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Jewelry Glossary
AB stands for Aurora borealis (which means "northern lights").
A deposit made from inside a seashell, also called mother-of-pearl.
Acroite is a rare, colorless variety of tourmaline.
A type of thermoplastic, include transparent and opaque in varied colors.
Adamantine means having a luster like that of a diamond.
Acommon type of moonstone, a whitish-bluish semi-translucent stone.
A misspelling of aventurine (and sometimes known as goldstone) is a shimmering quartz stone.
African Emerald
A misnomer for green fluorspar that is mined in South Africa. It's is not an emerald.
African Jade
A misnomer for massive green grossular garnet that is mined in South Africa. It has color of light green, white, or pink. It is not a jade.
Agate is a variety of chalcedony (a family of microcrystalline quartz).
An aigrette (meaning "egret" in French) is a feather-shaped piece of jewelry that is worn in the hair or on a hat.
Alexandrite Effect
A phenomenon in which a stone appears to be different colors in different types of light .
A form of the mineral chrysoberyl noted for its color change in different forms of light. In sunlight, it looks blue-green, but in indoor light it changes to reddish-purple. Natural alexandrite with good color is very expensive today.
A costume jewelry mark used by the Alice Jewelry Company of Providence, Rhode Island.
Combination of 2 or more metals.
A type of violet-tinged variety of garnet that ranges in color from deep red to reddish-brown.
Alpaca (also spelled alpacca) is an alloy consisting of copper, and nickel, zinc, and tin. This metal is a a silver substitute.
A lightweight, silver-white metal.
Amazonite is an iridescent stone that ranges in color from green to blue-green.
A translucent fossilized tree resin (from conifers).
American Ruby
An American ruby is actually a pyrope garnet (and not a ruby at all).
A form of quartz in shades of purple ranging from light lavender to deep, intense purple with subtle flashes of red.
Ametrine is a variety of quartz, a mixture of amethyst and citrine. Ametrine is partially purple and partially orange-yellow.
Ammolite (also known as korite, calcentine, or Buffalo Stone.) is a fossilized, opalized ammonite shell used as a gemstone (it is the shell of the ammonite, a fossilized marine animal, a cephalopod). It is a gray, iridescent stone with flashes of green, red, yellow, blue or purple (blues and purples are rare); the color changes as the stone is turned. Ammolite has a hardness of about 4 and a gravity of 2.8. It is only found in southern Alberta, Canada.
Amorphous means without form. An amorphous gem, like jet, amber, or ivory, does not have a regular internal structure, like those gems that fall within the seven crystal systems.
A pendant or charm that is worn for protective magical power.
An amulet is a protective charm that is worn (like a bulla). It is worn in the hope of protecting the wearer from evil or illness or to bring the wearer good luck. The amulet above is turquoise with carved inscriptions, set in gold.
Angelite (CaSO4); it is a pale blue variety of calicium sulfate = anhydrate (it is gypsum that has lost water and crystallized). The stone is quite brittle; crystals are transparent to transluscent. Angelite stone has a hardness of 3 to 3.5 (quite soft) and a specific gravity of 2.93.0.
Angelskin Coral
Angelskin coral is a pale pink coral, from deep sea coral. Angelskin coral is one of the most valued colors of coral. Coral is an animal that grows in colonies in the ocean. Coral polyps secrete a strong calcium structure that is used in jewelry making. Coral ranges in color from pale pink (called angelskin coral) to orange to red to white. Coral has a hardness of about 3.5 and a specific gravity of 2.6 to 2.7. Since it is composed of calcium carbonate, coral will effervesce if touched with acid.
To harden the silver by alternate heating and pounding.
Annealing is the process of heating a metal and then cooling it to make it more workable. As metal is worked (hammered, rolled, etc.), stresses make the metal brittle . Annealing the metal make the metal re-crystallize, putting the molecules in an orderly structure. The temperature (and amount of time it takes) for annealing a metal depends on what metal or alloy it is. Large pieces are annealed in an annealing oven; small pieces are annealed using a blow-torch.
Anodized metal has been through an electrochemical process which changes the molecular structure of the surface layer, giving it a thin, protective film. In the anodization process, the metal is placed in an acid bath and an electrical current is passed through the tank. Anodized metal has a lustrous sheen; the anodizing process can produce colorful surfaces.
Apache Tears
Apache tears (a type of obsidian) is a volcanic glass that is usually black, but is occasionally red, brown, gray, green (rare), dark with "snowflakes," or even clear. This glassy, lustrous form of obsidian is found in lava flows in the southwest USA. Obsidian is formed when viscous lava (from volcanos) cools rapidly. Most obsidian is 70 percent silica. Obsidian has a hardness of 5 and a specific gravity of 2.35. The pin above is mahogany (brown) obsidian.
Apatite (calcium phosphate) is a clear to opaque stone that comes in many colors, including green, yellow, blue, violet, and yellow-green (called asparagus stone). Some apatite stones show a cat's eye asterism. This stone is rarely used in jewelry because it is brittle and soft. Apatite comes from the Greek word for "deceit," because it was easily confused with other minerals. Apatite has a hardness of 5 and a specific gravity of 3.15-3.22.
Apple Juice
Apple juice plastic is a translucent, golden yellow plastic is the color of apple juice. The bangle above is reverse-carved and painted in the areas that are carved.
