Vintage Jewelry Glossary

As you navigate the site, you will undoubtedly come across words or terms that you might be unfamiliar with.  We have compiled a comprehensive list of words or terminology that we use in regards to vintage jewelry that will be helpful to you and will serve as a reference guide for many of the items you'll find in our shop.

Acrostic jewelry features gemstones arranged to spell out words or messages, with each gemstone's initial letter forming part of the message.

Alloy describes a mixture of metals combined for use in jewelry making.

Amber known for its warm, translucent colors, is fossilized tree resin often utilized in jewelry.

Amethyst a type of purple quartz, is cherished in jewelry for its supposed protective properties.

Antique jewelry is identified as pieces that are at least 100 years old.

Art Deco is recognized for its geometric patterns and bold colors, a style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Art Nouveau jewelry showcases natural forms, flowing lines, and often fantasy themes.

Assay tests are conducted to verify the purity of precious metals in jewelry.

Baguette refers to a rectangular gemstone cut frequently seen in Art Deco jewelry.

Bakelite an early form of plastic, is noted for its durability and color variety, used in vintage jewelry.

Bangle a type of rigid, often circular bracelet, is designed to slip over the wrist.

Baroque pearls or designs are characterized by their extravagance and irregular shapes, echoing a 17th-century aesthetic.

Bezel Setting involves encasing the edges of a gemstone in metal to secure it in place.

Bib Necklace designs are wider or more adorned in the front, tapering towards the back.

Bijouterie pertains to decorative jewelry not made of precious materials.

Briolette cut gemstones are pear-shaped with facets all around, ideal for earrings and pendants.

Brooches are decorative pins worn on clothing.

Cameo involves a raised relief carved into gemstones, shells, or other materials.

Carnelian, a reddish-brown semiprecious stone, is often found in vintage jewelry pieces.

Carat can refer to either the weight of gemstones or the purity of gold.

Champlevé is an enameling technique where carved-out metal surfaces are filled with enamel.

Channel Setting positions stones closely together within a grooved channel.

Charm Bracelets are adorned with personal or meaningful charms.

Chokers are necklaces designed to be worn tightly around the neck.

Clasps are mechanisms that secure jewelry pieces when closed.

Cloisonné is an enameling technique using thin wires to create compartments filled with enamel.

Cluster settings group several stones together for a striking effect.

Cocktail Rings feature large, statement gemstones.

Coral a vibrant marine material, is often used in jewelry for its red and pink hues.

Costume Jewelry is fashion-focused, made with non-precious materials.

Cufflinks are decorative fasteners for shirt cuffs.

Culet refers to a gemstone's small facet at its bottom.

Curb Chain consists of interlocking round or oval links in a uniform pattern.

Demantoid a rare green garnet, is prized in jewelry making.

Diadem a type of crown or headband, signifies sovereignty.

Doublet gemstones combine a precious stone layer with another material.

Edwardian Jewelry from King Edward VII's reign, is known for elegance and platinum use.

Electroplating applies a thin gold or silver layer onto base metal.

Emerald Cut gemstones are rectangular with stepped facets.

Enamel is a decorative, glass-like coating fused to metal.

Épingle a pin or brooch, fastens garments.

Étui refers to small, decorative cases for needles, cosmetics, or other items, sometimes worn as jewelry.

Estate Jewelry refers to previously owned pieces, often of high quality.

Eternity Bands are symbolically set with continuous stones, representing eternal love.

Facets are the flat, polished surfaces on a gemstone.

Faux, meaning "false," describes imitation gems or materials.

Fede Rings feature clasped hands, symbolizing faith or trust.

Filigree work showcases delicate, intricate metal designs.

Fobs are ornaments or seals attached to watch chains or keychains.

Foiled gemstones have a reflective material underneath to enhance color or brightness.

French Jet is black glass used as a jet substitute.

Garnets are silicate minerals used as gemstones in various colors.

