Handcrafted jewelry designs that will touch your soul

Glossary

This page has definitions and information for terms on this website.   If you would like information beyond what you find here, feel free to drop me a line on the “Contact ” page and I’ll be happy to answer your question.

Metals 

Alloy  –  the mixture of two or more metallic elements. Alloys are created to increase the strength and/or alter the appearance (e.g. color or luster) of a specific metal.  More often than not, metals to be added to an alloy are brought to a molten state at extreme temperatures and combined in solution.  In jewelry, most common alloys are made using gold, silver, copper, nickel, zinc and tin.  For example, sterling silver is usually an alloy of silver and copper (see sterling silver), bronze is typically an alloy of copper and tin, 14 kt. gold can be an alloy of gold and nickel, or copper, or silver depending on the color desired.

Fine silver  –  another term for pure (99.9%) silver.  A benefit of fine silver is that since it is not an alloy, and therefore does not contain copper, it  tarnishes significantly more slowly than sterling siver.

Gold-filled  –   a metal created for jewelry use by fusing one or more layers of gold alloy (usually 14 or 12 kt. gold) to a base metal (usually brass).  The resulting metal is then rolled or drawn to achieve the desired gauge and shape.  Gold-filled (abbreviated GF) is significantly longer lasting than even the best gold plate … in fact, the exterior gold layer of GF is up to 100 times thicker than typical gold plating.  For most people, GF jewelry will remain gold for the life of the piece.  Gold-filled offers a visually indistinguishable option for the ever increasing price of gold jewelry.

Metal clay   –  an art medium comprised of a metal in powder form suspended in an organic, water-based, clay-like binder.  Once fired, at temperatures well over a thousand degrees, the binder in metal clay burns away and what is left behind is a solid metal.  Fine silver clay was the first version of this medium developed.   It was introduced in the late nineties and was quickly followed by a 22kt. gold version.  In recent years copper, bronze, steel and sterling versions of the clay have been developed.   Metal clay can be sculpted and molded when wet and, once dry, it can be filed, carved and drilled.  Given these properties, metal clay lends itself to creating almost anything one can imagine.

Oxidation  –  the process by which a metal (often silver or copper) darkens or tarnishes as a reaction to prolonged exposure to oxygen and sulphur.  The resulting oxide layer is sometimes called a patina.  Oxidation can be used artistically by darkening certain areas of a piece in order to add interest or enhance its details.

Patina  –   see “Oxidation”

Pewter   –  once America’s most widely used metal (in the 18th and 19th centuries), this metal lends itself well to the jewelry making world due to its color, and malleability.  Pewter is an alloy of tin, antimony, copper, and at times small amounts of silver.  Historically, lead has also been used to make pewter but nowadays lead free pewter is standard in the United States.

Sterling silver  –  an alloy of silver containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper or nickel.  Fine silver (or pure silver) is often too soft to use for jewelry items such as chains, earwires, clasps, etc. so the silver is alloyed with other metals to give it the necessary strength.  Using different metals changes the properties of the alloy created.  For example, some sterlings may resist tarnish better than others while others may be easier to use in casting.  In order for a silver alloy to be called “sterling” it must contain, at minimum, 92.5% pure silver (by mass).

Glass and Stones 

Agate  –  a translucent type of chalcedony formed from layers of quartz. This type of stone differs from jaspers which are opaque. Agates are found in North and South America, Africa, Asia and small areas in Europe. They come in a variety of colors.

Birthstones  –  gemstones associated with the months of the calendar and used to symbolize the month of one’s birth. Over the centuries, many different lists have existed, but in the early 1900’s a modern, standard list was adopted and is the one commonly used today:

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 Blue Zircon

 

Cabochon  –   a stone or glass jewelry component cut with a flat base and a domed top, and no facets. Cabochons (or cabs) can be almost any shape but are most commonly found as rounds or ovals. This style of cut is often used for opaque, or mostly opaque, stones (e.g. lapis, turquoise, opal). It is also a popular way of preparing glass for setting into jewelry.

Cubic Zirconia  –  (or CZ) a synthetic (man-made) stone most often created to simulate more expensive gemstones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, etc. CZs are most often clear but can be made in almost any color.

Czech glass  –   glass made in the, now, Czech Republic (originally Bohemia, part of the former Czechoslovakia). That region is well known for its glassmaking, with a history going back several centuries. Though glass beads are made in numerous regions of the world, the diversity of styles, colors, and sizes as well as the quality of Czech glass is hard to beat.

Freshwater Pearl  –  the pearl harvested from freshwater mussels (as opposed to saltwater pearls which are harvested from oysters). Freshwater pearls are very similar to saltwater pearls in appearance and composition and tend to be more affordable. They are produced in rivers and/or lakes in China, Japan and the United States. The majority of these pearls are harvested from the triangle mussel.

Gemstone  –  (or gem) a cut mineral or rock polished for use in jewelry or other decorative work. Rarity, quality, and aesthetic properties (e.g. lustre, color, etc.) are factors used to determine the value of a gem. The most valuable of the gems are the precious stones, a classification commonly reserved for diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. All other gemstones are considered to be semi-precious stones. Some popular semi-precious stones include: agate, topaz, jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and jade.

Millefiori  –  a type of glasswork resulting in objects with floral designs. The process involves creating glass canes or rods with multicolored flower patterns. These patterns can be seen only when viewing cross sections of the cane (similar to slices of a jelly roll). Canes can be combined to create multiple flower designs. The term “millefiori” comes from two Italian words: “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).

Semiprecious stones  –  see “Gemstone”

Swarovski Austrian crystal  –  precisely cut lead crystal produced in Austria using the patented cutting process and equipment invented by Daniel Swarovski in the late 19th century. The Swarovski company’s crystal is prized for its brilliance, wide range of colors, and styles. Some of their products are enhanced with coatings which refract the light in assorted ways. Aurora Borealis (or “AB”), for example, is their most popular coating used to add a rainbow spectrum of light refraction and extra sparkle to treated crystal.