Jewelry Design & Manufacture | Gemological Terms
Below we have listed terms that might prove to be useful to you. These terms are typical in the design and manufacture of custom designed, handcrafted gold, platinum and silver jewelry including diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, commitment rings, unique earrings and pendants, and stunning bracelets.
Etch (derived from the German word "to corrode or eat") involves immersing the metal in an acid solution while protecting certain parts with a substance called a resist (asphaltum, rosin, wax, etc.) in order to create a pattern on the metal's surface.
A homogeneous mixture or solid solution of two or more metals, the atoms of one replacing or occupying interstitial positions between the atoms of the other: Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper. To combine (metals) to form an alloy.
An object or a talisman to protect against danger and the unknown.
Translucent enameling that is applied over an engraved metal surface.
A ring or setting comprised of prongs that are part of the main object, not an applied component.
(especially of clothing or jewelry) made to the customer’s specifications.
A way of setting gems that features a metal rim that encircles the sides of a gemstone and extends slightly above it. The rim, or collar, can stretch around the gem's entire circumference or around only a portion of it. A bezel setting holds a gemstone securely, and the low, protective profile it creates makes a bezel setting a good choice for people with active lifestyles. In some cases a bezel setting can be maintenance free and it is usually my first choice.
A finish variously produced by lightly scratching the surface.
A directional bright finish done by hand with a burnishing tool or "burnisher."
Gemstones that are cut to fit a specific setting size (calibrated), or gems that are set into rows or strands of identical size.
A method of stone carving which creates a raised positive relief image, contrasted with intaglio, which has a negative image.
Making of objects using molds: the making of a solid object by pouring molten metal, glass, or plastic into a mold and allowing it to cool. One of the two main ways to create jewelry.
Refers to a ring or setting that arches up to or above a gemstone when seen from the side.
Enameling technique, meaning "raised field," are stamped depressions in metal that are then filled with enamel.
A gem mounting technique where a row of similarly sized gems are set in a row between smooth edges of metal.
Also called Kerbschnitt, chip carving involves using a metal-cutting chisel to remove tiny chips from the metal's surface to create a pattern or relief.
Also known as a jabot pin, or sûreté. A fastening device or 'catch' that uses a pin and snap closure.
Cloisonné is a multi-step process where filigree is inlaid with enamel to produce a wide variety of color in jewelry.
A cup-shaped bowl made of graphite and clay or ceramic in which metals are melted to a liquid state.
Depositing one type of metal onto the surface of another type by using the process of electrolysis or an electro-chemical reaction. Plated coatings are measured in microns.
A chocker made with a gold or platinum trellis-work of gemstones.
Bracelet or necklace that contains metal similar plaques that are connected with rows of swagged chain (enslaved).
A decorative style created by using sharp tools, (gravers) to cut a metal surface in a pattern.
Making of objects by forming and assembling the material: One of the two main ways to create jewelry.
Imitation of the real thing, such as paste gemstones or costume jewelry. If you like it, it is faux, if not, it’s a fake. (credit to Joe Pine)
Delicate jewelry or metalwork with wire soldered to a metal background in patterns. Also describes pattern-work made with twisted threads of gold and/or silver. Derived from the Latin words filum thread, and granum, grain.
Mounting a gemstone by smoothly imbedding it into the surface of a metal.
Similar to the shot ball technique, tiny granules or "grains" are fusion-welded to the metal's surface to create a pattern or design. A technique used for centuries in India and Nepal.
To mount a gemstone directly into the surface of the metal using a sharp tool to form the metal around the gem to hold it in place. Like Pavé except gems can be set singularly or more loosely spaced.
An alloy of gold that contains more silver than copper giving the metal a greenish or brassy color.
Machine-turning technique for engraving a repetitive decorative pattern onto a metal surface - a popular watchmaking embellishment.
Meaning "dressed up," this refers to the image in a cameo, of a women wearing some form of gem-set jewelry.
Using a cross or ball peen hammer to leave indented hammer marks on the metal's surface.
Intaglio is the opposite of cameo with an incised negative image. Intaglio is used to make engraved seals, where it leaves a raised design on the material being stamped.
measure of gold content: a unit of proportion of gold in an alloy equal to 1/24 part of pure gold. Thus 24 K is pure gold, 18K is 75% gold content 14K is 58.3 % gold content.
The bonding of two different metals to create a pattern when cross-sectioned. Damask Steel and Japanese "Mokumé Gane" or "Wood Grain" are two examples of metal lamination to create a pattern.
A necklace with two pendants of unequal length (aka negligee pendant).
French technique for enameling and firing to create a pictorial image, typically a portrait, to be used as a brooch.
Lost wax casting
Creating an original artwork from wax, the wax prototype is “invested” in a container called a “flask”. The flask is then heated in a kiln to eliminate the wax. Molten metal is injected into the hollow space made by the eliminated wax model creating an exact duplicate of the wax object in metal.
Imbedding or inserting of sheet metal or wire into an indentation or groove in the surface of a finished piece of metal.
A highly reflective surface with no visible abrasion pattern. Created with rouge, muslin, or a flannel buffing wheel.
A necklace pendant with two drops that are unevenly suspended.
A graduated row of articulating set gemstones that taper to a point.
Pronounced (pah-rur), a matching earrings and brooch or pendant to make up a jewelry set, or suite of mating jewelry. Term came into popular usage in 17th century France and later in other European countries.
Patina is a chemical film formed on the surface of metal through wear, corrosion, or oxidization due to exposure to the elements. A patina is often deliberately added by metalworkers.
Smaller gemstones that are set very close together, usually in a graver setting style, to create a field of color.
Gold or silver inlayed design pattern (pricked). Also, a carbon diamond inclusion.
Plique à Jour
Translucent enameling technique that has the look of stained glass.
A gem mounting technique that uses three or more thin tines or claws to hold the gem in place. Prong settings can be reasonably secure but will always eventually need maintenance.
French for "to push back," Repoussé is a technique for creating a relief design by pressing or hammering the inside or backside of a metal surface.
Giving the surface of the metal a rough or wrinkled texture (network or web) that has a naturally formed appearance. The process (aka Samorodok) was popularized by Russian artists such as Fabergé.
A necklace of ascending graduated gemstones that flows like a "river."
A gold alloy containing more copper than silver, creating a pinkish or reddish color.
A non-directional or directional finish created with abrasive compounds that produce fine lines across the surface of the metal.
Also known as a cliquet or jabot pin. A fastening device or 'catch' that uses a pin-and-snap closure.
The portion of a ring that encircles a finger. The shank holds the head (setting), which in turn, holds the gemstone.
Metal fusion using tiny shot balls fused to the metal's surface to create a pattern or design. A technique used in ancient Etruscan jewelry to add texture to the surface.
Using a tool to engrave a groove or furrow into the flat surface of the metal.
A solder is a fusible metal alloy (gold solder: gold mixed with lower melting metals) with a melting point below that of the metals being joined and is melted to join two metallic surfaces.
A single gemstone set by itself in mounting.
A gem held in place by the pressure of the band's metal, which is designed to "squeeze" the stone.
Refers to a solitaire mounting with a four or six prong head to hold the gemstone. Considered to be the “traditional” engagement ring by some. The shank is usually simple and narrow.
An alloy of gold containing nickel, palladium, or other white metal alloy components that give the metal a white or whitish color.
An alloy of gold with silver and copper. May contain small amounts of other metals to enhance casting or fabricating characteristics.