The Quick Source for All Your Jewelry Definition Questions
What does alloy metal mean? What is a cathedral setting? What does “table” mean?
Not all of us are as well-versed in the jewelry industry lingo as we’d like to be; for those of us who are not professional jewelers, here’s some insight into terms you may run across in catalogs, blogs, or descriptions. And of course, you can always ask the experts at Joslin’s when you stop in!
Alloy: a blended mixture of two or more metals which strengthens the metal, and/or enhances its appearance
Alternative Metals: usually refers to metals used in jewelry that are slightly less rare than platinum and gold. Common examples include but are not limited to: palladium, titanium, stainless steel, tungsten, and cobalt.
Anodized: a protective coating on certain metals – can be chemical or electrolytic
Antique finish: an oxidation process enhances the details in designs on pieces made of sterling silver; oxidized pieces require extra care to uphold contrast
Antique Jewelry: any jewelry piece described as “antique” must at least 100 years old
Bangle: a bracelet that is rigid and slides over the hand; bangle bracelets often may not have a clasp
Bead Setting: a setting in which the diamonds or color gemstones are evenly set with the surface of the metal, and secured by bead-like prongs between the stones
Bezel Setting: a setting in which the diamond or gemstone is wrapped with the metal, where only the crown and table can be seen
Birthstone: a birthstone is a precious or semiprecious stone traditionally associated with a particular month or sign of the zodiac and believed to attract good health or fortune
Blemish: a flaw or imperfection on the surface of a diamond or gemstone
Brilliance: the amount of shine or sparkle that is reflected from the diamond.
Cabochon: a gemstone cut which is polished into a smooth, rounded dome-like surface, instead of having facets
Cameo: a cameo is a type of engraving on a gem or other stone, like onyx, so that an underlying stone of one color is exposed as a background for the design of another color. Traditional cameos feature a woman or goddess on them
Carat Weight: the measurement for a diamond’s weight, equal to 0.2 grams
Cathedral Setting: a setting that has arches – reminiscent of a cathedral – on each side of the diamond or gemstone
Certification: the diamond or gemstone’s certification shows an objective description of the individual qualities that determine the stone’s value and worth according to standards set by expert gemologists.
Channel Setting: diamonds or color gemstones are arranged next to one another in a “channel” with no metal between each stone
Claddagh: this traditional Irish design features two hands holding a crown-topped heart; a unique and timeless piece, the Claddagh represents love, loyalty, and friendship
Clarity: this refers to a gem’s relative lack of blemishes and inclusions
Clasp: the clasp is a relatively simple jewelry device used to fasten the end of chains, necklaces, bracelets – even watches
Cluster Setting: a setting in which diamonds or color gemstones are grouped together, sometimes arranged to look like one large stone
Colorless: this term refers to a diamond with no traces of body color; a colorless diamond holds exceptional brilliance as light travels through it much better than through a colored diamond
Crown: the upper part of a diamond or gemstone, beneath the table and above the girdle
Culet: the small facet on the bottom point of a diamond, beneath the pavilion – not all diamonds have a culet
Diamond Total Weight: the diamond total weight is the sum of the carat weights for all diamonds in a piece of jewelry
Diamond Weight: a diamond weight is also called a carat – the carat is a metric unit of weight and is one fifth of a gram (0.2g)
Diamond‐Cut Finish: this sparkling finish is created by cutting metal with a diamond
Diffusion, Diffusion Treatment: this term refers to the process of heating a gem to a very high temperature while in contact with specific chemicals.; these chemicals penetrate the gem and become part of the gem’s crystal, altering its color in the process
Dispersion: this spreading of white light into spectral hues is caused by refraction; dispersion appears at times almost as shimmery rainbows. This glimmering is a key element of diamond’s appeal.
Doublet: an assembled gem that is formed by two main components
Durability: essentially a resistance to damage – overall durability will depend on the combination of hardness, toughness and stability of the stone or metal
Dye Treatment, Dyeing: this process involves adding a chemical agent in order to improve or change its color
Enamel Finish: a smooth, durable finish made of melted and fused glass powder used to coat jewelry
Ensemble: a group of jewelry items that all go together; for example, a ring, bracelet, necklace, and earrings of the same matching design; such pieces may be sold either separately or together
Facet: the flat surface on a diamond or color gemstones – the arrangement of a gemstone’s facets determine its cut and return of light
Fancy Cut, Fancy Shape: this one you might just figure out on your own – a fancy cut or fancy shape refers to how a diamond or gemstone is cut and includes any faceted shape other than round. Some classic fancy shapes include the emerald, heart, oval, pear, and marquise cuts.
Feather: a feather is a break within a gem
Filigree: Filigree is a delicate work of twisted gold or silver soldered together which forms an open design used with jewelry. Filigree often resembles lace.
Filling: using colorless oils, natural and/or synthetic resins, and glass to fill fractures or cavities within a gem
Fingerprint: a partly healed cleavage or fracture within a gem; this often forms when a break occurs while a gem crystal is still growing, and fluids seep into the break. These fluids may remain in liquid form or later solidify, but in either case this process creates a microscopic pattern that resembles a human fingerprint
Fire: flashes of color that can be seen when a diamond or gemstone is moved or rotated
Flawless: the highest grading on the diamond clarity scale, a “flawless” gem has no visible inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification
Flush Setting: a hole is created in the metal surface, and a diamond or gemstone is placed inside, so that its table is evenly set with the surface of the metal
Four Cs: four characteristics of a diamond – color, clarity, cut and carat weight – which are used to establish the quality and value of diamonds.
