Jewellery definitions

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Alloy
This is a mixture of 2 or more metals, for example 9ct gold is an alloy because the gold has been mixed with other metals to enhance its strength and durability.

Amber
This is the fossilized and hardened resin of trees. Mostly golden yellow through to golden orange in colour, it often contains tiny air-bubbles or other particles of foreign matter trapped when it was formed.

Amethyst
This gemstone is found in various shades of purple and is the most valued member of the quartz family of stones. It is the birthstone for February and is said to bring luck and to guard against drunkenness.

Aquamarine
This gemstone is found in various shades of blue, from light blue through to blue-green. It is this sea water colour that gives it its name. It is the birthstone for March.

Baguette Cut
A rectangular style of step cut used for gemstones.

Bail
The attachment at the top of a pendant which allows it to hang from a chain. Also known as a pendant runner.

Band
A type of ring which is an equal width all the way round. They are traditionally used for wedding rings.

Bangle
A rigid bracelet that is slipped over the hand or clasped in place on the wrist. They can be plain precious metal, be decorated with patterns, or be set with gemstones.

Bar Setting
In this style of setting precious metal bars hold the gemstone in place by the girdle.

Bar and Ring Clasp
This type of clasp has a bar which is inserted into a large ring on the other end of the necklace or bracelet. It is also known as a “toggle clasp”.

Bevelled
The name given to an angled section on the surface of an item of jewellery, such as a ring.

Bezel
Used to mount settings to ring shanks.

Bezel Setting
A precious metal disc used to encircle the girdle of a gemstone, or the edge of a coin, holding it in place securely on the ring.

Birthstone
Each month has a particular gemstone associated with it. Each stone is thought to be lucky for the person born in that month. The birthstones are:

January = Garnet
February = Amethyst
March = Aquamarine
April = Diamond
May = Emerald
June = Pearl
July = Ruby
August = Peridot
September = Sapphire
October = Opal
November = Topaz
December = Turquoise

Bolt Ring
A circular clasp frequently used for fastening necklaces and bracelets.

Box Clasp
A hollow, box-like clasp with a groove into which a metal tongue is inserted and clicked securely into place.

Box Setting
In this setting the gemstone is enclosed in a “box”, the edges of which are pressed down onto the girdle of the stone to hold it securely in place. The surface of the setting is smooth and less likely to be caught and snagged.

Bracelet
An item of jewellery worn on the wrist. They can be of plain precious metal, decorated designs of precious metal or set with stones. Common types of bracelets are: chain-link bracelets such as curb and figaro; rope bracelets; herringbone bracelets; charm bracelets; gate bracelets; fancy-link bracelets; and tennis bracelets.

Brilliance
This is the sparkle that is seen in a gemstone when it is held up to the light. It is caused by the reflection of “white”light back from a gemstone, both from its surface and from within. The more “white” light reflected back, the greater the brilliance. The brilliance of a gemstone is influenced by its cut, its proportions, its polish, its transparency and its physical and chemical make-up.

Brilliant Cut
This round cut is the most common and popular style of cut for diamonds, and many other gemstones. This is because it has been designed with 57 carefully proportioned facets to maximise the amount of light reflected and refracted by the gemstone. Below is a diagram showing a brilliant cut diamond and its facets:

Brushed Finish
A textured finish on jewellery, where a series of tiny parallel lines are scratched on the surface of the metal.

Butterflies
Also known as a scroll, these attachments slide onto the post of an earring to hold it securely in place in the earlobe.

Cabachon
A smooth and dome shaped stone.

Carat
This is often abbreviated as “ct” and has two separate meanings:

1) It is the unit of weight measurement for gemstones, whereby one carat is equal to one-fifth of a gram. A carat is divided into points, and there are 100 points in a carat, so 25 points is equal to ¼ carat. It is one of the four characteristics that influence the value of a diamond.

