A Helpful Glossary of Jewellery Terms

A Helpful Glossary of Jewellery Terms

Need a bit of clarification?

Here's a list of terminology that we commonly use in our product descriptions.

Amulet - An amulet is a pendant or charm worn in the hope of protecting the wearer from evil or illness or to bring the wearer good luck. 

Art Deco - An artistic style from 1925-1939 and is synonymous with 'The Jazz Age.' The Art Deco style was characterized by angular geometric shapes and bold colors, such as small emeralds, rubies and sapphires. During this time, artists embraced a new freedom and attitude with fresh designs that were as forward-looking as people were feeling.

Art Nouveau - An artistic style from 1895 until World War I. Art Nouveau style was characterized by curves and naturalistic designs through flowing, naturalistic shapes inspired by the female form and botanicals.

Amethyst  (February birthstone) - Amethyst is the color of deep purple, but can be found in shades of light lavender, violet, and lilac. The stone has been used by cultures for centuries, most notably by the Greeks and people of Central and South America. Amethyst is a form of quartz and is connected to symbols of protection, health, purification, and inspiration.

Aquamarine (March birthstone) - Aquamarine (means sea water in Latin) and is characterized by delicate tones of blue. Valued through the ages as a sailor's charm, it has also been connected to symbols of clarity, self-expression, and tolerance.

Bail - A component usually used to hang pendants or charms from a necklace. It can be as simple as a jump ring made of wire or a more complex and detailed design.

Bezel - A type of gemstone setting which can be used with faceted gemstones. For a bezel setting a thin rim of metal is folded over the edge of the gemstone to hold it in place.

Brass - Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc which has a nice yellow color. We use brass in decorative applications in some of our two-toned pieces like our Serpent Signet Ring.

Brushed - A type of finish which gives a matte, satin-like appearance through brush-like marks on the surface of the metal. It can be thought of as ‘unpolished,’ however, the technique is used intentionally to give a desired look. This type of finish is appealing because it helps hide wear and scratching. Our Bona Fide collection offers many pieces with a brushed finish.

Blue Topaz - Blue Topaz is a naturally occurring colour of topaz which ranges from the faintest azure to darkest navy. It has been thought to possess mystical powers which could protect, heal, or enlighten the wearer. 

Cabochon - Cabochon is a stone with a smooth rounded surface, rather than with facets.

Carat - Carat is abbreviated "ct." and spelled with a "c" is a measure of weight used for gemstones. The relationship of weight and size is different for each family of stones.

Cameo - Cameo is a style of carving in which the design motif is left and the surrounding surface is cut away leaving the design in relief. Often made of shell, hard stone, glass, and more recently plastics.

Cast - Casting is a manufacturing process by which a liquid material is usually poured into a mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. 

Charm - A charm is a decorative pendant or trinket that can be hung from a necklace, earring, or bracelet. Charms often have a sentimental or meaning that is personal to the wearer.

Choker - A type of necklace which sits close against the base of the neck. It is usually 40cm (16.5”) long. 

Claw Setting - A claw setting is one in which a series of metal prongs (called claws) holds a stone securely in a setting. The claws grips the stone just above the girdle of the stone with no metal directly under the stone. It’s an open setting.

Citrine (November birthstone) - Citrine reflects nature’s sweetest and sunniest shades. Its tones capture every color of the sun, from the soft, pale sunrise, to a midday gleam, to a fiery sunset. The gem’s name comes from the French citron, meaning lemon, and the stone certainly captures this citrusy flavor. As sweet and lovely as honey, citrine has been prized as a healing stone which evokes joy and jubilation.

Cultured Pearl - Cultured pearls are grown under controlled conditions with the help of humans. They can be either freshwater or saltwater. 

Diamond (April birthstone) - Diamonds are the most famous and desirable jewels. The value of a diamond is based on the Four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat. Diamonds come in almost every color, including blue, yellow, salt and pepper, and even black. This range of colors is due to the chemical composition of the stones. 

Edwardian Era - The Edwardian period during the reign of Edward VII of England from 1901 – 1910. Jewelry was characterized by delicate filigree and stark monochromatic colours of diamonds, pearls, and platinum. Dramatic tiara and crown shapes were decorated with delicate bows, swags, and garland effects which mirrored the era's fascination with luxury.

Engraving - Engraving is the practice of cutting a design into a hard, usually flat surface, by making grooves into it. Using specialized graver's tools, decorative embellishments or simple initials can be incised into metal.

Enamel - Enamel is produced by fusing colored powdered glass to metal to produce a vitreous or glass - like, decorative surface. Translucent enamel with fancy engraving on the metal underneath was popular during the Victorian era.

