AZGem Gems
July, 2009

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The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Jewelry Dictionary




This Jewelry Dictionary is presented by request. While there are several jewelry glossaries or dictionaries available on the internet, I have been requested to add my version to this site for your convenience.

This list has been compiled by looking at definitions on other jewelry dictionaries and glossaries. Where I judged a definition to be unclear, geared too much toward marketing, or otherwise lacking, I have edited that definition.

I have done so sparingly, to promote standard definitions.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 


ACRYLIC: A clear plastic material that can be molded into jewelry. 

ALLOY: A fusion of two or more elements, where at least one component must be a metal. Most often used to describe the composition of the metal in a piece of jewelry. 

ANTIQUE JEWELRY: Jewelry from past decades, and/or jewelry styled to represent fashions of the past such as ART DECO or VICTORIAN. See also VINTAGE JEWELRY.

ART DECO: Originally a French jewelry style in the 1910s and 1920s, exemplified by distinct geometric lines and angles. 

ART NOUVEAU: Turn-of-the century jewelry style featuring curved pieces and enamel accents. 

ANNIVERSARY BAND: A ring which features gems going partially or completely around the circumference. A traditional anniversary gift,

ASSCHER CUT: A step cut stone with cut corners that form 8 total edges.


BAND: A simple ring of equal width around its circumference.

BAGUETTE: A small, rectangular stone that is often used as an accent with a center diamond or colored gem. 

BANGLE BRACELET: A bracelet that forms a continuous circle with no clasps or openings. Usually stiff, this bracelet must slide over the hand to be worn. 

BARION CUT: This gem cut has a traditional step-cut crown and a modified brilliant-cut pavilion. A square barion cut diamond has 61 facets, excluding the culet.

BAROQUE PEARL: Large oddly shaped pearl.

BEAD SETTING: A method of setting stones even with the surface of metal by raising beads from the metal itself. The beads act as prongs to secure the stones.

BEZEL SETTING: Stones are set in a collar or  tube of metal. .

BIWA PEARL: Sometimes called Rice Pearl. A Biwa pearl is a pearl that comes from a specific region in Lake Biwa, Japan.

BLACK PEARL: Sometimes called South Sea Pearl, Tahitian Pearl. Larger pearls that are gray to black with green, blue or rose overtones. 

BLING: An expression popularized by the hip-hop culture, used to describe sparkly jewelry, accessories and/or gemstones. 

BOHEMIAN: A style of jewelry and clothing exemplified by flowing lines, natural materials, and funky details. Bright colors, layers, and casual pieces are hallmarks of the Boho style. 

BOX CHAIN: Square metal links are connected to form a smooth, even chain. Often used for men's jewelry. 

BRIDAL JEWELRY: The jewelry that a bride selects for herself and her bridal party. 

BRILLIANT CUT: A round cut stone with 58 total facets, this is the modern cut for round diamonds, and some round colored gems. 

BRIOLETTE: A round, teardrop shape cut with triangular facets. Often used as drops in earrings and necklaces.

BROOCH: A large decorative pin that is worn on clothing or in the hair. 


4 Cs: Standardized form of grading diamonds, based on the qualities of Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut. 

CABOCHON: A stone cut with a domed shape when viewed from the side. The stone may be round, oval, square, triangle, or other shape when viewed from above. Stones are usually opaque to translucent.. 

CAMEO: A relief carving (a carving that comes up above the surface) on a shell or stone. In multi-colored cameos, a layered substrate is used (with two different colors), and when part of the upper layer is carved away, the second color emerges as the background. Cameos are frequently portraits of women. Many imitation cameos are made from pressed glass or plastic; some of these use two different colors, like the imitation cameo pictured above

CARAT: A unit of weight used for gemstones. 5 carats are equal to one gram. 

CHANDELIER EARRINGS: Dangle earrings that feature tiers of gemstones and/or detailing. 

CHANNEL SETTING: Stones are tension set between two bands of metal, with no prongs or dividers. The metal bands will usually have slight grooves on the inside. 

CHARM BRACELET: Jewelry featuring small dangling charms, which sometimes have symbolic or personal meaning. The charms can be mixed and matched to create a variety of looks. 

