Below are a list of common terms, organized by topic, that are frequently used in the Rosestone Jewelry studio. We are populating this glossary now and if you have any questions or want clarification, reach out to Jesh directly by click on his picture on the right.
Metals & Stones
Every piece includes some combination of metals & stones. These definitions will help have a more specific conversation about exactly what you want.
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79 and is a precious metal. It has been valued throughout human history where it is found for being dense, soft, malleable, and ductile with an attractive, bright yellow color and luster that is maintained without tarnishing in air or water. It’s purity is measured on a 24 part weight scale called karats with 24 karats representing pure gold which is too soft for jewelry.
These are different gold alloys were the numbers represent the parts (out of 24) that are gold with the remaining parts being composed of other metals for color, strength and melting qualities. 18k is the standard in Europe and 14k in the U.S. I recommend 18k for yellow gold jewelry and 14k for white gold for the best color.
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal. It is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust. South Africa accounts for 80% of the world production. It holds a shine better than gold but it is softer so after decades of wear platinum jewelry looks a bit mushed. It is far heavier than gold and requires special high temperature equipment to cast all of which contribute to platinum jewelry being significantly more expensive than gold.
For much of history, silver was prized as much or nearly as much as gold. These days gold costs 65 times as much as silver which makes silver a great choice for larger jewelry pieces such as belt buckles, where the price of gold would be prohibitive. For most jewelry purposes fine or pure silver is alloyed with additional metals to make it stronger with the most common proportions being 92.5% (often marked .925) pure which is called sterling silver. Silver is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it possesses the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.
Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amounts of copper and other metals. It is also a standard alloy used for coining in the ancient world where at least 50% silver is mixed with gold and perhaps some small amount of other alloys. The ancient Greeks called it ‘gold’ or ‘white gold’, as opposed to ‘refined gold’. Its color ranges from pale to bright yellow, depending on the proportions of gold and silver. I use it in some of my pieces to get a rich, warm, antique effect.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has an extensive explanation of the 4 primary characteristics of diamonds. Click here to read more
Sapphire is the next toughest stone after diamond and therefor an excellent choice for engagement rings that need to stand up to daily wear. It is available in a wide range of colors and budgets (most people don’t realize that ruby is actually red sapphire). It is a gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminium oxide. Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper, or magnesium can give corundum blue, yellow, purple, orange, or a greenish color. Chromium impurities in corundum yield a pink or red tint, the latter being called a ruby.
Various techniques could be utilized in the creation of a piece. If you have an aesthetic that you like, hire a jeweler who is skilled in that technique.
Engraving is used in jewelry in several ways. It is the practice of cutting a design or lettering onto a hard, usually flat surface, with a steel graver by cutting grooves into the item to be decorated, usually not very deeply. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper as prints or illustrations; these images are also called engravings. There is a distinction between machine engraving which is usually used for engraving words and dates into metal, and hand engraving which is far more labor intensive and includes patterns pictures and other designs.
Originally developed as a companion skill to Repoussé or repoussage the two techniques were used in producing hollowware to sculpt metal from the inside and outside in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. From the time of Louis XIV to the 1960’s however chasing was developed into a standalone technique employed whenever precious metal needed to be sculpted to meet the highest standards. It is very rarely practiced anymore however because it is so difficult to master and requires many hours to do well. The term chasing is derived from the noun “chase”, which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation. The adjectival form is “chased work”.
Saw Piercing describes jewelry work where the negative space has been painstakingly cut out using a hand saw with blades about the thickness of a single horsetail hair. When done well, the result is a light, airy, sometimes lacy, piece that is often mistaken for filigree. This is another “lost” technique that requires years of practice and many hours on each piece. A piercing saw is shaped like a smaller coping saw. The blade is held in tension in a metal frame. The frame throat size can range from 50 to 200 mm.
Engraving performed with a highly polished graver, which causes a mirror bright cut that sparkles. It is usually done in a fast and lose style where accuracy is sacrificed for style.
Filigree is a delicate kind of jewelry metalwork, usually of gold and silver, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together or to the surface of an object of the same metal and arranged in artistic motifs. It often suggests lace and remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork. It was popular as well in Italian and French metalwork from 1660 to the late 19th century.
Literally, it translates to “a thousand grains.” Sometimes it’s spelled with one “l” and sometimes with two. Milgrain is a row of tiny beads or hemispheres along the edge or boundary of a section of jewelry.
Typically, you see it all along the outer edges of band rings or you see it surrounding hand engraving. It was very popular from the Victorian period through the 1950’s and so is strongly associated with period jewelry.
This is a ladies wedding band that is curved to follow the contours of her engagement ring so that they can lie flush with each other on her finger.
Parts of a Piece
Read about the various parts of a piece of jewelry to simplify the design process and facilitate easier communication with your jeweler.
Refers to the area between the center stone and the shank of the ring. This is where most design elements will be.
Under-Gallery or Grill is a lattice design where the ring touches the finger on the inside of the shank.
In a ring, the shank is the part that surrounds the finger. The shank and the setting in which a stone is to be set are collectively referred to as a ring mounting.
The portion of the Ring or Jewelry that holds the Diamond or Gemstones. Heads often have 4 or 6 Prongs and are soldered onto the Mounting.
In brooches, a piece of hardware designed to accept and lock a top wire or a pin-stem. In necklaces and bracelets, it is the locking or closing mechanism.
A fastening device, such as a catch or hook, used to hold two or more objects or parts together, as with chains. When we started researching this term we found it to such a broad term that we felt it best to leave the definition alone and create a link to photos of each of the various types of clasps not yet defined.
Types of Settings
Different types of settings significantly impact the look and feel of a piece of jewelry. If you have a type of setting that you like, make sure to communicate that to your jeweler early in the process.
Sometimes refers to the entire ring that the center diamond will be put in. Also referred to as a mounting, or a semi-mount if it contains smaller stones.
Refers to the use of metal projections or tines, called prongs, to secure a gemstone to a piece of jewelry.
Use a type of elevated collar, which wraps the rim of the diamond in a complete metal edging. This type of diamond rings setting is the most secure fastener for the stones. The bezel setting also protects the diamond better than other types of settings, such as the prong setting but up covers more of the diamond as well.
When Diamond or Gemstones are set Flush or Level in the Mounting.
A cluster of smaller gemstones embedded in metal. In this type of setting, beads of metal are raised with an engraving tool and are burnished over the girdle of the stone to secure the stone flush with the mounting. This is similar to a pave setting.
When many stones are set in this fashion very closely together, about 1 millimeter apart, covering a surface, that is called “pavé”—from the French for paved or cobblestoned. When a long line is engraved into the metal going up to each of the beads, that is “star set”, because of the look.
A Popular style amongst engagement rings, a halo setting is when a circle of smaller diamonds is used to surround the center stone.