A to Z Guide of Fine Jewelry Terms

A to Z Guide of Fine Jewelry Terms

There are so many parts of the fine jewelry world, we thought it would be fun to visit some of our favorite jewelry terms and meanings from A-Z. Undoubtedly, we could go on and on, but as a start here are some of the Jewelry Definitions we wanted to share.


A – Alexandrite – One of the jewelry world’s most precious stones. High quality alexandrites go through dramatic color change under different lights, making this stone more coveted than diamonds by some jewelry collectors.


B - Bezel Set – A method of setting stones where rather than using prongs the stone is set with metal surrounding the girdle edge of the stone.


C – Carat Weight – The traditional method by which stone weights are calculated. Ancient lore recounts that the term may be derived from the use of carob seeds for weight measurement in ancient times.


D – Diamond Scanning – The process by which natural diamonds can be scanned by high quality technical equipment to ensure that no lab diamonds have been mixed in with natural stones.


E – Eternity Setting – A traditional wedding band setting where the diamonds are set in an uninterrupted channel to highlight their continuous brilliance.


F – Facet – The various flat surfaces within a finely cut gemstone that help bring to life the sparkle, color and brilliance inherent in each particular type of stone.


G – Gold – The most common metal in fine jewelry styles. Gold jewelry is most typically offered in 10 karat, 14 karat and 18 karats with each designation representing the percentage of gold

within a style. Since pure gold is 24 karats for example, 18k gold has 75% pure gold in its composition with the rest made up of other alloys.


H – Half Locket – A style created by Monica Rich Kosann where a traditional locket is cut in half so the single sided image piece can be worn down as a necklace with the photo facing the skin. Also available as a charm on MRK Design your Own styles.


I – Inlay – A jewelry technique where a uniquely cut stone is set into a space within the jewelry style that allows the stone top to be at the same level as the surrounding metal. A method that was common with family crests carved into stone and inlaid into signet rings for centuries.


J – Jump Ring – The small metal ring that is often on fine jewelry pieces so they can be added easily to necklace chains.


K – Karat - The traditional method by which gold metal weights are calculated. See GOLD above!


L- Lost Wax Casting - The process by which a fine jewelry piece is cast from a wax model. In the process a mold is built around a wax model and the wax is subsequently melted away and the precious metal is flowed in to fill the space and be formed into the final jewelry style (after extensive polishing and finishing).


M - Mohs Hardness Scale – A scale of measure used by gemologist to classify the hardness of various gemstones and their resistance to scratching. The top measurement on the scale is ten, which is assigned only to diamonds, the fine jewelry world’s hardest gemstone.


N –  Nacre – The iridescent material of which pearls are comprised.


O – Oxidation – The process by which silver when exposed to common atmospheric elements begins to blacken (or tarnish). Fine jewelry in sterling silver that is finished with rhodium will inhibit the oxidation process allowing the silver to maintain its brightness.


P – Pennyweight – a unit measure for the weight of gold or other precious metals. There are 20 pennyweights per ounce of gold.


Q – Quartz – A material used often in fine jewelry design. Materials like Rock Crystal, Rose Quartz and Smoky Quartz are all common quartz materials used.


R – Rose Gold – A variation of gold with a warm rose-colored hue that is achieved by increasing the amount of copper in the mix of alloys used in the finished gold metal mixture.


S – Sterling Silver – The designation for silver commonly used in fine jewelry. Sterling Silver has been used in jewelry for centuries and has 92.5% pure silver in its composition. The other 7.5% is composed of other alloys designed to give the silver greater durability and hardness as silver in pure form is a softer metal.


T – Table – The largest center facet when looking down at a finely cut gemstone that is integral to that stone’s brilliance and color.


U – Ultra Chain – The terminology also used for Monica Rich Kosann’s Rosalind bracelets.


V – Vermeil – The process of plating on sterling silver at a greater thickness than traditional plating. This thickness – a minimum of 2.5 microns – is known for its enhanced quality and durability.


W – White Gold – A mixture of gold and other alloys that allows the gold to be a white metal similar in shade to platinum. Many jewelers also plate white gold with rhodium to enhance its brightness.


X – XL Ultra – The premium Marilyn link bracelet style offered by Monica Rich Kosann in various forms and style variations.


Y – Yellow Gold – The most common color associated with gold as a precious metal in fine jewelry.


Z – Zircon – A semi-precious gemstone that comes in many beautiful qualities and color variations but is often misunderstood due to past “zircon” references.

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