Jewelry Terminology

ABALONE
Abalone, often called the ear-shell due to its shape, is harvested for both its pearls and shell. Abalone shell is used to make ornaments and inlay.

ADULARESCENCE
The name given to the white or bluish-white sheen seen in a moonstone.

AESTHETIC MOVEMENT
An artistic and decorative movement that began in Britain in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, epitomized by the phrase ‘art for art’s sake’. Aesthetic artists and craftsmen embraced the flat, stylized grace of the newly-discovered Japanese arts and the re-discovered Gothic arts. Motifs were natural ones, with an emphasis on sunflowers, irises, chrysanthemums, cranes, dragonflies and butterflies. Aesthetic jewelry usually has bold design, asymmetrical composition and areas of undecorated space. Pieces are often made with mixed-metal overlay, emulating traditional Japanese methods such as shakudo and shibuichi.

AGATE
A variety of chalcedony with variegated color that is either striated or dendritic. Agate has been used in jewelry for centuries, originally believed to protect the wearer from danger. Scottish agate became popular in the mid-nineteenth century after Queen Victoria bought Balmoral Castle.

ALEXANDRITE
A dichroic variety of chrysoberyl that appears grass-green in natural light and reddish in artificial light. It was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1830 on the day Alexander II came of age, earning it its name. Alexandrite is now mined in places such as Brazil, Burma and Ceylon, but the original Russian specimens are the most highly prized. Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

ALLOY
A mixture of two or more metals, used to either create a harder or more durable metal, to economize on precious metals or to create a desired aesthetic effect (such as colored gold). Silver and gold are both alloyed before use because they are generally too soft to be properly worked in their natural state.

ALMANDINE GARNET
A variety of garnet that is characterized by its deep red color, often having a tinge of black or purple. Almandine garnet gained popularity for use in jewelry in the mid-nineteenth century, often being used in pieces of Bohemian garnet. It is often cut as a carbuncle. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

AMBER
A translucent or transparent natural fossilized resin made from the sap of an extinct pine tree that ranges in color from pale honey to red to blackish-brown. Some amber contains organic particles. The most highly valued pieces are clear and display no cloudiness or cracks. Amber is light in weight but durable, making it especially suitable for pieces with a polished surface. It is often imitated by glass, plastics and several modern substitutes.

AMETHYST
A variety of quartz that ranges in color from pale violet to deep purple. Amethyst has been popular for centuries, originally thought to protect the wearer in battle. Large deposits were found in South America in the nineteenth century, increasing its use in jewelry. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February.

ANDRADITE GARNET
A variety of garnet found in several colors: green, yellow, red, brown and black. Andradite has two sub-varieties that are used in jewelry: DEMANTOID (green) and MELANITE (black). Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

AQUAMARINE
A transparent variety of beryl that ranges in color from blue to blue-green with the preferred color being sky blue. Stones are usually brilliant or step cut. Aquamarine is the modern birthstone for the month of March.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIVAL
After archaeological excavations of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan sites during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, new decorative styles were introduced to craftsmen. The first wave of neoclassicism occurred during the late eighteenth century after the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum and is epitomized by the Empire style of Napoleon. The second wave was inspired by Etruscan burial sites found in the nineteenth century, epitomized by the work of Castellani and Guiliano. Oftentimes, jewelry might display the motifs of more than one archaeological style in the same piece.

ART DECO
A decorative style that originated in France just before World War I and gained popularity in the 1920s and 30s, taking its name from L’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925. Art Deco emphasized geometric design, abstract pattern and exotic motifs, leaving behind the sensuous curves and soft colors of the nineteenth century. Craftsmen embraced modern streamlined designs, with geometric gemstone cuts and bold color combinations taking center stage. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires were the gems of choice, embellishing the long necklaces and dripping earrings of the time.

ART MODERNE
A decorative style of the 1940s that still exhibited a slight Art Deco influence and was a precursor to the Retro period.

ART NOUVEAU
A decorative style that began in the 1890s and lasted until the early 1900s, taking its name from the Parisian gallery of Samuel Bing, Maison de l’Art Nouveau. It took on many guises throughout Europe: Jugenstil in Germany, Stile Liberty in Italy (after Liberty of London), the Glasgow School and the Vienna Secession. Art Nouveau artists reacted against what they saw as the uninspired mass-produced copying of historic styles, choosing instead to focus on flowing lines, asymmetry, and superior craftsmanship. They took inspiration from the natural world and the arts of Japan, often utilizing insect, floral and female motifs. Instead of encrusting pieces in faceted stones, jewelers chose to use enameling, semi-precious stones (usually cut en cabochon) and unusual materials such as moonstone, opal and horn to enhance the beauty and originality of their design. Soon, copies of artisan pieces were being mass-produced and extravagant style began to decline. Major craftsmen of the Art Nouveau period were René Lalique, Tiffany & Co. Maison Vever, Georges Fouquet, Philippe Wolfers and Lucien Gaillard.

ARTICULATION
The movement created by having separate sections joined together. An example would be a Victorian snake bracelet with flexible sections that allow it to be wrapped around the wrist.

ARTS & CRAFTS
A movement in the decorative arts that began in England in the 1880s and continued until the first World War, although its effects were felt into the 1930s. The movement was based on the philosophy of William Morris, who rejected mass-production and focused on craftsmanship, simple design and truth to materials. The movement originally intended to bring quality design and craftsmanship to the common man, but with the rising cost of materials and labor it quickly became an expensive aesthetic embraced by the upper class. Arts & Crafts jewelry focused on abstract natural motifs and humble materials. Artists used silver, copper, enamel and cabochon-cut stones to enhance the design of the piece, preferring them to precious metals and faceted stones. Common motifs are thistle, peacocks and Renaissance and Celtic designs. The style was made especially popular by the work of C.R. Ashbee, who brought the style to Liberty & Co. where it was mass-produced for the public, and Dorrie Nossiter, who is known for her curvaceous gemset pieces.

ASSAYING
The process of purity-testing the metal in an item to discover the proportion of precious metal to alloy. The piece is then marked with the fineness of the metal. This process has been used in Europe for centuries.

ASSCHER CUT
A gemstone cut developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is a wide-stepped square cut with chamfered corners that give the stone an octagonal appearance. The Asscher cut has recently gained popularity, causing a plethora of modernized cuts. Older Asscher cuts have fewer facets, a smaller table and larger corners than modern stones and can be quite rare.

ASTERISM
An optical phenomenon of a reflected star shape in a cabochon stone, as seen in star rubies and star sapphires.

BAGUETTE
A gemstone cut where the table is a narrow rectangle with four bordering facets that are step cut in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid.

BANDED AGATE
A variety of agate that has distinct bands differentiated by varying degrees of color and or transparency.

BANGLE
A non-flexible bracelet that is either clasped or slips over the hand. They can be made of almost any material, from polished agate to engraved silver to inlaid gold. During the Victorian period women often wore matched pairs, onel on each wrist.

BAR PIN
A type of horizontal brooch that is long and narrow, often enameled or set with gemstones.

BAROQUE PEARL
A large, irregularly-shaped pearl. They were often utilized as the base for a figure in Renaissance jewelry. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

BASKET MOUNT
A gemstone setting that is pierced to give a lacy appearance and has the effect of a basket.

BASSE-TAILLE
French, ‘shallow cut’; a type of enameling in which the metal is worked to create a design in relief, which is then covered with transparent or translucent enamel and fired. The relief causes the depth of enamel to vary over the piece, giving depth to the design beneath.

BEAD SETTING
A gemstone setting in which small beads of metal around the girdle of the stone hold it in place.

BELCHER CHAIN
A type of chain in which the links are broad and of equal length.

BELLE ÉPOQUE
The ‘beautiful era’ in France, beginning at the end of the nineteenth century and lasting until the first World War, when peace prevailed and technology blossomed. People embraced luxury and elegance. Like the Edwardian period, design was influenced the neoclassical and restrained Rococo revival. Jewelry was characterized by garlands, swags, flowers, lace and bows.

