Jewelry Dictionary


AGS: AGS, or the American Gem Society Laboratories, are one of the official gemological laboratory that grades the cut of a diamond.
Alloy: Metals that are added to gold to provide strength and color variety, e.g., copper added to gold produces a “rose-gold” used widely in Victorian era.
Anniversary Band: Traditional gift from husband to wife marking an anniversary or a special expression of love. Stones set across the band in groups of three or more are standard.
Appraisal: An estimation by a qualified individual of the value of property. In jewelry, an estimate of the replacement value of a piece of jewelry by a qualified jeweler, usually for insurance purposes.
Asterism: Light rays form star-like effect in certain cabochon cut gemstones. They can be four-rayed, 6-rayed or (rarely) 12.
Band Detailing: Engraved – Decorating metal by cutting lines into the surface with a sharp graver.
Milgrain – A band of metal that is decorated with tiny beads of metal.
Bracelet Types: Bangle – A rigid or inflexible bracelet, either solid or hinged to open with a clasp.

Cuff – A wide, solid bracelet usually with minimal decoration.

Charm- links with small mementos attached by “jump” rings; American tradition of filling the bracelet with tiny memories has never gone out of style. “Charms” refers to the little molded, engraved or stone-set pieces making up the jingle of the bracelet.

Line – A full length of single row diamonds forming a bracelet.

Omega – A solid looking chain with close fitting rectangular links.

‘S’ Tennis – A tennis bracelet with “S” shaped links between each diamond creating a flexible bracelet.

Tennis – A flexible in line diamond bracelet.

Bridal Set: The traditional set of two rings that fit together- the engagement ring and the wedding band.

A Trio Set is three rings in a matched set, an engagement and wedding band for the bride and coordinating wedding band for the groom.

Brilliant Full Cut: This traditional faceting or cutting style for diamonds which improves the optical effect. The perfection of the diamond as a gem was only realized by the modern full-cut brilliant. Developed in 1910, its characteristics are: round girdle, 32 facets plus the table on the crown or upper part of the diamond and 24 facets plus, sometimes a culet (point) on the pavilion– the lower part. The word “brilliant” used alone refers only to diamonds. On any other stone the name of the mineral must be used with it, e.g., a “brilliant cut” citrine.
CTR – Center: The weight of the center or focal point stone in a piece of jewelry containing more than one stone.
Cabochon: A cutting style that produces a convex surface with no reflecting facets, the stone has the shape of a dome. Used on opaque or semi-opaque stones.
Calibrated: A gemstone whose dimensions are a standard (mm) size and are cut to fit ready made jewelry findings or pieces.
Cameo: A raised or bas-relief carving on gem materials; most usually seen on shells.
Carat Weight or carat total weight or ctw: The weight used in the gem trade since antiquity. Since 1907, Europe and America has adopted the metric carat of 200mg or 0.2g. (Weights given to famous old diamonds often vary because metric measure was not used). Small diamonds are weighed in “points” =1/100cts (=0.01cts.) One full carat 100 points = 1/5 gram (or .2gr.) 3.0 carat total weight refers to the cumulative weight or carats of all stones in the piece of jewelry.
Cathedral Mounting: High profile ring setting that arches when seen from the side.
Chain styles Omega – Links in the shape of the Greek letter

Rope – twisted strands woven to resemble rope.

Snake – A metal chain made up of a series of small linked cups with curved joints to suggest snakeskin

Box Chain –   A chain with links resembling small overlapping boxes.

Center Gemstone Stone Shape: Baguette – A simple, rectangular step-cut, primarily in diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.

Bead – A drilled stone designed to be strung.

Briolette – A tear-drop shaped stone with facets all around. This type of stone makes a nice pendant or earrings.

Cushion – Indicates a rectangular shape.

Emerald – Stone cut into a rectangular or square shape, with rectangular facets arranged in rows that look like flights of stairs.

Heart – A stone cut into the shape of a heart.

Marquise – A fancy gemstone cut; long, and pointed at both ends.

Multi-Stone – A piece of jewelry with several stones grouped together creating the illusion of one large center stone.

Oval – An elongated circle.

Pear – A teardrop shaped stone.

Princess – A square cut stone or rectangular with triangular and kite shaped facets.

Radiant – A stone cut into a rectangular shape with the corners clipped unlike a princess cut which has pointed corners.