2) It is the term used to describe the purity of gold alloy used in an item of jewellery. With pure gold being rated as 24 carat, the most common standards of gold alloy used in jewellery are:

- 9ct gold, which 37.5% pure gold (or 375 parts pure gold and 625 parts other metals).
- 14ct gold, which is 58.5% pure gold (or 585 parts pure gold to 415 parts other metals).
- 18ct gold, which is 75% pure gold (or 750 parts pure gold and 250 parts other metals).
- 22ct gold, which is 91.6% pure gold (or 916 parts pure gold and 84 parts other metals).

The carat of gold used in an item of jewellery is illustrated in its hallmark (see hallmark).

Chain
A length of connected loops, links, rings or beads used to create a necklet or bracelet. There are various types of chain, with the most popular being: the curb link, flat round or oval links; the belcher link, round or oval links that don’t lie flat; the figaro link, a series of alternating short and long links in different combinations; the box link, solid square links; the snake chain; and the rope chain.

Channel Setting
This is where the stones are held side-by-side between two strips of precious metal. Channel set gemstones sit flush with the mounting so are less likely to be caught and snagged.

Charm Bracelet
A bracelet which has, or can have, small charms attached to its links.

Chevron Setting
In this style of setting, “V” shaped claws hold the gemstone in place. It is used at the points of marquise cut gemstones.

Clarity
One of the four characteristics that influence the value of a diamond. A diamond’s clarity is determined by the degree to which it is free from naturally occurring inclusions, or “nature’s fingerprints”. The number, type, colour, size and position of these “birthmarks” can affect the value. However, many of these inclusions are actually invisible to the naked eye and require magnification under an eyeglass before they can be seen. The fewer the inclusions, the rarer the diamond and thus the more valuable it is.

Clasp
Any type of attachment that is used to join one end of a piece of jewellery to the other, usually bracelets and necklets. The most commonly used clasps in jewellery are: the bolt ring; the lobster claw; the box clasp; the bar and ring clasp; and the fold-over clasp.

Claw
A precious metal prong used to hold a gemstone in place.

Claw Setting
A series of precious metal prongs, or “claws”, designed to hold a gemstone securely in place whilst allowing maximum light to reach it.

Clip-on Earrings
Earrings that are designed for people who do not have their ears pierced. The earring is held in-place on the lobe by a clip.

Cluster Ring
A ring which has a collection, or “cluster”, of gemstones arranged in a decorative design. Common cluster patterns are the “daisy cluster”, which resembles the flower of a daisy, and the “boat cluster”, which resembles the shape of a boat as viewed from above.

Colour
One of the four characteristics that influence the value of a diamond. While most diamonds appear white, many of them actually display hints of colour barely discernible to the naked eye. The closer a diamond is to colourless, the rarer and more valuable it is. Diamonds with a strong pure colour are extremely rare and called “fancies”. Some of these colours that can be found in diamonds include pink, blue, yellow, green and orange.

Creole Earring
A hoop style earring, often elongated, for pierced ears. They are frequently highly decorated and have a secure bar and clip fastener

Cross
A pendant in the shape of a cross. It can be plain or patterned metal, or set with gemstones.

Crown
The upper part of a faceted gemstone above the girdle.

Cubic Zirconia
A hard and relatively inexpensive stone, created in laboratories and often cut to resemble a diamond. Although most commonly colourless, it is available in different colours such as pink and purple.

Cultured Pearl
See pearls.

Cut
One of the four characteristics that determine the value of a diamond, and the only one that can actually be influenced by man. When a diamond is cut well and all the facets are in proportion, light will reflect from one facet to another and disperse through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of brilliance and fire. When the facets are not in proportion or when the diamond is cut too shallow or too deep then light is not reflected and refracted adequately and the brilliance is not as great. It is this poor cutting that can severely decrease the value of a diamond. The style of cut, such as baguette, emerald or marquise, is a matter of personal taste and not so important in influencing the value of a diamond. Below are three diagrams showing how the cut of a diamond can affect the way it reflects and refracts light:

Ideal Cut Cut Too Deep Cut Too Shallow

Diamond
The most valuable and treasured of all gemstones. Its name refers to its hardness, nothing is comparable so it is virtually imperishable, hence the saying “a diamond is forever”. Diamonds are the birthstone for April. Only about 20% of all diamonds mined are good enough to be used in jewellery. A diamond’s value is directly linked to its quality which is measured by 4 characteristics, its: carat; cut; colour; and clarity (known as “the four C’s”).

