Harling's Jewellers - Glossary
Acrostic: Jewellery set with assorted gemstones where the first letter of each gemstone spells a name or other word. 'Regard' is spelled using Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond. (Regard, Dear and Dearest were fairly common acrostics). Some acrostic jewellery is difficult to decipher since the gemstones used may be in another language or letters may have been from ancient terms for the gemstones.
Agate: A variety of Chalcedony quartz with variegated colour, opaque to semi-translucent. Most often used in ornamental carvings and less expensive jewellery. May be quite valuable when used for cameos if the workmanship is very fine or theme is historically relevant.
Aigrette: A jewelled hair ornament usually in a spray-like pattern to simulate feathers. Aigrettes were in and out of popularity from the 17th to the 20th century.
Alexandrite: A variety of chrysoberyl, extremely rare in finer qualities, with gems of Russian origin commanding the highest premium. Ideal colour change is a red hue under incandescent light and green in daylight. Brazil and Sri Lanka are also sources.
Almandite/Almandine: A variety of fairly inexpensive garnet that is transparent and commonly deep crimson with tinges of purple. May resemble ruby.
Amber: Fossilized tree resin from an extinct variety of pine tree. It is very light in weight, warm to the touch, brittle and electrified when rubbed. Colour ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange to red hues, with the reds being the most valuable. Captured insects increase the value. Very popular in the late Victorian era to the 1920s.
Amethyst: A variety of quartz that is transparent purple, ranging from pale to vivid. Sourced mostly in Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico, although it occurs in many other areas. Believed by early peoples to prevent intoxication. Durable, affordable and enjoys popularity in all jewellery eras to the present.
Analogue: Indicating time and information by means of hands on a dial.
Antique: An article of jewellery that is at least 100 years old.
Aquamarine: The light blue and sometime greenish blue variety of beryl, with vivid sky blue hues being the most valuable. It is not unusual in larger sizes and enjoyed a great deal of popularity during the Retro era (1940 to 1950). Frequently seen in estate jewellery showcases.
Arabesque: A form of decoration with intricately laced motifs, popular as Moorish decoration. Moorish motifs are often seen in jewellery designs from 1840 to 1850 when France was at war with Algiers.
Art Nouveau: Predominantly 1890 to 1910. France, Spain, England and the US are noted countries of origin. The end of the 19th century was a time of great change as the reserved Victorian era gave way to a bold new lifestyle that was reflected in jewellery design. Featuring "whiplash" lines, highly stylized floral motifs, beautiful women and fantasy creations inspired by nature, Art Nouveau jewellery is the most sought-after by collectors and is the least often seen.
Art Deco: Predominantly 1910 to 1930 in all industrialized nations. Drama, glamour and decadence aptly describe Art Deco, the era that emerged after World War I. A time when movie stars wore jewellery to personify their celebrity, this was the heyday of heiress and Hollywood glamour. Pieces used sharp lines and striking colour combinations with platinum starring as the precious metal of choice with the extravagant use of diamonds and gems through bold, geometric designs.
Articulated: Having moveable parts that form a single shape, like a brooch or pendant in the shape of a fish made with joined sections that permit swim-like movement.
Assembled Stone: Layers of stone or synthetic material "sandwiched" together to imitate a gemstone. Garnet and glass doublets are assembled stones and frequently seen in antique jewellery.
Asterism: An optical effect sometimes seen in phenomenal gemstones like star sapphires. A six-ray star should be visible over the dome of a cabochon-cut gemstone when minute needle-inclusions are arranged just so. The star is visible under a spotlight. All six rays must be strong and well oriented over the top of the gem to be classed as fine quality.
Bail: Suspension loop on a pendant or locket.
Bangle: A non-flexible bracelet that may be hinged or continuous. Cuff bangle bracelets are open at the wrist underside or shaped like a long tapered sleeve cuff.
Barion Cut: A modern diamond cutting style that is a variation of the emerald cut intended to improve brilliance while retaining maximum weight, with a total of 62 facets. Developed by Basil Watermeyer of South Africa. The corners of a barion cut are diagonal.
Baroque: A natural freeform shape. Some cultured pearls and gold nuggets are baroque shapes.
