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Jewelry Terms

  • ALLOY:  The mixing of more than one metal in order to produce one of greater hardness, malleability and/or durability.
  • AMERICAN BRILLIANT CUT:  The American Brilliant Cut is a method of cutting diamonds to mathematical perfection to yield greatest brilliancy and fire. This is today the most popular cut for fine stones. It is employed in Europe as well as the United Sates. Sometimes shortened to “American Cut.”
  • ART DECO:  A style of design between 1910-1935, most importantly influenced by cubist geometry.
  • ART NOUVEAU: A free-flowing curved revolutionary style of jewelry from the 1890’s until about 1910. Featuring delicate enamels and non-precious materials in the characteristic motifs of women with flowing long hair, bats, morning glories and dragonflies.
  • BAGUETTE:  A step cut used for rectangular stones of a small size.
  • BEZEL:  A metal rim which holds the stone in a ring, a cameo in its mounting or a crystal on a watch.
  • BRILLIANT CUT:  The most beautiful form of cutting a diamond. It is also used for other clear stones. The standard brilliant has 58 facets, 33 in the crown and 25 in the base.
  • BROOCH:  An ornamental piece of jewelry which has a pin back for affixing it to clothing or hats.  Usually larger in scale than the ones referred to as “pins.”
  • CABOCHON:  A stone cut in round oval shape in which the top is convex shaped (not faceted).
  • CALIBRE CUT:  Small stones cut in shape of squares, rectangles or oblongs used to embellish jewelry.
  • CAMEO:  A layered stone in which a design is engraved on the top layer and the remainder is carved away to reveal the next layer, leaving the design in relief. Also done in shell, coral and lava.
  • CARAT:  A unit of weight, by which the size of both uncut and cut diamonds is stated. A carat is equal to .200 grams. The newcomer to diamond buying should be careful not to become overly influenced by carat size that he ignores, or fails to recognize the importance of such points as clarity, color and cut.
  • OLD EUROPEAN CUT:  Style of cutting popular in the 19th century, direct predecessor to the modern Round Brilliant. Old European cuts have a smaller table than the Round Brilliant and heavier crown; overall depth is somewhat greater. Also called “old mine.”
  • OLD MINE CUT:  In general, a diamond cut into an early style of round cut, prior to the Modern Round Brilliant cut method of mathematical calculation, is referred to as an “old mine cut”. Apparently it was mistakenly believed that diamonds were once cut at the mines before wholesaling.
  • PAVE SETTING:  A style of setting in which the stones are set as close together as possible, presenting a cobblestone effect.
  • PENNYWEIGHT (DWT):  A unit in troy weight equal to twenty-four grains or one-twentieth of an ounce.
  • PLATING:  The covering of base metal articles with a layer of gold or silver, which may be of various thicknesses and grades. Presence of plating may be discovered by filing and using nitric acid or subjecting the item to specific gravity testing.
  • PRECIOUS METAL:  The three primary precious metals are gold, silver and platinum. All others (except derivatives of these three) are known technically as “base metal”. Of course, the preciousness of precious metals varies, as does the baseness of base metals.
  • PURITY:  The proportion of precious metal vs. base metal in an object. A purity of .900 would mean a content of 90% precious metal and 10% base metal alloy or a ratio of 9 to 1.
  • ROSE CUT:  Method of faceting stones with many small and usually not precision cuts.
  • SINGLE CUT:  Simple style of cut employed on small stones, usually those intended to be used in mounting in conjunction with a large central stone. Single cuts are circular at the girdle.