BERLIN IRON
Delicate openwork jewelry made of cast iron, most of which was made in Germany in the early nineteenth century. The Royal Berlin Factory began producing such wares in 1804, and production increased significantly after 1813 with the onset of wars, namely the Napoleonic wars. During this time, the German government began a campaign to collect gold jewelry for the war effort, giving iron pieces inscribed Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron) in return. Iron pieces were also produced in France after 1806, when Napoleon marched on Berlin and took the moulds back to France. The early pieces of Berlin iron were made in the neoclassical style, often incorporating cameos and crosses as the central motif. Later pieces, towards the middle of the century, were of the Gothic revival style. Berlin iron declined in popularity towards the end of the century and is highly sought-after today.

BERYL
A transparent mineral producing a variety of gemstones, including emerald and aquamarine. Beryl has moderate hardness, exhibits double refraction and is dichroic.

BEZEL SETTING
A gemstone setting in which a metal rim surrounds the opening where the stone is set, encircling the stone.

BLACK TRACERY
A type of taille d’épergne enameling in which a design is engraved in a piece of metal and then partially filled with opaque black enamel. Taille d’épergne was often used in Victorian mourning jewelry.

BLACKAMOOR
The head or bust of a young black African male, often made of onyx or ebony. Made either as a cameo or a free-standing figure, they were generally used as pendants, fobs or seals. Blackamoors were a specialty of Venice, but were also created elsewhere during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. One of the preeminent blackamoor artists is Nardi. Also called ‘moretto’.

BLISTER PEARL
An irregularly shaped pearl cut from the nacreous interior of an oyster shell. They are usually mounted with the non-nacreous back in the setting, seen as pendants and small brooches. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June. Also called mabé pearl.

BLOODSTONE
Also called heliotrope, bloodstone is a variety of chalcedony that is characterized by its green color flecked with red spots of jasper. It was often used on fobs and signet rings. Bloodstone is the traditional birthstone for the month of March.

BLOOMED GOLD
A type of textured gold where the gold is given a matte finish. It can then be immersed in acid to create a slight pitted effect, like that of an orange peel. This technique is sometimes used in conjunction with basse-taille enamel to create contrast to the non-enameled sections.

BOG OAK
Oak that has been preserved in the peat bogs of Ireland. It was often carved and used as an imitation of jet in cheaper Victorian mourning jewelry.

BOHEMIAN GARNET
A type of jewelry popular in the late nineteenth century and originating in the region now known as the Czech Republic. These pieces feature close-set deep red rose-cut or cabochon garnets set in a low carat of gold. The motifs were often natural, depicting flowers, crescent moons and starbursts. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

BOOK CHAIN
A type of chain popular during the Victorian period that consists of interlocking flat links of metal. It gets its name from its similarity to the binding of a book. Also called a Venetian chain.

BOX SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is bead-set in a rectangular frame of metal.

BRILLIANT CUT
A gemstone cut developed in the late eighteenth century, designed to reflect as much light as possible from the bottom of the stone through the top. There are 56 facets not including the table and the culet. The Old Mine cut is the earliest form of the brilliant cut, which then developed into the Old European cut as technology allowed for more precise cutting. By the 1920s, the crown became shorter, the table larger and the culet disappeared, giving rise to the modern round brilliant cut.

BRIOLETTE
A gemstone cut that is a drop-shape with all-over triangular facets, often worn as a pendant.

BROOCH
An ornamental clasp with attached pin, worn on apparel and headwear either as a fastener or merely for decoration.

C CLASP
An early pin catch shaped like a C, used prior to 1900 (when mechanical catches began to be used).

CABOCHON
A gemstone cut that consists of a smooth, domed surface that is highly polished. This cut is used with opaque stones, stones that display asterism and any time that a soft look is desired. Used in antiquity, it was revived with the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts movements at the end of the nineteenth century and is still in use today.

CAIRNGORM
A variety of quartz that is yellowish-brown and is often used in Victorian Scottish agate jewelry. It takes its name from the Cairngorm mountain range in Scotland where it was originally found.

CALIBRÉ CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone is specially cut to fit a particular shape in a setting. Calibré stones are normally small, fitting snugly with other stones to create a line or pattern.

CAMEO
A cameo is a banded hardstone, usually sardonyx or carnelian, in which a design is carved in the top white layer and the colored layer underneath remains as the background. Cameos became especially prevalent in popular jewelry of the nineteenth century and were carved in other materials such as jet, coral and shell.

CANNETILLE
A type of goldwork consisting of a filigree pattern created by the twisting and rolling of thin wires. These wires made rosettes, beads and pyramids that add dimension to the pieces. Cannetille was popular in the early nineteenth century.

CARAT
The unit of weight used for gemstones, standardized as one-fifth of a gram.

CARBUNCLE
A red garnet cut en cabochon.

CARNELIAN
A variety of chalcedony that ranges in color from yellowish-red to orange-red to reddish-brown. It is often cut into a cameo, intaglio, seal or fob. Carnelian is the traditional birthstone for the month of July.

CAT’S EYE EFFECT
An effect seen in gemstones (usually cat’s eye chrysoberyl and tiger’s eye quartz) when cut en cabochon in which a moving stripe of light appears over the surface of the stone.

CHALCEDONY
A variety of quartz that is usually pale blue or grayish in color. Sub-varieties of chalcedony include agate, carnelian, chrysoprase, onyx and sardonyx.

CHAMPLEVÉ
French, ‘raised field’; a type of enameling in which a design is cut or stamped into the base metal, filled with enamel powder and fired.

CHANNEL SETTING
A gemstone setting consisting of two parallel bands that are bridged beneath a single row of stones in order to secure them. This type of setting is often used in eternity bands.

CHASING
A decorative metalwork technique in which the front surface of a piece of metal is tooled to create a design. It can be used alone or to define repoussé work. Unlike engraving, no metal is removed in this process.

CHATOYANCY
An effect seen in gemstones (usually cat’s eye chrysoberyl and tiger’s eye quartz) when cut en cabochon in which a moving stripe of light appears over the surface of the stone.

CHRYSOBERYL
A transparent gemstone that ranges in color from yellow and brown to yellowish- or bluish-green. Alexandrite and cat’s eye are varieties of chrysoberyl.

CHRYSOPRASE
A variety of chalcedony characterized by its apple-green color. It is used for beads, cabochons, intaglios and cameos. Chrysoprase was especially popular in the Victorian period and utilized by Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts artists. Chrysoprase is the traditional birthstone for the month of May.

CITRINE
A transparent yellow variety of quartz, its color ranging from lemon to gold to reddish-brown. Citrine is the traditional birthstone for the month of November.

CLAW SETTING
A gemstone setting in which a series of projecting prongs hold the stone just above the girdle. This manner of setting allows a considerable amount of light to get to the stone, thus making it a popular setting for transparent faceted stones. It first emerged in the nineteenth century.

CLIQUET
French, ‘catch’; a pin with an ornamental terminal at each end. When worn, the pin stem is hidden and the two terminals appear separated by fabric. See also JABOT.

CLOISONNÉ
French, ‘partitioned’; a type of enameling in which designs are created with thin metal wires or strips attached to a metal base. These are then filled with enamel powder and fired.

CLOSED-BACK SETTING
A gemstone setting in which there is metal on the bottom of the stone, with nothing below the girdle being exposed to light. Oftentimes the stone would be foiled or painted in the unexposed area to enhance its luster.

COLLET SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is fitted in a circular band. This band can be rbbed over the girdle to secure it, which is known as a rub-over setting.

COLORED GOLD
Gold that has been tinted by an addition of another metal or alloy. Blue gold is achieved by adding arsenic or iron; green gold by adding silver or silver and zinc; gray gold by the addition of iron or iron and silver; red gold by adding copper or copper and silver.

CORAL
A hard, organic substance that is derived from the skeleton of marine invertebrates. The color varies from pale pinkish-white to soft pink (angel skin) to red (ox blood). It is used for beads, cabochons, buttons, intaglios and cameos. For centuries, coral was thought to protect the wearer from harmful spells.

CORBEILLE
A traditional gift of jewelry given by the bridegroom to the bride on their wedding day.

CORUNDUM
The mineral family that includes the gemstone varieties of ruby and sapphire. Corundum is second only to the diamond in hardness.

CROWN
The upper part of a cut gemstone, which lies above the girdle.

CULET
The small flat facet at the base of a brilliant-cut stone, parallel to the table. In modern round brilliant-cuts, the culet is closed (there is no facet, just a point).