Belcher link: Simple round link common in Georgian and Victorian chains.
Beryl: A species of gemstone of which emerald, aquamarine, morganite (light pink) and heliodor (light yellow or golden) are varieties.
Black Opal: A variety of precious opal with a black or semi-black body colour and spectral colours caused by the break-up of white light. The most famous source, although it is now somewhat depleted, is Lightning Ridge, Australia.
Black Diamond: A marketing name for hematite, which is a dark mineral with a metallic sheen. Also carbonado, a black industrial diamond.
Black Pearl: From Tahiti, the rarest variety most often available from 7mm to 12mm. Sizes above this are rarest. Overtones and body colours are described as gunmetal (greys), aubergine (reds) and peacock (blues and greens).
Blackamoor: The figure of a young male black African depicted in jewellery as a head or bust, usually made of black onyx or ebony.
Blister Pearl: An assembled cultured pearl that forms in the mollusc attached to the inside shell and is cut away during harvest with this shell intact.
Bloomed (or Blumed) Gold: A gold finish seen on mostly Victorian articles intended to simulate the soft matte look of pure gold. Alloyed gold, usually 15 carat, is immersed in acid and a very thin layer of alloy is dissolved leaving a pure gold appearance. Tends to be difficult to keep clean and may discolour.
Blue-White Diamond: An old marketing term meant to infer a diamond was of high quality - that is, so colourless it appears blue. This name was misleading, because some diamonds may appear bluish in daylight due to fluorescence and not true body colour. A diamond of slightly yellowish tint (KLM on the GIA scale) may also fluoresce light blue in daylight.
Bowknot Brooch: A popular brooch style where one or several loops form a bowknot with a centre drop that was usually a pearl. Also known as a Sevigne style brooch. The bow motif has enjoyed popularity for centuries, and is often dated fairly accurately by interpretation of design elements and manufacture indicative of a particular era.
Brilliant Cut: The most ideal cut for a gemstone - usually a diamond - that shows off its depth, beauty, and light reflection to maximum potential.
Briolette: A diamond or gemstone without a table or culet, elongated in shape and faceted around its circumference.
Brogden, John: A London jeweller and goldsmith (1842 to 1885) whose work was mainly in antique and revival styles. Signed pieces by John Brogden are highly collectible and valuable, often surpassing the intrinsic content of the article.
Buff Top: Stone cut with cabochon crown and faceted pavilion.
Burma Ruby: A variety of corundum found in Burma (Myanmar) known for its vivid pinkish-red hue and strong fluorescence in ultraviolet light. Rubies from this source carry a certain prestige. Sometimes termed 'pigeon's blood' for its unique shade of red.
Cabochon: From the French word "caboche," meaning head. A gemstone cut with a smooth surface, highly polished and no facets. Usually cut from a translucent or opaque gemstone (jadeite, moonstone) or sometimes heavily included transparent gems (emerald, amethyst).
Cairngorm: Old Scottish word for smoky quartz, a transparent brown to yellowish brown gemstone. Inexpensive.
Calibre Cut: A style of precise cutting for small gemstones in a given shape so they may be set in a snugly fitting pattern.
Cameo: A gemstone or shell having layers of different colours carved to show in relief the design and background in contrasting colours. Hard stone cameos are usually chalcedony (agate) and date to ancient times. Most often seen are shell. All are valued according to the quality of the carving and sometimes the subject matter if an historical or mythical theme is pictured.
Cameo Habille: A type of cameo depicting the head of a person carved and added with various embellishments of hair ornaments and jewellery in small gemstones. Such pieces were made in the Victorian era.
Cannetille: a type of metal decoration in the form of coiled thin wires and small beads to form a filigree-like pattern, and named after a form of embroidery. Most popular in the late Georgian era.
Cape Diamond: Named after the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Earlier, this term was used to refer to a diamond of light yellow colour.
Carat: A unit of weight for a diamond or other gemstone: 200 milligrams or one fifth of a gram. Also a unit of proportion of gold in an alloy equal to 1/24 part pure gold, pure gold being 24 carats.
