Terms

Alloys

Metals or minerals that are mixed with other metals to make them stronger and more durable. Like 14kt gold is 14% gold & 10% alloy.

Amethyst

The birthstone for February. This lovely purple quartz is  popular and beautiful.

Appraisal

Replacement value of jewelry items. Whether it is rings, pendants, bracelets or earrings. Jewelry appraisals are used for insurance.

Appraisal

Replacement value of jewelry items. Whether it is rings, pendants, bracelets or earrings. Jewelry appraisals are used for insurance.

Aquamarine

Birthstone for March. This beautiful light-blue gem resembles water and is often a favorite for people who wear blue.

Baguette

A cut of gemstone that is long & narrow. Baguette is French for “little sticks”. Baguettes & tapered baguettes are often used in wedding sets.

 Bead setting

A way of setting gemstones and diamonds into mountings. The stones are held into the pave setting by tiny, little beads of metal.

Beryl 

A popular parent gemstone for which both emeralds and aquamarines come from. Beryl often comes from pegmatites in caves.

Bezel facets  

Small facets that are cut into the top crown of a diamond. They help bend light into the diamond to reflect back fire and brilliance.

Amulet 

A pendant or charm that is worn for protective magical power.

Art Deco 

A style characterized by angular geometric shapes, zigzags, bold colors, molded or faceted Czech glass beads, plastics (like celluloid or Bakelite) and chrome, unlike the curves of the previous era. Also known as the geometric style that succeeded Edwardian jewelry beginning in the 1910s through the mid-1920′s. Colored stones were utilized more, and the opaque stones such as jade, onyx and coral were set in geometric shapes. Sleek animals such as Borzoi and Greyhound dogs were featured in some designs. It started out with relatively delicate designs, and progressed to a more bold and blocky style also called Art Moderne.

Art Nouveau 

A style also known as “Victorian” or “Edwardian” consisting of fluid lines, floral and nature themes and natural colors. Also known for its flowing style with sinuous curves and naturalistic motifs that was popular from about 1895 to 1905. A common motif was a women’s head with flowing hair.

Baguette 

A gemstone, often a diamond, cut in a narrow rectangular shape. Small diamonds cut this way are often used as accents. A tapered baguette has one short end narrower than the opposite end, forming a trapezoid.

Baroque 

An irregular, rounded stone, glass or bead; also, an imitation pearl with an uneven or craggy shape and/or surface.

Bezel Setting 

A method of setting gemstones in which the stone is held in the mounting by a narrow band of metal surrounding the girdle (outside perimeter) of the stone. Bezel settings are created by a metal rim that encircles a gemstone, extending above the stone a little to form a ridge that holds the gem in place. The low profile of a bezel setting can be a good choice for people who use their hands a lot, because stones generally sit low, a more protected arrangement than is often seen when diamonds and other gems are held in place by prongs.

A partial bezel setting uses a rim around the gem, just like a typical bezel, but as the name implies, the rim is in contact with only a portion of a gemstone’s sides, which allows increased visibility of the stone.

Birthstone 

Birthstones have their roots in ancient astrology, and there have been many birthstone lists used over the years. The most common one today is based on a list first publicized by the U.S. jewelry industry in the 1950s. This list assign birthstones as follows:

January – Garnet

February – Amethyst

March – Aquamarine

April – Diamond

May – Emerald

June – Pearl or Moonstone

July – Ruby

August – Peridot

September – Sapphire

October – Opal

November – Citrine or Topaz

December – Turquoise or Zircon

Blemishes

Tiny Marks or Flaws that show on the outside surface of a Diamond. Blemishes are usually graded differently than Internal Inclusions.

 Brass 

An alloy of copper and zinc which has a nice yellow color.

Brilliance  

The amount of White Light that reflects back from the body of a Diamond. White Light is called Brilliance. Colored Light is called Fire.

Bronze 

A brownish alloy of copper and tin that is not used much in costume jewelry because it is very dense and therefore heavy.

Cabochon 

A stone with a rounded surface, rather than with facets.