Diamond Cut
A pattern of angled cuts on the surface of an item of jewellery which gives it a decorative finish.

Dress Ring
A ring which is worn purely as a fashion accessory. It can be either plain or set with gemstones.

Drop Earring
A style of earring that hangs below the earlobe.

Earring
An item of jewellery worn in, or on, the earlobe. Nowadays most earrings are for pierced ears, however there are still clip-on and screw-back earrings for those who do not have pierced ears. Earrings come in a variety of different styles, including: studs; drop earrings; hoops; creoles; and wedding bands. All styles can be plain or stone set.

Emerald
A green gemstone and the most precious of the beryl group. The emerald cut is the most popular, and most practical, cut for showing off the beauty of this gemstone, hence the name. The emerald is the birthstone for May.

Emerald Cut
A type of cut, octagonal in shape, with rows of step cuts along the edges and at the corners. It is most frequently used on emeralds and diamonds.

Enamel
An opaque, glassy material which is attached to the metal on an item of jewellery to give it decoration.

Engagement Ring
A gemstone set ring used to symbolise a strong commitment of love. Diamonds are the most popular choice of gemstone because of their value and traditional symbolism of lasting love, with the solitaire design being the favourite choice. An engagement ring is traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand, because it was believed that the vein from this finger ran directly to the heart.

Eternity Ring
A gemstone set ring often used to show a long-term commitment of love. Although often bought as an accompaniment to the wedding and engagement ring, it can be worn on its own as a dress piece. Eternity rings come in several distinctive designs:

1) The full eternity, which has gemstones set around the entire shank.
2) The half eternity, which has stone set on the upper half of the ring.
3) The wishbone, which has the stones arranged in a wishbone shape on the upper half of the ring.
4) The shaped eternity, which is specially designed to comfortably fit next to a solitaire ring.
5) The crossover eternity, which has two thin bands which cross over each other. Usually only one of the bands is stone set.

Facet
One of the flat, polished surfaces on a cut gemstone. They are cut to help enhance the gemstone’s reflection of light so that its brilliance and beauty are increased.

Faceting
The cutting and polishing of the surface of a gemstone into a distinctive, and specifically proportioned, pattern of flat panels, or “ facets”. This is done with the intention of increasing the stone’s reflection of light and its brilliance.

Fancy Cut
These are cuts of gemstones which are unusual and decorative, for example the heart cut and the half-moon cut.

Filigree
The fine lace-like decoration sometimes found on jewellery. It is created from delicately arranged and intertwined precious metal wires.

Fire
The term used to describe the flashes of rainbow colours in gemstones as a result of the dispersion of light by the stone.

Fold-over Clasp
A clasp where a hinged section is opened and passed through a ring before being snapped shut and holding the ring securely in place.

Four C’s
The factors that influence the value of a diamond. They are: the carat; the clarity; the colour; and the cut.

Freshwater Pearl
See Pearls.

Garnet
Garnets are most frequently reddish brown in colour, butthe garnet is actually part of a family of different coloured minerals with the same chemical make-up. Garnets can be found in various colours including: blood red; orange; dark red; pinkish red; and green. Garnet is the birthstone for January.

Gate BraceletA bracelet made up of a series of interlinked barred sections called “gates”. The “gates” can be made up of any number of bars, but the more bars, the wider the bracelet. Traditionally the gate bracelet is fastened by a heart-shaped padlock which has a safety chain running through it.

Gemstone
A natural gemstone is a mineral or an organic object which can be cut, polished or otherwise treated for use in jewellery. A precious gemstone, such as diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, possess brilliance, beauty, durability and rarity. A semi-precious gemstone, such as quartz and turquoise, possess one or two of these qualities. (See also mineral and organic).

Girdle
The narrow band around the widest part of a polished or faceted gemstone. It separates the crown and the pavilion.