Carbuncle: An older term for a red garnet that is cut en cabochon.
Carnelian: Opaque reddish variety of chalcedony quartz.
Carre: A step cut diamond that is square.
Cartouche: Shield or scroll or rectangular pendants with hieroglyphic inscription in Egyptian aged or reproduction jewellery.
Cat's-Eye: General term for several varieties of gemstones that when cut en cabochon exhibit a band of light resembling an eye effect under a single source of light. The most prized variety is chrysoberyl cat's-eye with its milk and honey quality, although other extremely rare varieties are known in emerald and collector stones.
Chalcedony: Cryptocrystalline variety of quartz that produces many ornamental gemstones in a wide range of colours. Often dyed to simulate other opaque gemstones.
Channel Setting: A thin row of precious metal is used to secure diamonds or gemstones in a continuous line.
Chasing: A form of elaborate relief engraving done since antiquity.
Chatelaine: An ornamental clasp from which household implements, such as keys, notepad, pencil, scent holders and needle and thread are dangled as charms. Some were very elaborate, gem-set and in gold-filled or carat gold.
Chatoyancy: The effect in certain translucent stones when cut en cabochon that exhibit a streak of light which moves as the gem is moved. Caused by minute fibrous inclusions.
Chrysoberyl: A species of gemstone that is characteristically transparent yellow to yellowish-green or bluish-green. Other varieties are alexandrite, which changes from red to green under artificial to daylight conditions, and chrysoberyl cat's-eye. Rare, very hard and durable.
Chrysoprase: The apple green variety of chalcedony, sometime mistaken for jadeite.
Citrine: From the French word for lemon, the transparent yellow variety of quartz. Sometimes misnamed "topaz-quartz."
Clarity: A diamond (and sometimes gemstone) classification referring to a diamond's purity and rated by the GIA scale that begins at Internally Flawless (no visible imperfections under 10x magnification to Imperfect 3 (hazardous inclusions visible to the naked eye).
Cleavage: The property of many crystalline gemstones to split readily in one or more directions along certain planes when subjected to a blow.
Closed Back: Setting in which the pavilion of the stone is completely enclosed. May be foiled. Do not immerse vintage jewellery with closed-back settings in any liquid. This will very likely damage the appearance.
Coral: A calcareous marine organism that is fashioned into an opaque gem that ranges in colours of white, pink, orange, red and black. Frequently seen carved, cabochon cut and as beads in antique and period jewellery. Tends to be a bit porous.
Corundum: Gemstone species of good hardness and durability of which the red variety is ruby and all other colours are sapphire. Most varieties are named for their colour, such as pink or yellow sapphire, with the exception of padparadscha, which is an orange-pink hue.
Culet: The small, flat facet at the base of the pavilion in a faceted gemstone or diamond. May be closed (no culet) or open (small or large culet). Old mine-cut and old European-cut diamonds often have large culets.
Cultured Pearl: A pearl produced by the insertion of a mother-of-pearl nucleus into certain molluscs.
Curb Chain: A type of chain in which the links are oval and twisted so that they lie flat.
Cushion Cut: A style of cutting where the outline is basically square but with rounded corners.
Decade Ring: A type of finger ring (sometimes called a rosary ring) used like a rosary for counting prayers. Ten knobs or ridges around the shank indicate the decades (Aves). These rings could easily be hidden during the periods of Catholic persecution. In use mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries. Still in use today in Spain.
Demantoid: A vivid, lime-green gemstone, exceedingly rare in sizes above one carat, originally found in Russia in the 1850s. A collector's gemstone, famous for its unique "horsetail" inclusion.
Die Stamping (or Die Struck): The process of making a complete relief pattern on metal by pressure in a die made from a master model. Many early filigree mountings in the late 1880s to 1930s were die-struck manufacture and were incredibly durable despite their fragile appearance. Most of these particular vintage mountings were in 14-carat or 18-carat white gold and some were platinum.
Doublet: A composite gemstone of either simulated materials or natural gemstones. Most often seen are opal doublets and triplets that have a layer of quartz, opal and chalcedony base or garnet and glass doublets. A good gemstone stimulant often used in antique jewellery. Easily detected with low magnification.