Giardinetti meaning "little gardens," depicts small bouquets of flowers in jewelry designs.

Gilding involves applying gold to a surface in a thin layer.

Girandole jewelry typically features a central drop with radiating similar drops.

Gimmel Rings consist of interlocking bands, symbolizing union or betrothal.

Giraffe Motifs used occasionally in vintage jewelry, symbolize grace and elegance.

Glass in its various forms, serves as a gemstone substitute or decorative element.

Glove Rings designed to be worn over gloves, were popular in the Victorian era.

Gold Filled pieces have a mechanical bond of gold to a base metal.

Gold Leaf thin sheets of gold, are used for gilding.

Gold Plate applies a thin gold layer to a base metal.

Granulation creates patterns with tiny metal beads, often gold.

Greek Key is a continuous line motif, forming a decorative border.

Guard Chains long chains for holding watches or lockets, often draped across the bodice.

Guilloché is a precise, intricate pattern engraved into metal.

Habillé cameos incorporate a gemstone into the carving.

Hair Jewelry made from human hair, served as keepsakes or mourning jewelry in the Victorian era.

Half-Hoop Earrings forming a semicircle, hug close to the earlobe.

Hallmarks certify the purity of precious metals with stamped marks.

Hammered Finish gives metal a faceted appearance through hammering.

Handkerchief Rings fashionable 19th-century accessories, held handkerchiefs.

Hardstone refers to gemstones suitable for carving or engraving.

Harem Rings composed of multiple bands, indicate wealth and status.

Hearthstone describes cabochon-cut gemstones with warm colors.

Heliotrope also known as bloodstone, is dark green chalcedony with red inclusions.

Herringbone Chains feature short, parallel links in a zigzag pattern.

Hidden Clasps maintain the aesthetic continuity of jewelry pieces by being invisible.

Hinge Clasps allow jewelry like bracelets and necklaces to open and close.

Hoop Earrings are circular or semi-circular, passing through the earlobe.

Horsehair, from a horse's mane or tail, is durable and unique for jewelry making.

Illusion Settings create the appearance of a larger stone with metal surrounding the gemstone.

Intaglio designs are carved into the surface of gemstones.

Imperial Topaz a pink-orange variety, is prized for its color and clarity.

Ingot refers to cast metal, gold or silver, ready for further processing.

Inlaid Work involves setting materials into jewelry to create designs.

Ivory now restricted, was once a popular material for antique jewelry.

Jabot Pins are designed for the ruffle of a jabot, a clothing frill.

Jade typically green, is a hard gemstone often used in East Asian jewelry.

Jasper an opaque form of chalcedony, comes in various colors.

Jet a polished lignite, is used in mourning jewelry for its high shine.

Journey Necklaces feature graduating stones, symbolizing love's growth.

Lapel Pins are small pins for the lapel of a jacket.

Lariats are long, versatile necklaces without clasps.

Lockets are pendants that open to hold photographs or keepsakes.

Marcasite, or iron pyrite, is used as a gemstone, especially in vintage jewelry.

Marquise Cut gemstones are elongated ovals with pointed ends.

Matinée Necklaces typically measure around 20-24 inches in length.

Memento Mori jewelry serves as a reminder of death's inevitability, featuring motifs like skulls or coffins.

Micro Mosaics use tiny pieces to create detailed images in antique jewelry.

Milgrain decorations are metal beads set closely along the edges of rings.

Mine Cut diamonds are old-style, square with rounded corners and a high crown.

Mourning Jewelry contains symbols or materials commemorating a deceased loved one.

Navette settings or gemstones are elongated and boat-shaped.

Négligée necklaces feature two unevenly dropped strands.

Niello is a black inlay used on engraved metal, a mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulfides.

Opals are known for their unique play-of-color.

Opera Necklaces are long, often worn doubled or knotted, around 30-36 inches.

Palladium similar to platinum but lighter, is used in jewelry.

Parure refers to a complete set of matching jewelry.