CLARITY: An evaluation of the transparency and/or inclusions (or lack thereof) visible in a stone. Uused to grade diamonds and transparent colored gems., 

CLIP-ON EARRINGS: Earrings for non-pierced ears. 

CLAW SETTING: A claw setting is one in which a series of metal prongs (claws) holds a stone securely in a setting (the claws grips the stone by V-shaped notches cut into the side of the claws.  

COCKTAIL RING: A large ring that often features large stones and/or elaborate detailing. Applies to any ring that is elegant and dramatic enough to be worn to a cocktail party. 

COSTUME JEWELRY: Any jewelry made with simulated gemstones in place of natural stones, and/or from materials other than gold, silver, or platinum. 

CRYSTAL: A fine, high quality glass component that includes approximately 10% lead. The hallmark of crystal is its exceptional brilliance and light refraction. 

CUBIC ZIRCONIA (CZ): A man made stone that is often used as a diamond substitute. Manufactured in a variety of colors. Pink CZ jewelry is popularly known as Pink Ice.

CUFF BRACELET: A type of bracelet which does not form a continuous circle - usually the two ends do not close completely. Made to be slipped on the side of the wrist instead of over the hand. 

CUSHION CUT: A square or rectangular shaped stone with bowed sides. 


DESIGNER KNOCKOFF JEWELRY: A counterfeit copy of a copyrighted design.. 

DIAMOND CUT: Small bright cuts made in metal, to give it the appearance of having diamonds set in the metal. 

DIAMOND GRADE: An evaluation of a diamond's value, determined using the standardized system developed by the Gemological Institute of America.


ELECTROPLATING: The process of applying a thin metal layer atop another metal, using a plating solution and electric current. This method is most often used to make jewelry more durable and shiny. 

EMERALD CUT: Technically an eight-sided rectangular or square shaped stone with the corners cut at 45 degrees rather than 90 degrees. As the name suggests, this is a populer cut for emeralds.

ENAMEL: Glass or colored material fused to the surface of metal for a decorative design. 

ENGAGEMENT RING: The before marriage ring worn to signify the lady is spoken for. Often set with a solitaire diamond.

ESTATE JEWELRY: Usually referring to antique jewelry, this term encompasses any jewelry that is being re-sold. 

ETERNITY BAND: A ring with stones that extend all the way around the band. This style represents the concept of eternal love, with no beginning or end. 

ETERNITY BAND: A ring with stones that extend all the way around the band. This style represents the concept of eternal love, with no beginning or end. 


FACETS: The small, flat, polished surfaces on a gemstone. The number, shape, and placement of facets are what determine a stone's CUT. 

FAKE DIAMOND An artificial or simulated diamond, often a cubic zirconia. 

FAUX JEWELRY: A synthetic or fake version of something. When used in reference to jewelry, it generally means a artificial or synthetic gemstone and non-precious metal.. 

FILIGREE: A delicate metal design that looks like lace, and is used to accentuate jewelry. 

FLEUR DE LIS JEWELRY: A stylized design of an iris flower. Originally used for European coat of arms, the fleur de lis has now become a symbol of Louisiana and France. 


GOLD: A metal frequently used to create jewelry, and measured according to carats. Also a hue. 

GOLD PLATED: A layer of gold, usually applied with electroplating, that is placed over another metal. This gives the jewelry the appearance and shine of gold, but at a lower price than jewelry that is completely gold. 

GOTHIC JEWELRY Jewelry from the Gothic period or inspired by the punk look. 

GRADUATED: For jewelry, this refers to stones or pearls which get progressively larger and/or smaller as they continue along the length of the bracelet or necklace. 

GUARD BAND: Generally part of a wedding ring set, this is a band which is worn in front of another ring (often the engagement ring) to keep it in place. 


HALLMARK: A hallmark is an official mark (or a series of marks) made in metal that indicates the fineness of the metal and the manufacturer's mark. For example, a hallmark of 925 indicates 925 parts of gold per 1000 weight. Other hallmarks indicate the maker of the piece and sometimes the year of manufacture. In many countries (like Britain) it is illegal to hallmark metal incorrectly; some countries are notoriously lax in their enforcement of hallmark honesty.