Round – This shape gives maximum brilliance from most diamond crystals.

Trillion – A stone cut into a triangle.

Center Setting Style: Baguette – A simple, rectangular cut primarily in diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

Bar – A setting style where each setting is held in by a bar, shared between each stone.

Basket – A fancy setting of various shapes with numerous side piercing that provide a basket work or a lacy appearance.

Bezel – A style setting in which the girdle of the stones is completely encircled by ad set flush with the metal.

Channel – Low metal setting holding gemstones on 2 sides only.

Half Bezel – A type of setting in which the girdle of the stones is partially encircled on two sides and set flush with the metal.

Multi-Stone – A piece of jewelry with several stones grouped together creating the illusion of one large stone.

Prong – A setting consisting of a series of prongs or claws to hold a stone. Such settings usually consist of 4 or 6 prongs.

Tension – Opposite ends of a setting hold a stone by the force of tension, making it appear it is floating.

Tiffany – This high prong setting is most common today.

Chevron Style: A “V” shaped design seen primarily in rings and necklaces.
Chatoyancy: An effect which resembles the slit eye of a cat caused by reflection of light by parallel fibers, needles or channels in the stone. Most effective in a cabochon cut. Most common is of chrysoberyl.
Choker: A necklace designed to be worn up closely to the neck. Normally 16″ in length or shorter, depending on neck size.
Clasp styles: Barrel Clasp : a round or oval solid body fastener which resembles a barrel. The two ends screw into each other.

Box clasp : A type of bracelet or necklace clasp in which the female end is a box and the male end is designed to fix inside the box.

Lobster clasp : fastener than resembles the claws of a lobster and opens and closes in a pincer movement.

Safety clasp : a secondary closure (usually on a necklace or bracelet) that prevents the loss of the jewelry in case the primary clasp opens.

Toggle : a jewelry fastener in which a bar can be inserted into a ring to fasten two sides of a piece of jewelry usually the two ends of a bracelet or necklace.

Cluster: A group of closely set stones.
Cocktail Ring: A ring of three-dimensional design, usually combining small diamonds with other gemstones on varying levels for maximum reflective possibility.
Color-Enhanced: Any treatment process that enhances or changes the color of a gemstone. This may include heat-treating, irradiation, dying, bleaching, oiling, to name a few.
Comfort Fit: The inside shank of a ring that is slightly rounded (convex) to provide a more comfortable fit.
Crown: The upper part of a gemstone, between the girdle and the table.
Cubic Zirconia: An inexpensive, lab-produced gemstone that resembles a diamond.
Culet: A small facet placed at the bottom of the pavilion of a gem.
Cultured Pearl: A pearl resulting from man inserting a bead into a mollusk, which covers it with a coating called nacre. Almost all pearls are harvested in this manner today.
Diamond Grading:


To grade for cut, the type, shape proportions and symmetry as well as outer marks are considered. The grades are self-explanatory: Very Good; Good; Medium: Poor.

The “cut” is a term used to refer to the fashioning of a gem. Other cuts used in all gemstones are:

Antique: small table surrounded by symmetrical facets

Briolette: slender pear shaped stone covered with facets.

Eight-cut: eight facets on upper and lower parts as well as the table. Used for diamonds too small for full cuts.

Fantasy cuts : the popular cuts in recognizable shapes of hearts, coats of arms, flowers, animals, etc. Rarely faceted.

Pear-shaped: oval stones, diamond or any other gemstone cut with oval table facets above and below girdle.

Marquise (marquis) or Navette : Refers to as the “”marquise” shaped stone faceted high up on the crown, leaving a small table.

Rose cut: An antique facet cut without table or pavilion. Varies on number and positioning of facets. Not used in last century, thus an indicator of very antique jewelry.

Scissors cut : A type of step cut. The facets are divided into four sub-facets by the “scissors”.

Ceylon cut: Numerous facets, cut to obtain maximum weight and therefore is not always symmetrical. It is usual to re-cut such stones.

Emerald cut: Step cut with octagon shape, especially used for emerald, but also for longer shaped diamonds.

Single cut: a 17-facet cut used on smaller diamonds

Table cut : The simplest type of step cut which is very flat with a large table. It is often used for seals or rings for men.


