Jewelery Glossary

A
ALLOYING OF SILVER

Amount of pure silver in relation to the binder metal. Pure silver is too soft and, in order to be processed, needs a binder (usually copper is used). It is expressed in thousandths. Example: the 800 title means that in the alloy there are 800 parts of silver and 200 of copper.

ALLOYING OF THE GOLD

The percentage of pure gold in relation to the binder metal, expressed in thousandths or in carats. (See also carats)

B
BRUSHING

Finishing of a metal object to make the surface perfectly polished and free of processing residues. It is done with various types of tools and abrasives.

BUD

In the candlesticks, candlesticks, etc., the recess in which the candle is placed.

C
CABOCHON

Gem with smooth, molded or convex shape.

CAMEO

Hard stone with figures worked in relief that come in a different color from the background. This is a possible thanks to the color layers of the stone itself. From the Hebrew “kamaa”, relief.

CANDLESTICK

Object that serves as a support for a single candle.

CARAT

Unit of measure. For the gems it indicates the weight; the term derives from the Greek kerátion, fruit of the carob tree, whose seeds were formerly used as a unit of weight. One carat is equal to 0.20 grams and is subdivided into 100 points; therefore a 25-point diamond weighs a quarter of a carat, so it has 0.05 grams. For pearls, the carat is the weight unit used in Europe; in Japan the momme is used. For gold, carats are used to indicate how many parts of pure gold are present in an alloy. The pure gold corresponds to 24 carats, therefore if we talk about 18 carat gold it means that the alloy is composed of 18 parts of pure gold and 6 parts of other metal. The title, that is the ratio between pure gold and binder metal, is also expressed in thousandths: 18 carats correspond to 750 thousandths.

CASTING

Ancient processing technique. It consisted in filling a stone or clay matrix with a jet of molten gold. Also widely used for contemporary jewelery, today the casting is carried out using machinery, computers and high-tech ovens.

CHAIN

Ornament composed of a series of metal links passing one inside the other. Among the many types of existing chains, the best known are: the Foxtail chain, the Forzatina chain and the Grumetta chain.

CHAIN LINK

Every single ring or element of a chain.

CHANEL NECKLACE

The necklace is named after the famous French designer Coco Chanel, who loved wearing long strings of pearls. Today it also designates the chain with a length of more than 90 cm. You can carry one or more threads or knotted, depending on the look and personal taste.

CHANDELIER

Multi-arm candlestick.

CHANDELIER EARRINGS

Earrings made up of several hanging elements. They can have a length of a few centimeters or reach up to the shoulder.

CHARMS

Small pendants to wear mostly hanging on a bracelet, very popular in the ’50s and’ 60s and now back in fashion. The new charms, purchased or received as gifts, are gradually added to the bracelet.

CHISEL

Any of the numerous non-cutting tools that are used, with the help of the hammer, to create an ornamental pattern on the gold or silver plate by making a plastic movement of the metal. The term also indicates both the art of chiseling and the work that results from it.

CHISSELED

It is said to be a chiseled object.

CHOKER

Choker of varying height, close to the neck, made of rigid slab or formed by several strands of gems or pearls.

CLIP

Type of spring clasp, used above all to make the earrings adhere to the earlobe. Until the ’30s the earrings were worn in the perforated lobe or with a screw closure. The clip will allow you to wear heavy earrings and, from the point of view of design, to extend them to cover even the top of the ear. From English “to clip”, tighten.

CLOISONNÉ

Enamel processing technique on gold or other metal objects. By welding thin sheets of gold to a metal support, alveoli are formed in which enamels of various colors are placed, thus composing a design. From the French “cloison”, wall, partition.

COCKTAIL RING

It is a ring with an important frame, with a large central stone with a decisive color usually surrounded by other nuances or contrasting gems. It is normally carried to a finger of the right hand as the left is destined to the “rings of affections”, such as the engagement ring or the wedding ring.

CONTRARIÉ

It is said of a ring whose rim does not close: the two upper extremities diverge and often mount two different stones by type and color.

CROWN

The upper part of the cut stone, above the girdle.

CUFF BRACELET

Also called “cuffs machetes”, it can be stiff or soft, but it is always of a certain height and adherent to the wrist. You can bring two, not necessarily identical, to the left and right wrist, similar to “cuffs”.

CULTURED PEARL

Pearl generated by particular molluscs following the human intervention, which inserts a specially designed foreign body called the nucleus into the vital parts of the animal. From the chemical point of view it does not differ from the natural pearl.

CUT

Operation that serves to give the desired shape to a rough stone, enhancing the brightness. It is the cut that allows the stone to reflect the greatest amount of light. The most common cuts are brilliant, teardrop, navette (marquise), emerald, heart, cabochon, rose, baguette, oval and princess.