HARDNESS: A substance's hardness is how resistant it is to being scratched. Hardness is measured using the Mohs Scale of Hardness. In the Mohs scale, one substance is harder than another if it can scratch it. For example, a diamond will scratch garnet, but not the other way around, so a diamond in harder than garnet.

HEART CUT: A stone cut in the shape of a heart, often used in promise rings. 

HOOP EARRINGS: Earrings with metal formed into hoop shapes, which may form complete circles or extend only partially around. 

HUE: The prominent color or colors within a stone or metal. For instance, Rose gold has a pinkish hue. 

INFINITY RING: A ring which features the infinity symbol (like a figure 8 turned on its side), and/or an eternity ring with stones that extend across the entire band. Infinity rings symbolize love and friendship for all infinity, with no beginning or end. 

INLAY: A method of setting stones into a grooved channel or outlined space, so that they lay flush with the surface of the metal. 

IMITATION JEWELRY: Another word for costume jewelry. 


JOURNEY JEWELRY: Traditionally a necklace or bracelet which features a strand of graduated diamonds, which represent love growing with every step of the journey of life. 


KARAT: Karat (abbreviated Kt) is a measure of the fineness of gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold. 18 karat gold is 18/24 gold (about 75% gold - three quarters gold). 14 karat gold is 14/24 gold (about 58% gold - a little over half gold). 12 karat gold is exactly half gold. 10 karat gold is 10/24 gold (only about 43.5% gold - less than half gold)

KING CUT: The king cut is a modification of the brilliant cut which is used for large diamonds. This cut has 86 facets


LARIAT: A necklace which features two open ends that are worn in the front. One end of the chain generally has a hoop or open charm through which the other end of the chain can be looped. 

LAVALIERE: A pendant on a necklace, usually with a 24 inch or longer chain. 

LAYERED NECKLACES: Necklaces with multiple, varied length chains. 

LEVERBACK: A type of earring backing with a thin lever that is snapped into place. These are one of the most secure types of earring backings, and are good for heavy and/or dangling earrings. 

LOCKET: A charm or pendant which opens on a hinge, and can hold pictures or tiny mementos. 

LOBSTER CLAW: A version of the spring ring clasp, this clasp features a sturdier and more oblong ring, which opens using a small internal spring. 

LUCITE: A strong, clear, moldable plastic material that was frequently used in jewelry from the 1940s. 

LUSTER: The shine or finish of a stone. 


MARCASITE: A gray, metallic like gemstone that looks like antiqued silver. Often found in ESTATE JEWELRY and VINTAGE JEWELRY. 

MARQUISE CUT: A stone cut in a football shape. 

MATINEE LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, that measures approximately 22 inches long. 

MELEE: A melee is a small diamond, under .20 carat.

MILLEGRAIN: A millegrain (or millegrain setting) is a setting in which the stone is secured by tiny beads [grains] of metal or a band of metal that is decorated with tiny beads of metal

MOTHER OF PEARL: An iridescent material derived from the lining of a seashell. 

MOURNING JEWELRY: Mourning jewelry is a type of jewelry worn when one is mourning the loss of a loved one. It is often black, subdued jewelry,  or jewelry that commemorates the dead (like hair jewelry or cameos).


NECKLACE: An ornament worn about the neck.

NICKLE-FREE: Gold or sterling silver that is alloyed without using nickel, because some people have allergic reactions and/or skin irritation when wearing the metal. 

NOBLE METALS: The noble metals are gold, platinum, and silver. These are metals that are relatively impervious to chemical action.


OILING: Oiling is a process of applying mineral oil to a stone in order to enhance it and mask inclusions, make them more transparent, and darken their color. Emeralds are frequently oiled to mask their many inclusions.

OPEN-ENDED NECKLACE: An open-ended necklace has no clasp; it is worn by tying the ends together around the neck. Open-ended necklaces usually have ornaments, like beads or tassels, at the ends

OPERA LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, which measures approximately 30 to 35 inches.