Aqua Aura
Aqua aura is a beautiful iridescent bluish to clear stone that is made by coating clear quartz that with a fine layer of gold (or aluminium or copper). In a process called called vapor deposition, the quartz is put into a vacuum chamber and attached to very hot electrodes. A thin layer of the metal (only a micron or two thick) coats the quartz as the metal evaporates.
Aqua Regia
Aqua regia is a 3:1 mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. Aqua regia is used to test gold and platinum; it is just about one of the few substances that can dissolve gold and platinum.
Aquamarine is a transparent, light blue or sea-green stone that is porous. Today, blue aquamarines are more highly valued, but this was not true in the past, when sea-green stones were prized. Heat-treatment turns greenish stones bluer. The best aquamarines come from Brazil. Large aquamarines are relatively common. Aquamarines are usually faceted but when they are cabochon cut, a cat's eye effect or asterism may appear. Aquamarines belong to the beryl family of stones. Aquamarine has a hardness of 7.5-8 and a specific gravity of 2.65-2.85.
Pale to deep blue gemstone, often tinged with a hint of sea-green-hence the name, which comes from a Latin phrase meaning "water of the sea." The most valuable aquamarine stones are pure blue. Aquamarine is found all over the world, including Brazil, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Madagascar.
Aragonite is a mineral that is rarely used for jewelry. It is transparent to translucent and can range in color from honey-colored to pale reds, blues and greens to clear or white. It forms hexagonal crystals, pyramidal crystals, chisel shaped crystals, and other shapes. Aragonite has a hardness of 3.5-4 (relatively soft) and a specific gravity of 2.9 g/cm3.(average). Its chemical composition is CaCO3 (it is a form of Calcium Carbonate). Aragonite is named for Aragon, Spain, where it was first found in 1790. Aragonite is also found in many other European, North African, and some North American locations.
Arcade Setting
An arcade setting (also called coronet or châton setting) is one in which the stone is held in by many metal claws around a metal ring.
Arctic Opal
Arctic opal is a blue-green stone that is a mixture of azuritea and malachite; it is not a type of opal at all. Arctic opal is mined in the Wrangle Mountains and the Chugach Mountains of Alaska, USA (near Anchorage).
Arizona Ruby
An Arizona ruby is actually a pyrope garnet (and not a ruby at all).
Arizona Spinel
An Arizona spinel is actually a garnet (and not a spinel at all).
Arkansas Diamond
An Arkansas diamond is actually a rock crystal (and not a diamond at all).
Arkansas Stone
Arkansas stone is an abrasive used in jewelry making. It is used to smooth metals.
Art Deco
Art Deco was a style popular from the mid-1910's until the mid-1920's. This style originated in Paris, France. Art Deco pieces are characterized by geometric lines and angles, with very few curves. This art movement eventually became bolder and evolved into Art Moderne.
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau was a style popular from roughly 1895 until World War I. Art Nouveau pieces are characterized by curves and naturalistic designs, especially depicting long-haired, sensual women. Louis Comfort Tiffany made archetypal Art Nouveau pieces.
Art (also called ModeArt) was costume jewelry produced by Art Mode Jewelry Creations Inc. It was in business from the 1940's until the late 1960's. Their medium- to high-quality pieces included figurals, Victorian replicas, and many different styles. The beautiful Art pin above has delicate enamel work, blue and green cabachon plastic moonstones, tiny, clear rhinestones, a dangle, and a Florentine finish.
Arts And Crafts
Arts and Crafts was an artistic movement that produced hand-crafted pieces toward the end of the 1800's. Pieces purposely look hand-made, incorporating hammer marks and simple cabochon settings. The Arts and Crafts movement also revived the art of enamel. Important Arts and Crafts jewelers included C.R. Ashbee (1863-1942), Arthur Gaskin (1862-1928), Georgina Gaskin (1868-1934), Fred T. Partridge, John Paul Cooper (1869-1933), Bernard Cuzner (1877-1956), Henry Wilson (1864-1934), Alexander Fisher (1864-1936), and Edgar Simpson.
An assay is a test of the purity of an alloy. A tiny piece of metal is scraped from the piece and the percentage of gold or silver is determined. Official assay offices determine whether a piece qualifies for an appropriate hallmark.
The process of determing the proportion of precious metal contained in an alloy.
Asscher, Joseph
Joseph Asscher was an eminent diamond cutter who cut the 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond. Asscher worked in Amsterdam. In 1902, his company, the Asscher Diamond Co., developed and patented the Asscher cut, a squarish step cut with an almost octagonal outline. This new cut enhanced the fire and light of the stone; it had a small table, a high crown, wide step facets, a deep pavilion and square culet. This cut became very popular in Art Deco jewelry and was a forerunner of the emerald cut. Recently, the Royal Asscher Diamond Co. resumed production of the original Asscher cut diamonds.
An asterism is a star-like luminous effect that reflects light in some gemstones, like star sapphires and star garnets.
Aurora Borealis
(abbreviated AB) A name for faceted glass beads that have an added iridescent coating. Also, a multi-color-producing light coating on part of beads or tops of rhinestones.
Aurora Borealis
Aurora borealis (meaning "northern lights") rhinestones have a special iridescent finish that shines with many colors. The iridescent surface is a result of a very thin layer of metallic atoms that have been deposited on the lower surface of the stone. This process was invented in 1955 by the Swarovski company together with Christian Dior.
Aurora Borealis
In costume jewelry, a term for crystal stones with a highly iridescent surface. Swarovski and Dior created this in 1955.