Girdle: the middle section of a diamond or gemstone, which can be polished or faceted on a diamond, and typically unpolished on color gemstones.
Half‐Bezel Setting: metal is wrapped around either side of the stone’s girdle, rather than around the entire stone
Half‐Channel Setting: each side a diamond or gemstone is bordered and secured by a slender strip of metal
Hammer Finish: a decorative metal finish with small indentations or dimples covering the surface
Hardness: the ability of a diamond or gemstone to resist scratches, which is measured using the Moh’s scale of hardness from 1-10, with 10 being the hardest
Heat treatment: Heat treatment is using a high temperature to improve or change a gem’s color. This treatment is common for many gems including aquamarine, carnelian, citrine, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, and zircon. Controlled heating can also eliminate needle‐like inclusions and improve clarity in rubies and sapphires.
Ideal Cut: an “ideal cut diamond” has the highest quality of proportions, symmetry and polish, and returns the maximum amount of light from the top of the diamond
Inclusions: the natural unique “fingerprints” within a diamond or gemstone, which consist of other elements such as minerals, gases, or other substances
Inlaid Setting: a setting in which diamonds or color gemstones are set flush within the surface of the metal, where a part of the metal setting is cut away and replaced by the stone. **Inlaid and flush settings are quite similar; the main difference is that in a flush setting, the metal conforms to the shape of the gem, while in an inlaid setting, the gemstone conforms to the shape of the metal. Inlaid gems are cut with flat backs to make the setting easier.
Invisible Setting: a setting in which the diamond or gemstone is set in so that the metal cannot be seen, making it look like there is no setting behind the stone
Journey Necklace: this necklace features a ladder or S‐curve design featuring diamonds or gemstones that graduate in size from smallest to largest, symbolizing love’s journey
Karat: the standard measurement for gold, where 24 karats is pure gold. 14-karat or 18-karat gold is mixed with other metal alloys to strengthen it, and to enhance its appearance.
Loupe: a magnification tool used by jewelers to analyze gemstones and other jewelry materials: diamonds and color stones are always evaluated at 10x magnification and in the face-up position
Luster: the sharpness of light reflections from a pearl. This is one of the pearl value factors, and it is a critical component of every pearl’s beauty.
Markings: the time increment symbols located on the watch dial, or stamping found on fine jewelry indicating gold content, manufacturer’s trademark and sometimes the stone weight.
Matte Finish: a grainy and non‐reflective finish on the metal
Metals: most jewelry is made of metal – common metals include gold, silver, platinum and titanium. Metals can be used in pure form or combined with other metals to increase durability.
Milgrain: a decorative detailing technique in which a beaded design is impressed into the metal.
Moh’s Scale: the scale which is used to measure the hardness of a diamond or gemstone, or its resistance to scratches, ranging from 1-10, with 10 being the hardest.
Nacre: the substance produced in mollusk shells that coats particles and other foreign objects. Over time, layers of nacre build up around the particles to form pearls.
Omega Back: the hinged and curved closure that supports the back of a post earring
Omega Chain: small rectangular pieces of metal are kinked together on a flexible wire that is invisible to the eye; omega chains are arched on top but lay flat against the neck and can be decorated with a slide.
Pavé Setting: small diamonds or color gemstones are held in place by small handcrafted prongs, where all the tables of the stones are set evenly with the metal surface.
Pavilion: the bottom portion of a diamond, between the girdle and the culet.
Rose Gold: a pink colored gold created when pure gold is combined with more copper than other alloys – the shades of pink may vary according to the levels of copper in the alloy
Polish: the amount of smoothness or shininess on a metal’s surface. The more polished, the more light reflects off a metal’s surface.
Play of Color: the spectral colors that can be seen in an opal when it is rotated or moved.
Prong Setting: a diamond or gemstone is mounted to the metal with prongs that wrap around its girdle, and are usually secured to the crown of the stone.
Proportions: the relationship of a diamond’s parts to one another, such as crown angle, crown height and table percentage, which ultimately determine a stone’s brilliance.
Scintillation: the flashes of light that can be seen in a diamond when rotated under a natural or artificial light source
Solitaire: rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, or necklaces that feature one diamond in its setting
Symmetry: the precision of the alignment of a diamond’s facets. The more symmetrical, the better the return of light.
Table: the flat surface on the top of a diamond or gemstone.
Tension Setting: a diamond or gemstone is suspended inside the metal setting, where most of the diamond is exposed.
Toughness: the ability for a diamond or gemstone to resist breakage (or fracturing) from impact
White Gold: this silver colored gold is made by combining pure gold with copper, zinc and nickel (or palladium) alloy, such as rhodium.
Yellow Gold: gold that retains its natural yellow color. Pure gold is typically combined with copper and silver alloys to enhance its durability.
Ready to put all your new-found jewelry knowledge to use?
Why not buy a little something for a loved one – or even for yourself? Joslin’s Jewelry offers the finest selection of rings, bangles, and all other pieces you could want – including custom design! Contact Joslin’s now or drop by today for more information!