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Jewelry Glossary A-C



4 Cs: A universal grading system developed by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) to evaluate the quality of a diamond. The 4 Cs are Carat, Color, Clarity, and Cut.

Accent Gemstones: Gemstones within a jewelry design that are not the main focus, but instead accent or complement the center gemstone and side gemstones. Accent gemstones are typically comprised  of melee gemstones.

 Alloy:  A mixture of two or more metals to create more desirable characteristics and/or added strength.

Anneal:  A process used to bring metal alloys to a desired consistency, texture, or hardness by gradually heating and cooling.

 Anniversary Band:  A ring of three or more diamonds or gemstones, typically set in a channel or prong setting. The stones partially encircle the ring.

Antique Jewelry: Jewelry that is 100 years old or more.

Anticlastic:  A form that is curved in two directions opposite one another (saddle-shaped). See Synclastic.

Art Deco:  A decorative style of the 1920s and 1930s that features bold geometric shapes, linear patterns, and diverse colors.

Art Nouveau:  A decorative style from the late 1800s to early 1900s characterized by free flowing lines and stylized natural forms such as flowers, leaves, and feminine form.

Assay: The process used when determining the proportions of precious metal contained in a piece of gold, silver or other alloys.

Attribute:  A characteristic of a product that can include a color, design, style, form, shape, or feature.

Azured:  A mounting that leaves a gemstone's pavilion facets uncovered so that light can enter.

Baby/Youth:  Describes items small in scale to be worn by babies, toddlers, and teens. Earring posts are usually shorter and are often threaded or have some sort of safety clasp. Rings are usually sizes 0–3. Bracelets are usually 5–5½" long. Necklaces are usually 15"–16" long. 

Bail:  An arched (often oval, teardrop, or d-shaped) metal component used to hang a pendant from a chain or cord. It is meant to slide onto the chain rather than being soldered to it so that the pendant moves independently from the chain and is not a permanent part of the chain or cord.

Band  A ring, usually uniform in width,  with no distinguishable “top”; may be set with gemstones.

Bangle Bracelet:  A closed, rigid bracelet – with or without hinge and clasp – that slides over the hand.

Baroque:  An irregular-shaped stone or pearl. Also an art style characterized by ornate detail.

Bar Set:  A setting technique where the gemstone is secured between two parallel bars, while the sides of the gem remain open.

Base Metal: A term informally referring to non-precious metals (such as copper, zinc, tin, nickel, lead, or iron), which are commonly used in costume jewelry.

Basket Setting:  A type of prong setting with open sides similar to a basket weave, that allows the lower portion of the gemstone to be visible. 

Basse-taille:  An enameling technique in which a low-relief pattern is created in metal by engraving or chasing, then the entire pattern is filled with translucent enamel (similar to French “low height” champlevé). See Enamel.

Bead:  A small, usually spherical component made from a variety of materials, which may be partially drilled or fully drilled. A full drilled bead will have one or more holes through it, allowing it to be strung singularly or with others in a sequence. Beads in shapes other than round are sometimes described as “fancy.”

Bead Set:  A method for securing a gemstone where a small bur of metal is raised with a graver and pushed over the edge of the gemstone.

Belcher:  A ring mounting in which the prongs for the setting are formed from the shank of the ring so that the gemstone does not extend above the circumference of the shank.

Bezel-Set:  A method for securing a gemstone in which a band of metal encircles the girdle of the gemstone and is folded over the gem to hold it in place.

Birthstone:  A precious or semi-precious gemstone popularly associated with the month of birth.

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

Body Jewelry:  Jewelry that was manufactured specifically for use in body piercing.

Bracelet:  An ornamental band or circlet for the wrist, arm, or sometimes for the ankle. 

Bracelet Slide: A bead-type adornmentdesigned with two sets of holes to allow it to be strung onto a bracelet constructed of two rows of chain. The resulting bracelet is known as a slide bracelet.

Bridal Set: A matching set of rings that includes an engagement ring and a wedding band, which are worn stacked together.

Bridge: The structural portion of a mounting that connects one side of the shank to the other. stones, equal to 200 milligrams. 

Bridge Accent:  A design element located beneath the center stone that can be seen when looking at the ring in the through finger view.

Bright-Cut:  A metal engraving technique created by chiseling the metal with a polished tool creating a highly reflective surface.  Brilliance  Pertaining to diamonds, this term has two components: brightness and contrast. Brightness refers to the amount of light returned from the diamond’s surroundings and back to the observer. To be brilliant, a diamond also needs contrast, intensity of the white light from the crown of a polished diamond or other gemstone.

Brilliance is affected by: hardness, refractive index, reflectivity, polish, luster, and proportions.

Brooch:  A piece of jewelry that may be fastened to clothing, usually with a mechanism that consists of a straight, sharp pin finding, a hinge, and a catch.