Emerald (May birthstone) - Emeralds are famous for their green colour and can be found in soothing lighter shades and dramatic darker ones. From Cleopatra’s jewels, to the halls of Incan palaces, emeralds have held a place in history. They represent life, joy, wisdom, and even love, for the Romans dedicated the stone to the goddess Venus. According to ancient medicine, the stone could provide clarity of thought or even reveal a lover’s fidelity.  

Faceted - A Faceted cut has many facets or planes. Gemstones commonly have facets cut into them in order to improve their appearance by allowing them to reflect light.

Filigree - Filigree is a highly ornamental type of jewellery making where precious metal wire is twisted to form delicate tracework patterns. Indonesia has a long tradition of filigree craft which we draw from in our designs.

Freshwater Pearl - Freshwater pearls are cultivated in molluscs which live in freshwater rather than oysters which live in saltwater. These pearls can be created in a wide array of shapes and are less expensive than saltwater pearls. 

Gemstones - Gemstones or gem (also called a fine gem, jewel, or a precious or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments.

Green Amethyst - Green Amethyst is a relatively rare stone. Ranging from the palest sea foam to the boldest hunter green, it reflects some of nature’s most beautiful hues. Like all amethyst, it is breathtaking and eye-catching.

Garnet (January birthstone) - The name garnet comes from the Greek granatum, meaning seed, as the stones are reminiscent of the pomegranate seeds. While the fruit has fallen out of fashion as a token of devotion, the stone has remained a popular symbol of love. Garnets are traditional gifts for departing lovers, ensuring a safe return.

Gold - Gold is the most prized of all metals. It has been a symbol of power and divinity throughout history.  The value of gold is measured in karats. A karat is 1/24 part by weight; 24 karat gold is completely pure. As gold is a very soft metal, most gold used in jewelry is less than 24 karats. The color of gold can be changed based on the metals with which it is alloyed. Gold 

Gold Filled - A technique of finishing wherein a sheet of gold is mechanically applied to the surface. 

Gold Plated - Gold plating is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal by chemical or electrochemical plating. We use 18k gold plating over sterling silver to achieve a rich golden colour without the cost of solid gold. Gold plating does wear over time and is affected by body chemistry and environment. Read more about caring for your gold plated pieces.

Hallmark - Hallmark is an official mark made in metal that indicates the fineness of the metal and the manufacturer's mark. For example, a hallmark of 925 indicates 925 parts of gold per 1000 weight. Other hallmarks indicate the maker of the piece and sometimes the year of manufacture.

Herkimer - Herkimer diamonds are double-terminated quartz found in Herkimer County of New York State. They are clear, lustrous, doubly terminated crystals of quartz, but they are not true diamonds.

Intaglio - Intaglio is a design carved down into a gemstone. Classic designs include portraits and animals in signet and seal rings.

Jump Ring - Jump rings are small wire rings, not soldered shut, used to link elements of jewelry.  

Karat - Karat (abbreviated K) is a measure of the fineness of gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold. 18 karat gold is 18/24 gold (about 75% gold). 14 karat gold is 14/24 gold (about 58% gold). 12 karat gold is exactly 50% gold. 10 karat gold is 10/24 gold (only about 43.5% gold).

Lobster Clasp -  A sturdy type of clasp which has a lobster claw shape and features a tiny spring inside for its operation.

Locket - A type of pendant which has separate front and back pieces and which opens to reveal a space between the two. Traditionally the space has been used for storing a photograph or other small item such as a curl of hair, meaning these pieces of jewellery have had a high sentimental value.

Marquise - Marquise is an oval shape which is pointed at both ends. Marquise-cut stones are oval shaped, pointed at both ends, with rounded sides.

Mourning Jewelry - Throughout history, people have memorialized their lost loved ones by wearing mourning jewelry. Influenced by classical architecture, this style uses symbols such as funerary urns, serpents, skulls, cherubs, and weeping women dressed in ancient Roman-style costume.

Opal (October birthstone) - Opal's name comes from the Greek opallios, or “color change,” and the Sanskrit upala, or precious stone. The Romans considered it a queen of gems and in the Middle Ages, opals were believed to promote good eyesight and help prevent blonde hair from losing its color. The opal’s ability to reflect every color of the rainbow comes from its structure, which is composed of many small spheres of silica gel. Opals range in shades from dark black to brilliant white.

Pearl (June birthstone) - Pearls are very unique and known as the Queen of Gems. As some of the world’s rarest objects, pearls form in only one of every ten thousand mollusks capable of forming the gem. Due to their natural formation, various shapes and colours occur. Names include button, seed, round, rice, and drop pearls. Many cultures considered pearls to be pieces of the divine which symbolize purity and natural perfection.

Peridot (August birthstone) - Peridot is a yellow-green semi-precious stone with an oily luster and has been valued for centuries. From Cleopatra, who adorned her exquisite jewelry with the stone, to adventurous pirates, who believed the gem could protect their golden hordes.