Gold
A precious metal, yellow in its natural state but its exact colour depends on the amount and type of impurities. It is a very soft and malleable metal and when used in jewellery it is alloyed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. It is also alloyed into different colours, most notably white gold. The gold used in jewellery is defined by the proportion of pure gold to other metals and is expressed in terms of its carat (see carat).

Hallmark
This is the authorised stamp from an assay office which is found on items of gold, silver and platinum. The hallmark indicates the authenticity and standard of the precious metal and is awarded after independent tests by the official assay offices at London, Birmingham, Sheffield or Edinburgh.

Hardness
This is an important quality of a gemstone because it influences how hard-wearing it is. A gemstone’s hardness is measured by how resistant it is to being scratched. It is measured using the Mohs scale of hardness, whereby one substance is harder than another if it can scratch it (see Mohs Scale).

Heat Treatment
This is the process of applying heat to a gemstone to enhance its colour or clarity.

Hoop Earring
A circular- shaped earring made from precious metal wire or tubing.

Illusion Setting
A disc of patterned precious metal, usually white gold, which is placed in the top of a setting. A gemstone, most commonly a diamond, is then placed into the centre of the disc. When you look at the gemstone surrounded by the disc, it gives the illusion of it being a larger stone.

Inclusion
A natural feature within gemstones, inclusions are particles of foreign matter or impurities which were trapped within the gemstone when it was formed, because of this they are often referred to as “nature’s fingerprints”. The inclusions found within diamonds are generally carbon specks, a remnant of the carbon which was turned into diamond through a combination of extreme heat and pressure. Most inclusions are microscopic in nature, but their presence can affect the value of a gemstone if they affect its clarity, brilliance, sparkle and fire.

Iridescence
This is the lustrous rainbow effect that can be seen on some gemstones when they are held up to the light. It is commonly seen in opals and mother-of pearl.

Jump Ring
A circular ring, with a split in it, used for joining two other links or rings before being soldered or pressed shut. Commonly used on the end of a necklet or bracelet for the clasp to clip onto.

Lariat Necklace
An open-ended necklace with no clasp. It is fastened by threading one end of the necklace through the other. Lariat necklaces frequently have beads or tassels at the end.

Links
The series of loops that make up a chain or bracelet. They can be of different designs, both plain and fancy.

Lobster Claw Clasp
A clasp, resembling the claw of a lobster, which has a spring-loaded arm.

Locket
A pendant, usually heart-shaped or oval, which can be opened to store photos or other trinkets.

Lustre
The shine or look of a gemstone due to the reflection of #light off its surface.

Master Cut
A unique cut produced exclusively for members of the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ).It features 16 more facets than the traditional brilliant cut.

Marquise Cut
An oval cut with tapered, pointed ends.

Matte Finish
A frosted, non-shiny surface effect on jewellery.

Mineral
An inorganic, naturally occurring material.

Mohs Scale
A loose scale measuring a mineral’s hardness in relation to other minerals, based upon the ability to resist scratching. It is used to classify the hardness of gemstones. It was developed by the German Friedrich Mohs, in 1822, and he used 10 minerals, ranking them 1 to 10 based upon their ability to scratch each other. Whereby, each mineral will scratch the one below it in the scale, but can only be scratched by those above it. The scale is as follows:

1 = talc; 2 = gypsum; 3 = pearls; 4 = fluorite; 5 = apatite; 6 = turquoise and opal; 7 = amethyst; 8 = Topaz, garnet and aquamarine; 9 = sapphire and Ruby; 10 = diamond.

Mother-of-Pearl
The inside part of a mollusc’s shell which has an iridescent quality due to a coating of nacre.

Nacre
A substance secreted by a mollusc to coat the inside of its shell and during the formation of a pearl (see pearls). It has an iridescent quality which makes pearls and mother-of-pearl so lustrous.

Natural
Something which is found in nature rather than being artificial or man-made.

Natural Pearl
See pearls.

Necklet
A piece of jewellery worn around the neck.

Opal
A gemstone made of hardened silica gel. It is the birthstone for October. There are two types of opal:

1) Precious Opals – these opals have a rainbow-like iridescence which changes as the stone is angled under light, known as opalescence. There are two groups of precious opals. The first are white, or milky, opals which are the most commonly used for jewellery. The second are black opals, whose basic colour is dark grey, dark blue, dark green or grey-black.. Dark black opals are very rare.
2) Fire Opals – these are named after their orange colour. They do not opalesce and are best when clear and transparent.