Australian Ruby
An Australian ruby is actually a pyrope garnet (and not a ruby at all).
Aventurine Feldspar
Aventurine feldspar is also called Sunstone (a variety of oligoclase). This gemstone varies from golden to orange to red-brown, and can be transparent or translucent. Sunstone is metallic-looking due to sparkling red, orange or green crystalline inclusions (these are hematite or goethite crystals). Sunstone is found in Canada, the USA (in Oregon), India, Norway, and Russia. This brittle stone has a hardness of 6 and a specific gravity of 2.632.67. Sunstone is not enhanced.
Aventurine Glass
Aventurine glass (sometimes spelled adventurine glass) is a shimmering glass that contains tiny metallic particles (copper flakes) within it. The process of making aventurine glass was invented in Venice, Italy, around 1700.
Aventurine Quartz
Aventurine quartz is a type of quartz that has sparkling flecks (includions) of mica or iron. This colors of this stone include red-brown, yellow, gray, and green. Aventurine quartz has a hardness of 7 and a specific gravity of 2.64-2.69. This stone is usually cut with a flat or rounded surface to maximize its sparkle. Aventurine quartz is found in India, Russia, and Tanzania.
Aventurine (sometimes known as goldstone and sometimes mis-spelled adventurine) is a shimmering quartz stone that ranges in color from yellow to red to light green to light brown. The shimmer is caused by tiny metallic particles (mica) within the stone.
Awabi Pearl
The Japanese name for abalone pearls is Awabi pearls.
Axinite is an unusual, lustrous stone that is brown, yellow, blue, green or gray. Violet axinite is rare (and from Tasmania). It has both transparent and translucent varieties. Axinite is dichroic. Axinite has a hardness of 7 and a specific gravity of 3.3. Axinite is a boro-silicate of aluminum and calcium. It is used only as a mineral specimen and not in jewelry.
Axis Of Symmetry
An axis of symmetry (also called a rotational axis) is an imaginary line around which an object can be rotated a certain number of degrees and look like the original shape. When two planes of symmetry intersect, they form a straight line, which is an axis of symmetry. See more in the entry on crystal systems
Azurite is a beautiful copper-based blue mineral that is often used in jewelry. The color ranges from very deep blue to pale blue. Azurite has also been used as a dye for paints and luxury fabrics. Azurite is hydrated copper carbonate; its chemical formula is Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2. Malachite (another copper-based mineral) and azurite are often found together. Azurite has a hardness of 3.5 to 4 (relatively soft) and a specific gravity of 3.7 to 3.9. Azurite is found in massive monoclinic crystals in Australia the southwestern USA, France, Mexico, Morocco, Nambia, Zaire, and Europe. Azurite is sometimes coated with a colorless wax or impregnated with plastic in order to enhance the color and increase the hardness.
A gemstone, often a diamond, cut in a narrow rectangular shape. Small diamonds cut this way are often used as accents. A tapered baguette has one short end narrower than the opposite end, forming a trapezoid.
A synthetic patented in 1909, bakelite, also called catalin, was used in jewelry extensively during the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930's. Bakelite can be molded, lathe-carved, and one color can be inlaid into another, as in polka dots. The inlaid and carved pieces are especially popular with collectors today. It has a distinct scent when rubbed to warm, somewhat like formaldehyde. Watch for both outright repros, and later plastics from the last 20-30 years that might be mistaken for bakelite by the inexperienced.
Phenol formaldehyde resin. An unmeltable transparent and easily colored plastic discovered by Leo Baekeland in 1909
An irregular, rounded stone, glass or bead; also, an imitation pearl with an uneven or craggy shape and/or surface.
Base Metal
Any combination of alloys of non-precious metals.
Belle Epoque
Another name for the Edwardian period.
Bezel Setting
A method of setting gemstones in which the stone is held in the mounting by a narrow band of metal surrounding the girdle (outside perimeter) of the stone.
The silver band that holds the stone in place and anchors it to the main part of the jewelry.
Birthstones have their roots in ancient astrology, and there have been many birthstone lists used over the years. The most common one today is based on a list first publicized by the U.S. jewelry industry in the 1950s. This list assign birthstones as follows
An ornament of silver, stone or other material fastened onto a braided leather loop so that it slides up under the chin, leaving the two leather ends hanging in place of a tie.
A Victorian style of chain in which the links are rectangular, folded pieces of metal. Each link resembles a book. These book chains often had large lockets attached, and the whole piece was often elaborately engraved. They were made in gold, gold-filled and sterling silver.
Wide leather strap worn on the left wrist, formerly to protect the arm from the bow strings now, usually decorated with a wide ornament of silver also known as Ketoh.
An alloy of copper and zinc which has a nice yellow color.
Britannia Or Pewter
A somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
A brownish alloy of copper and tin that is not used much in costume jewelry because it is very dense and therefore heavy.
Another name for pin from the French word broche.
A stone with a rounded surface, rather than with facets. This style is commonly used with opaque to translucent stones such as opal, moonstone, jade and turquoise. Less expensive transparent stones such as amethyst and garnet, are also sometimes fashioned as cabochons. A garnet cabochon is also referred to as a carbuncle.
