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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk Oct 08, 2014 Updated Feb 07, 2022

Glossary of Jewelry Terms

Alloys are created by combining two or more metals to form a new material, usually to obtain superior characteristics, such as increased hardness. Alloys may also be made to alter color. Examples of alloys include 18K and 14K gold.

A jewel-encrusted ornament designed to be worn on a cap or as a hairpin, usually in the shape of a feather.

An open-style setting designed to leave pavilion facets open to light. This is a popular setting style often used in halo designs to expose accent stones to more light.

A metalworking process used to make metals more pliable through the repeated process of heating and cooling.

An ornamental design or decoration characterized by a technique involving intertwined leaves, branches, floral work and flowing lines.

A form of jewelry designed to be worn around the ankle.

Art Deco:
A style of art and jewelry that peaked from the 1920s to the 1930s. Art Deco designs feature bold, vibrant colors and with geometric shapes and patterns.

Art Nouveau:
A style of art and jewelry popular from around 1890 to 1914. Art Nouveau designs feature decorative, linear, free-flowing curves based on natural forms.

A process used to determine the quality or quantity of a precious metal.

Assay Hallmark:
An official mark or series of marks found on jewelry, indicating the institution that assayed the quality or quantity of metal in a piece of metal or jewelry.

A bail, or 'bale', is a jewelry component used mostly for necklaces and pendants. They are designed to attach ornaments to chain links and cords.

A band is a circlet of material, usually made with precious metals, designed to be worn on the finger. Bands may be set with gemstones, and are usually uniform in thickness and width. Types of bands include anniversary bands, eternity bands and wedding bands.

A type of head ornament used to hold hair in position, usually designed as a narrow band that is worn low around the forehead.

A type of rigid bracelet design that slips over the wrist. Bangles usually have no clasps, but some may be hinged.

Bar Closure:
A type of clasp also known as a 'bar and clasp' that features a bar-shaped fastener usually found on the backside of pins and brooches.

Barrel Catch:
A type of clasp also known as a 'barrel clasp' used to connect two ends of a chain, usually seen on necklaces or bracelets. This type of clasp features two halves of a barrel that screw together into single barrel shape when fastened.

Basket Setting:
An open-style setting that secures a stone with prongs supporting a lace-like, basket-type arrangement. This type of setting is usually squared with multiple holes and openings on the sides to allow extra light to pass through the set stone.

A term used to describe jewelry surfaces cut at a sloping edge with an angle of less than 90 degrees. Beveled edges are often seen around the edges of watch bezels.

Bezel setting:
A style of jewelry setting in which a thin ring of metal is used to hold a gem in place. Bezels are designed to completely surround stones.

Box Chain:
A chain that features square, interlocking boxes. It is one of the strongest jewelry chain designs.

Box Clasp:
A type of fastener used to connect the two ends of a single chain. One end of a box clasp has a box-shaped end with a notched opening; while the other end features a metal spring with a knob that locks into place. A 'hidden' box clasp is designed so that the clasp is hidden under the last chain link.

Bridal Set:
A bridal set includes an engagement ring and a matching wedding band, designed to fit flush with each other.

A brooch is a decorative piece of jewelry designed to be worn attached to clothing, usually with a pin and clasp (bar clasp).

Brushed Finish:
A piece of metal with a dull, brushed texture. The brushed appearance is a result of small, parallel lines etched into the metal to resemble a brush stroke.

Buttercup Setting:
A style of jewelry setting that resembles a buttercup flower. In this setting, tall prongs secure the stone and the base flares out in a scalloped design.

Button Style Earrings:
Button style earrings have a flattened back that lay against the ear. They are similar to stud earrings but are not rounded. They lack dangling and moving parts.

Byzantine Chain:
A type of chain consisting of oval links with a rope-like textured appearance.

Cable Chain:
A cable chain is a standard chain made up of several connecting round or oval links of the same size; also known as a 'link chain'.

A small medallion featuring a portrait or profile of a person's head carved in relief on a contrasting background, typically oval-shaped and worn in jewelry.

Casting is a jewelry-making process that involves the pouring of melted metal into a mold. After it hardens, the piece may be polished and set with stones.

Cathedral Setting:
A cathedral-style setting features a center stone firmly set between two bands that extend upward from each side of the shank. The sides of the ring are angled and tapered in such a way as to draw more attention to the stone.

Channel Setting:
Channel settings are designed to hold gemstones in a narrow-cut channel indented into the surface of the metal. Channel settings allow stones to be set side-by-side without having any metal separating them.

Charms are decorative jewelry ornaments designed to hang from other jewelry designs, such as bracelets, necklaces or earrings. A 'charm bracelet' is a linked bracelet that is specifically designed around the concept of hanging charms.