Diamond Clarity Grade:

“C” is the chemical symbol for diamond —crystallized carbon C. It has an isometric (cubic) crystal system. It is the hardest mineral on earth, a 10 on the universal Mohs’ Hardness scale, with a specific gravity of 3.47-3.55. It rates “perfect” on cleavage rating, important to the stonecutters. Cleavage refers to the manner in which the stone’s atoms cling together, understanding cleavage is essential when splitting and cutting large stones.

Clarity is the term that describes the degree of freedom from inclusions and blemishes in a diamond. Kohinoor advises that gemstones and diamonds should be viewed with a 10x magnifier (jeweler’s loupe) on a white background.

F1 (Flawless) – is the term used by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) clarity grade to describe a magnificent diamond totally free of blemishes or “inclusions” under 10x magnification. IF (Internally Flawless) – GIA clarity Scale: A diamond with no internal characteristics at 10x magnification, but which have minor surface blemishes that do not penetrate the stone.

VVS1 & VVS2 (Very very slightly included) – GIA clarity grades describes a diamond with minute inclusions that are very difficult to see under 10x magnification.

VS1 & VS2 (Very slightly included) – GIA clarity grades describing diamonds with minor inclusions ranging from difficult to see, to somewhat easy to see under magnification and on a white background.

SI1 & SI2 (Slightly included) – GIA clarity grade state that this is a diamond with inclusions that are easily recognized under 10x magnification. Stone should be viewed on a white background. Look at the stone from the bottom (pavilion). These inclusions may be visible to the naked eye on a white background.

I1, I2, & I3 – GIA clarity grades assigned when there are obvious inclusions in a diamond which may be eye-visible, face-up.

Diamond Color Grade: Believe it or not, diamonds are found in all colors. The most prized is colorless, the dazzling white most people associate with diamonds. Most diamonds come in white to yellow to brown. More rarely they have strong colors- pink, green, blue, red, violet, brown, and yellow (canary). These colored diamonds are called “fancy color diamonds” and may bring collectors’ prices. For commercial purposes, gem diamonds are graded from yellowish to white (colorless).

Diamond color grade assesses the absence of color. Diamond color is graded on a scale from D through Z, with D, E and F regarded as colorless.

Light Brown (LTB). These particular diamonds are found in the GIA’s n-z range and are of a brownish hue. They have been selected for their attractive appearance and outstanding value.

Top Light Brown (TLB). These particular diamonds are found in the GIA’s k-m range and are of a brownish hue. They have been selected for their attractive appearance and outstanding value.

See the Four Cs article under in the Education section for more information on diamond color grade. 

Diamond Council of America (DCA): An organization certifying “Diamontologists.”
Diamond Rough: A diamond still in its natural state, before faceting or polishing.
Diamond-Cut: Besides referring to a diamond’s cut (see diamond above) this term also refers to a process in which gold is “diamond-cut” or faceted to make it “sparkle.”
Dispersion: The multi-colored flashes of light from a well cut diamond. It gives gems their internal fire.
Doublet: Two gemstones cemented together for durability or enhanced visual appeal, such as opal and black onyx. Doublets are created in several ways and use many combinations. Upper and lower parts of natural gemstone have colored glue between them: or the upper part is gemstone and the lower part is colored glass. Where the doublet has a thin top layer of harder stone for the protection of the surface, it becomes a triplet.
Earring Back Design: Hinged Hoops – Hoop earrings which are hinged usually at the bottom, to open for ease of putting on and taking off.

Lever Back – A type of earring mounting that allows the gemstone to dangle from the earlobes.

Omega Back – Hinged back for hoop earrings, in the shape of the Greek letter omega.

Screw Back – A pierced earring post with grooves cut into in so that the back may be screwed on.

Friction posts – Earring base requiring applied tension to release the back from the post

Earring Design: Chandelier – “party” earring with many dangling layers. Made famous of late by celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez.

Dangles – Earrings that “dangle” off the ear.

Hoops – Earrings designed in a rounded loop from the front to back of the earlobe.

J-Hoops – Half hoop earrings that resemble the letter “J”; does not completely encircle the ear lobe

Jackets – A piece of jewelry that fits around another piece; earring jackets are used to “dress” a plain workday stud. They can be almost any design and stone, i.e. pearls (and or diamonds) to encircle a plain gold stud; a dangling piece with movement– to go dancing after work, etc.