Quartz - Quartz is one of the most common and varied minerals on earth, and its abundant colors produce many gemstone types. Amethyst and Citrine are the most popular and valuable gem varieties of Quartz, but other forms also make important gemstones.

Rose Cut - A variation of a cabochon gemstone cut which has a flat bottom and a dome-shaped top. Unlike a regular cabochon, the top of a rose cut gem has a number of facets on it (anywhere from 3 to 24).

Rose Gold - Rose gold is created with an alloy of gold and copper, with the copper content providing the altered colour to yellow gold. Rose gold is also known as pink gold and red gold, but the different names usually relate to the amount of copper used: the higher the copper content, the stronger the red colouration.

Ruby (July Birthstone) - Ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, and is considered one of the four precious stones, together with sapphire, emerald and diamond. Ruby is connected with symbols of nobility, purity, and passion.

Sapphire (September birthstone) - Although blue is their most well-known Sapphire color, sapphires may also be colorless and they are found in many colors including shades of gray and black. Sapphires are said to represent royalty, prophecy, and divine favor as well as hope and faith.

Satin Finish - A finish between a matte finish and a brilliant one. Satin finished rings are smooth to the touch like polished finish rings. This type of finish is best for those who like the smoothness of a polished finish ring, but do not want the shininess of that finish.

Signet Ring - Signet Rings are usually flat surfaced rings with an image or initials engraved on top. They are used as a means of identification and symbolically connect a person to an idea, organization, or to another individual. We love making signet rings because they offer endless possibilities in terms of meaning and storytelling. Our Future In My Hands Signet Ring and our Love Conquers All Signet Ring are among the most popular. 

Silver - A soft, white and lustrous precious metal which is found in nature. It has the highest reflectivity of any metal and is frequently used to make high value jewellery and other decorative items. Especially when making jewellery it’s usually alloyed with copper to make it stronger (sterling silver).

Stacker Ring - Stacking rings can be stacked together on one finger in multiple combinations. If a stacking ring has a gemstone setting, it will either be set flush into the band or it will sit on top of the band, allowing other stacking rings to sit under the sides of the setting. We often use a curved design in our stackers so they can wrap around a stone or round signet.

Sterling Silver - Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. We only use 925 Sterling Silver in our work.

Stud Earrings - Stud earrings or post earrings are made for pierced ears. They are constructed with a metal post which is placed through the piercing and secured in place on the back of the ear. Stud earrings are usually fairly small with the main feature sitting directly on the post. Post earrings are secured to the ear in the same way, but may have a feature dropped or dangling from them.

Spinel - Spinel is a semi-precious stone that ranges in color from red to black to yellow, frequently resembling rubies. Spinel is connected to symbols of great passion, devotion, and longevity.

Tarnish or Oxidisation - This is a reaction that happens to the surface of some metals (including sterling silver) which will cause it to look dull, darker and possibly even stained. It’s most commonly caused by a reaction with oxygen and is exacerbated by moisture. But don’t panic: it can be removed easily enough with a polishing cloth. Read more about how to care for your jewellery.

Translucent - Translucent materials allow light to pass through them, but the light is diffused (scattered). Some translucent stones include moonstones, opals, and carnelian.

Transparent - Transparent materials allow light to pass through them without scattering the light. Some translucent stones include diamond, zircon, emerald, rock crystal, and ruby.

Tanzanite - (December birthstone) - Tanzanite resembles lightning in both its blue-violet color and incredible intensity. Tanzanite is commonly believed to facilitate a higher consciousness and stimulate intuition and perception 

Turquoise - (December birthstone) - Turquoise is recognizable by its unmistakable colour that can range from sky blue to yellowish green. From Egypt to MesoAmerica to the Renaissance, the stone has been associated with many qualities including,  femininity, calm, sophistication, wisdom, serenity, creativity, emotional balance, good luck, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, intuition, and loyalty.

Tourmaline - Tourmaline is a gemstone that comes in many colors. A legend says that, as the stone ascended to earth, it passed through a rainbow that formed its vibrant hues. Tourmaline has been said to be a stone of reconciliation that fosters compassion, cool headedness, healing and friendship. 

Vermeil - Vermeil is gold-plated silver. All our pieces can be considered gold vermeil, however, we use the term plated as it is more commonplace.

Victorian Era - Victorian is the designation given to the period from approximately 1837 when Victoria became Queen of England until 1901 when she died. Victorian designs are often decorative and sentimental, with motifs of hearts, serpents, flowers, birds, etc. 

White Gold -  White Gold is gold that has been alloyed with a mix of nickel, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese (and sometimes palladium) to give it a warm, grey-white finish. White gold jewelry is sometimes plated with rhodium to give it a lustrous shine.


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