OVAL CUT: A stone that is cut similar to a brilliant cut stone, but in the shape of an oval.


PATINA: A finish or film on the surface of metal, generally caused by oxidation. This usually refers to the greenish hue that brass will take on as it ages, but for jewelry, the term refers to the tone of any metal surface. 

PAVE: A method of setting stones close to each other across an entire metal surface, so that it appears to be "paved" with gems. This popular setting gives a rich, textured look to jewelry. 

PEAR CUT: A stone that is cut similarly to a brilliant cut stone, but with one rounded end and one pointed end. Often used in dangle drop earrings because they catch light and draw it to a focal point. 

PERIOD JEWELRY: Any jewelry that exemplifies the style of a certain historic period, e.g., Art deco jewelry or Victorian jewelry. 

PLATINUM: A precious metal used to create jewelry. Usually the highest quality metal available for jewelry, platinum is extremely strong and has a white hue. 

PLUS SIZE JEWELRY: When used in reference to women's jewelry, this term represents rings that are sizes 9 and above, and bracelets that are 8 inches or longer. 

PRECIOUS METALS: A group of metals that includes the platinum group, gold, and silver. 

PRINCESS CUT: A stone that features a 144 faceted modified brilliant cut in square or rectangular shape. This cut is designed to refract the maximum amount of light, and looks square when viewed from the top. 

PRINCESS LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, which measures approximately 18 inches. 

PROMISE RING: A pre-engagement ring which symbolizes the promise of ever lasting love. Promise rings look similar to engagement rings, but are usually on a smaller scale. A favorite among high school and college students! 


QUADRILLION CUT: Another name for the princess cut.


RADIANT CUT: Radiant cut stones have 62 to 70 facets, and a traditional emerald cut shape. This cut was invented and patented in 1977. 

RETRO: Refers to a style or fashion that was popular in the past. 

RHINESTONE: In modern times rhinestone has come to mean an artificial stone made of glass with a foil backing to reflect the light. They are usually glued in place, but can also be set like traditional stones. Rhinestones are a staple of costume jewelry, inexpensive jewelry pieces, and some clothing.. 

RHODIUM: A member of the platinum group of metals, rhodium is often used to give a platinum type finish and durability to silver or gold. This metal top layer is usually applied using electroplating. 

RIGHT HAND RING: Similar to an engagement ring, but usually in more creative shapes and/or higher carat weights. These rings are designed to be worn on the right hand ring finger, as a symbol of a woman's independence. 

ROPE CHAIN: A chain consisting of oval links that are linked together to create a linear, spiral effect. 

ROPE LENGTH: A strand of pearls, or a layered necklace, which measures approximately 40 inches. 

ROSE CUT: A stone cut which features a flat base and raised triangular facets. This cut has been in use since the 16th century. 

ROSE GOLD: A gold alloy that is made by combining yellow gold with copper, to achieve a rosy pink hue. 

ROUND CUT: Like many of the definitions for "cuts" on this page, round denotes the shape of a stone. There are many facet patterns and proportions for round cut stones. Today round cut usually refers to the round brilliant cut. Other round cuts for diamonds include the old European cut. 


SATIN FINISH: A matte or dull finish to a metal, usually achieved by sanding or brushing the jewelry. 

SHANK: The portion of a ring that wraps around your finger. 

SINGAPORE CHAIN: Twisted oval links are intertwined to create a chain with texture and sparkle.

SNAKE CHAIN: Round, wavy metal links are lined up side by side to create a jewelry chain that resembles a serpent. 

SOLITAIRE: A pendant or ring with a single gemstone. 

SPRING RING: The ring shaped clasp which opens using a small internal spring. This is the most common form of clasp used on lightweight necklaces and bracelets. When the ring is sturdier and oblong, it is considered a LOBSTER CLAW. 

STEP CUT: A cutting technique with rows of facets that resemble the steps of a staircase. The emerald cut and the baguette are examples of the step cut.