Smooth polished cushion like stone
A style of carving in which the design motif is left and the surrounding surface is cut away leaving the design in relief. Cameos in jewelry are often made of shell, although hard stone cameos such as sardonyx are more valuable. Cameos have been carved from ancient times, and ancient motifs such as the goddess Athena or a Baccante or follower of Bacchus were popular cameo subjects in Victorian times, through the 1930's. Cameos are still being made today in Italy. A cameo habille is one in which "jewelry" such as a miniature diamond pendant is actually attached to the carving.
Shell carved in relief to show design
A measure of the fineness of gold or gold alloy. The number of carats is the number of parts by weight of pure gold in 24 parts of the metal.
Abbreviated "ct." and spelled with a "c" is a measure of weight used for gemstones. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram (200 milligrams). Stones are measured to the nearest hundredth of a carat. A hundredth of a carat is also called a point. Thus a .10 carat stone can be called either 10 points, or 1/10 of a carat. Small stones like .05, and .10ct are most often referred to by point designations. Note that karat with a "K" is a measure of the purity of a gold alloy. A one carat round diamond of average proportions is approximately 6.5mm in diameter. Note that this relationship of weight and size is different for each family of stones. For example ruby and sapphire are both heavier than diamond (technically, they have a higher specific gravity, so a 1 carat ruby or sapphire is smaller in size than a on carat diamond.
Made by a centrifugal method of casting metal which becomes thick and hard.
One of the earliest plastics, celluloid is derived from cellulose, a natural plant fiber, and was first synthesized around 1870. Items commonly found today include hair combs, dresser articles. Celluloid items for wear were often set with pave rhinestones. Celluloid is flammable and deteriorates easily if exposed to moisture, so care should be taken in its use and storage.
Organic natural material that can be cut, rolled, folded, perforated, ironed, turned or embossed when heated. It can not be injected.
Center Stone
Usually a diamond (or other gemstone) that is the prominent center piece in a ring setting.
Centrifugal Casting
A casting process involving the use of centrifugal force, or the force of a rotating body, often used in making imitation Indian jewelry.
Chandelier Earrings
An earring with a drop suspended like a chandelier
Channel Inlay
Stones set in silver compartments.
Channel Set
A gem setting technique in which a number of square or rectangular stones are set side by side in a grooved channel. Unlike most setting methods, the stones are not secured individually, so there is no metal visible between the stones.
Channel Set
The method of setting diamonds in grooves that hold the stones without prongs.
An ornamental chain or pin usually worn at a woman's waist to which keys, trinkets, scissors and purse are attached.
Said to be from the French for "Lady of the House", a chatelaine is a set of implements worn at the waist. A chatelaine clip clip is fastened to the waist, and various items such as needle cases, pencil, scissors, dangle from chains attached to it. Chatelaines may be utilitarian or beautifully decorated and made from precious materials like silver.
Cone shaped crystal or rhinestone
A necklace worn tight around the neck
A short, close fitting necklace; like a collar.
A shiny, hard gray white metal resistant to corrosion
A variety of quartz, citrine occurs in a color range ranging from light yellow to a brilliant orange that may be confused with fine imperial topaz.
Cluster Earring
Decorative combination of glass and/or metal beads and stones
Coin Silver
A silver-colored metal that is a mixture of 80% silver and 20% copper. A lot of European silver pieces are coin silver and are marked 800, the number of parts out of 1000 that are silver.
A metal band that surrounds and supports a stone.
Comfort Fit
A ring that is curved on the inside of the shank thereby adding to the comfort of the wearer.
A Spanish term for shell. One of the ovals of a segmented silver belt or of a bridle. Also the belt itself. Now commonly called a "Concho Belt."
See Concha.
Corallium rubrum, the red or precious coral was introduced to the Indians by the Spanish. Formed by the skeletons of marine organisms the bulk of it has always come from the waters off Sardinia and the coast of Sicily, in the Mediterranean.
Formed when small sea animals create living quarters, coral comes in colors ranging from vivid orange to palest pink. During the mid-Victorian large brooches of coral finely carved in high-relief floral sprays, or faces were popular. At the turn of the century, small natural pieces of branch coral or small cameos of coral were more popular.
Crimp Bead
Small, soft metal beads that are squeezed shut to secure loops of threading material fasteners onto clasps.
Crown Height
The distance from the girdle to the table on a diamond when viewed from the side.
The upper part of a diamond above the girdle.
A glass stone or bead, usually with high lead content.
Cuff Bracelet
Wide rigid bangle formed to resemble a cuff
The bottom tip of a diamond, which is usually a small facet.
Dead Pawn
Pawn that is not redeemed after the agreed time.
Decoration Etched
Very faintly carved surface decoration
Deeply Carved
Deeper than average carving
Demi Parure
Two or three matching pieces of jewelry, usually consisting of earring, pin, bracelet or necklace
The French rights or patent granted for an exclusive design.
A semi circular jeweled hair ornament (tiara)
A Faceted, glittery glass bead; rhinestone.
Rhinestone or strass
Diamonds, a form of crystalline carbon, are prized because they are exceptionally hard and durable, have high refractivity and brilliance, and because really fine diamonds are rare. Today diamonds are valued based on the "4 C's" of color, cut, clarity and carat size. Many diamond imitations have appeared over the years, with the most common today being the ubiquitous cubic zirconia which appears similar to a diamond to the uninitiated, but can be readily distinguished by a diamond tester which measures thermal inertia. Trained individuals, despite claims of cubic zirconia manufacturers, also have little trouble distinguishing a genuine diamond when it is examined under at least 10 power magnification.
