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A Glossary of Lapidary and Glass Working Terms

This page includes a glossary of terms used in lapdiary, gemstones, jewelry making and glass working.  These terms have been gathered from a number of sources on the internet.


A
Aigrette
Jeweled ornament in the shape of a feather or supporting a feather, worn in the hair or on a cap, popular in the middle of the eighteenth century and the early twentieth century

A Jour
Open setting that leaves the pavilion facets open to the light

Annealing
The process of heating metal and then cooling it to render the metal more pliable

Arabesque
A form of decoration characterized by flowing lines, scrollwork, leaves, branches, floral forms, symmetrical in form

Art Nouveau
A period of design between the 1890’s and 1910; the jewelry is characterized by flowing lines, unusual interpretations of nature, the use of women with long flowing hair and the utilization of unusual materials

Assaying
Process of determining the proportions of precious metal contained in a piece of gold or silver

Assay Hallmark
Hallmark showing the office which assayed the metal used in a piece of jewelry (English)

 


B
Baguette
Gemstone cut in the shape of a narrow rectangle

Bakelite
Trade name for the first synthesized plastic, phenol formaldehyde resin invented by Dr. Leo Backeland

Bandeau
Head ornament in the form of a narrow band worn low, encircling the forehead

Bandelettes
Decorated ribbons worn in the hair

Bangle
Non-flexible bracelet

Baroque
Irregular shaped stone or pearl

Basse-taille
French for ‘shallow cut’, enameling technique worked in a chased relief metal and overlaid with translucent enamel

Berlin Iron
Cast iron jewelry worked into delicate openwork patterns, and made in Berlin during the first half of the nineteenth century

Bezel
Gemstone setting where a strip or wall of metal encircles the gemstone

Bijouterie
Art of working in gold and enamel


Birthstones
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

Biwa Pearl
Freshwater cultured pearl from Japan

Blister Pearl
Irregularly shaped and hollow pearl cut from the shell of the oyster

Bog-oak
Fossilized oak from peat bogs in Ireland, popular during the Victorian Era

Bolt ring
A finding that is a hollow or partially hollow connecting ring which is drawn back on an internal spring

Bookchain
A Victorian style of chain in which the links are rectangular, folded pieces of metal. Each link resembles a book. These book chains often had large lockets attached, and the whole piece was often elaborately engraved. They were made in gold, gold-filled and sterling silver. 

Brass
An alloy of copper and zinc

Brilliant cut
A cutting style most often used for diamonds, consisting of 58 facets, also known as ‘modern cut’ or ‘full cut’

Briolette
A teardrop shaped stone faceted with triangular or rectangular facets, sometimes pierced at the top, also known as ‘drop-cut’

Bronze
An alloy of approximately 8 parts copper to 1 part tin

Buff top cabochon
Style of stone cutting where the top of the gemstone is a dome (en cabochon) and the pavilion is faceted

Bulla
Two concave plates that form a hollow receptacle, a form used in ancient jewelry

 


C
Cabochon
Stone with a smooth carved surface, domed and unfaceted with a flat base

Calibre-cut
Small stones cut in usually rectangular shapes and faceted in a step cut to fit exactly into a setting or against another stone

Calipers
Instrument for fine measuring of both the outside and inside surfaces of a stone

Cameos
A design cut in relief, usually into a hard stone or shell

Cannetille
A type of gold or silver filigree of fine twisted wires forming a coiled spiral, used in early nineteenth century jewelry (Georgian period)

Carat
Unit of weight used for precious stones

Casting
Process of forming an object by pouring a molten or liquid substance into a mould until it solidifies and takes on the impression of the mould

Champlevé
French term for ‘raised field’, Technique of enameling in which enamel is placed in stamped or cut recesses of a metal form

Channel setting
A row of stones of the same dimension, fitted into a metal channel

Chasing
Working a design into a metal from the front using a hammer and/or punches

Chatelaine
A girdle or belt from which various implements are suspended

Choker
A necklace approximately 15 inches long

Cloisonné
Technique of enameling in which enamels are contained in cells of metal