Stud – A small, often round earring made for a pierced ear.

Eye Loupe: A hand-held magnifying lens used to examine gems. Usually 10x magnification, but can be higher.
Facet: A flat, polished surface cut into a stone.
Fancy Color Diamond: See diamond Color. The “fancy diamonds” are more highly saturated colors of the natural stone–even browns and yellows. A diamond that falls outside the usual color range from whites to light yellow and brown are considered “Fancy”.
Findings: Pre-manufactured small parts of jewelry such as settings, clasps, jump rings, etc…
Flaw: In gem terms, an imperfection (flaw) which is visible at 10x magnification.
Four Cs: Phrase coined to describe the 4 quality and value considerations of a diamond: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Scroll down to diamond or… For more information see our article in the Education section about the 4Cs.
Fracture Filling: Most often used in emeralds, which are prone to cracks, this process uses a glass-like substance to fill and thereby strengthen the stone. It’s a non-permanent solution, but can last for generations. The best fills cannot be detected with the naked eye.
Freshwater Cultured Pearl: These pearls are formed in mussels living in freshwater lakes or rivers. Mantle tissue from a mussel is inserted into the mussel rather than a shell bead. Freshwaters are less expensive than their salt-water cousins; they are known for their out-of-round charming shapes, and range of colors at a good price.
GIA: The Gemological Institute of America is an independent nonprofit organization renowned for its impartial service as the world’s foremost authority in gemology. They offer nonprofit education, research and laboratory services including diamond grading.
GIA Inscription: Since the invention of the laser, GIA graded diamonds may have the grading report number laser-inscribed on the stone’s girdle. This number matches the GIA grading report.
Gemstone: A naturally occurring mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.
Gemstone Types: Alexandrite – A very rare stone noted for its color changing abilities. Known since pre-history, it was named for Czar Alexander II. It is chrysoberyl and rates an 8 on the Mohs’ Hardness scale. Colors are greenish outdoors, and reddish to violet under artificial light. There are Alexandrite cat’s eyes in existence but of even greater rarity. Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for June.

Amethyst – A silicon dioxide –quartz gemstone, rating 7 on the Mohs’ hardness scale. Ranging in color from clear purple to bluish violet. Birthstone for February. Legendary powers: brings luck, ensures constancy, protects against magic.

Aquamarine – Belongs to the beryl group, as does emerald and beryl. Mohs’ hardness is 7 -8. The name translates to “water of the sea” because of the usual color. Semi-precious porous stone ranging in color from light blue to sea green. Increasingly rare, the “synthetic” aquamarine is synthetic spinel, and the color is richer than many natural stones. Birthstone for March.

Black Star Sapphire – A cabochon cut black sapphire with a 6 ray star. These stones are always heat treated to improve their color.

Blue Star Sapphire Mohs’ Hardness of 9. The mineral is corundum. A cabochon cut blue sapphire displaying a 3 ray, 6 point star.

Blue Topaz – A topaz ranging in color from pale blue to bright blue. Most blue topaz is irradiated & heat treated to produce their blue color. Birthstone for December.

Cats Eye – Chatoyancy is a phenomenon seen in various gems when they are cabochon cut, resulting in a bright single line down the center.

Ceylon Sapphire – These deep royal blue sapphires from Sri Lanka, formally Ceylon, are the finest in the world.

Citrine – A semi-precious quartz gemstone, ranging in color from a light yellow to a brilliant orange. Birthstone for November

Diamond – (See above). A very valued gem composed of pure carbon, the hardest of all known natural substances. Birthstone for April.

Emerald – Belongs to the beryl group. One of the most valuable gems, ranging in color from green to bluish-green. The green pigment is chrome, and is incomparable in the gem world. Known for its “inclusions” which are not necessarily known as faults, since they are evidence of the genuineness of the stone. Experts refer to these as the emerald’s “jardin” –garden. Birthstone for May.

Garnet – A group of semi-precious stones ranging in all colors but blue.  Most commonly a deep red. Name comes from Latin for grain, because of the rounded shape of the crystals. Garnet is understood to mean pyrope and almandine, 7-71/2 on the Hardness scale. Birthstone for January. Iolite – A transparent, violet blue, light or yellow gray mineral.  Also known as the water sapphire. 7-71/2 on the Mohs’ scale. But difficult to cut.