Dog Collar
A wide "choker" style necklace worn tight around the neck above the collarbone just like a dog's collar, this look was popular in Edwardian times, around the turn of the twentieth century. This look was popularized by Queen Alexandra, who had a long graceful neck.
Dog Collar
Broad necklace worn tightly around the neck. Often consists of multi parallel strands of beads, pearls or stones.
A form of gemstone trickery that was devised to allow inexpensive materials to imitate the more valuable gemstones before modern synthetics were available. A doublet can take several forms but always involves a fake gemstone produced by gluing together two different materials to form an illusion.
A combination of two clips on a pin back. Duette was a registered design by Coro, but is now used generically for this design.
The designation given the period during the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910). In jewelry, this period was characterized by delicate filigree in white gold and platinum, with diamonds and pearls predominating, and colored stones used less frequently, producing a light, monochromatic look. Delicate bows, swags, and garland effects were used in necklaces and brooches.
Jewelry can be mechanically plated with gold in a variety of ways, including electroplated. Eventually, the gold plating wears away, but it depends on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is.
A gemstone of the beryl family, fine emeralds are among the most valuable gemstones. But flaws (called inclusions by gemologists )are quite common in emeralds, so they lower the value much less than with other precious stones such a diamonds. The most highly prized emeralds are mined in Columbia. A emerald with a slight blue cast to the bright green are actually the most valuable color.
In its simplest terms, all enamel is produced by fusing colored powdered glass to metal to produce a vitreous or glass-like, decorative surface. The enamel may be translucent with fancy engraving on the metal underneath, which produces guilloche (ghee-YOSH) enamel. Popular during during the mid-Victorian period was a solid black blue or white enamel used to fill engraved designs. Enamel is a decorative technique in which a glass "paste" is applied to the surface of a metal--normally bronze, copper or gold. This glass composition adheres to the metal through fusion under very high temperatures. The color of the enamel and its degree of transparency depend on the metal oxides that exist in the glass and the temperature at which the glass melts and coheres to the surface
To decorate metal by gouging a design with graver's tools; embellishing metal or other material with patterns using a stamping tool or drill. This was a popular technique in mid-Victorian jewelry. The resulting depressions were often filled with colored enamel. Also refers to inscribing a dedication or monogram to identify a piece. Stamped pieces can be designed to imitate hand engraving. Under magnification, the design is much more sharp in a hand engraved piece, with subtle irregularities.
Any pattern design or mark that is cut into a piece of jewelry with a special engraver's tool.
European Cut
European Cut is the style of diamond cutting popular from approximately 1890 to the 1930s. Unlike the old mine cut preceding it, the European cut has a round girdle made possible by the introduction of the power bruiting machine . The European cut can be distinguished by the size of the table (the top, flat facet) in relation to the diameter of the stone and the table is smaller in relation to the diameter of the stone.
A wire finding with a loop at one end. used for linking beads or beaded links together
A flat surface ground on a cut gemstone.
One of the small plane surfaces made on a stone by cutting
Carved with a regular pattern of facets
Cut with many facets or planes.
Fantasy Cut
Stones cut in fancy shapes
Pronounced fo (like go) Faux is a French word used to describe something made to resemble something else. The original French word means false, fake, imitation or artificial. Faux marble looks like marble. Faux bois looks like wood. Faux porphyry looks like stone.
Fetish Necklace
A necklace of shell or Turquoise that has fetishes in the shape of small animals or birds, intermixed along it's length.
An amulet, pendant or charm often representing an animal or person.
An object believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner.
A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Thinly twisted wire often bent into rosettes, spirals and vines
Functional jewelry parts such as clasp
All types of fasteners, and construction components used in jewelry making.
Florentine Finish
Finish has a brushed or striated appearance.
A short chain with a decorative seal or other device attached to the end. The fob and chain hung outside watch pocket, and could be used to pull the watch out of the pocket.
A thin sheet of metal placed behind a crystal or glass stone to make it brighter
A method of coating the back of a stone with silver, gold, or colored foil. This enhances the brilliancy of the stone, by reflecting back as much light as possible. It is commonly seen in costume jewelry. A foilbacked rhinestone whose foil has been damaged (often from water creeping in) does not sparkle anymore and is said to be a "dead" stone, lowering the value of the piece. Before, modern, highly reflective cuts were developed, even diamonds were foilbacked.
French Jet
Black glass fashioned to imitate real jet. Glass is heavier than real jet, and can feel cold to the touch compared to real jet.
Freshwater Pearl
A pearl produced by a mollusk that inhabits freshwater, usually these pearls are shaped like an uneven grain of rice. There is also a variety called Tennessee fresh water pearls that taper like a long tooth, as in the illustrated 1940's brooch.
A group stones that share a similar chemical structure, the garnet family includes pyrope, almandine, and demantoid, among others. Almandine garnet are red varieties, with pyrope being the common Bohemian garnet found in much Victorian and turn of the century jewelry. Demantoid garnet is a much rarer bright green variety, first mined in the mid-nineteenth century. Demantoid has the highest dispersion of colored stones usually found on the market, which means it is very sparkly. Demantoid is generally found only relatively small stones.
Include diamond, brilliant, beryl, emerald chalcedony, agate, heliotrope; onyx, plasma; tourmaline, chrysolite; sapphire, ruby, synthetic ruby; spinel, spinelle; oriental topaz; turquoise, zircon, cubic zirconia; jacinth, hyacinth, carbuncle, amethyst; alexandrite, cat's eye, bloodstone, hematite, jasper, moonstone, sunstone.