Collet
Round band of metal encircling a gemstone to hold it in place

Collier
A wide necklace encircling the neck from throat to chin

Creole earrings
A hoop earring broader at the bottom than at the top, popular in the 1850’s

Cross facet
Small triangular facets above and below the girdle of a brilliant cut stone

Crown
Part of a cut gemstone above the girdle

Cut steel
Faceted studs riveted into arranged holes to created a pavé effect  


D
Decoration:
Etched: Very faintly carved surface decoration
Lightly Carved: Faint carving
Medium Carved: Average depth carving
Deeply Carved: Deeper than average carving
Heavily Carved: Extremely deeply carved
Faceted: Carved with a regular pattern of facets
Grooved: Routed out in a line
Pierced: The material has been cut completely through
Inlaid: A space is routed out of the material, and a contrasting material is fitted into that space. Bakelite polka dot bracelets are an excellent example of inlay technique.

Demi-parure
A small matching set of jewelry consisting usually of a brooch and earrings, or a necklace and bracelet, etc.

Diadems
A semi circular band worn around the head and usually jeweled and three dimensional

Dog collar
A wide collar of fabric, gemstones and or pearls worn high and tight on the neck

Double clip
Type of brooch consisting of two halves joined together on a frame which can be detached and worn singly

Doublet
A stone consisting of two separate layers

Dwt
Abbreviation for pennyweight 


E
Edema collarettes
“Dog collar” meant for daytime wear which is usually made of a soft material laced to a series of jeweled bars

Electroplating
A method in which an electric current deposits a layer of metal on an object (i.e.: gold over a base metal)

Emerald cut
Rectangular shaped stone with mitered corners which is elongated and octagonal

Enamel
Process of fusing powdered colored glass to a surface by means of high heat

Engine-turning
Decorated metal surface made by moving the surface of the object against the blade

Engraving
A technique in which metal is cut away with a tool known as a “graver” to form a design, done by either hand or machine

Etching
Removal of part of a metal surface by acid for a decorative effect

Etui
Small cylindrical case that hangs from a chatelaine

 


F
Facet
A flat surface ground or cut and polished on the surface of a gemstone

 

Faience
Glazed porcelain or earthenware

Fede ring
A ring with two hands clasped together first

Ferronnière
Narrow band with a center jewel worn encircling the forehead

Festoon
Design motif of a garland or string of flowers, leaves and ribbons

Fibula
Archaeological term for brooch

Filigree
Wire twisted into patterns, usually gold or silver, may be soldered to a sheet of metal or twisted to form an openwork pattern

Flux
Material used in soldering

Fob
A small charm, amulet or trinket that hangs on a watch chain or chatelaine

Foiling
A technique used to enhance the color of a gemstone, a thin sheet of metal is applied to the base of a stone which is in a closed setting

Freshwater pearl
Pearls found in river mussels

 


G
Gallery
A strip on metal with a pattern usually refers to the sides of a ring  

Garnet
A semi-precious stone found in many colors. The Bohemian type is blood red, the almandine variety ranges from deep red to deep purple, hessonite garnets are brown orange, and demantoid garnets are found in several shades of green

German silver
A misnomer for an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel

Gilding
A process of covering substances such as silver, base metal, wood with a thin layer of gold or an alloy

Gimmel ring
A ring formed of two or more linked hoops, which fit together in a manner that make them appear as one ring

Gypsy setting
A setting in which the stone is sunk into the surrounding metal leaving the top of the stone almost level with the top of the metal surface

Girandole
A shape that consists of three pear-shaped stones or pearls hanging from a large stone or decorative motif such as a bow

Girdle
The widest part of a gemstone which divides the crown from the pavilion

Grain
Unit of weight; for diamonds and pearls a grain is 0.25 of a carat, 480 grains to the Troy ounce. A Troy grain is equal to an Avoirdupois grain.