CULTURED PEARL
A variety of pearl that is created in the same manner as a natural pearl, except the process is stimulated by the insertion of an irritant (such as a bead or grain of sand) that becomes the nucleus of the pearl. This process was first accomplished by Kokichi Mikimoto at the end of the nineteenth century. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

CURB CHAIN
A type of chain in which the links are oval and twisted in order to lie flat.

CUSHION CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone is square or rectangular in shape and has rounded corners. The facets usually follow the standard arrangement for those of the brilliant cut.

CUT STEEL
Cut steel jewelry first appeared in England in the 1760s and was later made in France, Holland and other smaller European centers and remained popular until the late nineteenth century. It is made from steel cut as studs or faceted heads and densely set to glimmer in candlelight. The heads were set by riveting them to a base plate through small holes. Earlier examples of cut steel pieces exhibit up to 15 facets per head, while later Victorian pieces may have as few as five. Many of the heads in later pieces were not hand-faceted, but were mass-produced and stamped from a piece of sheet metal.

DAMASCENE
The original definition of damascene referred to a watered pattern in steel seen in the arts of India and eastern Asian countries. The modern meaning refers to inlaying metal with gold and silver.

DEMANTOID GARNET
The most valuable of garnets, demantoid is a variety of andradite garnet and is characterized by its transparent green color that ranges from lime to emerald to olive. It was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1868 and became exceptionally popular in Edwardian jewelry at the turn of the twentieth century.

DEMI-PARURE
French, ‘half a parure’; a small, matching set of jewelry such as a necklace and brooch or earrings and bracelet.

DIAMOND
A transparent (usually colorless or near-colorless) precious stone that is the hardest of all naturally occurring substances. It has a very high refractive index and strong color dispersion. Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April.

DICHROISM
The optical property in doubly-refractive stones of exhibiting two colors according to the angle of the stone. A stone that exhibits more than two colors is referred to as tri- or pleochroic.

DOG COLLAR
A wide, ornamented necklace worn tight around the throat. Dog collars were especially popular at the end of the nineteenth century. They had begun to be worn earlier in the century as a ribbon ornamented with gemstones and by the 1880s they were wide bands of metal and strings of pearls or beads. At the turn of the century, they incorporated a rectangular plaque (plaque de cou) centered on the front. Dog collars were even more popularized by Queen Alexandra, who used them to hide a small scar on her neck.

DOUBLE CAMEO
A cameo that has a carved relief design on both sides of the stone.

DOUBLE REFRACTION
The splitting of a ray of light into two rays as it is refracted through a stone. If looking through the top of a stone through a loupe, the back facets appear doubled in a doubly-refractive stone.

DOUBLET
A composite stone consisting of two layers of man-made materials and/or natural gemstones.

DRESS SET
An en suite set of men’s jewelry to be worn in the evening, usually consisting of a pair of cufflinks, three or four studs (for the waistcoat or vest) and two or three shirt studs.

EDWARDIAN
The dominant decorative style at the turn of the twentieth century, named after Edward VII of England, who was on the throne from 1901 to 1910. Fashion became light and airy, with an emphasis on ethereal white layers, delicate lace and a feminine silhouette. Jewelers recreated Belgian lace and downy feathers in platinum, diamonds and pearls. Common motifs were garlands, swags, bows, tassels and wreaths. Peridot, demantoid garnets and amethysts were favorites of King Edward and Queen Alexandra and gained popularity during their reign. The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of luxury, elegance and refined beauty.

EGYPTIAN REVIVAL
Jewelry made with an overall appearance of classical Egyptian jewelry, including pharaohs, scarabs, lotus flowers and figures of Isis. These images were popular in the late nineteenth century as part of the Archaeological revival, and again after Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922.

EMERALD
A variety of beryl ranging from pale to dark green. Emeralds are one of the most valuable of the precious stones. Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May.

EMERALD CUT
A gemstone cut for transparent stones that is rectangular in shape with chamfered corners and step-cut sides.

EN ESCLAVAGE
French, ‘enslaved’; the manner of joining plaques (usually three or more, either graduated or of the same size) with swagged chains, seen in necklaces and bracelets.

EN RÉSILLE
French, ‘in a hair-net’; a flexible trellis of wire and stones, often platinum and diamonds, that forms a dog collar or tight necklace. This style was originally created by Cartier at the turn of the twentieth century.

EN SUITE
Decorated in a like style so as to form a set, such as a dress set, parure or échelle.

EN TREMBLANT
French, ‘trembling’; the manner of mounting a decorative element, such as a flower, on a wire or spring attached to a piece of jewelry so that it trembles when worn.

ENAMEL
A glass-like pigment made from powdered potash and silica that is bound to metallic oxides with oil. This substance is then applied in a decorative manner to metal, porcelain or glass and fired at a low temperature.

ENGINE-TURNING
A decorative metalwork technique which uses machine-made lines and patterns. This method was invented in the nineteenth century and was often used in conjunction with guilloché enamel.

ENGRAVING
A technique in which the surface of a hard material (such as metal or stone) is incised and carved out to create a design. In metalwork, this differs from chasing in that metal is removed in the process. When done in gemstones, the carving may be incised as an intaglio or carved in relief as a cameo.

ESTATE
Jewelry from the 1950s and later is referred to as estate. While not old enough to be true antiques, these pieces have unique style and flair.

ETERNITY BAND
A finger ring in the form of a band set with a continuous row of gemstones, usually diamonds. The stones may be bead set, bezel set, channel set, collet set or prong set.

ETRUSCAN REVIVAL
The Etruscan Revival of the nineteenth century was part of a larger Archaeological Revival. Victorian jewelers were inspired by the ancient jewelry found in unearthed Etruscan tombs from the sixth and seventh centuries BC, replicating the granulation and forms using modern techniques. See also CASTELLANI.

FACET
A flat planar surface ground on a gemstone.

FAÏENCE
A term for tin-glazed earthenware, although it often refers to other types of glazed earthenware and porcelain.

FELDSPAR
A group of minerals, of which moonstone is the main sub-variety

FETTER CHAIN
A type of chain with elongated links, often interspersed with a series of shorter links like those in a curb chain. Fetter chains may also be twisted (snaffle chain) or ornamented with knots, stones or bars (fancy fetter chain).

FILIGREE
A type of metalwork decoration in which fine wire is shaped, scrolled, twisted or plaited to form a delicate openwork design. It is generally used on necklaces, brooches and rings.

FIRE
The prismatic flashes seen in some gemstones, especially diamonds and demantoid garnets.

FIRE OPAL
A variety of opal whose background is reddish-brown to orange-red and has very few prismatic colors (but may display iridescence).

FLORENTINE FINISH
A type of textured metal, the finish made by a series of engraved parallel lines cross-hatched with a perpendicular series of parallel lines.

FOB
A small ornament worn on a watch chain or chatelaine, usually with a seal-stone set in the base.

FOILING
The process of changing or enhancing the color and brilliance of a stone by backing it with a thin foil. Foils were traditionally created by hammering a sheet of metal to the thinness of paper, heating it and affixing it to the back of a stone. This process has been used for centuries.

FRENCH JET
A hard, glittery black glass used in imitation of jet. Unlike jet, it is cold to the touch.

FRESHWATER PEARL
A variety of pearl naturally produced by freshwater mollusks, usually found in rivers. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

GALLERY
A pierced metal border with a repeating pattern, usually used to vertically-frame openings, especially on rings. A closed gallery is a complete pattern, while an open gallery is one that has been horizontally halved, leaving the pattern open.

GARNET
A variety of gemstone that is deep red in its most common form. There are five main varieties of garnet used in jewelry, varying in chemical composition and color: almandine (purplish-red), andradite (opaque blackish or the vibrant green demantoid), grossular (mainly the orangish hessonite), pyrope (blood red or the purplish-red rhodolite) and spessartite (yellowish- or brownish-red). Garnets have been used in jewelry for centuries, but were exceptionally popular in the late-nineteenth century. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

GEORGIAN
A period of history running from 1714 to 1830, named after the English kings George I-IV. Moving away from the heavy enamels of the seventeenth century Georgian jewelry became lighter and more airy. It is a period generally characterized by exquisite goldwork and the use of Old Mine cut, rose cut and table cut stones. Common motifs are stars, ribbons, scrolls and flowers. Popular trends were memorial jewelry, cameos and intaglios, neoclassical motifs, Berlin iron and painted miniatures. Many Georgian pieces were later re-set to reflect more contemporary Victorian design, making original and intact pieces highly collectible.

