period circa the mid-1800’s; The lack of availability of pieces found in the artwork of the Renaissance era (1450-1600) led jewelers to this trend of reproductions.
RETRO: A stylistic period in the 1940’s that conforms to certain aesthetic guidelines. Retro jewelry is typically made with large semi-precious stones set in rose gold with ruby accents and consists of stylized curved lines.
RETICULATION: The process of creating a textured surface with ridges, ripples and valleys.
RHINESTONE: Glass cut to resemble a gem with a foil backing to reflect the light. Rhinestones are a staple of costume jewelry.
RHODIUM : A member of the platinum group of metals, rhodium is often used to give a platinum-type finish and durability to silver or gold.
ROPE CHAIN: Two twisted metal chains are looped together to create a chain that resembles a length of rope.
ROPE LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, which measures approximately 40 inches.
ROSE CUT: A stone cut which features a flat base and raised triangular facets. This cut has been in use since the 16th century.
ROSE GOLD: A gold alloy that is made by combining yellow gold with copper to achieve a rosy pink hue.
ROUND BRILLIANT CUT: A round cut stone with typically 58 total facets. This is the traditional cut for diamond solitaire pendants and rings.
RUBY: A variety of corundum that ranges in color from orangey red to purplish red, but the dominant color must be red.
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SI: Abbreviation for “Slightly Included” from the diamond clarity grading scale. Slightly Included stones have inclusions visible to the naked eye.
SAPPHIRE: A variety of corundum that comes in a wide variety of colors, but the most common color is blue.
SARDONYX: A variety of chalcedony that has parallel bands of sard or carnelian alternating with black or white bands.
SATIN FINISH: A matte or dull finish to a metal, usually achieved by sanding or brushing the jewelry.
SAUTOIR: A long necklace (longer than opera-length), often with an ornament at the end.
SEED PEARL: A tiny, round pearl that is less than 2 mm in diameter and weighs under 1/4 grain.
SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES: Any stone that is not a diamond, ruby, sapphire or emerald.
SETTING: The part of a piece of jewelry that holds the stone.
SHANK: The portion of a ring that wraps around your finger, upon which the gemstones are set.
SILVER: A soft white precious metal that is extremely ductile and malleable. Silver is commonly used in jewelry, coins and tableware, and is one of the noble metals.
SNAKE CHAIN: Round, wavy metal links are lined up side by side to create a jewelry chain that resembles a serpent.
SOLITAIRE: A single gemstone mounted in a simple setting.
SPINEL: A gemstone that comes in oranges, pinks, blues, lavenders, mauves and vivid reds; often confused with ruby. The most famous spinel is set in the Crown Jewels of Great Britain, and was mistaken for a ruby for centuries.
STEP CUT :This cut is composed of rectangular and trapezoidal shaped facets. The most common step cut is an emerald cut.
STERLING SILVER: An alloy of 92.5% pure silver with other metals for strength and rigidity. The remaining 7.5% of the alloy is usually comprised of copper or nickel. Sterling silver jewelry is stamped “.925″ to indicate the purity of the metal. Sterling silver is harder than pure silver, and has a lower melting point.
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TABLE: Large facet at the center of the crown of a gemstone.
TALISMAN: An amulet or other object considered to possess supernatural or magical powers.
TANZANITE: A popular gemstone that ranges in color from purple to violet-blue, and is mined only in Tanzania. This tanzanite ring is set with platinum and diamonds.
TAXCO: A town in the State of Guerrero in Mexico, that is famous for its silver jewelry production.
TENNIS BRACELET: A thin, symmetrical bracelet which traditionally features one or more rows of diamonds.
TENSION SET: A method of stone setting in which stones are held in place using the tension formed when they are tightly wedged between two or more bands of metal.
TIFFANY SETTING: A solitaire stone with a six prong setting, introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886 to lift the diamond above the band and maximize its brilliance.
TOGGLE: A necklace or bracelet closure that features a metal bar that fits sideways into a metal circle.
TOPAZ: A gemstone that usually comes in warm browns and oranges. More rare examples come in pink and red.
TORSADE: A necklace that is made with many strands (usually of beads) that are twisted together.
TORTOISE SHELL: In antique jewelry, this refers to jewelry made from the inner shell of the Hawksbill turtle. Today this refers to plastic or any synthetic material that is made to look like the shell of a tortoise.
TOTAL CARAT WEIGHT (TCW): The sum of the carat weights for all of the individual stones in a piece of jewelry.
TOURMALINE: A variety of gemstone that comes in a wide range of colors, and often combines colors in a single gemstone called “bi-color” or “parti-colored” tourmaline.
TRILLION CUT: A brilliant cut stone that is triangular in shape.
TRIPLET: A manufactured stone that is made by sandwiching three thin layers of stones together.
TURQUOISE: An opaque bluish-green stone that has been mined since 3,200 BC.
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UVAROVITE: A rare garnet, bright green in color, usually found as small crystals.
ULTRAVIOLET : Upper end of the light spectrum and invisible to the human eye. Ultraviolet light shows fluorescence in gemstones.
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VS: Abbreviation for Very Slightly Included from the diamond grading scale. A Very Slightly included stone would have small inclusions which are slightly difficult to difficult to see under a loupe.
VVS: Abbreviation for Very Very Slightly Included from the diamond clarity grading scale. A Very Very Slightly Included Stone would have very small inclusions which would be very difficult to see under a loupe.
VERMEIL: Gold plated silver.
VICTORIAN ERA: Victorian. A stylistic period circa 1837-1901, that coincided with Queen Victoria’s reign in England. The Victorian period introduced the mass-production of jewelry.
VINTAGE JEWELRY: Previously-owned jewelry originating from a past era.
VITREAOUS: A term meaning “glass-like” that is used to describe a gem’s luster.
VULCANITE: Hard, moldable, polished dark colored early rubber that ranges in color from brown to black.
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WATERMELON TOURMALINE: A natural bicolored tourmaline with a red center which changes to green towards the edges.
WHITE GOLD: Gold that has been alloyed with a mix of nickel, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese (and sometimes palladium) to give it a white color.
- Y -
YAG: Stands for synthetic yttrium aluminum garnet. Often used as a diamond substitute.
YELLOW GOLD: The natural color of pure gold. Anything under 24-karat gold has been alloyed with a mix of copper, silver and zinc to make it stronger and able to be worked into jewelry.
- Z -
ZIRCON: A lustrous gemstone that comes in colors ranging from golden brown to red to violet to blue.
ZOISITE (ALSO SPELLED XOISITE): The technical term for Tanzanite.