Chandelier Earrings:
A style of long, dangle earrings that feature tiers of gemstones.

A type of close-fitting necklace, slightly shorter and higher than a collar necklace. Choker necklaces are usually about 14-16 inches in length.


Claddagh is a term used for a traditional ring design that features two hands clasping a heart, often topped by a crown. The design is symbolic for love (heart), friendship (hands) and loyalty (crown) and dates back over 300 years.

A component used to secure jewelry or to connect two ends of a chain, necklace or bracelet.

Cluster Design:
A jewelry design that features numerous small gemstones grouped or 'clustered' together in a compact form. The clustering of gemstones gives the effect of a single larger stone and is often used in ring and pendant designs.

Cocktail Ring:
Cocktail rings are large, dramatic gemstone rings, originally intended to be worn at cocktail or dinner parties. They are designed to be ostentatious and eye-catching.

A circular jewelry component made of metal and used to secure a gemstone in place by encircling it.

A style of necklace designed to completely surround the neck like a collar (from the French word for collar).

Compass Point Setting:
Compass point settings are designed with 4 prongs that surround a gemstone at the north, south, east and west sides of the stone.

A matched set of vintage jewelry usually consisting of two items, such as earrings and a necklace; a parure consists of at least three matching pieces.

Double Clip:
A type of pin or brooch that consists of two halves that can be worn together individually.

An abbreviation for 'deadweight' that is described in pennyweight, often used for measuring the mass of gold and precious metals. A pennyweight measurement is equivalent to 1/20 of a troy ounce, or 1.55517384 grams.

Comfort-Fit Ring:
Comfort-fit rings are bands designed with a smooth, rounded interior edge, rather than a sharp edge. The rounded finish makes the ring more comfortable for long-term wear.

Cuff Link:
A jewelry accessory designed to be worn through the holes of a shirt cuff without buttons.

Curb-Link Chain:
Curb-link chains are a variation of standard cable chains, but the oval or round links are flattened.

Dangle Earrings:
Dangle earrings are sometimes referred to as drop earrings, but they are typically slightly longer than standard drop earrings. Dangle earrings are designed to dangle below the earlobe.

Demi-Hoop Earrings:
Demi-hoop earrings or 'half-hoop' earrings form a semi-circle.

Door-Knocker Earrings:
A style of hinged-bottomed earrings designed to hang below the earlobe.

Drop Earrings:
Drop earrings are earrings that are designed to hang just below the earlobe. They are normally slightly shorter than dangle earrings.

Earring Jacket:
A jewelry component used for making earrings. They are designed to surround a stud. The stud is passed through the jacket, which holds the stud in place and also enhances the appearance of the earring.

Electroplating is a bonding process used in the jewelry industry that bonds a thin layer of material onto the surface of another material.

Enamel is a powdered form of colored glass that is fused to the surface of metal, pottery or glass. The process results in a glossy surface obtained by fusion under high heat.

A process by which metal is cut away to form indented designs, either manually or by the use of a machine.

En Tremblant:
A French term used to describe gemstones that have been attached to a trembler that creates movement when the jewelry is worn. The movement gives a heightened level of scintillation and fire.

A process by which part of a metal surface is removed for decoration through the use of acid.

Fede Ring:
A ring style especially popular in Europe that features two hands clasped together, symbolic of the faith and loyalty between two committed people.

A decorative style of jewelry made up of fine, twisted wires, usually made of gold or silver and often soldered to a metal base or twisted as an open design.

Findings are any materials and components used to create a piece of jewelry, including items such as clasps, stems, bails and ring heads.

Flux is a common material used by jewelers for soldering.

Fold-Over Clasp:
A type of hinged and jointed clasp commonly seen in watch closures.

Foiling is a technique whereby a thin sheet of metal is placed in a closed setting around the base of a gemstone in order to enhance the stone's color.

French Clip:
French-clips are used to secure earrings to non-pierced ears as a result of tension provided by a padded spring clip (clip-on earrings).

The space between the crown of the center stone and the top of the ring shank. It is often styled with scrollwork and/or smaller accent stones.

A process that involves the covering of one material, such as silver or other base metals, with a thin layer of alloy or gold.

Gimmel Ring:
Gimmel rings are two or more linked hoops that fit together to make them appear as a single hoop or ring.

Gypsy Setting:
Gypsy settings secure a gemstone by sinking it deeply into the metal. Once set, the top of the stone is almost level with the surface of the metal.

Graver Tool:
A jeweler's tool used for engraving jewelry and other metal ornaments, similar to a chisel.

A term used to refer to a karat mark or a maker's trademark left on gold and other pieces of jewelry to indicate purity.

Halo Setting:
Halo rings and settings are designed to enhance the center stone by encircling it with numerous smaller gemstones.