Bulk Chain:  Chain that does not include a clasp assembly. It has raw, cut ends and cannot be worn in its current state.

Buttercup Setting: A setting usually consisting of six prongs connected to a scalloped-shaped base that resembles a buttercup flower.

Bypass:  A ring mounting design in which the two sides of the band do not meet in a straight line, but overlap or crisscross each other as seen in the top/looking down view.

Cabochon: A polished, convex-cut, unfaceted gemstone.

CAD/CAM: Computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Cameo:  A design cut in relief, usually into a hard gemstone or shell.

Carat:  A unit of weight for precious and semi-precious gemstones, equal to 200 milligrams Computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Cameo:  A design cut in relief, usually into a hard gemstone or shell.

Carat: A unit of weight for precious and semi-precious gemstones, equal to 200 milligrams.

Cathedral Setting:  A style of mounting in which the sides of the ring arch above the band on either side of the stone as seen in the through finger view.

Catch:  See Pin-Catch.

Center Gemstone: The main gemstone in the design which is usually the focal point of the jewelry.

Chain:  A series of connected metal links or loops with an attached clasp assembly. 

Clasp Assembly:  The mechanism used to secure a chain and typically consists of a chain end and clasp.

Chain End:  The hoop located on one end of a chain, through which the other end can be looped. 

Chain Tag:  A flat metal piece with a hole in each end where the quality mark or trademark can be stamped.

Champlevé:  An enameling technique of decoration in which the design is made by lines or cells cut into a metal base. Similar to cloisonné, but the partitions are part of the base. See Enamel.

Chandelier Earring:  One of a pair of long ornate earrings that dangle from the earlobes, usually dropping more than one level.

Channel-Set:  A setting style in which a series of gemstones are set close together into grooves in two parallel walls. 

Charm:  A miniature object that may depict symbols, figures, letters, etc., usually attached to a bracelet using a spring-type clasp or a jump ring. 

Chevron or V-Prong:  A prong in the shape of a V usually found on gemstone shapes with sharp corners.

Charm Bracelet:  A bracelet to which charms may be or have been attached.

Choker:  A non-rigid necklace that fits snugly around the throat, usually 14"–15" in length. Claddagh  A traditional Irish ring design depicting two hands holding a crowned heart, representing friendship or love.

Clarity:  A term used to describe the absence or presence of internal or external flaws in a gemstone. See 4 Cs.

Clasp:  A mechanism used to attach objects or parts together, such as both ends of a chain.

Claw (Prong): A wire used to fasten and hold a gemstone in a setting.

Cloisonné: shape of a V usually found on gemstone shapes with sharp corners. An ancient enameling technique in which a design is outlined on a metal base with bent wire of metal strips (typically soldered to the base) forming individual sections or compartments that are filled in with colored enamel (French “cloison” = cell or partition). See Enamel.

Cluster: Multiple gemstones grouped together in a setting, which may or may not overlap each other.

Clutch Back:  See Earring Clutch.

Dura Colbalt:  A corrosion and wear-resistant contemporary metal alloy consisting of cobalt and chromium.

Collar:  A rigid choker-style necklace that fits snugly around the neck.

Color Grade:  As it pertains to diamonds, color is one of the characteristics used to define the quality of a diamond. The GIA color scale ranges from D to Z, D being considered colorless and higher in value. See 4 Cs.

Comfort-Fit: Describes the convex interior of a ring or band.

Contemporary:  Designs that are up-to-date with current trends in the industry with a modern flair.

Contemporary Metal: Metal alloys and industrial metals that are not part of the traditional “precious metal” group. These low-cost alternatives include, but are not limited to, titanium, tungsten carbide, stainless steel, and cobalt chrome.

Contour Band:  See Shadow Band.

Costume Jewelry:  Jewelry made with inexpensive materials or imitation gems.

Cord:  A long, thin, flexible strand that can be used instead of chain for necklaces and bracelets. Cord can be made from satin, leather, rubber, and other alternative materials.

Crown:  As it refers to a cut gemstone, the faceted area of a gemstone located above the girdle, but below the table.

Cuff Bracelet:  A rigid bracelet designed with an opening for easily slipping the bracelet onto the wrist.

Cuff Link:  A decorative fastener – similar to a button – which is used to secure the ends of a shirt cuff. It may consist of two buttons or button-like parts connected with a chain or peg that passes through two slits in the cuff.

Culet: Refers to the base point of a diamond.

Cut:  As it refers to a round diamond, cut is the factor that determines the diamond‘s brilliance. Cut qualifies the brilliance, fire, and scintillation of a round, brilliant cut diamond by analyzing the diamond‘s symmetry, proportions, and polish. See 4 Cs.

CZ: Short for Cubic Zirconia, a man-made gemstone created to simulate a diamond. Approximately 64% heavier than diamond.


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  • Mike M. Ulu
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