GIARDINETTI RING
A type of ring in which the central motif is a spray of flowers set with colored gemstones and/or diamonds. Giardinetti rings were popular in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

GILDING
A process of overlaying or washing a surface (often metal, wood and ceramics) with a thin layer of gold or gold alloy. While early gilding used mercury in the application process, electroplating (invented in the 1840s) quickly became the dominant method of gilding.

GIRANDOLE
French, ‘chandelier’; a form used in earrings and brooches that consists of three pendant drops suspended from a central motif, usually a ribbon or bow. Girandole were popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

GIRDLE
The widest part of a cut gemstone, separating the crown above from the pavilion below.

GOTHIC REVIVAL
A period from about 1835-50 in England and France (and to a lesser extent America) in which there was an increased interest in a romanticized version of the Middle Ages. Gothic Revival pieces are decorated with angels, saints, knights, medieval figures set amongst elongated Gothic elements such as arches. These pieces are usually dimensional and often incorporate baroque pearls.

GRANULATION
The process of decorating a metal surface with tiny round grains of metal, usually seen in goldwork. Originally worked with a high degree of skills by the Etruscans, the style was revived in the nineteenth century. There are several patterns of granulation: 1. massed, in which the grains cover large areas of surface, 2. linear, in which the grains form simple linear elements, 3. outline, in which the grains follow the contours of an embossed area, 4. silhouette, in which the grains block in figures and 5. reserved silhouette, in which the grains block in the background.

GRIFFIN
A fantastical monster with the head, wings and claws of an eagle and the body and hind of a lion. It sometimes symbolizes the dual properties of the beast: watchfulness (eagle) and courage (lion). As a Christian symbol, it signifies the dual nature of Christ: divine (eagle) and terrestrial (lion).

GRISAILLE
A type of painted enamel characterized by its exclusive use of dark and pale colors (usually shades of black and gray accented with pastels) to create a monochromatic effect.

GUARD CHAIN
A long chain, from which keys and other useful objects were hung. These were in use from the early nineteenth century until the 1920s. This term is now generally used to mean any long chain.

GUARD RING
A ring, usually a simple hoop of metal, worn above a more valuable ring to guard against its loss.

GUILLOCHÉ
French, ‘engine-turned’; a type of enamel in which translucent enamel powder is applied over an engine-turned design and fired.

GUNMETAL
A term used to refer to any metal with a matte black color and silky finish. It has been used in jewelry since the nineteenth century.

GUTTA PERCHA
A dark natural rubber derived from tropical trees, introduced to Europe in the 1840s. Originally used as insulation, jewelers quickly found its use in jewelry due to its durability and light weight. It was especially popular when used in mourning jewelry as an imitation of jet.

GYPSY SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is secured within a recess of the body of the piece without a collet. In this type of setting, the table of the stone is level with the surface of the metal.

HABILLÉ
French, ‘dressed’; a cameo in which the figure is wearing gem-set jewelry.

HAIR JEWELRY
Jewelry embellished with or made of hair, of which there are several styles: 1. plaited to form a tube, from which was made a bracelet, watch chain or necklace, 2. woven as a background for gold wirework and set under a piece of, 3. worked into a funereal or floral design or 4. a lock of hair enclosed in the compartment of a ring, pendant, brooch or locket. Hair was originally used in the seventeenth century to honor one’s loved one in memorial jewelry, and was revived in the nineteenth century with the popularization of both sentimental and mourning jewelry. Hair jewelry originally used human hair, but later some examples from the late nineteenth century are made with horse hair when jewelry became more mass-produced.

HALF ETERNITY BAND
A type of eternity band having stones only on the top third to half of the circumference, the remainder being a plain or engraved shank. The stones may be bead set, bezel set, channel set, collet set or prong set.

HALF-HOOP RING
A type of ring having decoration or gemstones only along the top third to half of the circumference, the remainder being a plain or engraved shank. This differs from the half eternity band in that the stones are larger and often slightly graduated towards the edges.

HALLMARK
A mark stamped on some pieces of gold and silver from Britain and some European countries to designate the purity of the metal. Hallmarks must meet legally-established standards for metal content. Britain has the most thorough hallmarking process, with marks for the following: 1. the Maker’s Mark, 2. the Assay Office Mark (of the city where the piece was assayed), 3. Standard Mark (to attest the purity of the metal) and 4. the Date Letter (to show the year the piece was assayed). There are many other hallmarks, including import, export and duty marks.

HAMMERED FINISH
A metal finish achieved by beating a piece of metal to stretch it into a sheet. This was a method of making jewelry prior to the use of casting, and was revived during the Arts & Crafts period.

HARDNESS
In gemology, this refers to the power of a material to resist abrasion. Hardness is measured in relation to the Mohs’ Scale. Diamond is the hardest on the Mohs’ Scale, with corundum (ruby and sapphire) just below it.

HARDSTONE
A loose term used to describe stones used for cameos, intaglios, mosaic and pietra dura. Examples of hardstones are agate, carnelian, onyx, sardonyx and serpentine.

HEAT TREATMENT
The process of heating 1. a natural or synthetic gemstone to change or eliminate its color or 2. metal to change its color.

HEMATITE
An iron ore that exhibits a metallic luster, used in cameos, intaglios, seals, rings earrings and as beads.

HERCULANEUM
An ancient Roman town destroyed (along with Pompeii) by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was first excavated in 1738, initiating the first wave of neoclassicism and Archaeological Revivalism.

HORN
A light, translucent and easily-worked substance derived from the fibrous growths of some mammals, most commonly derived from the ox. Horn has been used for centuries to create anything from bracelets and beads to hair ornaments and small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid with metal. It was especially popular for use in jewelry during the Art Nouveau period, which focused on unusual and interesting materials. René Lalique and Lucien Gaillard are known for reviving the use of horn and for their masterful working of it.

ILLUSION SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the setting is brightly burnished and shaped around the stone so that it seems to be an extension of the stone, making it appear larger. This type of setting was invented by Oscar Massin in the 1860s.

IMITATION STONE
A man-made gemstone made to look like a natural gemstone, with its only resemblance being its color. Unlike synthetic stones, imitation stones are made of entirely different materials from the stones they are imitating and share no chemical properties.

INCLUSION
A normally minute amount of foreign substance (in either sold, liquid or gaseous form) that is trapped within a natural mineral. Examples of inclusions are crystal spots in diamonds and trapped insects in amber.

INLAY
A metalwork technique in which shaped pieces of a decorative substance are imbedded into another so that the two substances are flush; niello and enamel are not considered inlay techniques.

INSCRIPTION
Words inscribed on a piece of jewelry or small object, usually an expression of sentiment or commemorating an occasion such as a birth, death or marriage.

INTAGLIO
A carved or engraved stone or piece of metal in which the design is sunk below the surface of the material. This allows the intaglio to leave a relief impression when pushed onto a softer substance. An intaglio is the opposite of a cameo, in which the design is in relief and the background is cut away. Intaglios were originally used as seals, but later were also worn as rings, earrings, brooches and pendants. James Tassie and Josiah Wedgwood helped popularize intaglios in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries during the first Archaeological Revival.

IRIDESCENCE
The optical phenomenon of a soft rainbow-like play of color that sometimes resembles an oil slick. It occurs in certain gemstones such as fire agate and iris quartz.

IVORY
A hard, opaque and cream-colored organic substance derived from mammal tusks, most commonly from the elephant. Ivory has been used for centuries to create anything from jewelry to small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid with metal and jet. Thin sheets of ivory were used as the base for miniature paintings. It was especially popular for use in jewelry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Imitation ivory is made from palm seeds (called vegetable ivory) and various forms of plastic (including celluloid).

JABOT
French, ‘ruffle’; a pin with an ornamental terminal at each end. When worn, the pin stem is hidden and the two terminals appear separated by fabric.