Cameo 

A style of carving in which the design motif is left and the surrounding surface is cut away leaving the design in relief. Cameos in jewelry are often made of shell, although hard stone cameos such as sardonyx are more valuable. Cameos have been carved from ancient times.

Carat 

The word carat is used to describe the weight of a stone. Abbreviated “ct.” and spelled with a “c”. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram (200 milligrams). Stones are measured to the nearest hundredth of a carat.  A hundredth of a carat is also called a point. Thus a .10 carat stone can be called either 10 points, or 1/10 of a carat. Small stones like .05, and .10ct are most often referred to by point designations. There are 100 points to a 1 carat diamond.

A one carat round diamond of average proportions is approximately 6.5mm in diameter. Note that this relationship of weight and size is different for each family of stones. For example ruby and sapphire are both heavier than diamond (technically, they have a higher specific gravity, so a 1 carat ruby or sapphire is smaller in size than a on carat diamond.

Carbon Spots  

Carbon spots are inclusions or imperfections inside a diamond. Carbon spots are more noticeable when they are black carbon spots.

Channel set 

A way of setting diamonds or gemstones into a mounting. Although other shapes may be used the stones are often square or rectangular stones and set side by side in a grooved channel. Channels are walls that are built into the ring which then hold the stones securely. Unlike most setting methods, the stones are not secured individually, so there is no metal visible between the stones.

Choker 

A short, close fitting necklace; like a collar.

Citrine

Citrine is the official birthstone for the month of November.  It is a variety of quartz, citrine occurs in a color range ranging from light yellow to a brilliant orange that may be confused with fine imperial topaz.

Clouds  

Foggy areas in a diamond that are imperfections in the stone. They are often mistaken for a “white” diamond because they resemble salt!

Corundum  

Corundum is one of the most sought after Gemstone families there is. Both Ruby and Sapphire come from this wonderful rock!

Crimp Bead 

Small, soft metal beads that are squeezed shut to secure loops of threading material fasteners onto clasps.

 Crown

Crown can mean 2 things: It can mean the top part of a Diamond or the end of a watch stem that’s used to set the time and hands.  Note that the flat top of a cut stone may also be called the table or the stone’s face.

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic zirconia, or CZ or cubic zirconium, is a man-made diamond look-a-like. CZ is inexpensive, very pretty, colorful, but also very brittle. It should not be confused with zircon, which is a natural gemstone.

Cultured Pearls 

Cultured pearls are man-made in a laboratory by duplicating how nature makes them. Cultured pearls are often better looking than real pearls due to the laboratory can to control the conditions and the process.

Diamond 

The official gemstone or birthstone for the month of April.

Diamond is the hardest natural substance known to man.Diamonds, a form of crystalline carbon, are prized because they are exceptionally hard and durable, have high refractivity and brilliance, and because really fine diamonds are rare. Today diamonds are valued based on the “4 C’s” of color, cut, clarity and carat size.

The flat top of a cut stone is called the table or the stone’s face.

The pavilion is the bottom portion of a cut stone, beginning at the girdle and going to the point at its end.

Edwardian 

Refers to the period during the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910), but the style has it’s beginnings during the final years of Victoria’s reign, and continued until shortly before World War I when the more geometric influences later to be called Art Deco began to make headway.

In jewelry, this period was characterized by delicate filigree in white gold and platinum, with diamonds and pearls predominating, and colored stones used less frequently, producing a light, monochromatic look. Delicate bows, swags, and garland effects were used in necklaces and brooches. Both dog collars, and long fringed necklaces were also “in”, being popularized by the graceful, long-necked Queen Alexandra.

Electroplated 

Jewelry can be mechanically plated with gold in a variety of ways, including electroplated. Eventually, the gold plating wears away, but it depends on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is.

Emerald 

Emerald is also the official birthstone for the month of May.

A gemstone of the beryl family, fine emeralds are among the most valuable gemstones; as such, it is considered a ‘precious gemstone’. Unlike most gemstones, flaws (called inclusions by gemologists) are quite common in emeralds, so they lower the value much less than with other precious stones such a diamonds. The most highly prized emeralds are mined in Columbia. One of the precious gemstones that is very rare & deep green in color. A valuable emerald will be a bright, vividly colored green. Those with a slight blue cast to the bright green are actually the most valuable color.