STERLING SILVER JEWELRY: Jewelry containing an alloy of 92.5% pure silver, which is alloyed with other metals for strength and rigidity. The remaining 7.5% of the alloy is usually comprised of copper or nickel. Sterling silver jewelry is stamped ".925" to indicate the purity of the metal. 

STUD EARRINGS: (STUDS) Earrings which feature a post backing adhered to a small gemstone or metal decoration. 

SWAROVSKI:  A world leader in high quality crystal products, particularly jewelry and home decor items. 


TENNIS BRACELET: A thin, symmetrical bracelet which traditionally features one or more rows of  diamonds or colored gems. 

TENSION SET: A method of stone setting in which stones are held in place using the tension formed when they are tightly wedged between two or more bands of metal. 

THREE STONE RING: A traditional anniversary gift, the three stones in this style of ring represent the past, present, and future. 

TIFFANY CHAIN: A delicate, traditional style of chain used for lightweight pendants. 

TIFFANY SETTING: A solitaire stone with a four or six prong setting. 

TOGGLE: A necklace or bracelet closure that features a metal bar that fits sideways into a metal circle. 

TOTAL CARAT WEIGHT (TCW): The sum of the carat weights for all of the individual stones in a piece of jewelry. 

TRILLION CUT: A brilliant-cut gemstone that is triangular in shape, with 44 facets.


ULTRASONIC CLEANER: A machine that cleans jewelry by using a fluid that is vibrated at 20,000 cycles per second.

UNIFORMITY: The grading system for defining how well pearls match on a strand. They can be excellent, good or fair.


VERMEIL:  A piece of sterling silver jewelry that has been PLATED in 14 carat gold. 

VICTORIAN: Jewelry that exemplifies the ornate, richly textured styles of the Victorian era. 

VINTAGE JEWELRY: also called ANTIQUE, ESTATE, or RETRO JEWELRY that exemplifies styles from past decades. 


WEDDING BAND: Usually a plain gold ring worn by a married person.  

WEDDING RING SET: A woman's wedding and engagement ring designed to be worn together. Sometimes the wedding ring is shaped so that it fits around the solitaire engagement ring, making the set look like a single piece.

Wedding Trio: A three-piece wedding ring set consisting of his and her matching wedding rings and a matching engagement ring.

WHITE GOLD: White gold is alloyed with nickel and Zinc.


Xyloid: Characteristic of wood. In jewelry the term is applied to petrified wood. (I really had to wrack my brain on this one.)


YELLOW GOLD: Gold which retains its original yellow hue. 


Zinc: A bluish-white metal used in white gold alloy.



This jewelry dictionary will be expanded and developed into an easily accessed page on this site.

Enter any of the keywords defined above into the search box below to find related resources.




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Gem Industry News...


Shrinking Economy Kills Jewelry Jobs


Each weekly issue of a favorite jewelry industry newsletter brings news of more jewelry jobs lost.

Jewelry retail chains, venerable independent jewelry stores, jewelry manufacturers, display makers, packaging vendors, and other jewelry-related businesses are liquidating.

Some suppliers declare bankruptcy, are sold off in pieces to competitors who then consolidate operations and cut duplicate jobs.

Larger retailers and chain stores  hold GOBs (Going Out of Business sales) and then close... leaving the employees jobless.

Others simply disappear without a ripple.

And jobs isn't all that's being lost. Empty store buildings and Mall spaces aren't generating rent payments.

It is apparent that the jewelry industry will not recover and grow until the general economy begins to expand again.


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Jewelry Dealers


With the economy getting worse rather than better, the strategy outlined below is becoming even more relevant...

From a supply perspective, now is the time to replenish your depleted inventory. If you have some money to invest in inventory - there are deals to be had. And you should have some cash. After all, that depleted inventory was sales.

From a sales perspective, gift giving occasions have not disappeared. Birthdays, anniversaries, and many other reasons to give nice jewelry at a great price just keep on coming. Your customers (and their friends) need what you offer!

A market where people perceive they should spend less fits right into your marketing strategy... 

Be The Quality Jewelry Discounter.



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Jewelry Dealers Program

Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?sapphire ring

Do you enjoy talking with friends and co-workers?

Could you use an extra income source?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.



Carolyn Doyle

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