It is common to see the following words when describing costume jewelry methyst, diamond, garnet, emerald, ruby, sapphire. These words should not be interpreted to mean the precious stones with these names. The terms are used only to describe the color of the non-precious stones. If the genuine stone is meant, it is usually indicated with the word genuine in the description. This general rule also applies to words for metals, such as gold, silver, copper, and pewter. When used to describe costume jewelry, they mean gold-tone, pewter colored, etc.
Gold plating.
The ring around a diamond where the crown facets meet the pavilion facets.
Gold Filled
Goldfilled, or gold-filled, abbreviated g.f. = lower in gold content than 10 KT, usually 1/20 or 1/12 KT.In this technique a sheet of gold is mechanically applied to the surface. Victorian pieces are likely to be unmarked, but later pieces are marked with the fineness of the gold layer, and the part by weight of the gold. For example a piece marked "1/10 12K G.F." is composed of at least 1/10 12K gold based on the weight of the finished piece. In the U.S., gold filled pieces must be at least 1/20 by weight to be classified as gold-filled. An older unmarked gold piece may often be identified by wear through to base metal, especially when viewing corners or edges under magnification. Look for a change to a darker, brassy colored material at these spots.
Gold Tone
Gold colored or electro-plated, not gold as in measurable in karats.
Gold Washed
"Gold washed" describes products that have an extremely thin electroplating of gold (less than .175 microns thick). This will wear away more quickly than gold plate, gold-filled, or gold electroplate. The gold is applied by either dipping or burnishing the metal, but it is not plated.
Since ancient times, gold has been prized for its beauty, and purity since it does not oxidize or tarnish like most other metals. It has also been used as a store of value to build wealth and shield against hard times. Gold used in jewelry is almost always alloyed with other metals since gold in its pure form is very soft and malleable, and would not wear well by itself. Much gold jewelry from the 19th century and before is not marked. Tests must be done to determine if it is solid gold and to determine purity.
A layer of gold applied to base metal, usually by electroplating. This is usually a very thin layer, only a few microns, which is likely to wear much more quickly than gold-filled.
Routed out in a line
Hair Jewelry
In the mid-19th century lockets of hair of loved ones were often preserved under glass in brooches. The hair was sometimes intricately curled or woven, and these pieces are often inscribed on the back to identify the donors. Later in the century, hair was woven into watch chains, bracelets, even earrings and given as tokens of affection. All forms of hair jewelry are very collectible today.
The prongs of gold or platinum that secure a diamond onto a setting.
Heavily Carved
Extremely deeply carved
A bead technique, in sort are an old Indian art passed down from Cliff dweller times.
Hopi Overlay
See overlay technique. A style of jewelry made by the Hopi Indians.
A space is routed out of the material, and a contrasting material is fitted into that space. Bakelite polka dot bracelets are an excellent example of inlay technique.
Random cuts of stones set in epoxy. A Zuni stone working technique in which a mosaic of stones are enclosed in a bezel of silver and mounted on a silver plate.
A design carved down into a gemstone, unlike a cameo in which the design is raised from it's background, in relief. This technique was often used for seals, which made an impression in wax used to seal a letter or authenticate a document. It is also common on watch fobs, since the watch fob was originally a good place to carry a seal. Once seals fell out of use, the intaglio tended to face out to the viewer rather than down as on a seal. Some of the most commonly found Victorian intaglios are carved in Carnelian, an orange-brown variety of quartz.
Carving into a stone to make a hollowed out image. Opposite of cameo
Invisible Set
A skilled method of setting square gemstones into two rows or more with no metal showing between the rows.
A metal and member of the platinum family, it is often alloyed with platinum to improve workability, thus you will find pieces marked something like "90% Plat. 10% Irrid" to indicate that the alloy is 90 % platinum and 10% iridium.
A dense black lignite, taking a good polish, often used in Zuni inlay along with pearl, coral, and turquoise.
A form of fossilized coal that became popular for mourning jewelry after Queen Victoria's husband, Albert died in 1861. Produced mainly in Whitby, England, it is a very lightweight substance. Black glass was often used to imitate jet which became a fashion item, not just for mourning.
Ornaments worn by people on the body [Fr]; trinket; fine jewelry; costume jewelry, junk jewelry; gem, gemstone, precious stone. Forms of jewelry necklace, bracelet, anklet; earring; locket, pendant, charm bracelet; ring, pinky ring; carcanet, chain, chatelaine; broach, pin, lapel pin, torque.
The small string of beads hanging at the end of a necklace. Usually at the center of the jocla there is a set of contrasting beads.
Jump Ring
A small wire ring, not soldered shut, used to link elements of jewelry.
The measure of purity of gold-24K gold is 100% pure, 18K gold is 75% pure, 14K gold is 58.5% pure.
See bow guard.
Cutting, shaping, polishing and creating jewelry from precious and semi-precious stones.
Sculptured in or engraved on stone, of or relating to precious stones, or the art of cutting them.
The craft or art of cutting, engraving and polishing gemstones other than diamonds.
A necklace with an open end held together by a flexible jewelry drop or ring
Lightly Carved
Faint carving
Living Jewelry
Jewelry materials derived from living organisms pearl, cultured pearl, fresh-water pearl; mother of pearl; coral.
Lost Wax Casting
A model is made of wax and coated with clay. The wax is melted and poured out from the shape that can then be used to cast metal.