Many emeralds seen in jewelry are of relatively low quality. They are often dyed or oiled to improve the color and minimize flaws. If an emerald appears to be very fine, it may actually be a synthetic. There are several types of synthetic emeralds on the market, and some of them are challenging to identify, even for a trained gemologist.

Emerald Cut  

A cut of diamond that’s rectangular in shape. Emerald cuts used to be very popular, that is until the princess cut took over!

Enamel 

In its simplest terms, all enamel is produced by fusing colored powdered glass to metal to produce a vitreous or glass-like, decorative surface. The enamel may be translucent with fancy engraving on the metal underneath, which produces guilloche (ghee-YOSH) enamel. Popular during the mid-Victorian period was a solid black blue or white enamel used to fill engraved designs.

Enamel is a decorative technique in which a glass “paste” is applied to the surface of a metal–normally bronze, copper or gold. This glass composition adheres to the metal through fusion under very high temperatures. The color of the enamel and its degree of transparency depend on the metal oxides that exist in the glass and the temperature at which the glass melts and coheres to the surface:

“Harder”=fused at higher temperatures=more durable, more translucent

“Softer”=fused at lower temperatures=more fragile, more opaque

European Cut 

The style of diamond cutting popular from approximately 1890 to the 1930s. Unlike the old mine cut preceding it, the European cut has a round girdle (perimeter) made possible by the introduction of the power bruiting machine (Bruiting is the term for shaping the girdle of a diamond, the first step in the cutting process). The European cut can be distinguished by the size of the table (the top, flat facet) in relation to the diameter of the stone. In a European cut, the table is smaller in relation to the diameter of the stone. Also, the culet (the bottom facet, is often large, often appearing to create a hole at the bottom of the diamond, when viewed from the top, since the large culet lets light escape instead of reflecting back to the viewer.

Eyepin 

A wire finding with a loop at one end. used for linking beads or beaded links together

Facets 

The actual cut polished angles & slants (each being flat) of the outer surface of a diamond, gemstone or other material.

Fancy Shapes  

Fancy shapes are all diamond (or other gemstone) shapes that are not round. Fancy shapes include princess,  marquise, pear, oval, baguette, trilliant, heart, etc.

Faux 

A French word used to describe something made to resemble something else. The original French word means false, fake, imitation or artificial. A faux pearl looks like a pearl.

 Filigree 

A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.

Findings 

All types of fasteners, and construction components used in jewelry making.

Finish 

Can mean 2 things: The Polish & Finish of a Diamond. Or, the surface of Gold, like Polished, Sand Blasted, Diamond Cut, Hammered, Satin.

Fire

Fire is the name given to flashes of light that emit from a diamond that are bent and form all the colors of the rainbow. Fire is colored light.

Florentine 

Finish Finish has a brushed or striated appearance.

Freshwater Pearl 

A pearl produced by a mollusk that inhabits freshwater, usually these pearls are shaped like an uneven grain of rice. There is also a variety called Tennessee fresh water pearls that taper like a long tooth.

Full Cut 

A name given to a small diamond that has all 58 facets. Some small diamonds are called single cuts and have only 18 facets.

Garnet 

A group stones that share a similar chemical structure, the garnet family includes pyrope, almandine, and demantoid, among others. Almandine garnet are red varieties, with pyrope being the common Bohemian garnet found in much Victorian and turn of the century jewelry. Demantoid garnet is a much rarer bright green variety, first mined in the mid-nineteenth century. Demantoid has the highest dispersion of colored stones usually found on the market, which means it is very sparkly. Demantoid is generally found only relatively small stones.

Gemstones 

Include diamond, brilliant, beryl, emerald chalcedony, agate, heliotrope; onyx, plasma; tourmaline, chrysolite; sapphire, ruby, synthetic ruby; spinel, spinelle; oriental topaz; turquoise, zircon, cubic zirconia; jacinth, hyacinth, carbuncle, amethyst; alexandrite, cat’s eye, bloodstone, hematite, jasper, moonstone, sunstone.

