The Ultimate Jewellery Glossary: A Comprehensive Guide
When it comes to jewellery, there’s a whole array of specific terminology that you may not have come across before. From gemstones to metal alloys, settings to cuts, understanding the language of jewellery is essential for making informed choices when it comes to your purchases. Let us help you decode the terminology, with our helpful jewellery glossary.
An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals, often used in jewellery to enhance durability and to create unique colours. Common examples include sterling silver (silver mixed with copper) and rose gold (gold mixed with copper).
Carat is a unit of measurement for gemstone weight. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams, and it’s often used to describe the size of diamonds and other precious stones. Most times, the higher the carat number = the bigger the stone.
A cameo is a carved ‘relief’ image, typically depicting a person’s profile, that is set into a piece of jewellery. Cameos are often made from materials like shell, coral, or gemstones, and you see them commonly in vintage jewellery.
A choker is a short necklace that fits closely around the neck.
The cut of a gemstone refers to its angles, proportions, and facets. A well-cut gemstone maximizes its brilliance and sparkle.
Clarity refers to the presence of internal or external imperfections (inclusions or blemishes) within a gemstone. Clarity grades range from “Flawless” (no imperfections visible under 10x magnification) to “Included” (imperfections visible to the naked eye).
A diamond is a precious gemstone composed of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal lattice structure. Known for its exceptional brilliance, it’s one of the most sought-after gemstones for jewellery.
A hallmark is a mark or symbol stamped on jewellery to indicate its metal purity, manufacturer, and sometimes its country of origin. It’s often required by law to ensure quality and authenticity.
A gemstone is a naturally occurring mineral or organic material that is cut and polished for use in jewellery. Common gemstones include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and more.
Gold is a precious metal often used in jewellery. It’s known for its shiny yellow appearance and is available in various purity levels, indicated by carats (e.g., 24k gold is pure gold).
A mounting, also known as a setting, is the part of the jewellery that holds the gemstone in place. Common types include prong, bezel, and channel settings. The setting keeps your gemstone safe.
A pendant is a piece of jewellery that hangs from a chain and is designed to be worn around the neck.
Platinum is a rare, durable, and naturally white metal. It’s highly prized in jewellery for its purity and resistance to tarnish.
Silver is a precious metal with a bright, white color. It’s commonly used in jewellery, particularly in sterling silver, which is an alloy of silver and copper.
Tarnish is the darkening or discolouration of metal jewellery, often caused by exposure to air, moisture, or chemicals. Precious metals like silver and gold can tarnish over time.
White gold is an alloy of gold and other white metals, often coated with rhodium to enhance its whiteness. It mimics the appearance of platinum and is a popular choice for jewellery.
Ruby is a red gemstone, a variety of corundum. It’s known for its rich, deep colour and is considered one of the four precious gemstones, alongside diamond, emerald, and sapphire.
Emerald is a green gemstone, a variety of beryl. Its lush green hue and unique inclusions make it a prized choice in jewellery.
Sapphire is a gemstone available in various colours, with blue being the most famous. It’s prized for its hardness and brilliance, making it a popular choice for engagement rings.
Pavé (pronounced “pah-vey”) setting involves closely spaced small gemstones set into the metal, creating a surface covered in glittering stones. Usually when you see a ring band covered in tiny stones, this is a pavé setting.
Patina is the thin layer that forms on the surface of metal jewellery over time, due to natural oxidation. Some people appreciate the vintage look of patina, while others prefer their jewellery to be polished and shiny.
Soldering is the process of joining two pieces of metal together using a filler metal, often in jewellery-making to create seamless connections.
Looking for help with your jewellery purchase?
If we haven’t covered a term you’d like clarified, or if you have any other questions about any aspects of our jewellery, please do get in touch with our friendly experts, here. They’ll be happy to help!