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Jewelry Definitions

Aurora Borealis    Named for the Northern Lights. In costume jewelry, a term for crystal stones that have a highly iridescent surface. The effect is achieved by vapor blasting the facets of the lower part of the crystals with an invisible, micro thin metal sheet. This stone was created by Swarovski® in 1955 in collaboration with Christian Dior. Also known as AB, the term now refers to any iridescent finish.

Bakelite    The trademarked name for synthetic resins and plastics developed by a US chemist. Jewelry pieces made of Bakelite, especially with animal and fruit motifs, were extremely popular in the US in the 1930s and are now considered collectors items. Though still a highly specialized category. Bakelite has had something of a renaissance in this country in recent years

Baroque Pearl    An irregularly-shaped pearl

Bezel    The metal groove or flange holding a gemstone in its setting, or the slanting face of a cut gem.

Cloisonné    Enamel with surface decorations set in hollows formed by strips of wire welded to a metal plate

Enamel    Colored, opaque glassy material fused onto metal, pottery or glass.

Filigree    Lace-like ornamental work

Gold Electroplate    An electrolytic coating with gold, or with an alloy of not less than 10% fineness to a minimum thickness throughout that is equivalent to seven millionths of an inch. This means that where the fineness is less than 24Kt, the thickness must be proportionately greater, so that the same amount of fine gold is seven millionths of an inch, it may be marked - heavy gold electroplate.

Gold-filled    A gold alloy plate made by soldering, brazing, welding or other means that is not less than 10Kt fineness, where the plating constitutes at lest 1/20th of the weight of the metal in the entire article. The term must be preceded by the karat fineness of the plating, such as 14Kt Gold-Filled. When using the term gold overlay, manufacturers are permitted to use a layer of gold that is less than 1/20th the weight of the entire piece, but they must stamp the proportion of the gold layer on the jewelry.

Inlays    To set pieces of wood or ivory, for example, into a surface, usually at the same level, to form a design.

Nickel    A silver-white metal popular for plating because it is malleable and resists oxidation. The most common of metal allergies

Patina    The coloration that occurs in certain metals when they are exposed at length to the atmosphere. A thin, greenish layer appears on the surface of copper and bronze; a reddish effect on gold. An artificial patina can be created with acids or electrolyte.

Precious Stones    Rare and costly gems: diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires

Repousse    Patterns or decorations achieved with punches or chasing hammers.

Resin    A solid or semi-solid organic (carbon based) material, either natural or synthetic. In general, non-soluble in water.

Scarab    An image of a beetle held sacred by ancient Egyptians, carved in a stone or gem.

Semiprecious Stones    Natural stones that generally have a lower value than precious stones, including amethyst, aventurine, carnelian, garnet, opal, rose quartz, and others. Primarily used in fashion jewelry.

Silver Plate    A fine silver film deposited on a base metal by electrolysis, in the same kind of electrically-charged bath used to make gold electroplate. The film can be as thin as seven millionths of an inch. A silver plate item cannot be called sterling or bear a marking of "silver"

Sterling Silver Silver    that is at least 92.5 percent pure with 7.5 parts of another metal, usually copper, to make the piece harder

Vermeil    Gilded or gold-colored sterling silver, copper or bronze.