JADE
A name generally applied to two distinct substances, jadeite and nephrite. Both are hard, compact and tend to be light to emerald green in color. Both must be shaped with abrasives as they are too hard to carve. Jade is the traditional birthstone for the month of March.

JADEITE
The superior and more rare form of jade. It is harder and shinier than nephrite, fractures more easily and can be variegated in color. The most valuable variety, called Imperial Jade, is translucent and a deep, intense green. Jadeite can also be found in a variety of colors including white, orange, blue and black.

JAPONAISERIE
Japonaiserie is a term used for the influence of Japanese arts on the West. When Japanese ports reopened for trade with the West in 1854, Europe was flooded with Japanese goods, from prints and porcelain to tea and. Japanese aesthetics were especially influential on the Aesthetic and Art Nouveau movements and artists such as Whistler and Van Gogh. Japanese motifs, such as fan, kimonos, cranes, irises, chrysanthemums and bamboo were found on everything from silver brooches to mixed metal earrings. Looking at Japanese prints, artists began to elongate their spaces, vary their perspective and create asymmetrical compositions. Also referred to as ‘Japonisme’.

JARDIN
French, ‘garden’; refers to the moss-like inclusions in emeralds.

JARRETIÈRE
French, ‘garter’; a type of mesh strap bracelet of broad links with a buckle fastener that is also usually a slide. Jarretière have been in use since the middle of the nineteenth century.

JASPER
A variety of quartz that is characterized by its opacity and variety of colors, including red, brown, yellow and green. Jasper is often used in intaglios and fobs as well as for inlay.

JASPERWARE
A hard, fine unglazed stoneware invented by Josiah Wedgwood in 1764. The body can be stained with metallic oxides to give a variety of colors including lavender, sage and black, with the most common color being a soft cobalt blue. It is usually seen with relief decoration done in white (like that of a shell cameo), and was used in all forms of jewelry and objects.

JET
Jet is a carbonized black substance formed from ancient driftwood. It was mined in Whitby, England for several centuries and gained popularity when Prince Albert died in 1861. Queen Victoria was grief-stricken and adopted the strict code of mourning, with the rest of the country following suit. Jet (and jet substitutes) were appropriate for full mourning. Because jet is lightweight, easily carved and takes a nice polish, it became popular for mourning jewelry. Between the popularity of cheaper substitutes such as French jet and a general weariness of wearing mourning dress, the use of jet began to decline in the 1880s.

JUGENDSTIL
German, ‘youth style’; an artistic style similar to Art Nouveau that occurred in Germany and Austria at the end of the nineteenth century, taking its name from the German Art Nouveau magazine Die Jugend. More linear and abstract than the Art Nouveau of France and Belgium, Jugendstil was originally rooted in the styles of the Japanese arts, Arts & Crafts movement and Glasgow School.

KINGFISHER FEATHER JEWELRY
Pieces of jewelry in which the decoration is made from small sections of blue kingfisher feathers mounted over metal. Sometimes small gemstones are added for further decoration. These pieces are quite delicate and it is rare to find one in perfect condition.

KNIFE-EDGE
A type of setting, especially used in Edwardian jewelry, in which a thin piece of metal is turned to its side so as to appear almost invisible.

LACE PIN
A small, curved brooch used to fasten a fichu or lace scarf.

LANDSCAPE AGATE
A type of moss agate in which the dendritic inclusions appear to create a landscape scene.

LAPIS LAZULI
A gemstone that is characterized by it’s opaque, deep-blue and gold-flecked color, sometimes with white streaks. It is usually cut en cabochon or used in inlay, intaglios and seals. Lapis lazuli is one of the birthstones for the month of September.

LASQUÉ
A thin, flat diamond with a small beveled edge cut by Indian cutters, used to cover a portrait miniature or as a watch glass.

LAVA JEWELRY
Pieces of jewelry made from the lava of Mount Vesuvius and carved in Italy. The pieces are usually shades of tan or gray and have a matte surface that works well for cameos and intaglios. Lava jewelry was popular as inexpensive souvenir jewelry in the nineteenth century.

LAVALIER
French, after Louise Françoise de La Baume Le Blanc, duchesse de La Vallière; a necklace of small links with a single, elongated gem-set pendant. This type of necklace was very popular during the Belle Époque and Edwardian periods.

LIMOGES ENAMEL
A type of very fine enamel, in which the enamel is painted onto a metal surface one color at a time and fired after each application. This type of enamel was perfected in Limoges, France in the fifteenth century and continues to be made today.

LINE BRACELET
A type of flexible bracelet in which gemstones are arranged in a single line. Also called a tennis bracelet.

LONGUARD
A long chain, which can be worn doubled or tripled and often has a swivel at the end, from which to hang a watch or small personal item.

LORGNETTE
A pair of spectacles with an attached handle, which is usually folded and suspended from a chain.

LOUPE
A jeweler’s magnifying glass.

LOVER’S EYE
A painted portrait miniature of an eye which was usually set in jewelry. These miniatures were popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Originally they were painted as love tokens, meant to provide a portrait without revealing the subject.

LOVERS’ KNOT
A continuous knot with no end.

LUCKENBOOTH BROOCH
Scottish, ‘street stalls’; a brooch of one or two hearts, surmounted by a crown, especially popular in Scotland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Luckenbooth brooches were love tokens, originally purchased in street stalls in Edinburgh. Also called Queen Mary brooches.

LUSTER
The surface brilliance of a material, defined by the amount and quality of light reflected. There are several kinds of luster: 1. metallic, as displayed by metals and metallic minerals, 2. adamantine, as displayed by diamonds, 3. pearly, as displayed by the nacreous surface of pearls, 4. silky, as displayed by cat’s eye, 5. vitreous, as displayed by corundum and glass and 6. resinous, a waxy luster displayed by amber and other resins. The intensities of luster are splendent (mirror-like), shining (shiny but indistinct), glistening (weak) and dull (practically none).

MALACHITE
An opaque mineral characterized by its dark green color and variegated bands of light and dark green. It is cut en cabochon or used for intaglios, fobs, seals and inlay. It was sometimes used in Scottish agate jewelry.

MALTESE CROSS
A type of cross in which the four arms are equal in length and widen as they spread from the center. The end of each arm is slightly indented giving the cross eight points. The Maltese cross was popular in the early- and mid-nineteenth century. It is sometimes called the cross of St. John.

MANCHETTE
French, ‘cuff’; a bangle bracelet that tapers like a cuff.

MARCASITE
Originally a name for crystallized iron pyrites, but is now also used to refer to pyrite. Marcasite is usually rose-cut to enhance its surface sparkle (since it has no internal sparkle) and set in silver. Marcasite has been used in jewelry for centuries.

MARQUISE
A gemstone cut that is a modification of the brilliant cut. The girdle is navette-shaped and the table is hexagonal.

MARRIED JEWELRY
A piece of jewelry from an older item that is put together with a newer piece of jewelry.

MEMENTO MORI
Latin, ‘Remember you must die’; a motif, piece of jewelry or small decorative object that serves as a reminder of mortality. Such images may be a coffin, skeleton or waning hourglass, usually enameled and gem-set. Memento mori were popular in the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

MICROMOSAIC
A mosaic created from small tesserae or tiles that are embedded into a cement or paste to create a pattern. Micromosaics were especially popular as souvenir jewelry in the early- and mid-nineteenth century.

MILANESE CHAIN
A mesh-like chain consisting of interwoven rows of small links.

MILLEFIORI
Italian, ‘a thousand flowers’; A type of ornamental glass whose pattern is derived from the arrangement of small canes of glass embedded within clear glass. Millefiori jewelry were popular souvenirs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

MILLEGRAIN
A type of metalwork decoration made by making indentations along a metal strip. Millegrain settings are gemstone settings in which the girdle of a stone is secured by a millegrain collet. This type of setting was developed in the nineteenth century.

MOH’S SCALE
A ten-point scale used for recording the relative hardness of minerals, based on the ability for a harder mineral to scratch a softer mineral. It wa established in 1822 by the German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs.

MOONSTONE
A variety of feldspar that is translucent to transparent with a white or bluish sheen. When cut en cabochon, moonstone displays adularescence. Moonstone was extremely popular in Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts jewelry. Moonstone is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

MOSAIC
A type of inlay decoration, of which there are two kinds in jewelry: pietra dura (also called Florentine Mosaic) and micromosaic (also called Roman mosaic).

