Jewellery Glossary

Jewellery Glossary

Jewellery Glossary


A metal combined of two or more metal elements, often done to improve it, for instance,  making it more resistant to corrosion, easier to work with or increase its strength.

Body Jewellery

Rings or studs worn on other jewellery parts, other than the ears - most often referred to for nose, lips, tongue, eyebrow and belly.


A cabochon stone is flat on the underside and domed and polished on the top.  This contrasts to cut gemstones. It can be in any shape although is most frequently an oval shape. 

Carat (or Karat)

A measure of purity.  An amount of pure metal in an alloy - for instance 9-carat gold (or 9K or 9ct) means that the mixture (the alloy) of gold contains 37.5% pure gold and the rest (62.5% is made up of a mixture of other metals).  

A carat measurement in a gemstone means the weight of the stone - the weight of one carat being 0.200 gms. 


A necklet is mostly solid and wider than a necklace and generally worn alone, without pendants.


Originally used to fix cuffs on shirts instead of buttons, they now are worn more decoratively.  They can either be, less commonly, of a chain-link type which have two decorative faces or a hinged bar type which only has one decorative face.


Jewellery findings are those parts that join the main components together either in the making or mending of jewellery.  For instance they are the clasps, jump rings, earring backs. They are the fasteners, endings, connections that join the main pieces of the jewellery item. 


The emission of light by a substance - often called luminescence - that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation.

French Fitting

The most frequently seen earring fitting of a post and butterfly back (sometimes called a Scroll, Friction or Push backs.

Identity Bracelet

A chain bracelet with a central plaque on which a name or initials can be engraved.


Displaying colours which seem to shine within it when seen from different angles. 


Another word for Mother-of-Pearl.  It is the smooth, hard surface which has formed on the inside of some mollusc shells and also on the outside surface of pearls.  It is a white colour but with other colours shining within it - it is iridescent.


Jewellery worn around the neck including necklaces and pendants, collars and chains.

Noble Metal

Superior metals that show superb resistance to attack by other chemicals, including corrosion and oxidation, even at high temperatures.  The seven main noble metals are:  silver, gold, platinum, rhodium, palladium, halogen, ruthenium, osmium.


An opaque material that reflects light to change its colours.  It has a red/yellow colour if the light is transmitted through the stone, or a bluish appearance when the light is dispersed throughout the stone perpendicular to the way the light is shining into the stone.  It occurs when the stone forms in layers during crystallisation - such as what happens with moonstone and opal (in fact opalescence is named after the opal in which it occurs). If the layers are thin, a bluer appearance occurs, thicker layers reveals more of a white appearance.  


A film on the surface of bronze or silver (or other materials) resulting from oxidation over a period.  This happens with copper and silver.


A term used to describe iridescence and often used to describe Precious Opal (which does contain play-of-colour) compared to Common Opal (which doesn’t). 

Rutile Needles (or Rutile Silk)

Imperfections within a gemstone - often used in ruby classifcation.  This can increase the gemstones value, especially if it is a "cat's eye" or "star" effect.

Tennis Bracelet

A gem-set bracelet given its name by the tennis star Chris Evert at the height of her fame.  She was wearing a gem-set bracelet during an important match when it fell off.  She stopped to pick it up, exclaiming, "That's my tennis bracelet!" and so the name stuck. 


A necklet or bangle with a gap in one side so it can slide onto the wrist/arm or neck.