Genuine 

It is common to see the following words when describing costume jewelry: amethyst, diamond, garnet, emerald, ruby, sapphire. These words should not be interpreted to mean the precious stones with these names. The terms are used only to describe the color of the non-precious stones. If the genuine stone is meant, it is usually indicated with the word genuine in the description. This general rule also applies to words for metals, such as gold, silver, copper, and pewter. When used to describe costume jewelry, they mean gold-tone, pewter colored, etc.

G.I.A or GIA 

G.I.A. is short for the Gemological Institute of America. G.I.A. is the company that devised the well known 4 C’s Diamond Grading System.

Gilt 

Gold plating.

Girdle 

A girdle is a smooth, faceted, or rough edge that goes around the outer portion of the diamond. The girdle is the widest part of a diamond.

Gold 

Since ancient times, gold has been prized for its beauty, and purity since it does not oxidize or tarnish like most other metals. It has also been used as a store of value to build wealth and shield against hard times. Gold used in jewelry is almost always alloyed with other metals since gold in its pure form is very soft and malleable, and would not wear well by itself. Much gold jewelry from the 19th century and before is not marked. Tests must be done to determine if it is solid gold and to determine purity.

The familiar Karat marking system used in the United States did not become popular until around 1890 or so. (Note that Karat with a “K” refers to gold purity, while Carat with a “C” refers to the weight of a gemstone, e.g. a one carat diamond set in a 14 karat gold ring.) The karat number refers to the parts of pure gold per 24 in the alloy. So a 14K alloy is 14/24 parts pure gold, or about 58% gold.

Other countries used a marking system well before the United States. For example, Britain has had a system of hallmarking in place for hundreds of years.

It is also common in many European and other countries to mark gold with a three digit number indicating the parts per thousand of gold. Thus gold jewelry is often marked “750″ for 750/1000 gold. (Equivalent to US 18K).

In addition to many purities, alloyed gold also comes in many colors. Variations in the metals alloyed with the gold account for the ability to produce white, pink and even green gold, in addition to the familiar yellow gold. Pink gold was popular in late Victorian times, and again in the 1940s. White gold was very popular from 1900 through the 30′s.

Gold Allergies  

An allergic reaction to gold. Most people with gold allergies are not allergic to the actual gold itself, but to the nickel alloy mixed with the gold.

Gypsy Setting

Same as flush setting. A gemstone is set flush and even with the mounting using no prongs, beads or other forms of holding in the stone.

Gold Filled 

Goldfilled, or gold-filled abbreviated g.f. = lower in gold content than 10 KT, usually 1/20 or 1/12 KT.In this technique a sheet of gold is mechanically applied to the surface. Victorian pieces are likely to be unmarked, but later pieces are marked with the fineness of the gold layer, and the part by weight of the gold. For example a piece marked “1/10 12K G.F.” is composed of at least 1/10 12K gold based on the weight of the finished piece. In the U.S., gold filled pieces must be at least 1/20 by weight to be classified as gold-filled. An older unmarked gold piece may often be identified by wear through to base metal, especially when viewing corners or edges under magnification. Look for a change to a darker, brassy colored material at these spots.

Goldplate 

A layer of gold applied to base metal, usually by electroplating. This is usually a very thin layer, only a few microns, which is likely to wear much more quickly than gold-filled.

Gold Tone

Gold colored or electro-plated, not gold as in measurable in karats.

 Gold Washed 

“Gold washed” describes products that have an extremely thin electroplating of gold (less than .175 microns thick). This will wear away more quickly than gold plate, gold-filled, or gold electroplate. The gold is applied by either dipping or burnishing the metal, but it is not plated.

Pewter 

A somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.

Intaglio 

A design carved down into a gemstone, unlike a cameo in which the design is raised from it’s background, in relief. This technique was often used for seals, which made an impression in wax used to seal a letter or authenticate a document. It is also common on watch fobs, since the watch fob was originally a good place to carry a seal. Once seals fell out of use, the intaglio tended to face out to the viewer rather than down as on a seal. Some of the most commonly found Victorian intaglios are carved in Carnelian, an orange-brown variety of quartz.