MOSS AGATE
A variety of agate that has moss-green, brown or black dendritic inclusions.

MOTHER-OF-PEARL
The iridescent nacreous lining of pearl-producing mollusks. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

MOURNING JEWELRY
When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria was grief-stricken and followed a strict mourning code and the rest of the country followed suit. Mourning codes during the Victorian era were stringent: full mourning generally lasted for six months to one year and was followed by a period of half-mourning in which the code was slightly relaxed. Dress, along with jewelry, had to comply with these codes. Jet, jet substitutes and black enamel were appropriate for full mourning and tortoiseshell, niello and gunmetal were acceptable for half-mourning.

NACRE
The iridescent substance secreted by mollusks from which pearls are made.

NAVETTE
French, ‘little boat’; a boat-shaped form, like a marquise.

NEGLIGÉE
French for ‘careless’; a pendant or necklace with two unevenly suspended drops. Negligée were popular during the Edwardian period.

NEOCLASSICAL
A decorative style that emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century and drew on classical art and culture.

NEPHRITE JADE
The more abundant form of jade, which is not as hard and shiny but is more tough and durable than jadeite. Nephrite comes in a range of colors including white, dark green, brown and black. A common form of nephrite is called mutton-fat jade and is pale, translucent and yellowish- or greenish-gray.

NIELLO
An ancient type of decorative inlay in which the design is engraved in the metal base, usually silver. The engraving is then filled in with an alloy of metallic sulfides that become black when heated. The effect is a velvety black and silver pattern. Niello was revived in the nineteenth century and was especially used in Russia and France.

OBJETS TROUVÉS
French, ‘found objects’; objects found in nature, such as shells, pebbles and feathers that have a small hole drilled in them for suspension.

OBSIDIAN
A type of natural glass that is solidified volcanic lava. It appears black and is transparent to opaque.

OLD EUROPEAN-CUT
A gemstone cut that is a predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut. It has the same number of facets as modern round brilliant (plus an open culet) with a round girdle, high crown and small table. The Old European cut began to transition into the round brilliant cut in the 1920s.

OLD MINE-CUT
A gemstone cut that is a predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut. It has a cushion-shaped girdle, large open culet, small table and high crown. Because Old Mine-cut stones were cut by hand, the facets tend to be slightly irregular.

ONYX
A variety of chalcedony that is composed of parallel layers of shades of black and white. It is often used in cameos, intaglios, fobs and seals. It was also popular during the Art Deco period because its dark color was a bold contrast to white diamonds and sparkling colored stones. It is often dyed to produce a uniform black material often referred to as black onyx. Onyx is one of the birthstones for February.

OPAL
A gemstone that is characterized by its prismatic color play, with the highest quality stones displaying iridescence. Opals are usually cut en cabochon. Opal is the modern birthstone for the month of October.

OPALESCENCE
The optical phenomenon of a display of milky-white or bluish-white light in some gemstones, such as opal, moonstone and some varieties of chalcedony.

OPENWORK
A type of metalwork decoration in which the metal is open to allow the passage of light. This can be achieved either by the manipulation of thin wires or the piercing of a metal base into a design.

OXIDATION
The effect that occurs when a metal comes in contact with oxygen and produces an oxide, which adds a patina.

PAINTED ENAMEL
A type of enameling in which the enamel is painted onto a flat surface with a brush and then fired. This can be done in multiple layers, with the later layers having a lower melting point than the previous layers. This type of enamel was developed in Limoges, France and is often referred to as ‘Limoges enamel’.

PARURE
French, ‘set’; a boxed set of at least three pieces of jewelry and personal adornments designed en suite and worn as a set. A parure often includes a necklace, earrings and a brooch. An evening parure was more extensive and often incorporated a necklace, earrings, hairpins, brooches and a pair of bracelets. Parures were originally worn in the Renaissance and were revived in the nineteenth century.

PASTE JEWELRY
Jewelry made with paste stones that became especially popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The growing middle class wore paste because it was affordable and attractive while the upper classes wore it as an alternative to their precious jewels when they traveled. Early paste was highly refractive glass used to imitate diamonds. In the eighteenth century, Georges-Frédérick Strass invented a leaded glass alternative that could be both colorless or tinted. True old paste is usually foil-backed to increase its sparkle.

PÂTE DE VERRE
French, ‘glass paste’; a material made by grinding glass into a powder and adding flux to melt it. This mixture is then tinted and poured into a mould and fired. Color variations can be achieved by adding different reactive ingredients to the mould. This process was especially popular in France during the Art Nouveau period.

PAVÉ
French, ‘paved’; a gemstone setting in which many small stones are set very close together in order to create an area of sparkle in which little or no metal is visible.

PAVILION
The portion of a brilliant cut that lies beneath the girdle.

PEARL
A natural, lustrous material created inside the shell of some mollusks when a foreign particle (such as a grain of sand) becomes coated in nacre. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

PENDANT
An ornament worn on a chain or as a necklace.

PENDELOQUE
French, ‘drop’ or ‘pendant’; a gemstone cut that is rounded at the bottom and pointed at the top, similar to a pear. It is often pierced at the top so it can be worn as a pendant or hung as an earring.

PERIDOT
A gemstone known for its greenish color that ranges from dark green to yellowish green. It is usually faceted. Peridot is the modern birthstone for the month of August.

PIERCING
A type of metalwork in which a pattern is sawn out of metal to create an openwork pattern.

PIETRA DURA
Italian, ‘hard stone’; refers to a type of mosaic in which various hardstones are inlaid into a piece of hardstone. Pietra dura is a specialty of Florence, but is produced throughout Italy as well as in Russia. Pietra dura jewelry was especially popular as souvenir jewelry in the early- and mid-nineteenth century.

PINCHBECK
A gold substitute that is an alloy of copper and zinc and was invented in the 1720s by Christopher Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck is almost indistinguishable from gold as it is lustrous and does not oxidize. It fell from favor with the introduction of electroplating in the nineteenth century.

PIQUÉ
French, ‘pricked’; jewelry and small decorative objects of tortoiseshell or ivory that have a pattern of inlaid silver and gold. There are two types of piqué: 1. piqué point, in which the metal is applied in tiny geometric shapes or points and 2. piqué posé, in which the metal is applied in strips to create patterns. The two types are often combined within the same piece. Piqué was popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, with most of the finest pieces being made during the Georgian period.

PLAQUE
A rectangular shape, sometimes with rounded or chamfered corners, that can have any design constrained within its border. It is often used in bracelets and as a pendant or brooch.

PLATINUM
A heavy and durable noble metal. It has a high tensile strength and high melting point, requiring high heat to be worked. The silvery-white metal has been used in jewelry since the late nineteenth century, when methods to work it were discovered.

PLIQUE-Á-JOUR
French, ‘open to the day’; a type of enamel in which a design is outlined in metal, filled with enamels and fired. The groundplate is removed after the firing, leaving behind a translucent enamel that resembles stained glass. It is very fragile and few pieces remain fully intact today. It is an ancient technique revived during the Art Nouveau period.

POISSARDE
French, ‘fishwife’; a type of earring with an elongated pendant that was especially popular at the end of the eighteenth century.

POMPEII
An ancient Roman town destroyed (along with Herculaneum) by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was first excavated in 1748, initiating the first wave of neoclassicism and Archaeological Revivalism.

PORCELAIN
A very fine, white earthenware that is sometimes used in jewelry, usually mounted as plaques or pendants.

PORTRAIT MINIATURE
A painted miniature of a portrait that was often set in jewelry, a trend which was popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These portraits were usually painted on vellum or ivory and set under a crystal as a ring, pendant or brooch.

POSY RING
A type of ring engraved or enameled with a short sentimental expression, called a ‘posy’. This message can be either on the interior or exterior of the ring. Posy rings were popular form the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Also spelled ‘posey’.

PRINCESS-CUT
A gemstone cut developed in 1979 that is square in shape with pointed corners and modified brilliant-cut facets.

PRONG SETTING
A gemstone setting that features small prongs of metal that grip the stone along the girdle.

