JEWELRY JARGON

PRECIOUS METALS

Sterling Silver 925

Sterling Silver is an alloy made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. Pure silver is rarely used in jewelry because it is very soft, pliable and more prone to tarnishing. However, sterling silver will still tarnish unless it is plated in a heavy metal such as rhodium, though it is very easy to clean and care for. A polishing cloth can be used to gently buff your sterling silver jewelry, removing tarnish and restoring shine. It is best not to submerge your jewelry in or use solutions as it can harm some stones. See more on how to care for your jewelry under “Jewelry Care”.

Gold Plating

Gold plating is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal. In most cases, the layer of gold is very thin, just enough to cover all exposed surfaces of the other metal. The benefit of gold plating for jewelry is that it gives the look of gold, but at a much lower price than solid gold. Gold plated rings cannot generally be resized, as this risks cracking or melting away the plating. Jewelry that has been gold plated should never be polished using a machine or cleaned using abrasives or dips. See more on how to care for your jewelry under “Jewelry Care”.

Brass

Brass is an alloy (mixture of 2 or more metallic elements) which is typically 60% copper and 40% zinc.

Vermeil

Vermeil is a type of gold plating that must be at least 2.5 micrometers and is typically coated over Sterling Silver.

JEWELRY TERMS

  • Alloy – A mixture of two or more metallic elements.
  • Bail – A hoop-like attachment for a pendant that allows for a piece to be worn on a chain or cord.
  • Bale – See Bail
  • Bangle – A rigid, non-flexible bracelet. Bangles can be either solid to slip over the hand onto the wrist, or hinged.
  • Bezel – A band, rim or wall of metal that compresses and surrounds a stone while keeping the top of the stone visible. Some bezel jewelry has a solid backing while others have an open design.
  • Cabochon – A facet-less style of cutting that produces a smooth, domed surface and a flat base.
  • Claw Setting – See Prong Setting
  • Carat – Unit of measure for gemstone weight. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams.
  • Cushion Cut – a style of cutting that gives a pillow shaped appearance.
  • Doublet – A stone made up of two separate layers.
  • Etching – Removal of part of a metal surface by acid.
  • Facet – A flat cut or polish on the surface of a gemstone. A Faceted stone will have many facets cut at varying angles.
  • Filigree – A patterning of intricate, openwork twists, scrolls and curves; generally of wire.
  • Finish – a term used to describe the texture of a metals. High polish, brushed and matte are examples of finishes.
  • Inclusion – Any combination of bubbles, crystals, carbon spots, clouds, impurities or even cracks and abrasions within a stone. Often times inclusions cannot be seen unless under magnification.
  • Inlay – Stones which are cemented or inserted into the surface of another material or stone.
  • Lapidary – A craftsman who cuts, facets, engraves or polishes gemstones.
  • Matte – A dull, non-reflective finish.
  • MOHS Scale – A scale of mineral hardness, ranging from one to ten. Talc is a one on the MOHS scale, while diamonds are a ten.
  • Pave – A setting technique in which multiple stones are set low and close together to create a paved appearance.
  • Peg Setting – A setting style in which a hold is drilled halfway into a stone, often a pearl, and a metal bar or post is inserted and secured with adhesive.
  • Prong Setting – A setting style in which a metal strip, bar or tube is shaped around a stone and actually touches the stone to keep it in place.
  • Refraction – The bending of light rays as they pass through a gemstone.
  • Rough – Uncut gemstones.
  • Shank – The hoop part of a ring that encircles the finger. Also sometimes called the band.
  • Vermeil – A type of gold plating that must be at least 2.5 micrometers and is typically coated over Sterling Silver.
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