D
DAY MOUNTING

Introduced at the beginning of the 19th century, the open frame has no bottom and therefore allows the stone to receive light from below.

DOUBLE CHANDELIER

Two-branch candlestick.

DRAWER CLOSURE

Closure through a “tongue” to be inserted in the “drawer” at the other end of the chain or bracelet. The tongue is usually made of white gold, because it is more resistant to wear than yellow gold. It is also called “concealed” closure.

E
EAR CUFF

Usually important earring, in gold and gems, which instead of hanging, rises to cover and adorn the lobe.

ÉGOÏSTE

French word indicating a small coffee pot or teapot for single use.

ELECTROFORMING

Processing technique. A wax model, previously coated with metal, is covered with gold or silver. Through an electrochemical process, the precious metal is deposited on the base metal evenly, while the wax core melts with heat. In this way the jewel can have voluminous and light forms at the same time.

ENGRAVING

Decorative design executed by hand on a precious metal surface with a sharp and pointed tool called burin. The design is made indelible for removal of material. There are also industrial processes that use the pantograph, the laser and the computer to make simple engravings on large quantities of jewels and silvers.

F
FACET

Flat and polished area of the gem. The number of veneers in a stone depends on the type of cut.

FANCY (diamond)

English word which means “fantasy”. The diamond is normally colorless; when the color is present, it is called fancy diamond. Fancy diamonds are rare and have great value on the market.

FIRE

Typical optical effect of the faceted diamond. It consists in the variety, brightness and intensity of the colors of the iris that are produced when the diamond reflects light.

FUSION

Technique consisting in introducing a precious metal fused into a cavity, specially created in a refractory material, where it will solidify.

G
GIRDLE

The outermost circumference of the diamond or other cut stone, between the crown and the pavilion.

GRADUATE

Examination to which the precious metal is subjected to check its title. Until the end of the nineteenth century, there were special offices (known as the Mint, of the Bolo, etc.) where silversmiths and goldsmiths went to certify the quality of the precious metal before putting it on the market. The official in charge, called “assayer”, operated a small withdrawal from the artifact and, if the title resulted regulate, there affixed the law punch.

GRIFFE

The metal points, bent to claw, which stop the gems in the settings. From the French “griffe”, claw.

H
HAMMERED

It is said of hammered metal and special chisel irons that leave typical “imprints” of beaten surface.

HAMMERING

Process to model, with a hammer, containers in tempered silver. It is the most used technique by silversmiths, it consists in molding plates, vases and other objects by hammering metal sheets placed on shaped anvils with the hammer.

HAND LAMP

Small candlestick with a dish-shaped base and a handle.

I
ICY (diamond)

An Icy diamond is a fancy diamond with a characteristic “ice” color. From English “ice”.

INCLUSION

Solid, liquid or gaseous body that can be inside a gem. In evaluating stones, inclusions are imperfections.

K
KNUCKLE RING

A jewel halfway between the classic ring and an ornament for the hand: the upper part, specially designed to be flexible, covers more phalanxes of the same finger.

KNURL

An oval motif used to decorate the edges of silver crockery. Imitates an ornate decorative characteristic of architecture.

L
LIFT

Tray with several shelves or with a high pedestal.

LUSTER

The brightness and iridescence of a pearl. This optical phenomenon, due to the decomposition of the light reflected by the calcium carbonate crystals that form the layers of the pearl, is perceived as a set of “spectral” colors that move on the surface.

M
MINAUDIÈRE

A rigid evening handbag, mostly rectangular or oval, the creation of which is attributed to Van Cleef & Arpels (thirties), today brought back to life by many movie and fashion stars. It is made of precious materials and often studded with gems. The interior is divided into small compartments, designed to hold the bare essential for an evening (makeup, handkerchief, keys, eyeglasses, cell phone).

MOMME

Ancient Japanese term that indicates the weight unit of cultured pearls. One momme corresponds to 3.75 grams, or 18.75 carats.

MONACHELLA EARRINGS

They are earrings characterized by the closure called, in fact, a nun, consisting of a particular hook, slightly leaning, which is usually combined with a single pearl or colored stone.

MOTHER OF PEARL

Layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin (organic substance with a cementing function) that give shape to the pearl. These are “secretions” with which the mollusk, to defend itself, covers a foreign body penetrated inside the shell.

MOUNTING

The supporting structure of a stone. It can be of two types: per day and night.

N
NATURAL PEARL

Pearl generated spontaneously by particular mollusks, due to the reaction due to the presence of a foreign body inside the shell.

NIELLO

Refined goldsmith technique, known since ancient times, which consists in engraving thin grooves on the metal surface following a minute drawing, filling them with a black amalgam and then smoothing the surface until it is completely smooth, with an effect decorative high impact.