Iridium 

A metal and member of the platinum family, it is often alloyed with platinum to improve workability, thus you will find pieces marked something like “90% Plat. 10% Irrid” to indicate that the alloy is 90 % platinum and 10% iridium.

Jewelry 

Ornaments worn by people on the body [Fr]; trinket; fine jewelry; costume jewelry, junk jewelry; gem, gemstone, precious stone. Forms of jewelry: necklace, bracelet, anklet; earring; locket, pendant, charm bracelet; ring, pinky ring; carcanet, chain, chatelaine; broach, pin, lapel pin, torque

Jump Ring 

A small wire ring, not soldered shut, used to link elements of jewelry.

Lapidary 

Cutting, shaping, polishing and creating jewelry from precious and semi-precious stones.

Living Jewelry 

Jewelry materials derived from living organisms: pearl, cultured pearl, fresh-water pearl; mother of pearl; coral.

Lost Wax Casting 

A model is made of wax and coated with clay. The wax is melted and poured out from the shape that can then be used to cast metal.

Lucite 

Popular in the 1940′s for ladies purses and jewelry, lucite is a clear, strong plastic that can be molded and carved.

Marquise 

An oval stone which is pointed at both ends, also called navette. Also, a stone cut in a boat shape, pointed at both ends, with rounded sides. Note that the correct pronunciation is “Mar-KEYS”, not “Mar-KEY” which is commonly heard.

Millefiori 

Means “thousand flowers” in Italian. A method of creating glass or clay beads with intricate patterns using canes.

Natural Pearl 

A pearl that begins as a piece of grit or other forein substance that makes its way into the shell of a marine or freshwater mollusk (oysters, clams). A defense mechanism kicks-in to coat the particle with layer after layer of a substance called nacre, eventually forming a pearl.

A natural pearl is a pearl that forms in nature with no human intervention.

Mine Cut 

A style of diamond cutting popular before 1890 or so, it features a cushion shaped outline, rather than the round outline of the modern cut and old European cuts, and has a different facet arrangement.

Mabe or Mobe 

A half sphere or domed stone, usually a fake pearl.

Moonstone 

Moonstones are from a family of rock called feldspars. Ranging in many wonderful colors, moonstones are known for their great healing powers.

Navette 

An oval stone which is pointed at both ends.

Obsidian 

A natural glass that forms when volcanic lava cools rapidly. Like human-created glass, it scratches easily. Obsidian forms in many colors and often contains banded areas that were created as lava moved during cooling. It sometimes contains bubbles, and snowflake obsidian is popular for its white spots that resemble snowflakes.

Oiling

Oiling is used to seal a stone such as opal from water loss. It is used to fill fissures on the surface of emeralds, improving their clarity.

Organic Jewelry 

Jewelry made from items that were once living organisms or were produced by living organisms.

Parure

A suite of matching jewelry consisting of several pieces. Commonly, a set of three or more matching pieces; three of either earrings, bracelet, and necklace, or pin/brooch. In Victorian times, a complete parure consisted of two matching bracelets, necklace, earrings and a brooch. Note that before wristwatches became widely worn, it was quite common to wear two matching bracelets.

 Patina 

As a general term, patina refers to the change in an object’s surface resulting from natural aging. (Patina preservation is the reason to avoid all but very superficial cleaning of old objects.) In bronze sculpture, patina specifically refers to the surface of the bronze itself often altered by the sculptor with acid or the application of other chemicals.

Pave 

Very tightly set stones, as in a pavement; a gem setting technique in which the stones are set low and very closely spaced, so that the surface appears to be paved with gemstones. Most commonly seen with diamonds, but may be used with any stone.

Pearl 

A natural gemstone formed when a oyster is irritated by a substance that gets into its shell. If the irritation is a naturally occurring grain of sand, it is an Oriental pearl. If it is produced by purposefully inserting a mother-of-pearl bead, a cultured pearl is formed. A pearl that forms attached to the shell is a blister pearl, while a pearl that forms a half dome is a mabe (pronounced mah-bay) pearl. Pearls that are irregularly shaped rather than round are referred to as baroque.