A finishing detail that results in an interesting surface texture caused by subtle indentations that have been 'hammered' into the metal.

The elevated part of a ring that extends from the shank, specifically designed to secure a gemstone.

A decorative technique of setting gemstones into recessed areas of the main jewelry material usually made of metal, but sometimes wood, ceramic or other materials.

Integrated Head:
An integrated head is a ring composed of a head and shank made up of single piece of metal.

Invisible Setting:
A channel-style setting designed to secure gemstones (usually calibrated) without showing any metal from the top view down.

A term used to describe or measure the purity of gold. 24 karat gold is 99% pure (24K); 18 karat is 75% pure (18K); and 14K is 58.3% pure gold (14K).

Lever-Back Earrings:
A style of earring with a hinged lever on the back that acts as a clasp.

A small form of jewelry case designed to hold a portrait or another keepsake. Lockets open by the use of a hinged clasp and are often worn on a necklace or connected to a chain.

A term used to describe a dull or non-reflective finish given to polished metal.

Maltese Cross:
A symbol or design often used on jewelry. The cross features four straight-lined arrowheads that meet at their center points. The ends of the crosses terminate with indented 'v' shapes.

Melee Stone:
Traditionally used in reference to small diamonds weighing under 0.2 carats, but is often used to describe any type of small accent gemstone.

Milanese Chain:
A chain that consists of small interwoven rows of links that form a mesh.

Milgrain (or Millegrain; millgrain):
A decorative pattern of fine, raised beads in metal, usually done with a special engraving hand tool on the edge of the metal.

Mounting (Setting):
A mounting is used to secure and hold a gem. It is also a term that can be used to describe the labor or process of mounting a gem.

A long pendant necklace designed to dangle with drops or tassels of uneven length.

A technique used for inlay, in which silver or gold grooves are turned black for color contrast.

Opera Necklace:
A formal necklace designed to drape and sit at the breastbone. Opera necklaces are very long and measure 28-34 inches or 75-90 cm in length.

A soft silvery-white metal belonging to the platinum group of metals; it is often used as an affordable substitute or alternative for platinum alloys in jewelry.

Pavé Setting:
A jewelry setting technique that involves the placing of stones so closely that the surface shows no visible metal between the set gems.

Peg Head:
A ring head, usually composed of four or six prongs, which has been soldered separately onto the shank of a ring.

A jewelry ornament designed to hang from a chain or necklace.

A malleable silver-colored metal used in jewelry and made from tin, copper and antimony.

A term used to describe stone weight, usually only for diamond. 1 point is equivalent to 1/100 of a carat; i.e., a 1/2ct diamond would equal 50 points.

A prong is a small, slender piece of metal used to secure a gemstone.

Promise Ring:
A promise ring is normally used as a pre-engagement ring to signify a commitment or promise between two people in a monogamous relationship.

A necklace that has a single strand of gemstones, usually of the same size and cut.

A precious white metal belonging to the platinum group of metals. Rhodium is often used to plate other precious metals to enhance luster and to prevent tarnishing. Platinum is usually alloyed with rhodium to increase its hardness.

A circular bead used as a spacer to be strung between other types of beads with contrasting colors, often seen in necklaces and bracelets.

Satin Finish:
A lightly textured or frosted finish applied to metal surfaces of some jewelry.

A jewelry setting without a center stone. Semi-mount settings may be set with side stones or smaller accent stones, but no main center stone.

The hooped part of a ring that encircles the finger. 'Split shanks' separate at the head to enhance the central gemstone.

Side Stones:
Side stones are set beside the center stone in jewelry, as seen in three-stone rings. The term should not be confused with accent stones.

Signet Ring:
A style of ring traditionally used like a stamp to imprint a crest or family insignia into the wax that was used to seal letters and documents of importance.

A type of open-framed fastener, through which a chain or piece of fabric can be passed.

A method of joining metal parts together by melting another metal alloy with a lower melting point to the joints.

Any earring, ring or pendant that contains a single (center) stone.

A dulling of the luster of metal, mainly due to exposure to air and moisture.

Tennis Bracelet:
A flexible bracelet made of matching or alternating gemstones that are linked together.

Three Stone Ring:
A ring design with three main gemstones, including one main center stone, and two smaller-sized side stones. The three stones are said to be symbolic of the past, present and future.

A head ornament designed to be worn in the same position as a crown.

Tie Bar:
A thin piece of metal that attaches a tie to a shirt. Also known as a "tie slide".

Tie Clip:
A clip that attaches a tie to a shirt. Also known as a "tie clasp".

Tie Tack:
A jewelry accessory used to secure a necktie to a shirt, or to hold the two parts of a necktie together. Also known as a tie pin.


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