Popular in the 1940's for ladies purses and jewelry, lucite is a clear, strong plastic that can be molded and carved.
Mabe' Or Mobe'
A half sphere or domed stone, usually a fake pearl.
Maltese Cross
A cross with 4 arms of equal length
An oval stone which is pointed at both ends, also called navette. Also, a stone cut in a boat shape, pointed at both ends, with rounded sides. Note that the correct pronunciation is "Mar-KEYS", not "Mar-KEY" which is commonly heard.
Matinee Length
Single row necklace 30 to 35 inches
Medium Carved
Average depth carving
Small pieces cut from glass rods
A raised, beaded edge on a ring done with a special engraver's tool.
Means "thousand flowers" in Italian. A method of creating glass or clay beads with intricate patterns using canes.
Mine Cut
A style of diamond cutting popular before 1890 or so, it features a cushion shaped outline, rather than the round outline of the modern cut and old European cuts, and has a different facet arrangement.
Crescent shaped pendant hanging from the end of a squash blossom necklace. The crescent "Najah" is believed to go back into Moorish designs.
An oval stone which is pointed at both ends.
Needle Point
Stones shaped and finished to a fine point at both ends, then carefully set in a silver bezel.
Nickel Silver
A white metal mixture of copper, zinc, and nickel which contains no silver.
Black sulfide metal paste is fused into depressions on a metal base to produce metal inlay
Old Pawn
See Dead Pawn.
Olivelia Shells
A shell used in making shell necklaces known as heishe.
Opera Length
Very long single strand necklace 48 to 90 inches
Overlay Technique
A technique whereby two pieces of silver are used, one in which the design element is cut out and the second to which the first is soldered to. The base section is then darkened, to contrast with the highly polished design.
A technique used by silversmiths to darken jewelry. Used often by the Hopi Indian in their overlay technique.
A suite of matching jewelry consisting of several pieces. Commonly, a set of three or more matching pieces; three of either earrings, bracelet, and necklace, or pin/brooch. In Victorian times, a complete parure consisted of two matching bracelets, necklace, earrings and a brooch. Note that before wristwatches became widely worn, it was quite common to wear two matching bracelets.
Matching set meant to be worn together made up of earrings, bracelet, necklace, pin and ring.
A term for imitation gemstones. Fine jewelry was often imitated in finely made copies to protect the wearer from theft, and these were referred to as "paste".
The rights granted for an exclusive design.
As a general term, patina refers to the change in an object's surface resulting from natural aging. (Patina preservation is the reason to avoid all but very superficial cleaning of old objects.) In bronze sculpture, patina specifically refers to the surface of the bronze itself often altered by the sculptor with acid or the application of other chemicals.
The coloration that happens to certain metal due to wear and oxidization
(pah-VAY) very tightly set stones, as in a pavement; a gem setting technique in which the stones are set low and very closely spaced, so that the surface appears to be paved with gemstones. Most commonly seen with diamonds, but may be used with any stone.
Pavilion Height
The distance from the girdle to the bottom (cutlet) of a diamond
Jewelry given or deposited as security for money borrowed.
A natural gemstone formed when a oyster is irritated by a substance that gets into its shell. If the irritation is a naturally occurring grain of sand, it is an Oriental pearl. If it is produced by purposefully inserting a mother-of-pearl bead, a cultured pearl is formed. A pearl that forms attached to the shell is a blister pearl, while a pearl that forms a half dome is a mabe (pronounced mah-bay) pearl. Pearls that are irregularly shaped rather than round are referred to as baroque.
Perfumed Beads
Recipes are available to make beads that release a scent when warmed by the body.
Petit Point
A modified version of needle point. it is usually somewhat larger than needle point and is characterized by being round, oval, or having one rounded end.
Pewter Or Britannia
A somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
Pewter items are described and marked as such if they contain at least 90% tin. Also, a somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
The material has been cut completely through
Same as open work.
The most precious and rarest metal of all. Currently the metal of choice for many engagement rings because of its strength, durability, rareity, and classic look.
A form of cloisonn?in which the enamel in the cells has no backing, producing a translucent effect. This technique was used to good effect by Rene' Lalique and others during the Art Nouveau period to depict dragonfly wings and other translucent objects.
Pot Metal
Any combination of alloys of non-precious metals.
Pot Metal
Pot metal is a term used to cover many, many different mixtures which do not have gold, silver, or platinum as a major component.
Stones set with individual prongs holding them in place.
Small fingers of metal that hold a stone in place.
Glass substitute made of plastic invented in Fascist Italy
The most prized of all used to stamp designs in silver.
The Victorians loved romantic symbols, and rings or brooches set with a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and a Diamond so that the first letter of each gemstone spelled out "Regard" were given as a token of affection in early Victorian times.
A recent designation for the period in the forties when when large scale, stylized geometric forms were the rage. Pink gold, set with colored stones, sometimes in floral forms was common.
A glass stone, facetted to imitate a diamond. In German, it is called Strass, after the man who popularized it.
A metal that is part of the platinum family. Silver, gold, and even base metals were often Rhodium plated during the 30's and 40's to give them the white, shiny look associated with platinum. Genuine rhodium in raw state is liquid. Although in the platinum family of metals, it is not the same as platinum which is a solid precious metal.
Shiny metal plating belonging to the platinum family and is very expensive.
