A useful guide to the reference terms we use for our pieces, we promise to be brief and comprehensible so you could go back to all the pleasures our website offers:
Gemstone cut into a slim rectangular shape with facets, part of a general ‘step’ cut method.
Synthetic resin invented in the early 20th century and widely used throughout the 1920s and all the way into the 1960s. Other companies produced similar phenolics (formaldehyde resin), but since it is almost impossible to identify pieces by their manufacturers, phenolics in general are commonly referred to as Bakelite. It has a unique characteristic in that once it has been heated and formed it cannot be melted down and re-formed. It can be cast, laminated, inlaid, carved, and tinted almost any colour of the rainbow. Bakelite can be transparent, translucent, or opaque. Bakelite tends to be heavy. When two pieces are tapped together they make a distinctive deep ‘clack’, as opposed to the high pitched ‘click’ of later plastics. When placed briefly in hot water, most but not all, Bakelite has a unique unforgettable carbolic acid smell.
Irregular shaped freshwater pearls.
A stone setting that involves a metal band that encircles the stone and holds it down by being folded over the stone along the whole of its length. This setting can be opened backed or closed and can be used on many different stone cuts such as the rose cut, cabochon and others. An excellent example of bezel setting is Rodgers & Rodgers Colourful Stone Earrings
A cut of stone which is characterised by a polished rounded dome shape, without facets. Often used for opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli or turquoise which do not need light to bring out their charm. Also used for star stones (asterism) in order for the effect to be visible.
Steel studs that are faceted and used as an imitation to create marcasite jewellery. Cut steel was incredibly popular in Victorian and Edwardian times and apart from jewellery it was also used in belt and shoe buckles and hair accessories.
Faceted glass stones used as an imitation for diamonds, colourless; they can be referred to as clear paste or rhinestone.
Emerald cut or Step cut
Rectangular cut shape with facets stepping down along the length of the stone. Used especially on diamonds and emeralds but also very popular in some costume jewellery.
A technique used on stones to increase their light reflectivity. The back of the stone is enveloped in foil and set in the mount – a good example of this are our amazing gold and diamond slices earrings.
A design featuring two clasp hands, often holding a gem stones or a heart. These rings are traditional friendship rings from Ireland, once used as engagement or wedding bands.
Black faceted glass stones widely used in Victorian and Edwardian times as an imitation of real jet. A good example of this is our amazing French jet necklace.
Gilding or Gilt
Loose term used for decorative techniques that apply fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. Unlike plating which indicates the use of a chemical or electrochemical plating method. In comparison gilding is much thinner than electroplated products therefore not as desirable for jewellery.
Gold is a dense, soft, and malleable metal with a bright yellow colour and lustre, the properties of which remain without tarnishing when exposed to air or water. Gold used for jewellery is in fact an alloy of gold and other metals, with a gold majority and ‘strengthening’ minority of metals like copper or silver. The new rules of hallmarking require gold to always be thoroughly stamped, but since these are relatively new you may find gold jewellery unstamped (antique) or just indicating the carats, or in the case of modern Indian-made jewellery no hallmarks at all. Gold used in jewellery is of the following carat: 22, 18, 14, 10 and 9 with 22 being the least used. Depending on the alloys used, different colours can be achieved and which include rose gold, white gold, and green gold.
The next best thing after solid gold, gold filling is a process where a thick layer of gold is mechanically pressed and bonded with a base metal (usually brass) making the layer longer lasting and less prone to tarnish. This process has been in use since Victorian times and can also be called rolled gold. It will eventually tarnish with time but this can be removed with a silver dip. It has been said that gold filled pieces should last a lifetime, but this depends on their use. Gold filled jewellery can be hallmarked.
An official stamp indicating precious metals and their purity. Any jewellery that has a hallmark has been assayed and carries a guarantee of the metal content indicated on the stamp. A hallmark must not be confused with maker’s mark or other stamps like ‘925’ as they do not carry authorised standard marks. Different countries will have different hallmarking laws. The 1972 Vienna Convention was signed by the core European nations to standardise hallmarks in order to facilitate international trade.
Fossilised wood produced from prehistoric trees by having been compressed over millions of years. Black in appearance jet is soft and can easily be carved, it is also warm to the touch which helps differentiate it from heavier glass simulants. Jet can achieve a high polish and can often be seen as faceted beads or stones. Used widely for mourning jewellery during Victorian times.