Mother of Pearl – The material obtained from the inside of the shell of a certain large mollusk.

Onyx – A quartz mineral (chalcedony) that is usually black. 61/2-7 on the Mohs’ hardness scale. Ancient talisman against depression.

Opal – Some of the most stunning of the semi-precious stones; luminous and iridescent, frequently with inclusions of many colors. Opals always contain water, and over generations the stone can lose water. Store in moist absorbent cotton to prevent this. Care must be taken with setting. Too much heat evaporates the water. Birthstone for October.

Pearl – Organic gems of calcium carbonate grown within mollusks– specifically oysters, although in very rare cases, snails have produced pearls. Although the Moh’s hardness is only 3-4, they are so compact it is very difficult to crush one. Colors range from white, cream, golden, pink, silver green, blue and black. The type of mollusk and the water it is in, determines the color. Care can preserve pearls for generations. Perfume, perspiration and hair spray are enemies of pearls. Birthstone for June.

Peridot – Formerly called “chrysolite”, it is a yellow-green semi-precious stone. Also called olivine. 6-71/2 on the Hardness scale. In Middle Ages used for ecclesiastical purposes. It can burst under great stress and is usually metal foiled. Birthstone for August.

Rhodolite:  A member of the garnet pyrope group 4-5 on the Mohs’. Mistakenly called “cape ruby”. Color range from rose-red or pale violet.

Ruby – a corundum with the Mohs’ rating of 9, making it the hardest mineral after diamond. Ruby has no cleavage but has preferred directions of parting. Inclusions are common and not an indication of lower quality. Some rubies when cut en cabochon give a cat’s eye or the very desirable asterism-a 6 rayed star which moves over the surface when stone is moved. Color ranges from deep red to pink and into brown hues. Corundum unsuitable for jewelry is used as a cutting and polishing medium. Rubies are one of the most expensive gemstones. Birthstone for the month of July.

Sapphire – a corundum with the Mohs’ rating of 9, making it almost as hard as diamond. Today corundums in all colors except red (which are rubies) are called sapphires. There is really no definite demarcation between ruby and sapphire. Also found with the rutile needles making a cats’ eye or marvelous 6 rayed star when cut en cabochon. Most popular as a blue stone and the most desired are Kashmir sapphires, although they now come from Burma. Birthstone for September.

Spinels– magnesium aluminum oxide with a rating of 8 on the Mohs’ scale. They occur in all colors, the favorite being a ruby-like red. Star spinels are very rare. It was only recognized as an individual mineral 150 years ago, before that is was thought to be ruby, because it also occurs with it. Some well-known rubies are truly spinels.

Tanzanite – First found in Tanzania East Africa and named for that country by Tiffany & Co. Mineralogists refer to it as blue zoisite. 61/2 -7 on the Hardness scale. Gorgeous color enhanced by heating. A valuable transparent blue-purple stone and cat’s eyes are also found.

Topaz – in antiquity all yellow and brown gemstones were called topaz. The colored topaz stones are rarely vivid in hue. Hardness is 8, but it’s not without danger of cleavage. It has a wide color range, the most valuable of which is pink., sometimes referred to as Imperial Topaz.. Birthstone for November.

Tourmaline – 7-71/2 on the Mohs’ scale. No gemstone has such richness in color variation. There are several varieties: Achroite–nearly colorless -rare; rubellite -pink to red, sometimes with a violet tint. Dravite-yellow brown to dark brown; verdelite-green in all shades; Indigolite-blue inall shades; Siberite-lolac to violet blue; schorl-black, very common. Rarely used for jewelry. One color tourmalines are rare. Most crystals have various shades. The pink to reddish color tourmaline is one of the birthstones for October.