Perfumed Beads 

Recipes are available to make beads that release a scent when warmed by the body.

Pewter 

Pewter items are described and marked as such if they contain at least 90% tin. Also, a somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.

Plique-a-jour 

A form of cloisonné in which the enamel in the cells has no backing, producing a translucent effect. This technique was used to good effect by Rene’ Lalique and others during the Art Nouveau period to depict dragonfly wings and other translucent objects.

Quartz 

A family of colored gemstones widely used in jewelry. Quartz is affordable and is available in a large range of transparent and opaque colors, some with inclusions and other effects that add an extra design element.

A Few Popular Types of Quartz

  • Smoky quartz, warm yellowish browns
  • Yellow quartz, known as citrine
  • Amethyst, one of the most popular types of quartz, light lavender to rosy purple
  • Rose quartz, pale to deeper pink, can be transparent (more valuable) or opaque (more common)
  • Aventurine, translucent green or warmish brown, both with inclusions

Quartz is rated at 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

Rhinestone 

A glass stone, facetted to imitate a diamond. In German, it is called Strass, after the man who popularized it. They are colorless or colored artificial gemstones that simulate diamonds and other gems. They can be made of glass or paste, but the best rhinestones are cut from quartz crystal. Rhinestones have a fused, metallic backing that reflects the light and gives the stones fire.

Rhodium 

A metal that is part of the platinum family. Silver, gold, and even base metals were often Rhodium plated during the 30′s and 40′s to give them the white, shiny look associated with platinum. Genuine rhodium in raw state is liquid. Although in the platinum family of metals, it is not the same as platinum which is a solid precious metal.

Rhodium-plating 

A thin plating of rhodium, which is one of the members of the platinum family, applied over either sterling or other alloy to give a bright, shiny, longlasting silver-colored finish to a piece.

Retro 

A recent designation for the period in the forties when when large scale, stylized geometric forms were the rage. Pink gold, set with colored stones, sometimes in floral forms was common.

Ruby 

A precious gemstone, and a member of the corundum family, rubies are always, by definition, red, but be aware that many other red gemstones and imitations might be assumed to be a ruby. Fine rubies of good color can be more valuable than diamonds, but the first synthetic ruby was created in the 1890′s and became quite popular in jewelry. Synthetic rubies must be distinguished from natural by sophisticated testing by trained gemologists.

Safety Catch 

Prior to 1900 or so, brooches had a simple “C” catch with no locking mechanism, and the pin often extended out beyond the “C” far enough to weave back into clothing for security. At the turn of the century several “safety catches” were invented and came into common used for better jewelry, so a piece that exhibits a safety catch was made in the twentieth century. (Consider the possibility, however, that an old catch was replaced at some point, and look for evidence of this.)

Sapphire 

A gemstone of the corundum family, although blue is the color most commonly associated with sapphires, they come in a range of colors from white to orange to green to pink. In fact, if a corundum gemstone is red, it is referred to as a ruby, but any other color, including the light pinkish “rubies” in inexpensive jewelry are properly referred to as sapphires. Sapphires were first synthesized in the 1920′s, so it takes an expert to determine if a sapphire is natural. Natural sapphires are sometimes found that exhibit a star effect. These can be quite valuable if the star is centered and well-defined, but in 1967 the synthetic Linde Star Sapphire hit the market, and many star sapphires found today are these synthetics.

Sautoir (Soh-TWAH) 

A long rope style necklace, often with a tassel or pendant at the end, these were popularized in the Edwardian era because Edward’s Queen Alexandra often wore them.

Seed Pearl 

Refers to a very small round pearl or a very small imitation pearl, or f.pearl. These were strung on horsehair and used in intricately woven jewelry during the early-mid Victorian period. In the late Victorian period accents set into gold jewelry. During the Edwardian period, they were sometimes woven into long fringed necklaces called sautoirs.

Silver Tone 

Silver plated or coated, not sterling silver.