Term used to describe a technique of carving or engraving a gem. Most often used for signet rings and pendants. Opposite of cameo.
An acrylic resin, first marketed by DuPont in 1937. Lucite began to appear in costume jewellery around 1940. Like Bakelite, it is a thermoset plastic, but it was much cheaper to produce. Lucite could be moulded, cast, laminated, inlaid, and carved. Although in its original state it is clear and colourless, it could be tinted any colour of the rainbow, from transparent to opaque. Lucite continues to be used in jewellery manufacture, but it reached its height of popularity in the 1940s-1950s. Common post-war pieces of interest to collectors include clear Lucite imbedded with glitter, seashells, rhinestones, or flowers. When placed briefly in hot water, Lucite is odourless. Older Lucite can develop cracks from age or exposure to heat.
Jewellery which uses a tiny faceted iron pyrite mineral otherwise known as fool’s gold. The name marcasite comes from a mineral which is chemically identical to pyrite but is too brittle to be used for jewellery. Iron pyrite is goldish dark grey in appearance, cut and polished and it is very popular with a sterling silver setting. Cheaper marcasite jewellery is made by gluing the pyrite onto the metal as opposed to a proper grain setting. Curiously gold specks in lapis lazuli are formed from iron pyrite.
Omega backs or posts
Earring backing comprised of a post and a clip on clasp made of wire.
Also called tarnish, is a naturally occurring process to many metal alloys, like sterling silver brass or copper, occurring over time and caused by oxygen in the air (chemically similar to very slow burning). Because of the naturally occurring tendency of oxidization, a popular purportedly oxidized jewellery has found its way into modern jewellery making. In order to achieve maximal oxidization a heating or chemical treatment is used.
Is commonly known as glass, brilliant cut, man-made stones created to imitate different colour gemstones and are mostly used in costume jewellery. Also referred to as rhinestones or diamante (clear paste).
An alloy of 83% copper and 17% zinc resulting in a gold like appearance and was invented by British watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck in the 17th/18th Century. Widely copied but Pinchbeck ‘s quality has never been achieved by his contemporaries or, after the company’s helm was taken by Christopher’s sons Edward, by those who followed after. According to some sources there must have been a particular way in ‘either in the process of manufacture or in the after-treatment, to account for the much superior wearing qualities and colour of Pinchbeck’ For this reason although not as expensive as gold pinchbeck is valued not only for its properties but also for a fine craftsmanship that was used on items made of it.
Process where a base metal is coated with another. Usually a less precious base metal is plated with a more expensive one, like gold. Plated jewellery although more affordable than the solid one is prone to wear and therefore needs to be taken care of more carefully. Best way to clean your plated jewellery is to use a specialised dip, as polishing wears off the coat quicker. Plated jewellery is not hallmarked but a stamp saying gold plated is not uncommon. See also Gilt and Vermeil.
Faceted glass stone used as an imitation of real gems. It comes in a rainbow of colours. Often referred to as paste or diamante (it has that of clear diamond-like crystal appearance).
A gemstone cut where the facets composing the stone are of triangular shapes. Traditional rose cut for diamonds will have six triangular facets meeting at the top point but there are other rose cut arrangements possible.
An alloy of silver and other metals most often marked with ‘925’ which indicates how much silver was used. In the instance of 925, 92.5% content of the alloy is silver and the rest is various other metals which main use is to harden the Silver which on its own is too soft for use in jewellery. Curiously Silver doesn’t tarnish in its pure form, only when mixed with other metals. Other hallmarks indicating Sterling silver are ‘Sterling’, 835 or 800 but such alloys have not been used often and most probably are not in production anymore where jewellery is concerned.
Specific term for gold plated silver, is also known as silver gilt or gold wash.
Star stone or asteria (asterism)
A rare optical phenomenon visible in cabochon cut gems where star creation can be visible when directed under a light. This is created when usual inclusions in the stone are aligned perpendicular to the rays of the star which refracts or reflects the light accordingly. In order to be seen a single and direct beam of light is needed.
A long waist length necklace, usually made of knotted pearl beads. Popular with ‘flappers’ in 1920.