Grain
A small spherical bead of metal

Granulation
The process of decorating a metal surface with tiny grains of metal

Graver Tool
A tool similar to a chisel used for engraving metal

Green gold
Gold which contains a high proportion of silver

Gerlots
Small long pendant beads

Grey gold
Gold which contains a high proportion of iron

Grisaille
A form of enamel painted in monochromatic colors

Guilloché enamel
A form of enamel work acheived by working the metal on an engine turned lathe to form a pattern and then enameling over the pattern

 


H
Hallmarking
Marks stamped on gold, silver or platinum by assay offices after the metal has been tested and determined to contain the proper amount of precious metals required by law

 

Handkerchief ring
Small ring worn on the little finger and connected by a chain to a larger ring in which a handkerchief was held

Hematite
An opaque mineral of iron oxide, ranging in color from deep grey to black metallic

Horn
A substance often used as a substitute for tortoiseshell which is from cow horns

 


I
Ingot
A precious metal formed into a bar or brick by pouring molten metal into a mold

Inlay
Materials such as stones, gems, woods and metals are inserted and cemented into the surface of another material and ground down to create a smooth surface

Invisible Setting
A channel setting using calibrated stones without any metal showing from the top

Intaglio
The carving or engraving of a design into a gemstone which is the opposite of a cameo which is in high relief

Ivory
African ivory is from the tusk of a male or female elephant whereas Indian ivory is from the male only

 


J
Jabot pin
A jeweled tie pin popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s

 

Lace Brooch
Small brooch usually set with diamonds, worn in the later 19th Century

Lapidary
A craftsperson who cuts, facets, engraves and polishes gemstones

Lavaliere
A chain from which an ornament or gemstone hangs in the center

Locket
A jewel which opens on a hinge

Lost Wax Method
The method of casting metal that uses a rubber mold, which is filled with wax to form a pattern from which a plaster mold is made. The plaster is heated and the wax melts away or is “lost”

 


M
Mabe Pearl
A cultured blister pearl

Marcasite
An iron ore material, pyrite, that is facetted into rose cuts and set into silver or pewter jewelry

Marquise Cut
A stone cut in an oval with pointed ends or a boat-shaped stone

Mélange
Term for mixed diamond sizes weighing more than carat

Mélée
Classification used in the sorting of diamonds weighing less than carat

Mellon Bead
A hollow and ribbed bead popular in the Etruscan period and in the 1930’s

Memento Mori
Jewel that is a reminder of death

Memorial jewel
Jewel that is made in memory of a loved one, often containing hair from that person and frequently decorated with enamel

Micro Mosaic
Mosaic of very small colored glass pieces (tessarae) inlaid in glass or hardstone

Milanese Chain
Chain consisting of interwoven rows of small links forming a mesh

Millefiori
Glass ornamentation made from canes of colored glass that are layered, and sliced to form patterns, flowers or mosaic effects

Millegrain
A decorating style creating a fine bead like effect around the edge of a metal collet; popular in the Edwardian and Belle Époque periods

Minaudière
The name for a woman’s small hard vanity case or handbag, usually metal or wood, which is held in the hand

Mississippi River Pearls
Irregularly shaped pearls, usually elongated.

Mizpah Ring
A broad gold ring engraved with the word MIZPAH, meaning “I will watch over thee”, popular during the Victorian period

Mother of Pearl
The smooth iridescent interior lining of the shells of certain mollusks

 


N
Navette Cut
A gemstone shaped like a boat or oval with pointed ends

 

Negligee
A long necklace that usually terminates in irregular length with tassels or drops

Niello
An inlay technique in which the grooves made in silver or gold are made black in color by the use of a composition of metal sulfides

 


O
Opal
A semi-precious stone with a rainbow-like iridescence which are categorized as three types: opalescent precious opals, yellow-red fire opals and the common opal

 

Orient
The characteristic sheen of fine natural and cultured pearls

 


P
Paillons
Small pieces of metallic foil which are placed underneath enamel work to provide a glow, popular with a number of Arts and Crafts movement jewelers

 

Palladium
A white precious metal belonging to the platinum group, it weighs a little more than half as much as platinum and sells for half the price