Girdle: The widest part of a cut gem, where the crown and pavilion facets meet.  On better diamonds, such as our AGS-certified Ideal Cut diamonds, a laser ID is placed on the girdle.
Gold Plate: A base metal that is electro-plated with gold or an alloy of gold. Also known as gold flash, gold finish or gold tone.
Gold-Filled: A layer of gold adhered or bonded to metal. The weight of gold must be 1/20 of the total weight or better and must be 10kt or better.
Guard Ring: Ring or rings worn on each side of a solitaire, also sometimes fastened together at the bottom.
Hardness: Refers to one mineral’s ability to scratch another ranging from 10 which is diamond, the hardest. At the other end is talc, which can be scratched with a fingernail. Although popular opinion says the non-professional’s method of testing for a diamond is ability to scratch glass, any mineral from a 7 through 10 can do the same. Measured by the Mohs’s scale.
Hematite: Hematite, or bloodstone, is an iron oxide. It ranges from black, black-gray, to brown red and is bright red when cut into thin plates. It’s a 5 1/2-6 1/2 on the hardness scale and was used as mourning jewelry in earlier times. Popular for intaglios (engravings).
Heat Treated: The now common process of heating a stone to a high temperature in order to enhance the color or clarity.
IRE: Otherwise known as an Insurance Replacement Estimate, this is an estimate of jewelry value for insurance replacement purposes.
Imitation: Constructed to look like the genuine article whether it be gem or metal, but lacking the crystal structure and chemical composition.
Insert: This is a trade reference to a double ring, sometimes ornamented with gems, with a space between to accommodate another ring in its center. Most often used as guard rings for a valuable center gemstone ring.
Ivory: Originally referring only to elephants’ tusks, it is now recognized as the teeth of hippopotamus, narwhal, sea lion, wild boar and fossilized mammoth. Endangered species are hunted for their ivory, and the United States will not allow importation or sales. But sea lion teeth are used for good quality ivory carving now. Very soft, a 2-3 on the Mohs’. Calcium phosphate in composition.
Jasper: Usually considered a chalcedony. But some put it in a group by itself within the quartz group. It is 6-7 in the Mohs’. Known for its fine grained streaking, lending itself to special types of jewelry. There are many names and types of jasper: agate, Egyptian, riband, basanite, blood, scenic jasper (this latter variation is very popular now; the inclusions create a scenic image.) Petrified material is often jasper.
Lapis Lazuli: Blue stone of sulphur containing sodium aluminum silicate. 5-6 on the Mohs’ scale. Composed of several minerals. Very sensitive to high temperatures, hot baths and acids. Usually spotted or striped. Well-distributed fine pyrite is advantageous, increases the value. Used for jewelry in the Middle Ages, and some castles have wall panels and columns of lapis.
Loupe: A small magnifying lens used to view diamond and jewelry, usually 10x magnifications.
Mandrel: Tapered, cylindrical metal device with measurement marks used at a jewelry store to measure a ring’s size.
Melee: Small stones less than 1/4 ct in weight.
Metal Color: The following are the resulting colors when mixing or alloying:

Yellow Gold – Gold that has been alloyed with a mix of 50% copper and 50% silver.

White Gold – Usually an alloy of yellow gold, copper, nickel, and zinc that results in a white colored metal. Since this is yellow gold alloyed to appear “white” it has a slightly yellowish tint until it is plated with rhodium, which gives it a bright white finish.

Two-Tone – A piece of jewelry using both white and yellow metals.

Rose Gold – Gold that has been alloyed with a mix of 90% copper and 10% silver producing gold with a pink tinge.

Metal content and gold measure: Combined substances are alloyed to produce a type of metal used for jewelry.

Base Metal – Any non-porous metal. Plated –The process of covering one metal with another using electricity. Solid– Entirely of one metal or containing the minimum alloy necessary to impart hardness.

Karat – abbreviated ‘kt’, is a method of measuring the amount of pure gold in an alloy.  These proportions are 10, 14, 18, 22, or 24. 100% is equivalent to 24 kts -pure gold. To calculate the amount of precious metal, divide the karat number by 24. For example, 14 kt divided by 24 equals 58.3% gold. Gold is commonly sold as 10kt, 14kt, 18kt and 24kt. Gold is a soft metal-in its pure state it can be scratched with a fingernail. That’s why rings and other daily-wear jewelry are generally made of 14 and 18kt gold, rather than 24kt.

Metal Type: These are the common types of metal used in making jewelry:

Gold – A shiny, bright-yellow, precious metal that is mined from the earth. This soft metal’s purity is expressed in karats, 10kt, 14kt, and 18kt being the most common.

Overlay Vermeil – Gold applied over a silver base.