Spinel 

An affordable gemstone that was once thought to be related to the corundum family (ruby and sapphire), because it found near deposits of those gemstones and exhibits some of the same characteristics.

Spinel is available in a range of colors, but the most popular is bright orange-red. Spinel is rated at 8 on the Mohs scale.

Split Ring 

Small base metal finding resembling a key-ring.

Sterling Silver 

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that must contain a minimum of 92.5 percent pure silver. Copper is commonly used to make up the remaining part of the mixture. 925 parts silver, legal standard. 800 or less amount of silver is known as silver parts, as marked on the jewelry, not sterling silver.

Table 

The flat top of a cut stone is called the table or the stone’s face.

Tennis Bracelet 

A flexible bracelet with diamonds (usually of the same size) set closely together, one after the other, all the way around its circumference. Although the term usually refers to diamond bracelets, you’ll see colored gemstone versions tagged with the same name.

Tiffany Setting 

The high pronged setting most common today for large stones such as a diamond solitaire, this setting was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886.

Topaz 

A hard gemstone (rated 8.0 on the Mohs Scale) that occurs in a variety of colors.

Topaz is the November birthstone.

Tortoise shell 

A popular material for 19th century jewelry and haircombs, tortoiseshell was banned and is no longer used for these items. There are very close plastic imitations of tortoiseshell. One technique to differentiate tortoise from its imitators is to touch the surface with a hot pinpoint. Tortoise will give off a smell like burning hair, while plastic will emit and acrid, chemical odor.

Troy Weight 

Gold and silver are measured in Troy weight, a system that includes pennyweights, ounces and pounds. The ounces and pounds do not equal the Avordupois or customary U.S. system that other common goods are measured in. Gold is also commonly measured in metric grams. A pennyweight (abbreviated dwt.) is equal to 1.5552 grams.

 24 grains = 1 pennyweight = 1.5552 grams

 20 pennyweight = 1 troy ounce = 31.1035 grams

 12 ounces = 1 pound troy = 373.24 grams.

Tourmaline 

A gemstone that exists in many colors, and sometimes colors are mixed within one stone. Tourmaline’s hardness is rated at 7–7.5 on the Mohs Scale compared to 10 for diamond and 9 for sapphire and ruby.

 

Targus Piercing 

The tragus is the triangular shaped piece of cartilage in front of the ear canal. It has become a popular spot for piercings, and is commonly decorated with delicate hoop jewelry.

 

 Turquoise 

Turquoise is a semi-precious gemstone found in desert regions throughout the world. All the cultures use it–Mongolian, Chinese, Native Australian, Persian & Southwestern Native American. It is considered a source of good fortune and beauty. If you see brown or grey streaks in turquoise, they are caused bythe matrix, or mother stone, from which the turquoise is mined. Interesting matrix patterns are considered to add beauty to the stone.

Only Persian turquoise is usually without apparent matrix. Modern turquoise “stones” that appear very shiny and absolutely flawless are actually manufactured: Pulverized turquoise is reconstituted with a plastic binding medium then cut & shaped as though it were natural stone. This material is generally avoided by collectors. Different colors of turquoise–varying from sky blue to nearly green occur in untreated turquoise, since it is quite porous. Touching the stone leaves oils on it which alters the color of the turquoise over many years. Collectors tend to value these color nuances as the patina of time.

 

Vegetable Ivory

A botanical substitute for ivory, often obtained from palm nuts and seeds. Vegetable ivory is gaining in popularity as the traditional mammal sources of ivory are protected.

Vermeil

Silver with gold plating.

Vulcanite

A hard, moldable dark brown or black early plastic sometimes erroneously called “gutta percha”. This material was used for memorial pieces in the mid-Victorian period.

Victorian

The designation given to the period from approximately 1837 when Victoria became Queen of England until 1901 when she died. This long period is divided into early (approx. 1840-1860), mid (approx. 1860 – 1880) and late (approx. 1880-1900) since it covers a wide span of time, and a number of distinctive design trends. This period was preceded by the Georgian period, and succeeded by the Edwardian period after Victoria died in 1901, and her son Edward became king.