Dress Set: A matched set of gent's cufflinks and shirt studs for formal evening attire. Available in gold-filled and some platinum sets. May be set with all gemstone types, but most often pearls.
Edwardian Era: 1905 to 1920, England, France and US origins. The Edwardian era had its origins in the last years of the 19th century when younger generations challenged Victorian ideals. Dramatically influenced by advances in technology and new fashions, the jewellery took on a very different look from Victorian styles. An innovative era, Edwardian pieces are ultra-feminine and dainty, may feature fine lacy patterns in platinum or millegraining, and showcase gemstones. Renowned for its fine quality of gems and incredible construction, French Edwardian jewellery is in a class by itself.
Egyptian Revival Jewellery: 1859 to 1930s. Jewellery designed on Egyptian themes but made with current technology, coinciding with the opening of the Suez Canal and King Tut's tomb in the 1920s. Very valuable and collectible when authenticated.
Electrum: A natural alloy of gold and silver that is pale yellow.
Emerald: The transparent bluish-green and most highly prized variety of beryl. Flawless stones are extremely rare. Most emeralds today are found in Colombia, Brazil and East Africa.
Enamel: A pigment of a vitreous nature fired onto a variety of objects, silver and gold jewellery. A delicate finish and difficult to repair.
Engine Turning: Machine engraving to produce brilliance, often in a pinwheel like pattern under transparent enamelling.
Eternity Ring: A ladies' ring with diamonds or gemstones set all around the shank. Now usually referred to as an anniversary ring (also known as a guard ring when no stones are set).
Etruscan Revival Jewellery: Victorian jewellery, usually with a degree of manufacturing copying the archaeological jewellery that was unearthed at Pompeii. Ancient technique of granulation was rediscovered at this time by an Italian goldsmith known as Castellani, and kept secret again until the early 20th century.
Émail en Blanc: Literally, white enamel. In Victorian memorial pieces, this symbolized children that had passed on.
Fabergé: Peter Carl Fabergé (1846 to 1920). The Russian renowned for his artistic and imaginative creations in gold, enamelling and gemstones. Best known for his jewelled eggs made as Easter gifts from the Tsar to the Tsarina during the 1880s, in addition to commissions to other royal courts.
Faceted Girdle: The girdle of a diamond with a band of small facets all around the outermost diameter.
Filigree: A type of fine wire decoration with intricate patterns, usually twisted and fairly delicate unless made in platinum.
Fire Opal: Bright orange variety of precious opal with no play of colour. Principally found in Mexico.
Flash Opal: A variety of precious opal that displays a single colour over the entire stone in a flash pattern as the stone is moved.
Florentine Finish: A style of jewellery finish of finely etched parallel lines intersecting at 90 degrees.
Fob: A small ornament suspended from a watch chain, usually set with carved chalcedony family crest or seal.
Foil: A thin, coloured metallic sheet inserted beneath pale gemstones to enhance the colour. Very common form of gemstone enhancement in Georgian jewellery. Does not necessarily devalue an article of antique jewellery and in some case authenticates it.
Fluorescence: Varying colour effects produced when materials are subjected to ultraviolet light.
Garnet: A group of minerals that includes six main varieties of gemstones, closely related chemically and optically, and occurring in every colour except blue: pyrope (red), almandite (slightly purplish-red), demantoid and tsavorite (green), spessartite (orange) and hessonite (yellow).
Geometric Style: A decorative style for jewellery developed in 1920s to 1930s in which the form is in abstract geometric shapes, produced with great precision. A hallmark of the Art Deco style.
Georgian Era: 1720 to 1820 in England and France. Four King Georges ruled England between 1720 and 1820 and gave their name to this era of exquisite design, great opulence and brazen ornamentation. Valuable pieces from the Georgian era are characterized by lightweight, ornate, frequently pale gemstones, silver and high carat gold and closed-back settings. If diamonds are used in the design, they are crudely cut.
Girandole: Brooch or earrings with swinging pear-shape drops.
Girdle: Outermost diameter of a gemstone or diamond. In diamond cutting, its thickness is an indication of the cutting quality.