A thin plating of rhodium, which is one of the members of the platinum family, applied over either sterling or other alloy to give a bright, shiny, longlasting silver-colored finish to a piece.
Ring Size
After measuring the ring finger with a special sizing device, any ring can be made larger or smaller to fit the wearer comfortably.
Small round metal disk used between beads. Can be stone studded
A precious gemstone, and a member of the corundum family, rubies are always, by definition, red, but be aware that many other red gemstones and imitations might be assumed to be a ruby. Fine rubies of good color can be more valuable than diamonds, but the first synthetic ruby was created in the 1890's and became quite popular in jewelry. Synthetic rubies must be distinguished from natural by sophisticated testing by trained gemologists.
Safety Catch
Prior to 1900 or so, brooches had a simple "C" catch with no locking mechanism, and the pin often extended out beyond the "C" far enough to weave back into clothing for security. At the turn of the century several "safety catches" were invented and came into common used for better jewelry, so a piece that exhibits a safety catch was made in the twentieth century. (Consider the possibility, however, that an old catch was replaced at some point, and look for evidence of this.)
Sand Casting
A procedure whereby a form is cut into soft sandstone, or other material, then the two halves are sandwiched together, and molten silver is poured into the impression.
A gemstone of the corundum family, although blue is the color most commonly associated with sapphires, they come in a range of colors from white to orange to green to pink. In fact, if a corundum gemstone is red, it is referred to as a ruby, but any other color, including the light pinkish "rubies" in inexpensive jewelry are properly referred to as sapphires. Natural sapphires which exhibit a star effect can be quite valuable if the star is centered and well-defined.
(Soh-TWAH) a long rope style necklace, often with a tassel or pendant at the end, these were popularized in the Edwardian era because Edward's Queen Alexandra often wore them.
Long necklace ending in a tassel
Scatter Pin
Small pins worn in groups, usually birds, insects, and flowers
Seed Pearl
Refers to a very small round pearl or a very small imitation pearl, or f.pearl. These were strung on horsehair and used in intricately woven jewelry during the early-mid Victorian period. In the late Victorian period accents set into gold jewelry. During the Edwardian period, they were sometimes woven into long fringed necklaces called sautoirs.
A setting, already embellished with diamonds, gem stones or engraving, that awaits a center diamond. A diamond that is most complimented by the design of the semi-mount is then secured in the head of the ring.
That part of a ring that extends from both sides of the head and forms the remainder of the setting.
Silver plated or coated, not sterling silver.
Singer Mosaic
A style made famous by James Singer.
Split Ring
Small base metal finding resembling a key-ring.
Squash Blossom Necklace
A necklace composed of a large center pendant (see naja) and eccentric beads placed at regular intervals among the round beads on either side of the center. The eccentric beads often having three or four petals on them and are called squash blossoms.
Squash Blossom
Pomegranate blossom.
Stabilized Turquoise
A process by which the stone is treated by various methods to reduce the porosity, thus making less changeable.
Sterling Silver
925 parts silver, legal standard. 800 or less amount of silver is known as silver parts, as marked on the jewelry, not sterling silver.
Stick Pin
Straight pin worn vertically through a scarf, hat etc ornamented on the top
Glass with high light refraction and exceptional iridescence in colorless and coloured stones
Synthetic Turquoise
A man made chemical identical with that of the natural stone.
(TAHKS' coh) The small town in Mexico where William Spratling, an American set up his workshop in 1929. Many other silversmiths eventually set up shop here making Taxco the center of silversmithing in Mexico. Much silver is made in Taxco to this day, but the earlier silver , up to about 1970 is considered collectible. In 1979 the government began to require silversmiths to stamp a registration mark consisting of two letters and several numbers, and this mark should be found on nearly on newer pieces.
A cut out metal pattern used to trace the design onto the silver.
Tiffany Setting
The high pronged setting most common today for large stones such as a diamond solitaire, this setting was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886.
Tortoise Shell
A popular material for 19th century jewelry and haircombs, tortoiseshell was banned and is no longer used for these items. There are very close plastic imitations of tortoiseshell. One technique to differentiate tortoise from its imitators is to touch the surface with a hot pinpoint. Tortoise will give off a smell like burning hair, while plastic will emit and acrid, chemical odor.
Treated Turquoise
A process by which the pore spaces of the stone are filled with a transparent substance such as mineral oil, paraffin, or plastic to improve the color, and make it more desirable.
Troy Weight
Gold and silver are measured in Troy weight, a system that includes pennyweights, ounces and pounds. The ounces and pounds do not equal the Avordupois or customary U.S. system that other common goods are measured in. Gold is also commonly measured in metric grams. A pennyweight (abbreviated dwt.) is equal to 1.5552 grams.
A hydrous aluminum phosphate colored by copper salts, it is a precious stone generally found in desert regions throughout the world. All the cultures use it--Mongolian, Chinese, Native Australian, Persian & Southwestern Native American. It represents good fortune and beauty.
(Vehr-MAY) Silver with gold plating.
Refers to the period during the reign of Victoria of England (1837-1901) . This period is divided into early (approx. 1840-1860), mid (approx. 1860 -1880) and late (approx. 1880-1900) since it covers a wide span of time, and a number of distinctive design trends.
A hard, moldable dark brown or black early plastic sometimes erroneously called "gutta percha". This material was used for memorial pieces in the mid-Victorian period.
White Metal
Any combination of alloys of non-precious metals.
Jewelry 101 Jewelry 102

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