Pampilles
A cascade of pendant stones; popular in Georgian jewelry and meant to look like rain drops

Parure
A suite of matching jewelry usually four or more pieces, a necklace, bracelets, earrings and belt or brooch

Passamenterie
Jewelry inspired by furniture trimmings such as cording

Paste
A high content leaded glass which is faceted to imitate diamonds or backed with colored foils to imitate other gemstones. Also known as strass after Frederic Strass who invented this method in the 18th Century

Patina
Discoloration that forms on metals such as silver and bronze but often planned for in the artist’s design, can also be introduced artificially by use of chemicals

Pavé Setting
A stone setting technique whereby the entire surface of a jewel is covered or paved with closely set stones

Pavilion
The lower part of a cut gemstone below the girdle

Pendaloque
A type of pear shaped or tear drop gemstone faceted as a brilliant cut and suspended from a smaller stone which is usually separated by a bow or other motif

Pietra Dura
Mosaic of semi-precious stones set into a floral pattern of black marble or onyx, also known as a hardstone mosaic

Pinchbeck
A gold simulant, invented circa 1720 by Christopher Pinchbeck, which is comprised of a mixture of copper and zinc

Piqué
Tortoiseshell or horn which is inlaid with mother-of-pearl, silver or gold

Planishing
A hammering process done to give a smoother finish to a piece of metal

Platinum
A non-corrosive silver white metal, which is heavy and has a high tensile strength

Plique à jour
An enameling technique in which the design is outlined in metal and filled with a transparent enamel, after firing the metal backing is removed creating a stained glass window effect. Popular with the Art Nouveau jewelers

Pomander
A pendant scent case

Posy Ring
A ring engraved with a verse

 


R
Regard Ring
A ring set with colored stones, the first letters of which spell the word “regard”, ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond. Popular in the second half of the 19th century signifying friendship.

 

Repoussé
A raised high relief design on the front of a metal object made by hammering, embossing or punching the reverse side of the metal to form the design from the back side out

Rhinestone
Rock crystal which is faceted into beads, originally from the Rhine River

Rivière
Choker type necklace that is a continuous line of gemstones usually of graduated or equal size stones

Rolled Gold
Early 19th century type of goldplating

Rondelle
A pierced piece of metal or gemstone strung between the beads in a necklace

 


S
Sautoir
An extremely long neck chain, which falls below the waistline and terminates with a tassel or pendant. Popular in the early 20th century

 

Seal
Engraved (intaglio) of stone or metal used to create an impression on a substance such as wax or clay

Sévigné
A bodice ornament set with gemstones in a bowknot shape
Shank
Hoop part of a ring

Slide
A jeweled fastener, which slides onto a chain or fabric ribbon

Soldering
A method of joining metal parts or pieces together by melting another metal alloy with a lower melting temperature at the joining point

Stomacher
A very large bodice ornament, usually triangular, filling the area between the neckline and the waistline, also known as a corsage ornament

Strap Necklace
A mesh chain with pendants suspended by short, fine chain resembling a fringe; an Archaeological Revival style during the Victorian period

Strapwork
Decorative pattern in the form of interlaced and crossed straight bands resembling straps

Swag
A motif used on a piece of jewelry of festoons of foliage, fruit and flowers

Terminal
The decorated ends of a necklace or bangle usually with stylized heads of a ram, lion, dragon, etc.

Tiara
A head ornament worn in the crown position

Torsade
Twisted strands of pearls ending in a clasp

Trapeze Cut
A gemstone cut into an equilateral triangle with a flat top

Tremblant
Jewelry with a trembling effect when the wearer moved produced by elements set upon stiff wires that move (en tremblant)

Tubogas
Sometimes referred to as gas pipe, a flexible tubular chain

Tutti Frutti
Jewelry set with multi colored gems carved in shapes of leaves, flowers and berries and often in a basket design

 


V
Vermeil
Gold-plated or gilded silver
W
Whiplash Curve
Flowing lines that bend and twist as in Art Nouveau designs