Gold Filled: A very thin layer of carat gold bonded to a base metal. Can be very long-wearing and often seen in antique and period jewellery. Still in use today.
Granulation: Minute gold spheres chemically bonded to a gold surface by a fusion method and not necessarily soldering. Documented in use as early as the 3rd century BC, the technique was perfected by the ancient Etruscans and revived by Victorian master jewellers Guiliano and Castellani. The method was kept secret until patented in 1933.
Green Gold: An alloy of gold made with varying percentages of silver, zinc and cadmium.
Grossularite: A translucent green garnet that resembles fine jade. One of the world's most precious gemstones.
Hair Jewellery: Articles of jewellery made of or embellished with human hair. Hair was use in several styles. It was woven as a background and set under a crystal to be seen front of pendants or brooches or in a hidden compartment on the reverse. It was also plaited or braided into necklaces, bracelets or watch chains. This custom first began as mourning jewellery and later evolved into a token of sentiment or affection for a living person.
Half-Pearls: Parts of pearls and seed pearls that were popular in making designs of flowers and scrolls starting about 1890, sometimes mingled with coloured gemstones. Popular for many decades and not always an aid for circa dating.
Hallmark: All precious metal jewellery (gold, silver and platinum) must be marked with a "quality" or "fineness" mark and registered with the manufacturer's hallmark. The mark or marks stamped on some articles attest to their carat, maker, country and sometimes year made. Silver hallmarks date back as early as the 13th century.
Harlequin Opal: Refers to a rare patchwork-like pattern or fine play of colour in an opal. All spectral colours are seen.
Heat Treatment: A form of gemstone enhancement done for centuries on many well-known gemstones, most particularly sapphire. A stable enhancement, usually done at source.
Hessonite: A popular bright golden or burnished garnet.
Holbeinesque: A jewellery style originating in England in the 1870s, said to have been inspired by the work of the Germain painter Hans Holbein, the Younger (1497 to 1543). Used in oval pendants decorated with a large central coloured gemstone surrounded by a wide enamelled simple pattern border, sometimes with a gem-set drop.
Hope Diamond: The world's most famous diamond, a fancy sapphire blue colour, weighing 45.52 carats. In the permanent display in the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC.
Hungarian Opal: Hungary was the best-known source for opal prior to its discovery in Australia in 1849.
Imperial Jade: A variety of jadeite that is translucent and emerald green, the most valuable variety of jade.
Inclusion: A naturally occurring imperfection that may be gaseous, solid or liquid and that is enclosed in a natural mineral. Some inclusions are a detriment to a diamond or gemstone's value, such as the imperfect clarity grade in diamonds, but the presence of a horsetail inclusion, for example, adds to the value of a demantoid garnet. The study of gemstone inclusions is a science in itself.
Indicolite: The blue variety of tourmaline.
Intaglio: A cameo carved in reverse relief.
Irradiation: The process of exposing diamonds or gemstones to a radioactive substance that alters the colour. Blue topaz is routinely irradiated to enhance the colour, and some fancy colour diamonds are irradiated, especially those from the 1960s.
Jade: A name that was for many years applied to two distinct minerals, jadeite and nephrite, with different chemical compositions. Jadeite occurs in a wide range of opaque colours, transparent emerald-like greens being the most valuable.
Jager: The highest diamond colour classification in the older diamond grading system. Also known as "blue-white." May sometimes appear as a reference in early sales receipts and jewellery records.
Jardin: French for garden. A quaint term meant to refer to the inclusion patterns in emerald.
Jasper: A variety of chalcedony quartz. Similar to agate.
Jet: A compact velvety-black variety of lignite or coal. The principal source is Whitby, England. Most often seen in mourning jewellery of the mid to late 19th century.
Knife Wire: A type of jewellery wire used in fabrication that is very narrow compared to its depth. Seen frequently in mid to late 19th century jewellery and Edwardian jewellery.
Koh-I-Noor: Persian for "Mountain of Light," one of the world's most famous diamonds, weighing 186 carats until recut in 1852 to 108.93 carats. Dating back 5,000 years, it was found in India, and is presently in the English Crown Jewels.