Platinum – A very heavy, durable metal that is usually 90% to 95% pure, alloyed with 5% to 10% of another precious metal.  It is known for its distinctive cool, white color.

Silver (fine Silver) – .999 or 99.9% pure silver, occurring naturally in the earth. In this form, it is too soft to be used in jewelry.

Stainless Steel – A durable metal typically used in creating watch cases and bands. A key element to look for when selecting water sport watches.

Sterling Silver – A mixture of 925 parts fine silver and 75 parts copper.

Titanium – A very strong, ultra-light metal sometimes used to create watch cases and bands, making them some of the lightest watches available. It is hypoallergenic and resistant to salt water corrosion.

Mixed Cut: This style is a combination of the brilliant and step facets. Many mixed cuts have step faceting on the crown and brilliant faceting on the pavilion, however this is sometimes reversed. The two types of facets can be combined on the crown, pavilion or both. To learn more about the characteristics of a diamond, go to the diamond buying guide.
Moh’s Scale: The usual scale of hardness used in the jewelry industry, introduced by F. Mohs.
Moonstone: A feldspar named after the blue-white sheen inherent, which can also produce moonstone cats’ eye. 6-61/2 on the hardness scale. Cut in cabochon, always.
Mother’s Ring: Ring set with the birthstone of each child or grandchild, usually a straight line, but increasingly in cluster settings. Worn by mothers and grandmothers.
Mounting Design: Bypass shank – A ring design in which the two sides of the band do not meet in a straight line, but “bypass” one another. Straight – A style of mounting where the two sides of the shank are straight across from one another at the top.
Mounting Finish: Florentine – An etched metal finish, similar to satin but with a noticeably deeper etching in the gold.

Polished – Most popular finish on gold, giving it a smooth finish and a bright shine.

Satin – A widely used finish on gold, achieved by dulling the surface to create a silk like luster instead of a shiny surface.

Nacre: A smooth hard crystalline substance composed of microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate. A mollusk secretes this substance and uses it to coat an irritant that has become lodged in its soft inner body. As long as an irritant remains in the oyster’s body it will continue to secrete a layer of nacre around it. Over time the irritant will become completely covered in nacre. The result is a pearl.
Natural Pearl: A natural pearl results from nature inserting an irritant into a mollusk and the mollusk secreting a natural coating which covers it. These are very rare and nearly impossible to find today. Most are cultured pearls, invoked by man-made introduction into the mollusk and cultivated over time.
Necklace Lengths and terms : Princess Length – An 18″ strand of pearls

Matinee Length – A 20″ – 24″ strand of pearls

Opera Length – 28″ – 30″ strand of pearls

Graduated Multiples – Several chain lengths in one necklace

Necklace Accoutrements: Pendant – A hanging ornament that may appear on a necklace, earrings or a pin. Locket – A pendant (heart-shaped or otherwise) that can open up and hold a small object such as a photo. Slide – An ornament often decorated with diamonds or gemstones that slides upon a necklace. Solitaire – Although usually referring to a ring with a single stone, this refers to any piece of jewelry with one important gemstone; it can have supporting stones on the sides.Sticks – A style in fashion jewelry that has long straight lines resembling sticks.
Oil Treated: Treatment usually used on emeralds to prevent numerous inclusions from detracting from the beauty of the stone. Often used on opal to prevent cracking.
Orient: A term referring to the luster of a pearl.
Pavilion: The lower part of a cut gemstone, below the girdle.
Pearl Shape: Baroque – An irregular-shaped pearl.

Mobe – A large one-sided cultured pearl which has formed on the concave shell of the oyster and is flat on one side.

Off Round – Any pearl that is not “round,” but has a slightly irregular shape. Round – A perfectly round pearl.