Organic
A material made by or derived from a living organism.

Pavilion
The lower portion of a faceted gemstone below the girdle.Pave Setting - This is where the surface of an item of jewellery is encrusted with gemstones, typically diamonds. It produces a pavement of stones, hence the name.

Pear Cut
A teardrop shaped cut, commonly used for pendants and drop earrings.

Pearl
These are organic gemstones which grow within molluscs, particularly oysters and mussels. They are formed when a foreign body, such as a small stone, gets trapped inside a mollusc’s shell. The mollusc then secretes nacre, a lustrous substance, to coat the object and reduce the irritation that it causes. Over time thousands of layers of nacre coat the foreign body and a pearl is formed. This process takes up to 7 or 8 years to produce a pearl large enough for use in jewellery. The most valuable pearls are large, symmetrical, naturally produced and have a shimmering iridescence. Pearls vary in colour from white, through white with a hint of colour (usually pink), to brown, grey and even black, depending upon the mollusc and the water in which it lives. There are several types of pearl:

1) Natural Pearls - occurring naturally with no human interference.
2) Cultured Pearls - where a piece of mother-of pearl or a small bead is inserted artificially into a mollusc to start the process in a controlled way. Most pearls found in jewellery today are cultured pearls.
3) Freshwater Pearls - produced by molluscs living in rivers and lakes. They are quite irregular and elongated in shape. They are popular in jewellery because of their shape and excellent value.
4) Seed Pearls - tiny pearls used in smaller items of jewellery.
5) Blister pearls - this is where the pearl is attached to the inside of the shell.

Pearl is the birthstone for June.

Pendant
A hanging ornament on a chain.

Peridot
A gemstone with a distinctive green colouring. It is the birthstone for August.

Pierced Earrings
Earrings designed for wear in ears that are pierced. A post or wire is passed through the earlobe.

Platinum
Of the three precious metals, platinum is the rarest and most valuable. It is silvery-grey to white in colour and, unlike silver, it does not tarnish when exposed to the atmosphere. It is slightly more dense than gold and about twice as dense as silver. To make it easier to use, the platinum used in jewellery is an alloy containing 95% pure platinum and 5% other metals (or 950 parts platinum to 50 parts other metals).

Point
A point is another way of measuring a diamond’s weight. A carat is equivalent to 100 points, therefore half a carat is 50 points, a quarter carat is 25 points and so on.

Polished
A smooth and glossy effect on the surface of a gemstone or precious metal to remove flaws and increase its shine.

Post
The pin-like part of an earring that passes through the pierced earlobe. It is usually held in place by a butterfly.

Precious metals
Also known as “noble metals”, these are silver, gold and platinum.

Princess Cut
A square cut gemstone. Relatively new in design and highly popular.

Reflection
When light bounces back off the surface of something, such as a diamond. When combined with refraction it produces a diamond’s fire.

Refraction
When light is bent as it enters a gemstone, such as a diamond. A stone’s cut and clarity can influence its refraction. When combined with reflection it produces a diamond’s fire.

Rhodium
A white metallic element. A rhodium finish is usually applied to white gold to give it greater and brighter whiteness.

Ring
A piece of jewellery worn on the fingers or, sometimes, toes. They are used for dress and fashion purposes or to show a commitment of love. Some common gemstone set rings are: solitaire rings; eternity rings; cluster rings; two-stone rings; trilogy rings; and pave rings.

Rope Chain
A style of chain where the links are intertwined to make it look like a length of rope.

Rose Gold
An alloy of gold and copper, which gives the gold a reddish colour.

Ruby
A gemstone of the corundum family, which can be any shade of red from pinkish to almost brownish. Along with sapphire, it is the hardest gemstone after diamond. It is the birthstone for July and has a very regal history.

Safety Chain
A fine chain attached to a necklet, bracelet or brooch which provides extra security in case the catch opens.