NIGHT MOUNTING

The only type of frame existing until the early 1800s: the setting hid the lower part of the gem that received only light from above.

P
PAVILION

The lower part of the cut stone, below the girdle.

PAVÉ

In a jewel, decorative effect that is obtained when the stones are placed next to each other and form a real “floor”.

PEDAL

The base of the candlestick (jargon).

PITTING

Spotted decoration, obtained by working the gold surface with the burin.

PLATE

Coat a metal with a thin layer of the finest metal.

POLISHING

Operation that serves to smooth and give shine to the stone after cutting it. It is carried out by means of rotary diamond powder plates.

POLISHINGPOLISHING

Work carried out with diamond-tipped tools, which, by removing parts of the gold surface, form small grooves creating particular chromatic and luminous effects.

PUNCH

Tool consisting of a steel rod, with an end bearing a motif or design, with which it is impressed by percussion, on a piece of precious metal, an imprint that serves to certify the origin, the title or the shop. It is also the symbol imprinted in the metal

R
RIVIÈRE

Jewel characterized by embedded stones “a riviera”, in a row.

RHODIUM

Chemical process used in jewelry to make white gold (which originally tends to be opaque and yellowish) brighter and more “white”. The object being processed is immersed in a bath of rhodium, a metal which can not be attacked by acids, to form a thin protective layer.

RHODIUM PLATING

Protect silver objects from oxidation with a special transparent varnish.

RUSH

Decorative technique, used above all in the processing of gold and silver, which consists in molding the slab of precious metal from the reverse side with a hammer and a chisel, to create motifs and figures that will stand out in relief on the right. The work itself, the result of this work.

S
SANDBLASTED

It is said of precious metal finished, on the surface, with a “sand” effect.

SATIN

It is said of precious metal finished, on the surface, with a “silk” effect.

SAUTOIR

Long necklace up to the waist, born in the Art Deco period, formed by strings of pearls, also intertwined with each other, and characterized by a final tassel pendant. Today sautoir also occurs in other forms; for example, as a chain in precious metal and not, studded with different gems and with pendant of various shapes.

SETTING

Insert and stop the stone in the setting. In the processing of a jewel, it is a manual phase that is performed with precision instruments, and requires a great expertise from the setter (also called a caster).

SHANK

In a ring, the circle that holds the mount. In a candlestick, the elongated element that supports the bud.

SHEFFIELD

Special silver plating on decorative objects and copper pottery, created in the English city of Sheffield in the mid-1700s.

SNAP

Metal hook-shaped clip, with spring closure, used to stop necklaces and bracelets.

SOLITARY

Diamond set alone in a ring or other jewel. By extension, the ring itself.

SPRING CLOSED

Closing with a carabineer hook, clip or other type of spring clip.

STERLING

English term to indicate the silver alloy containing at least 92.5% pure silver.

T
TABLE

Flat top of a faceted stone, normally it is the largest facet.

TASTE-VIN

Sommelier bowl, with a base of bosses and handle, used to taste the wine and observe its nuances of color.

TENNIS BRACELET

Chris Evert, a tennis champion of the ’70s and’ 80s, wore a bracelet with diamond rivière during the games. Hence the name of this type of bracelet.

THROW

Model a metal surface from the reverse using hammer and chisel.

TIARA

Nowadays, in the field of jewelry, for tiara we mean an ornament for the head, reserved for brides or social occasions, which adorns the head in the form of a precious circle or semi-circle, similar to a crown, often studded with gems such as diamonds or pearls.

TRILOGY

Born as an anniversary ring, trilogy is a jewel characterized by the presence of three diamonds that symbolize the past, the present and the future of a love story.

TRIUMPH

Richly decorated object, usually in silver, used as an ornament for the table. The most striking examples are those in Rococo style.

TUBOGAS

Workmanship inspired by an artisan technique of the nineteenth century, introduced in jewelry by Bulgari in the second post-war period. Gold and steel are worked in segments that make the jewelry flexible to better adapt it to the shape of the neck and wrists.

V
VERMEIL

Golden silver in focus.

VINAIGRETTE

Pocket box in use in the eighteenth century, mainly produced in English and French, where it was placed of cotton, soaked in perfume or vinegar, to smell. From the French “vinaigre”, vinegar.

W
WATERMARK

Processing technique of gold and silver consisting in welding together differently intertwined threads of different thickness to form figures. The term also indicates the goldsmith’s work thus obtained.

WAX FUSION

Very ancient metal working technique. It is still today the method used both for large statues and for making jewelry and silverware. To create the starting model, and subsequent molds, various materials are used, one of which is the wax, which, in one of the processing phases, is dissolved to give way to the precious metal.

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