Kunzite: The pink variety of spodumene, named after pioneering gemologist George F. Kunz of Tiffany fame. May fade if exposed to long periods of sunlight.
Lalique, René: the leading French designer of Art Nouveau jewellery and later glassware. Owning a piece of René Lalique jewellery is like owning a Rembrandt painting. Very valuable, even though jewellery articles are not always set with traditionally valuable gemstones.
Lapel Watch: A type of small watch designed to be worn on the dress or jacket lapel. Usually of two styles: watch is suspended from brooch-like fitment or a watch with a fixed stud is inserted in a lapel. Often jewel set and in precious metal. Most popular in the Art Deco period.
Lapis Lazuli: A deep blue opaque gemstone, often flecked with pyrite ("fools gold") and white calcite. In jewellery use since ancient times.
Lavalier: A delicately constructed necklace of usually several linked components forming a trellis-like pattern, set with smaller assorted gemstones and pearls. The name is thought to have originated from Louise La Vallière, a mistress of Louis XIV. Very popular necklace style from the 1880s to 1920s.
Line Bracelet: A type of flexible bracelet, of sometimes slightly graduated width, with identical gemstones set in a straight line without any embellishment. Currently named "tennis" bracelets. The style was first popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
Lorgnette: A pair of ladies' vintage collapsible eyeglasses.
Lozenge: Cutting style shaped like a baseball diamond.
Lustre: In cultured pearls, this refers to the degree of mirror-like finish in the nacre.
Mabe Pearl: An assembled cultured pearl, first produced in 1896 by Kokichi Mikimoto by inserting an irritant in the mollusc and later removing the nucleus and replacing it with a half-sphere of mother-of-pearl.
Macle: An irregular-shaped diamond crystal, usually flattened and long. Many fancy cut diamonds like the marquise are cut from macles.
Marquise: A modified version of the round brilliant cut, navette (boat) shape with 58 facets.
Masonic Jewellery: Various articles of jewellery decorated with the insignia of the Freemasons.
Matrix: The natural rock or mineral in which a gemstone is embedded. Boulder opals have a natural matrix base, and turquoise sometimes has black matrix throughout ("spiderweb" turquoise).
Mêlée: In the classification of diamonds according to size, mêlée refers to small diamonds usually under 1/4 carat.
Memento-Mori: Latin for literally 'Remember, you must die.' Memorial pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries were inscribed with this and often showed coffins, death's heads or skeletons. They were not always meant to remember a departed one, but also to warn of impending death.
Micro-Mosaic: Minute pieces of glass ('tessarae') forming a picture in mid to late Victorian jewellery. Mostly originating from Italy. Highly collectible.
Millegraining: A setting style most popular in Edwardian jewellery where pavé set diamonds are surrounded by a minute row of beaded (grain-like) patterning.
Mizpah: A type of finger ring in the form of a wide gold band engraved or embossed with the letters MIZPAH, meaning 'watchtower' and used as a talisman to protect friends and lovers during separation.
Moonstone: A variety of orthoclase feldspar that is transparent to translucent. Cut en cabochon its displays a floating blue sheen. A favourite choice of Art Nouveau jewellers.
Morganite: the pink variety of beryl named for J.P. Morgan, a famous financier who was an avid gemstone collector.
Mourning Jewellery: Articles of jewellery worn in memory of a deceased person. Mostly black motifs and often with woven hair into patterns or locks of hair in hidden compartments. Popular for approximately 150 years in one form or another, although most originate from when Queen Victoria was in mourning for Prince Albert.
Muff Chain: A very long chain in gold or silver to hold a hand-warming muff. Popular in England in the 18th century and later. Few survive intact as many were shortened for use as neck chains.
Mutton Fat Jadeite: Mottled jadeite in pale yellowish or greenish grey colours, with a greasy lustre. More in use for ornaments than jewellery.
Native Cut: A gemstone that has been cut, faceted and polished by the miners where the stone was found. Often not symmetrical and most frequently cut to retain weight or deepen colour. Many native cut gemstones tend to be cut over deep, but this may not necessarily devalue the stone.
Needle: A thin rod-like inclusion, often seen in corundum varieties and rutilated quartz ("hairstone").
