Glossary of Jewelry

  • Alloy - A compound comprising two or more metals. In jewelry, precious metal is usually alloyed to make it more durable or harder. Platinum used in jewelry is usually 95% pure with the remaining 5% made up of iridium, palladium, ruthenium or cobalt.
  • Beveled - A surface that has been cut at an angle of less than 90 degrees.
  • Bezel set - A setting where the gemstone has been set within a metal encasement surrounding the stone.
  • Burnish setting - When the gemstone is held in place without the use of prongs or beads and is set flush with the surface of the setting.
  • Carat - A measure of weight used for gemstones. Not to be confused with "karat", which is a measure of gold alloy purity. Often abbreviated as “ct.” one carat is equal to 200 milligrams (one fifth of a gram). Gemstones are measured to the nearest hundredth carat (known as a "point"). For example, a 0.25 carat stone would be said to have 25 points. A carat is one of the "4 Cs" of diamond grading, the others being clarity, cut, and color.
  • Cartier, Louis - Grandson of Louis Francois Cartier, the founder of the House of Cartier in Paris-which fast became one of the world’s leading jewelry firms. Louis was responsible for popularizing the use of platinum in jewelry during the early 1900s. Famous for his garland designs during the Edwardian period, Louis Cartier also was influential during the Art Deco period, as well as the designer responsible for inventing the first wristwatch.
  • Centre stone - The prominent precious gemstone which is central to a ring setting.
  • Clarity - One of the "4 Cs" of diamond grading (the other three being cut, color, and carat), clarity refers to the perfection of a gemstone’s crystalline structure. When grading diamonds, the rating scale ranges from I (where visible imperfections – or "inclusions" – can be seen by the naked eye) to FL (meaning "flawless").
  • SI - The grade diamonds are frequently found in jewelry, especially in multi-stone diamond earring, rings, pendants, and bracelets. The grade signifies that inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye but can be seen under 10x magnification.
  • VS (clarity) - The VS clarity diamonds are of superior quality and frequently used in fine jewelry. The grade signifies that minor inclusions are difficult to see, even under 10x magnification.
  • VVS - Classified VVS diamonds are used in high-end jewelry. Diamonds have internal features with very small and hardly visible to the trained eye under 10x magnification lens.
  • Conquistador - Usually used in reference to 16th century Spanish soldiers who conquered the civilizations of Mexico, Central America, and Peru.
  • Colour - When grading diamonds “color” refers to the absence of color in a diamond. The rating scale begins at D (meaning colorless) and ends at Z (meaning having a lot of color). Though some color can be seen when a G diamond is graded, it appears colorless when mounted, thus it is commonly used in fine jewelry. Color is one of the "4 Cs" of diamond grading, the others being clarity, cut and carat.
  • Eternity Band (Ring) - Traditionally, this term refers to a millenniums-old ring design wherein the band has been set with a continuous row of gemstones. Today it is most frequently given to mark an anniversary or the birth of a child, though many have begun exchanging the rings as bridal bands.
  • Fabergé, Carl - The legendary jeweler to the Tsars, this talented Russian became most famous for his world-renowned jeweled eggs. Numbering 56 in total, of which 44 remain, these prized enameled eggs were created as Easter gifts for the Russian court beginning in 1884, each one containing a precious suprise. Fabergé creations are famous for their meticulous craftsmanship and mind-boggling detail.
  • Facet - The polished surface/plane on a diamond or gemstone.
  • Filigree - A delicate metal openwork wherein fine wire is bent into spiral, vine-like, shapes and soldered into the gallery of the piece.
  • Finish - The texture or polish on any piece of jewelry.
  • Gemstone - Any crystallized mineral structure (natural or synthetic) used in jewelry making. This includes all precious and semi-precious stones but excludes all types of plastics and glass.
  • Garland Style - Popular during the Edwardian era, this style (which includes bows, swags, and tassels) was made famous by the house of Cartier who set the delicate design in platinum.
  • Hypoallergenic - Hypoallergenic metals reduce the possibility of an allergic response by minimizing potentially irritating substances. Platinum is hypoallergenic.
  • Inclusion - A naturally occurring flaw within a diamond or gemstone.
  • Iridium - One of the platinum family of metals. It is often alloyed with platinum to increase workability.
  • Janety, Marc Etienne - The royal jeweler of King Louis XVI, Janety was commissioned to create several platinum pieces for the French monarch. The only piece known to remain is a glass-lined platinum sugar bowl dated 1786 which now finds its home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Janety fled Paris during the French revolution only to be recalled in 1795 to fashion from platinum the standard lengths and weights for the newly established metric system.
  • Karat - Abbreviated with the letter “K”, karat refers to the purity of gold, which is often alloyed with silver, nickel, copper or other metals to improve its workability and make the soft metal more durable.
  • King Louis XVI (1754-1793) - Reigned over France from 1774-1792. Married to the Archduchess of Austria Marie Antoinette, he sent forces to assist the American colonies during the revolutionary war. Is quoted famously as stating that platinum was the only precious metal fit for kings.
  • Luster - Refers to the brightness a piece of jewelry.
  • Matte Finish - A textured finish produced by brushing the metal surface to produce tiny parallel lines. Today it is popularly used in platinum jewelry, and sometimes referred to as satin finish.
  • Micro-set - A setting that involves even smaller gemstones and techniques than pavé set.
  • Milgrain - The raised beaded edge of a piece of jewelry created with a knurling tool. The effect resembles antique embroidery.
  • Mounting - The metal frame or housing in which gemstones are set.
  • Oxidize - The process wherein a metal mixes with oxygen and becomes rusted. Platinum and gold do not oxidize. Impurities in any alloys containing gold or platinum may oxidize but the actual metals do not.
  • Palladium - Part of the platinum group of metals, palladium has a silvery white color but is less rare and therefore less treasured than platinum.
  • Pavé - From the French, literally meaning “paved,” occurs when gemstones are set very close together to resemble a paved cobblestone road.
  • Pavé set - A time-consuming style of setting produced by drilling tapered holes in a metal base to seat the gemstones, then securing them with tiny beads formed from the surrounding metal. In current usage it has often come to mean any type of bead setting.
  • Platinumsmith - A metalworker who works in platinum when it is hot and malleable.
  • Precious metal - This metal group is generally defined as referring to platinum, gold, and silver, which are valued for their rarity, color, and malleability.
  • Rarity - This relates not only to the scarcity of a given metal, but to the demand for it in uses other than jewelry. For example, while supplies of both platinum and palladium are very limited, platinum is utilized in far more ways than palladium. Medical and industrial interests also compete for this already scarce metal. Greater demand on a smaller supply makes platinum more highly prized.
  • Sapphire - This extremely hard gemstone is from the Corundum class of minerals. It is one of the four precious gemstones, the other three being diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Available in a multitude of eye-catching colors, ruby, emerald, sapphires of blue and pink hues are the most popular kind used today.
  • Satin Finish - A textured finish produced by brushing the metal surface to produce tiny parallel lines. Today it is popularly used in platinum jewelry, and is sometimes referred to as matte finish.
  • Tiffany, L.C. - The son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who founded the legendary jewelry firm which bears his name, designer Louis Comfort Tiffany was an early exponent of the Art Nouveau movement and later moved on to become famous for his Favrile iridescent glassware.
  • Vintage - A classic style, characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal.
  • White Gold - Created by alloying yellow gold with palladium, nickel, zinc, and/or silver, white gold is often selected as a less expensive alternative to platinum. It is often plated with rhodium (a member of the platinum family of metals) to give a platinum like sheen.


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