Glossary of jewellery jargon

We all love buying new jewellery pieces, but it can sometimes be overwhelming when we come across lots of jargon that we don’t understand.

That’s why we’ve put together a glossary of different key terms that are used a lot in the jewellery world of online shopping and blog articles. 


Alloy- An alloy refers to either a mixture of metals or a mixture of metal and another element. All gold which is less than 24K, contains alloys in it. This is typically done to strengthen the jewellery and make it harder to tarnish or break. 

Amulet- An amulet is another term often used for good luck charms. They are usually full of meaning and people believe they will protect the wearer from danger or harm. 

Baguette- A faceted gemstone that has a rectangular-cut which is more complex than an emerald cut

Base metal- A common type of metal which is not considered precious, e.g. copper, brass, zinc or nickel. Any jewellery which is less than 24 Carat is gold mixed with a base metal. 

Birthstone- Birthstones are specific gemstones which are linked to the month of a person's birth. It’s thought that people have  been wearing birthstones in their jewellery since as early as the 16th and 17th century.

Brilliant cut- A type of cut used for diamonds. Brilliant cut stones are usually round in shape and have 58 facets.

Carat- When used in relation to gold, a carat is a measure of purity. The higher the carat the more pure gold it is and therefore the softer it is as well.

Clarity- Clarity refers to the degree to which a gemstone has flaws in it. Typically, the greater the clarity, the higher the value of the stone. However, lab grown gemstones usually have perfect clarity, but are still relatively inexpensive. 

Costume jewellery- Costume jewellery is a term used to describe jewellery which has more base metal than actual gold, or silver. It’s a term that dates back to the 20th century and this type of jewellery was very popular during World War 2 when the materials were scarce.

Drop earrings- Similar to dangle earrings, drop earrings differ because the main feature is dropping slightly below the earlobe. 

Emerald cut- This relatively minimalist gemstone cut is square or rectangular and is generally used for large and transparent gemstones.

Enamel jewellery- Enamelled jewellery is jewellery where the metal has been covered in a thick coating which is typically brightly covered. 

Facets- Facets are the flat surfaces which are created on a cut stone or glass. 

Fine jewellery- Fine jewellery is generally considered to be jewellery made with precious metals and gemstones, as opposed to costume or fashion jewellery. 

Girdle- The girdle is the widest perimeter of a gemstone.

Gold filled- Often referred to in the UK as rolled gold, Gold Fill is very hard wearing and unlike gold plating is unlikely to wear off, even with use. Gold-filled pieces must be at least 1/20 by weight in gold to be classified as gold-filled. 

Hallmark- This is a stamped mark applied to items of jewellery and silverware by the Assay Offices of Britain as a guarantee of authenticity. The mark will contain: the sponsor (or manufacturer), the standard mark which details the metal, the Assay Office Mark, and the date. 

Inalid- This is when a space is routed out of the metal and a contrasting material is fitted into that space.

Knotting- This is a method used where small knots are tied between each pearl in a strand to prevent them rubbing together and to avoid the loss of pearls if the necklace breaks. 

Non-nucleated pearls- This is a term that typically refers to freshwater pearls whereby mantle tissue from another mollusc is inserted to stimulate pearl growth. This only efers to tissue-nucleated pearls.

Nucleated pearls-  This is where a nucleus is inserted into a mollusc to speed up the pearl growth. Acting as the irritant, the nuclei is covered by nacre.

Oriental pearls- These are natural pearls found in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Sadly, due to pollution, production is almost non-existent nowadays.

Pavé- A term to describe stones set close together, showing no metal between them

Rhodium plated- Rhodium is a transition element, belonging to the platinum group of metals. Rhodium plating is silvery-white in colour and used to both harden the surface it covers, and to create a brighter, more polished look to gold, especially white gold.

Torc (or Torque)- This refers to a style of bangle or necklace that dates back to the bronze age. These bangles are unique to this era and can be easily spotted because they don’t have clasps, instead they wind around your wrist.  


In Summary

Navigating your way through the jewellery market can be incredibly difficult and confusing with all the different jargon that is used by experts, online descriptions and blogs. We hope this blog has helped somewhat in better understanding the key terms often found in this industry.

If you would like to shop jewellery, from fine jewellery, to beautiful gemstone pieces and lots more, you can do so here

If you’d like to learn more about different types of jewellery or speak to an expert, you can find more information here


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