Negligee: A flexible chain of beads, pearls, links of a precious metal or rope like strands, about 50cm to 75cm long and with two pendants of unequal length or a tassel-like pendant. Sometimes also called a sautoir. Enjoyed brief popularity during the Edwardian era.
Niello: An inlay of black decoration on silver with a metallic look. An ancient technique, very popular in latter-day Indonesian silver jewellery.
Old European Cut: Diamond cutting style, early round brilliant with 58 facets, in use mid 19th to early 20th century.
Old Mine Cut: A diamond cutting style which is an early version of the modern brilliant cut, with a squarish or rectangular girdle outline and high crown with deep proportions.
Onyx: A variety of chalcedony that is very porous and takes dye readily. Onyx may be dyed black, blue, red or green.
Opal: An opaque, translucent or transparent gemstone, always cut en cabochon and sometimes carved. White, grey, yellowish to black body colour. In the finer qualities, opal displays all spectral colours in pin-fire, patchwork or flash patterns. Poor quality opal is called "potch." Opal is principally found in Australia and Mexico.Padparadscha: A pinkish-orange variety of corundum from Sri Lanka. The name is taken from the Sinhalese word for "lotus-coloured."
Parure: A set of matched jewellery articles sometimes consisting of 10 matching pieces and components, usually gem-set and very elaborate. Modern term is "suite." A demi-parure is a matching pair of earrings and brooch or pendant. Antique parures seldom survive as complete sets, and can be extremely valuable when they are complete.
Patina: A pleasing surface texture on silver and jewellery articles acquired over time. Polishing antique and period pieces removes the patina and may affect their value.
Pavé: Literally, setting stones in paving-like pattern. Gemstones are secured by minute beads or small claws en masse, usually with holes drilled through the setting.
Pavilion: The base portion of a gemstone or diamond.
Peridot: A gem variety of olivine that is yellowish-green. Slightly soft, its facets often appear worn away in older jewellery. Pronounced 'pear-uh-doh.' Has been found in meteorites.
Pi: A flat disc pierced in the centre, usually a jadeite variety, often carved. A symbol of eternity.
Plique-à-Jour: An enamelling technique resembling a stain glass window. Very delicate, a favourite of Art Nouveau jewellers and still in use.
Princess Cut: A modern diamond cutting style resembling the facet arrangement of a brilliant cut but with square corners and shallower crown.
Provenance: Relates to a particular history or source of a gemstone or jewellery article. For instance, the Hope Diamond has internationally recognized provenance. A jewellery article that once belonged to an historical figure or celebrity is much more valuable because of its provenance (such as jewellery that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor or Jackie Kennedy Onassis). Jewellery is often valued higher if it carries the signature of a famous jewellery house or designer, and this is also its "provenance."
Pyrope: The most popular and frequently seen variety of garnet. Transparent, dark red hue may be confused with a dark ruby.
Repoussé: A long-used jewellery-making technique of producing relief decoration from a metal plate by punching and hammering from the reverse to produce a pattern or design on the front.
Reproduction: An article of jewellery that is a similar or close copy of the original and not necessarily intended to deceive.
Rhodolite: A transparent, mauve-red variety of garnet that may resemble a violet ruby or a plum sapphire.
Rivieré: A necklace or bracelet of one type of gemstone, or all diamonds. Means "river of stones."
Rococco: Term used to describe a style featuring curved lines like foliage, shells scrolls and the like.
Rose Cut: An old diamond or gemstone cutting style with a flat base and usually two horizontal rows of facets rising to a point. Sometimes called a Dutch rose cut, it may have as many as 24 facets. Most often seen as very small, but some rose-cut diamonds can be as much as several carats.
Rubellite: The transparent red variety of tourmaline.
Ruby: Transparent red variety of corundum, good hardness and durability. Rare in sizes above three carats. Set in jewellery for thousands of years.
Sapphire: variety of corundum that is most often seen in blue hues. Fancy sapphires occur in all colours.
Sard: A variety of chalcedony that is light orange to brown, opaque to semi-translucent. Seen often in hard-stone cameos.