PUTTO
A chubby child figure that is often nude and winged. Putti were used extensively in the Renaissance as personifications of love and were revived as a popular motif in the nineteenth century. Cupid is usually represented as a putto.

QUARTZ
The most commonly occurring mineral, which is found all over the world and is silica-based. There are three varieties of quartz: 1. crystalline, such as amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, rock crystal and smoky quartz, 2. cryptocrystalline, such as bloodstone and chalcedony and 3. massive, such as jasper.

QUATREFOIL
Middle English, ‘four leaves’; an ornamental motif first used in Medieval times that has four lobes that are either rounded or pointed.

QUIZZING GLASS
A monocular device with a handle, similar in fashion to a lorgnette but with a single lens. Quizzing glasses were popular from the eighteenth century onwards and began to wane in popularity in the mid-nineteenth century.

REGARD RING
A type of ring that contains a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond to spell out “Regard”. Regard rings were popular during the Georgian and early Victorian periods.

RELIEF
A method of ornamentation in which a modeled form is raised from a flat background without disconnecting from it. Low relief is called bas relief while high relief is called alto relief.

RENAISSANCE REVIVAL
A period in which there was an increased interest in a romanticized version of the Renaissance, beginning in the eighteenth century and peaking in the late nineteenth century. Renaissance Revival pieces are usually decorated with enamel and feature pearls and cabochon stones.

REPOUSSÉ
French, ‘pushed out’; a metalwork technique in which a piece of metal is worked up from the back in order to create a design in relief. In the nineteenth century, stamping became mechanized and was used to mass-produce pieces that feature repoussé.

REPRODUCTION
A piece that is a close copy of an original piece but that is reviewed as such and has no intent of deception.

RETRO
Retro is a term used for jewelry from the late 1930s through early 50s derived from the term ‘Retrospective of Art Deco’. It is characterized by large, glamorous designs utilizing yellow and rose gold. Synthetic and semi-precious stones were popular as precious stones were scarce. During World War II and the post-war years, metals and stones were harder to come by so jewelers creatively used small amounts of material to make chunky cocktail jewelry. Retro jewelry is still wearable and en vogue today.

RIVIÈRE
French, ‘river’; A short necklace consisting of a single row of graduated gemstones.

ROCAILLE
French, ‘rocky terrain’; a decorative ornamentation popularized in eighteenth century France during the Rococo, which is characterized by scrolling rock-like shell motifs. Rocaille motifs were revived in the nineteenth century.

ROCK CRYSTAL
The colorless and transparent form of crystalline quartz that has been used in jewelry for centuries. Rock crystal is the traditional birthstone for the month of April.

ROCOCO REVIVAL
A period during the mid-nineteenth century in which there was an increased interest in the eighteenth century French Rococo. Rococo Revival pieces are characterized by their scrollwork and emphasis on rocaille, floral and shell motifs.

RONDELLE
A gemstone or metal disc that usually has faceted edges and is pierced through the center, often acting as a spacer on a necklace.

ROSE-CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone has a flat base and convex crown with triangular facets that create lots of twinkle. The cut was first used in the fifteenth century and remained in use through the nineteenth century. There has recently been a renewed interest in rose-cut stones.

ROSE GOLD
A gold and copper alloy that is characterized by its pinkish tone.

RUBBED-OVER SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is surrounded by a strip of metal which is pressed over the girdle of the stone. Rub-over settings are often used in signet rings.

RUBY
A variety of corundum characterized by its transparent red color. A naturally flawless and finely-colored ruby is extremely rare and valuable. Ruby is the modern birthstone for the month of July.

RUTILATED QUARTZ
A variety of rock crystal that has needle-like rutile inclusions that create a unique design. Rutilated quartz is often cut en cabochon.

SAFETY CHAIN
A short, fine chain used on bracelets and necklaces to prevent loss by attaching to either side of the clasp. Safety chains are also used on brooches and attach to the piece itself and the wearer’s apparel.

SAPPHIRE
A term that refers to any variety of transparent corundum that is not red (see RUBY) although it is often used in reference to blue sapphire, which ranges from cornflower to deep blue. Sapphire also refers to white, yellow, purple, green, pink and brown corundum. When cut en cabochon, some sapphires exhibit asterism and are called Star Sapphires. Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September.

SARD
A variety of chalcedony that is various shades of brown and often has a reddish tint. It is often used in seals and cameos.

SARDONYX
A variety of onyx that is banded with sard. The contrasting bands are often utilized in the creation of cameos, allowing the design and ground to be of different colors. Sardonyx is the traditional birthstone for the month of August.

SATSUMA
A type of Japanese earthenware pottery characterized by its crackled ivory-colored ground and polychromatic decoration accented by gold. Satsuma jewelry usually comes in the form of bracelets, pendants and button earrings.

SAUTOIR
French, ‘rope necklace’; a long necklace or chain with decorative terminals that are often in the form of tassels. Sautoir were especially popular during the Edwardian and Art Deco periods.

SCARAB
A motif originating in ancient Egypt symbolizing the sun and rebirth. Depictions can range from simple faïence scarabs to detailed Art Deco gemset scarabs. In the Victorian period it was popular to mount the shimmery green exoskeletons of real scarabs.

SCOTTISH AGATE JEWELRY
A type of jewelry inspired by a romantic interest in Scotland triggered by the writings of Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria’s purchase of Balmoral Castle. These pieces feature various kinds of agate, are usually set in silver and sometimes contain cairngorm. Not all pieces of Scottish agate jewelry were made in Scotland.

SEAL
An intaglio design used to create a relief impression in a soft material such as wax or clay. Seals can be mounted in rings, hung on a chain or suspended from a chatelaine or watch chain.

SEED PEARL
A small round pearl that can be either natural or cultured. They can be used in clusters, set in frames or as accents.

SEMI-PRECIOUS
A term that refers to all gemstones other than precious stones (diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire). It is less widely-used today as it can be slightly misleading. Some semi-precious stones, such as demantoid garnets, are more rare and valuable than some precious stones.

SERPENTINE
A type of ornamental stone usually characterized by a green color that is mottled with reddish-brown. It is often used in cameos and intaglios.

SÉVIGNÉ
French, after Marquise de Sévigné; a type of ornament popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that depicts a bow set with diamonds and was usually worn as a brooch.

SHAKUDO
An ancient Japanese alloy of gold and copper, usually 4% gold to 96% copper, that is characterized by its velvety purplish-black color. Shakudo, shibuichi and mixed metal inlay were traditionally used to craft decorative Japanese sword fittings. Some of these sword fittings were incorporated into Western jewelry during the nineteenth century.

SHANK
Generally refers to the hoop of a finger ring that connects the two sides of the central decorative element.

SHELL
In jewelry, shell refers to the covering of certain mollusks. Shell is used in mother-of-pearl pieces (from the interior of the shell) and carved shell cameos (from the multicolored layers of the shell).

SHIBUICHI
Japanese, ‘one fourth’; an ancient Japanese alloy of silver and copper, usually 15-25% silver and the remainder of copper, that is characterized by its blue to green color. Shakudo, shibuichi and mixed metal inlay were traditionally used to craft decorative Japanese sword fittings. Some of these sword fittings were incorporated into Western jewelry during the nineteenth century.

SHOULDER
The part of a shank that connects the rest of the shank to the central ornament, often a gemstone.

SIGNET RING
A type of ring in which there is a central signet or intaglio. Signet rings were originally used to seal letters but were later worn as ornament.

SILVER
A heavy, malleable and ductile noble metal. It is very soft, so is usually alloyed with copper in order to increase its hardness. The rich whitish metal takes polish well and can be beaten, rolled and cast. It gained popularity for use in jewelry in the nineteenth century.

SINGLE-CUT
A gemstone cut that is usually used on small stones and consists of eight table facets and eight pavilion facets.

SLIDE
A type of metal fastener that slides along a long chain. Slides were worn during the Victorian period when women wore their watches on long chains and were used to adjust the length of the chain and support the weight of the watch.

SLIDE BRACELET
As wrist watches came into fashion at the end of the nineteenth century, long watch chains began to fall out of fashion. The slides worn on these watch chains were later strung as a group on a double chain to create a bracelet. Slide bracelets were especially popular during the Victorian Revival.