Pearl Size: Seed Pearl – Very small, very round pearls often less than 2mm in diameter.
Plumb Gold: Gold that is not less than the stamped kt. content. 14kt plumb gold means that the gold will be at a minimum 14 parts gold mixed with 10 parts alloy. It is an assurance that gold is not under karated.
Point: Unit of weight. 1 point is equivalent to 0.01 (1/100) carats.
Post: The metal stem of a pierced earring, increasingly in stainless steel, for nickel metal allergy sufferers.
Precious Stones: An obsolete term which generally is used to refer to diamond, emerald, sapphire, or ruby.
Prong: A narrow piece of metal that is folded over the girdle of a stone to secure it in a setting.
Proportion: The relationship between the diamond’s angles and parts. Refers to facet angles and the relationship between the crown (portion above the girdle) and pavilion (portion below the girdle).
Refractive Index: A measure of how light is bent as it enters and exits a gemstone.  Each mineral has a refractive index, and that serves as an identifier. The amount of refraction in crystals is constant in the various types of gems.
Rhodium: A white metallic element of the platinum group that is harder, whiter, and more reflective than platinum. It is widely used for plating.
Scintillation: Refers to tiny flashes of light when the diamond, the light source, or the observer moves. Most often seen in the diamond’s stunning sparkle.
Semi-precious Stones: An obsolete term used to describe gemstones which are not diamond, emerald, sapphire, or ruby. These terms are misleading as many “semi-precious” gemstones are extremely valuable, and rarer than precious stones. Some “precious” gemstones are of such poor quality that their value is very low.
Shank: The part of a ring which encircles the finger and to which the setting for stones is attached.
Side Setting Styles: Baguette – A simple, rectangular cut, primarily in diamonds, sapphires and rubies, used to flank different shape central stones.

Bar – A setting style where each stone is held in by a bar, shared between two stones.

Bezel – A style setting in which the girdle of the stones is completely encircled by and set flush with the metal.

Channel – Low metal setting holding gemstones on 2 sides only with table at about level with the metal sides.

Multiple Stones – A piece of jewelry with several stones grouped together creating the illusion of one large stone.

Nick – This setting style is designed to look like channel setting, but the stones are actually held by small prongs “nicked” in the side of the channel. It enhances the central diamond making it appear larger.

Pav? – (pronounced pav-ay) Covering an entire area of metal with small stones set very close together and secured with beads of metal. Setting an entire area of metal

Prong – A prong is a tiny metal arm or claw holding a stone in place. Such settings usually consist of 4 or 6 prongs.

Tension – Newer setting by master jewelers in which opposite ends of a setting hold a stone by the force of tension, making it appear it is floating.

Tiffany – A high pronged setting for an engagement ring is most common today. The prongs should be checked by your jeweler every 6 months.

Solder: Pronounced /saw-der/, a metal alloy used when joining two metal surfaces.
Modern WatchTerminology : Alarm – A signaling device that can be set to sound off at a certain time.

Bracelet – Also known as the watchband, it is part of the watch that goes around the wrist. It can be made of leather or metal or even gemstones.

Case – The outside shell that houses the moving parts of a watch.

Chronograph – A stopwatch function on a wrist watch.

Crown – The incised button is set outside a watch case by which the watch is set.

Crystal – High quality, transparent protective covering. It’s fitted tightly over the face of the watch.

Dial – The plate or watch face marked with numerals for indicating time.

Diver’s Watch – A water resistant watch which may be immersed up to depth of 660 feet.

Kinetic – A kinetic watch generates electrical energy to power itself from the natural movement of the wearer’s arm and wrist.

Movement – Refers to the inner workings of a watch.

Perpetual Calendar – A watch calendar that automatically adjusts for the different lengths of the months and leap year.

Water Resistant – The ability of a watch to resist penetration by water up to certain water pressure depths. Most watches are “water resistant,” but not necessarily “water proof.”

Synthetic: A manmade substitute stone which has the same chemical, physical and optical qualities as its naturally occurring counterpart. Synonymous with lab-created gemstones. Many are extremely valuable.
Table: The largest facet at the top of the crown of a gemstone. It is generally parallel to the girdle.
Tiger’s Eye Formed from hawk’s eye (a finely fibrous quartz aggregate), Tiger’s eye has a very distinctive chatoyancy when cut en cabochon, and a very silky luster. Mohs’ hardness is 7. A favorite men’s gemstone, the rich brown and yellow-gold is unmistakable for anything else.
Total Gem Weight: The combined carat weight of all the diamonds or colored gems in a piece of jewelry; the main pricing point for a piece. Abbreviated as TW.
Ultra-sonic Cleaner: This machine, standard equipment in most fine jewelry stores, cleans jewelry with sound waves. But it is not safe for all stones. See our section on Jewelry Care and Cleaning on the bottom navigation bar or under Education.


For additional jewelry terms, you can visit the Gemological Institute of America’s guides:

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