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Jewelry Glossary


Alloy - A combination of two or more metals focused on making the metal harder, more durable, or a means to alter its color.

Articulated - Jewelry equipped with hinges that provide movement and flexibility.

Artisan - A highly-skilled craftsman who displays a great effort in manual dexterity.


Base metal - A term used to describe any non-precious metal.

Beveled - A surface that has been cut at an angle no less than 90 degrees.

Bezel set - A setting where the gemstone has been entrenched within a metal encasement surrounding the stone.

Burnish setting - When a gemstone is held in place, without extensive use of prongs or beads, and is mounted flush with the setting's surface.


Carat - A measure of weight used for gemstones. Not to be confused with "karat", the common termof a measure of gold alloy purity. Abbreviated as "ct." one carat is equal to 200 milligrams or one fifth of a gram. Gemstones are commonly measured to the nearest hundredth carat. For example, a .25 carat stone would be said to have twenty five points. A carat is one of the 4 Cs of diamond grading. The others being Clarity, Cut, and Color.

Center stone - The prominent precious gemstone that is the central focus of a ring.

Chandelier Earring - An earring showcasing a series of suspended forms that dangle like a chandelier.

Clarity - One of the four 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").

Couture - Highly sought after clothing and jewelry created by leading fashion designers.


Diamond melee - Small diamonds that are full cuts containing all 58 facets and are frequently used in fine jewelry as an accent to a focal stone. The term melee itself refers to the diamond's weight, which is less than 1/5 of a carat.

Drop Earring - Commonly referred to as a "dangle earring", this design includes any earring which hangs below the earlobe.


Estate Jewelry - By definition this term simply means "previously owned," although many confuse the term as interchangeable with antique jewelry.

Eternity Band (Ring) - Traditionally refers to a millennium sage design wherein the band has been set with a continuous row of gemstones. Today it is most frequently symbolizes an anniversary or the birth of a child, though the style has recently been trended with wedding bands


Facet - The polished surface, or plane, on a diamond or gemstone.

Filigree - A delicate metal framework wherein fine wire is bent into spiral, vine-like, shape and soldered into the gallery of the piece.

Finish - The texture or polish on any piece of jewelry.

Freshwater Pearls - Grown in the United States and worldwide, freshwater pearls are born from several different mollusks and commonly display an uneven surface or irregular shape. These pearls come in a variety of colors, including rose, lavender, and violet.


G (in color) - Grading a diamond’s "color" refers to the absence of color within a diamond. The rating scale begins at D (meaning colorless) and ends at Z (meaning having a lot of color).

Gold - The most malleable of all metals, gold by itself is too soft to be used in its natural state to be used in fine jewelry and is commonly alloyed with copper, nickel, or other metals. Unlike silver it does not oxidize or tarnish.

Gemstone - Any crystallized mineral structure (natural or synthetic) used in jewelry making including all precious and semiprecious stones but excludes all types of plastics and glass.


Heirloom - A valued possession passed down among family members through generations.

H-I (in color) - 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 an H-I diamond is graded, it appears colorless when mounted, thus it is commonly used in fine jewelry.


Icon - An important and enduring symbol, often holding a specific religious meaning.

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.


Karat - Abbreviated with the letter "K", karat refers to the purity of gold and is often alloyed with silver, nickel, copper or other metals to improve workability. The marks commonly refer to the following:

24K = 100% pure gold

18K =18 parts gold and 6 parts alloyed metal(s) or 75% pure gold

14K = 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloyed metal(s) or 58.5% pure gold


Lever back - A classic design wherein the earring is attached to a pierced ear by means of a hinged lever that bends and latches behind the ear.

Luster - Refers to the brightness that a piece of jewelry reflects.


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 incorporates smaller gemstones and techniques than a pavé set.

Milgrain (also spelled millgrain) - The raised beaded edge of a piece of jewelry created with a knurling tool. This effect resembles antique embroidery

Mounting - The metal frame or housing in which gemstones are set.


Nickel – Hard and resistant to corrosion, this white metal is malleable and often mixed with precious metals such as gold and silver.


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 themselves do not.


Pavé - From the French, literally meaning "paved," occurs when gemstones are set closely together to resemble a 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.

Pendant - Any article or ornament suspended from a chain or necklace worn around the neck.

Platinum smith - A metalworker who works in platinum when it is hot and malleable.

Precious metal - A metal group generally referring to platinum, gold, and silver, which are valued for their rarity, color, and malleability.


Ring size - The measurement of how large a ring needs to be to fit securely on a person's finger.


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 spectrum of eye-catching colors, sapphires of blue and pink hues are the most popular type used today.

Satin Finish - A textured finish produced by brushing the metal surface to create a series of tiny parallel lines. Today it is popularly used in platinum jewelry, and is sometimes to as matte finish.

SI (clarity) - SI 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 viewed under10x magnification.


Ultrasonic Cleaner - A machine that cleans jewelry by means of vibrating a solution at an ultra-high frequency. The process is capable of cleaning the tiny cavities within a jewelry piece without scratching the surface but can damage soft or brittle gems.


Vintage - A classic, characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal.

VS (clarity) - 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.


Yellow Gold - In its natural state gold can come in varying shades of yellow. Relatively pure when initially mined, gold is usually alloyed with copper, zinc, and/or silver when used in jewelry making.


Zinc - Brittle at room temperature but malleable when heated, this bluish-white metal is used to form such alloys as Brass, Bronze, and Silver.