SNAKE CHAIN
A type of chain in which the links are joined cups of metal.

SNAKE MOTIF
In jewelry, the snake is often used as a symbol of eternal love. The engagement ring given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert depicted a coiled serpent and led to a prodigious use of the snake motif during the Victorian period.

SODALITE
A translucent mineral that is usually blue (sometimes flecked with pyrite) and has a waxy luster. It is one of the components of lapis lazuli. It is usually cut en cabachon or used as beads.

SOLITAIRE
A ring or pendant in which a single gemstone or pearl is the central and sole ornament. Diamond solitaire engagement rings became popular in the late nineteenth century after diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867.

SOUVENIR JEWELRY
Travel became more accessible during the eighteenth century and travelers looked for reminders of their trip to take home. Souvenir jewelry from foreign countries allowed the wearer to display their worldliness and sophistication. Italian souvenir jewelry was popular, especially inexpensive lava jewelry from Rome, cameos from Venice and pietra dura from Florence. Parures of coral or shell cameos, pietra dura and micromosaics were often given to a new bride from her husband as a honeymoon gift.

SPINEL
A transparent gemstone that occurs in a vast range of colors including colorless, red, blue and brownish-black. Red spinel is the most valuable, as the color is similar to that of ruby.

SPLIT RING
A jump ring that is a partial coil, such as a modern key ring.

SQUARE-CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone has a square table that is bordered by four narrow step-cut facets.

STEP-CUT
An gemstone cut in which there are a series of graduated parallel facets in the form of isosceles trapezoids. The table is usually square or rectangular and often has chamfered corners. The step cut is an elegant and refined cut often used on large diamonds and exceptionally colored gemstones.

STERLING SILVER
An alloy of silver consisting of 92.5% silver (Britain) or 92.1% silver with the remainder being copper.

STICKPIN
A decorative pin usually inserted into a tie or scarf so that only the decorative top is visible.

SWIVEL
A type of metal fastener that attaches a watch or small object to a chain. It features a loop-shaped catch that swivels to allow the attached object to move freely

SYNTHETIC STONE
A man-made gemstone that (unlike an imitation stone) has the exact same physical, chemical and optical properties as its natural counterpart. Synthetic gemstones are set in the same manner as natural gemstones.

TABLE
The top facet on the crown of a cut gemstone.

TABLE-CUT
A gemstone cut with a square or rectangular table, four isosceles trapezoid facets above and below the girdle and an open culet.

TAILLE D’ÉPERGNE
French, ‘saving cut’; a type of enameling in which a design is engraved in a piece of metal and then partially filled with opaque enamel. Taille d’épergne was often done with black enamel during the Victorian period and is referred to as black tracery.

TEXTURED GOLD
A type of goldwork where the gold is given a textured finish. It can be achieved by overall engraving, heating or chemical treatment.

TIE PIN
A decorative pin usually inserted into a tie or scarf so that only the decorative top is visible.

TIGER’S EYE
A variety of quartz that is characterized by its golden color. It has a silky luster and exhibits chatoyancy when cut en cabochon.

TOPAZ
A variety of gemstone that is canary to orange-yellow in its most common form. Topaz also comes in blue, green, pink and brown. Topaz is the modern birthstone for the month of November.

TORTOISESHELL
A fairly soft and translucent organic substance derived from the carapace of marine turtles, most commonly from the hawksbill turtle. Tortoiseshell has been used for centuries to create anything from jewelry to small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid and was especially popular for use in jewelry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Tortoiseshell is generally used as the base in piqué pieces. Imitation tortoiseshell is made from various forms of plastic (including celluloid).

TOUCHMARK
A term generally used to refer to any hallmark or Maker’s Mark.

TOURMALINE
A variety of gemstone that is available in a wide range of transparent colors including blue, red, green, pink, yellow and brown. Tourmaline is the traditional birthstone for the month of October.

TREFOIL
Middle English, ‘three leaves’; an ornamental motif that has three lobes that are either rounded or pointed, which was first used in Medieval times.

TURQUOISE
A variety of gemstone that ranges from sky-blue to greenish-blue to grayish-green. Turquoise has a waxy luster and takes a high polish so is usually cut en cabochon. During the Victorian period, small cabochon stones were often pavé set. Turquoise was also combined with silver and gold as well as other gemstones. Turquoise is the traditional birthstone for the month of December.

UNDER-GALLERY
The underside of the central portion of some ring settings, which is raised and usually consists of decorative filigree, openwork or piercing and allows light to enter the stones from below.re.

VAUXHALL GLASS
A type of glass produced in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Vauxhall, England and often sold as souvenirs of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. It is characterized by its clear, deep colors (usually deep red or black) and mirrored backing. Common motifs were butterflies and flowers.

VENETIAN CHAIN
A type of chain popular during the Victorian period that consists of interlocking flat links of metal. It gets its name from its similarity to the binding of a book. Also called a book chain.

VERMEIL
A piece made of sterling silver that is covered in a layer of gold.

VERSO
A term meaning ‘on reverse’.

VICTORIAN
The Victorian period is named after the reign of Queen Victoria, who was on the English throne from 1837 until 1901. Within this period there are three distinct phases: early, mid and late Victorian. As Victoria came to the throne and began her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert, the early Victorian period focused more and more on sentiment and tokens of love. Jewelry was soft and delicate, with a focus on floral and sentimental motifs. Then with the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the whole country was thrown into mourning and memorial jewelry came to center stage. Jewelry became strong and bold, reaching massive proportions in the 1860s and 70s. Finally, towards the end of the century, jewelry began to lighten up again, focusing on diamonds and feminine shapes. Popular Victorian motifs are flowers, nature and especially serpents, which are considered a symbol of eternal love.

VICTORIAN REVIVAL
A period in the 1940s in which there was an increased interest in Victorian style. Victorian Revival pieces are often created in a similar style as their original counterparts and utilize more contemporary construction methods.

VULCANITE
A hard, black rubber derived from tropical trees, introduced to Europe in the 1840s. Originally used as insulation, jewelers quickly found its use in jewelry due to its durability and light weight. It was especially popular when used in mourning jewelry as an imitation of jet.

WATCH CHAIN
A chain that features a swivel on one end to hold a pocket watch and a swivel or spring catch on the other to hold a key, fob or seal. Watch chains are usually worn left to right across the vest with each and sitting in a pocket. They were in use until the popularization of the wristwatch in the late nineteenth century.

WHEAT MOTIF
A motif symbolizing friendship and the riches of the continuation of life.

WHITBY JET
Jet is a carbonized black substance formed from ancient driftwood. It was mined in Whitby, England for several centuries and gained popularity when Prince Albert died in 1861. Queen Victoria was grief-stricken and adopted the strict code of mourning, with the rest of the country following suit. Jet (and jet substitutes) were appropriate for full mourning. Because jet is lightweight, easily carved and takes a nice polish, it became popular for mourning jewelry. Between the popularity of cheaper substitutes such as French jet and a general weariness of wearing mourning dress, the use of jet began to decline in the 1880s.

WHITE GOLD
An alloy of gold developed in 1912. White gold is alloyed with a high percentage of silver, nickel or any other white metal. It is characterized by its pale silvery-gold color.

WIENER WERKSTÄTTE
Literally ‘Viennese Workshops’, a workshop that was an offshoot of the Viennese Secession and worked in a distinctive decorative style dubbed the Wiener Werkstätte Style. The workshop was founded in 1903 by Josef Hoffman and Koloman Moser and included artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. The Wiener Werkstätte was a fusion of the ideals of the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts Movement as well as the Glasgow School, all of which were reacting against what followers saw as the slavish mass-produced copying of historic styles. Artists chose instead to focus on simple shapes, restrained ornamentation and superior craftsmanship. Wiener Werkstätte created jewelry, textiles, ceramics, pottery and furniture that featured avant-garde designs and quality materials.

WITCH’S HEART
A heart shape that features a crook at the tip. While used for centuries, in the Victorian period it became a symbol of the ‘bewitching’ power of love.

ZIRCON
A variety of gemstone that comes in a several colors, including reddish-brown, green, blue, purple and yellow. Zircon has a high luster similar to that of diamonds and was very popular in the Art Deco period. Zircon is the modern birthstone for the month of December.