Paste is glass cut to simulate gemstones.

Pavé settings consist of many small gemstones set closely together.

Pearls smooth and round, are created within mollusk shells.

Pendants hang from jewelry pieces like necklaces.

Peridot a green gemstone, has connections to ancient Egypt.

Pietra Dura uses cut stones to create images, similar to marquetry.

Pinchbeck, an 18th-century gold substitute, is an alloy of zinc and copper.

Platinum a precious metal, is valued for its durability and white sheen.

Plique-à-jour enameling creates a stained-glass effect.

Prong Setting holds gemstones in place with small metal prongs.

Quartz is a crystalline mineral, available in various varieties.

Repoussé metalworking shapes metal by hammering from the reverse side.

Retro Jewelry from the 1940s and 1950s, features bold and colorful designs.

Rivière necklaces consist of similarly sized and cut gemstones.

Rock Crystal is clear, colorless quartz used in jewelry.

Rolò Chains feature alternating oval or round links.

Rose Cut gemstones resemble a rosebud.

Rose Gold is an alloy of gold and copper, producing a pink hue.

Rousselet refers to glass pearls made by the French company Rousselet.

Sautoirs are long necklaces ending in tassels or pendants.

Scarab motifs or carvings, shaped like beetles, are often used in Egyptian revival jewelry.

Seed Pearls are small, round pearls used in fine jewelry.

Semi-Precious stones are not as valued as precious stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.

Serpentine Minerals, often green, are used to imitate jade in jewelry.

Settings are the parts of jewelry that hold gemstones.

Signet Rings engraved with seals or initials, traditionally sealed documents with wax.

Silver is a precious metal, often alloyed for strength in jewelry.

Snake Chains have a smooth, flexible texture.

Solitaire pieces feature a single gemstone.

Spinel available in various colors, can substitute for ruby or sapphire.

Split Rings are double-looped wires, resembling key rings, for attaching charms.

Stamping impresses designs into metal during jewelry making.

Sterling Silver is marked as 925, indicating 92.5% purity.

Stick Pins secure ties, scarves, or lapels with a decorative top and thin shaft.

Strands are lengths of pearls, beads, or gems strung together into necklaces.

Suffragette Jewelry, symbolizing the women's suffrage movement, uses green, white, and violet for "give women the vote."

Suites are sets of matching jewelry pieces.

Synthetic gemstones are lab-created, not mined.

Table Cut is an early gemstone cut with a flat top and simple facets.

Tanzanite a blue-violet gem discovered in the 1960s in Tanzania, is used in jewelry.

Tassels made of strands of beads, chains, or threads, often adorn pendants.

Tennis Bracelets consist of a row of diamonds or gemstones.

Tie Bars secure ties to shirts with a bar or clip.

Tie Pins used to secure ties to shirts, often have decorative tops.

Toggle Clasps consist of a ring and a short bar for securing jewelry pieces.

Topaz is a versatile gemstone, often color-treated.

Torsades are necklaces made from twisted strands of pearls or beads.

Trillion Cut gemstones are triangular, often used for diamonds.

Trombone Clasps secure brooches with a sliding tube and pin mechanism.

Tubogas is a flexible metal tube used in jewelry, named for its gas pipe resemblance.

Turquoise a blue to green mineral, is valued in jewelry for its color and matrix patterns.

Victorian Jewelry from Queen Victoria's era, features elaborate and sentimental designs.

Watermelon Tourmaline resembles a watermelon slice with its pink, green, and white colors.

Wax Seals made from wax, often accompany signet rings for sealing documents.

Wedding Bands signify marriage, typically simple bands.

White Gold is an alloy giving gold a silver color, using metals like nickel or palladium.

Wirework involves shaping and twisting wire to create jewelry.

Yellow Gold is alloyed for strength and color enhancement.

Zircon a brilliant and fiery gemstone, comes in various colors.

Zoisite includes the gemstone tanzanite within its mineral group.