Sapphire
A gemstone from the same corundum mineral family as the ruby, and the birthstone for September. In fact, any gem quality corundum stone that is not red is a sapphire. Although traditionally blue in colour, sapphires can also be colourless or vary in colour from yellow, through green, to pink. Blue sapphires are the most commonly seen in jewellery, and range from pale blue (Sri Lankan sapphires) to a very dark blue, almost black, with the most valuable being those that are a clear and deep blue. Pink sapphires, whose colour comes from the chromium which give ruby its colour, are also very desirable, especially when set in white gold.

Satin Finish
A textured finish on the surface of precious metal which has a soft lustre rather than a shine. It can be produced by brushing, sandblasting or chemically altering the surface of

Scintillation
The mirror-like reflections of light from the facets of a cut gemstone as it is turned in the light.

Screw-back
A vice-like clamp that is used to hold some non-pierced earrings in place by means of a screw that can be tightened against the earlobe. the precious metal.

Scrolls
See butterflies.

Setting
The method of securing a gemstone in a piece of jewellery. There are a variety of different settings used to mount gemstones in pieces of jewellery, some common ones are: the claw setting; the bezel setting; the channel setting; the pave setting; the bar setting; the chevron setting; the Tiffany setting; the box setting; and the illusion setting. Below are examples of some of these settings:


Claw Bezel Channel Bar Chevron
Setting Setting Setting Setting Setting

Shank
The round body of a ring that encircles the finger.

ShouldersThe upper part of a ring that joins the shank and the setting. They are often decorated, set with gemstones, or have a v-like split in them.

Silver
A precious metal with a characteristic silver / white colour and a metallic lustre. It is alloyed with other metals to form “Sterling Silver” when used in jewellery because it is quite soft.

Simulated
Artificial gemstones used to “simulate” natural gemstonesGemstones in order to make more affordable jewellery, for example simulated pearls.

Snake Chain
A chain composed of a series of small linked cups.

Solitaire
A single gemstone, usually a diamond, featured in a simple setting.

Step-Cut
A cut in which the facets are parallel to the girdle of the gemstone.

Sterling Silver
A high quality alloy of silver used in jewellery. It contains a minimum of 92.5% pure silver (or 925 parts pure silver to 75 parts other metals).

Synthetic
A manmade gemstone that has the same physical, opticalGemstone and chemical properties of its natural counterpart. They are often very bright in colour and very clear.

Table
The top horizontal facet on the crown of a faceted gemstone.

Tennis Bracelet
A flexible chain-like made up of evenly matched gemstones.

Tiffany Setting
A round six-pronged claw setting. The claws are long and slender and flare out from the base of the setting. It is a style of setting made popular by the jewellers Tiffany & Co of New York.

Topaz
Birthstone of the month for November, and can be found in a range of colours including yellow, pink, green and blue, as well as being colourless. Colourless topaz can be easily heat-treated and irradiated into a range of blues. Blue topaz and sky-blue topaz are the most popular colours found in jewellery, and are particularly attractive when set in white gold.

Trilogy Ring
A ring set with three gemstones, either in a row or on a twist. The stones represent the trilogy of the past, the present and the future.

Turquoise
Birthstone of the month for December. This semi-precious gemstone has an intense colour varying from sky-blue to green.

Two-Stone Ring
A ring with two individual gemstones set in it, usually on a twist,

Wedding Ring
A band of precious metal, usually gold or platinum, used to symbolise the union of two people in marriage. The band can be plain, patterned, two coloured gold, diamond set, have bevelled edges and even shaped to fit comfortably with an engagement ring. There are several profiles of wedding ring available:

1) D-Shaped - This has a curved outer surface of the ring and a flat inner surface.
2) Court - This has curved outer surface and a curved inner surface. These are much thicker and heavier than their D-shaped counterparts, and much more comfortable to wear because the inside of the ring is not flat against the finger and so causes less irritation.
3) Flat - This has a flat outer and inner surface.

White Gold
An alloy of yellow gold that has been bleached using silver, zinc or platinum as a whitening agent. It is rhodium-plated to give extra whiteness and shine.