Sautoir: A very long necklace, usually gold or silver links, sometimes with a tassel pendant or gem-set slide to shorten or double the length. Popular in the late 19th century, often a yard long.
Shank: Hoop portion of a ring.
Shell Cameo: A cameo carved in one of the 10 available varieties of mollusc shell. Most shell cameos are from Naples and Sardinia. Value depends on the quality of the carving, provenance, sometimes the subject matter, age and condition. Recent 20th century shell cameos are mass-produced and generally not very valuable.
Snake Jewellery: A motif popular in jewellery since Roman times and at its zenith in the Victorian era. Snakes were long thought to be a symbol of eternity, and necklaces of snakes with tails clasped in the mouth or with a heart shape drop symbolized eternal love. Queen Victoria's wedding ring was a coiled snake.
Spessartite: A variety of garnet that varies in colour from tangerine to cinnamon.
Spinel: a natural gemstone often mistaken for ruby in antique and period jewellery. Also occurs in blue.
Star Sapphire: Grey, blue and black corundum, cut en cabochon with minute inclusions of intersecting silk that reflect light in a six-ray star pattern.
Star Ruby: Red corundum, cut en cabochon with minute inclusions of intersecting silk that reflect light in a six ray star pattern. Rarer and more valuable than star sapphire.
Stomacher: A large multiple section triangular jewellery ornament worn on the bodice extending from the bustline to the waist, common from the 18th century to the Edwardian era. Few survive as many were broken up to be worn in smaller units. They were very elaborate designs and intricately manufactured.
Sunburst: A jewelled brooch representing the sun with up to 32 projecting rays, usually with a cluster of central gemstones. Sometimes referred to as 'sun-in-splendour' jewellery.
Swiss Cut: A modification of the round brilliant cut used for small stones. The facet arrangement is slightly different and has 32 facets.
Synthetic Gemstone: A man-made stone that has the same physical, optical, chemical and crystalline structure as its natural counterpart.
Tanzanite: The light brown variety of the gem species zoisite, heat-treated to arrive at purplish-blue hues. Rather soft, will show facet wear in a short time.
Tiger's Claw Jewellery: Actual tiger claws set into gold-filled and carat gold jewellery designs. Made in England and India. Popular in Victorian England of the 1860s to 1880s, mostly to commemorate Queen Victoria's title "Empress of India" and British rule.
Topaz: A gem species that occurs in a wide range of colours. The most well-known are the precious topaz varieties in sherry-like hues. Pink topaz is the rarest. Blue topaz is irradiated to bright blue hues, although light blue hues do occur naturally.
Tourmaline: A gemstone species with the widest variety of hues and good durability. Most varieties are affordable and most are named according to their colour (like pink tourmaline) but some varieties have specific names such as rubellite (ruby-like red hues), chrome (vivid, near-emerald green colour), indicolite (sapphire-like blue hues) and the recently discovered paraiba (vivid greenish-blue hues). Sometimes seen in late 19th to early 20th century antique and period jewellery.
Tremblant: Jewellery, mostly brooches, incorporated with tiny springs to allow constant movement of tiny components.
Trinity Ring: A traditional three-stone ring of simple design, with gems of a similar size.
Triplet: A composite stone of three separate layers, like an opal triplet where the top layer is quartz, middle layer a thin section of opal and base that is usually black or white chalcedony, all cemented together. Not stable in moisture and will cloud over if wet.
Tsavorite: A green garnet discovered in the late 1960s named after the Tsavo region of Africa. Its colour may resemble a sunlit meadow or the finest emerald. The increasing scarcity of fine emerald has made this new find quite a treasure.
Victorian Jewellery: Jewellery most often (but not exclusively) from England during Queen Victoria's reign, from 1837 to 1901.
Viniagrette: A small enamelled or jewelled receptacle to contain scented vinegar, formerly used by ladies to ward off fainting spells. Viniagrettes were made in France, England and Switzerland.
Whiplash Line: A free-form asymmetrical curvy line design.
Window: In coloured gemstone cutting, this is a trade euphemism to mean a see-through effect through the pavilion. A cutting flaw, but not always avoidable in pale-coloured gemstones.