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Jewelry Terms

A-B

Baguette - A gem with a narrow rectangle shape.

Birthstones - A set of twelve gemstones that are associated with births during a specific zodiac sign or month of the year. Stones vary by culture.

Bezel - The bezel is the part of a cut stone that protrudes above the edge of a setting. The bezel is also known as the crown.

Black Hills Gold - Only jewelry manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota can be sold under the name “Black Hills Gold.” It is designated as the official jewelry of the state of South Dakota.

Bleaching – Exposure to bleach permanently lightens the color of organic materials such as coral, pearls and cultured pearls.

Body Color - The examination of a diamond by an experienced eye, under consistent lighting, against a white background and checked against "master" diamonds.

Brilliance - The total amount of light reflected from both the interior and exterior surfaces of a diamond.

C-H

Carat (ct.) - A unit of weight used to measure diamonds and gemstones. The weight is often stated in fractions of a carat. A carat is divided into 100 points, so that a diamond of 25 points equals 1/4 carat and of 50 points equals 1/2 carat.

Certification - When an independent company evaluates the quality of a diamond and the retail replacement value, and places this information in a certificate of authenticity.

Clarity - A term used to describe the absence or presence of a gemstone's internal and external flaws called inclusions. The grade ranges from internally flawless (IF) to imperfect (I3).

Color - A term used to describe the natural body color of a diamond. The more colorless a diamond, the rarer and more expensive. With a range from D (least color) to Z (most color). Color ratings of G through L are the most common.

Created - A gemstone made in a laboratory with the same properties as a genuine gemstone. Also known as synthetic.

Crown - The faceted part (between the flat table and the girdle) of a gem or diamond.

Crown

Cubic Zirconia - A man-made gemstone that is a simulate of a diamond.

Cutlet - The small facet on the pointed bottom of the pavillion on a diamond.

Cutlet

Cultured Pearls - Like natural pearls, cultured pearls grow inside a living organism. However, they do not begin as accidental intruders to the shell. Instead, humans insert mother-of-pearl beads or other shapes into a mollusk. Over time they become coated with nacre. The depth of the nacre coating depends on how long the beads are left in place before being harvested.

Cut - A gemstone's cut is what gives it sparkle. When light shines through the stone's table, it bounces off of each cut and creates a prismatic shimmer.. In this way, the maximum amount of light is reflected.

Diamond - A transparent gem made essentially of carbon which has crystallized under immense heat and pressure in the earth's crust. It is the hardest of all known natural substances. Hardness enables the diamond to be cut with precise accuracy.

Diffusion Treatment – A gemstone is exposed to heat and chemicals, generally affecting only the surface. Ruby, green topaz and blue sapphire are the most commonly treated stones. This treatment is not permanent, and the color of the untreated portion may be revealed if the stone is cut or damaged.

Dyeing – This process is prevalent with chalcedony (agate) and cultured pearls to create colors that do not exist naturally. Common examples are black for agate (onyx) and pink, blue, purple, gray or bronze for cultured pearls. Dyeing of these materials is permanent.

Facet - A flat polished surface or plane on a diamond or gemstone.

Facet

Fire - This is a diamond's ability to break up white light into the rainbow of colors of the spectrum, or its dispersion.

Fractures - Whitish interruptions on the surface of a gemstone where light does not pass through.

Fracture Filling - A treatment applied mostly to diamonds, where fractures on their surfaces are filled with a substance that blends with the gem to improve clarity.

Freshwater Cultured Pearl - A pearl from a freshwater mussel or clam, instead of an oyster.

Freshwater Pearl - A natural or cultured pearl that grew inside of a freshwater mollusk.

Genuine - A gemstone or diamond found in nature.

Girdle - The narrow rim around a stone where the crown and pavillion meet. The portion that is usually grasped by the setting or mounting.

Girdle

Gold Filled - An item with a sheet of gold applied to its surface by soldering, welding, pressure or heat. Newer items contain markings that indicate how much and what type of gold was used in the layer. A marking of 1/20 12k G. F. means that the piece is at least 1/20th 12k gold by weight.

Gold Plating (Electroplating) - When a base metal is covered with a thin layer of gold using the process of electroplating. The thin layer normally wears away more quickly than gold in a gold-filled item. The layer of gold must be at least .00001 of an inch thick, and cannot be called karat gold.

I-N

I.G.I. - International Gemological Institute. The world's largest independent appraiser of diamonds.

Impregnating - Wax or paraffin are infused into a porous material, usually turquoise. The process is not permanent and can be adversely affected by intense heat, which may melt the wax.

Inclusions - Internal flaws in a gemstone such as specks, carbon, tiny bubbles, hairlines and other imperfections of crystallization. Sometimes referred to as the "fingerprints" of a stone because each stone has a unique set of inclusions which are rarely duplicated in another.

Irradiation – A gemstone’s color is enhanced through bombardment with neutrons or electrons. Blue topaz is the most commonly treated stone. Cultured pearls may also be irradiated to create blue and gray colors, although this is less likely than dyeing. This process is regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency for safety.

Journey Styling - Consists of 11 or more diamonds in a graduated setting. The gems grow in size, symbolizing the way love grows.

Karat (k) - The percentage of fine gold in an object. 24k gold is pure, but pure gold is too soft to be used for jewelry so other metals are added. All gold is measured in terms of 24 parts. For example, if an item is listed as 14k, it is comprised of 14 parts of gold and 10 parts of some other metal.

Laser Drilling - A process used to remove inclusions (flaws) from diamonds, improving their clarity.

Loupe - A special magnifying glass that enables you to take a closer look at a gemstone or other object. It makes internal flaws and surface blemishes more apparent for assessing color, cut and other aspects of the stone.

Moissanite - Unique, lab-created gemstones reproduce the fire and brilliance of stones found in small portions inside meteorites. Their brilliance, fire and luster surpass other gemstones. They also exhibit exceptional hardness, as well as internally flawless, near-colorless forms. Every piece of Moissanite comes with a certificate of authenticity, as well as a limited lifetime warranty from Charles & Colvard®.

Murano/Venetian glass - Glass beads in a variety of colors with gold or silver leaf foiling directly inside the beads.

Mystic Fire Topaz - A topaz stone that has been color enhanced by coating it with a fine layer of metal atoms. The mystic fire topaz stone has red, green, violet and blue color streaks.

Natural Gemstone - A gemstone formed in nature, with no assistance from humans.

Natural Pearl - A pearl that begins as a piece of grit or other foreign 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.

M-R

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

Organic Jewelry - Jewelry made from or produced by once-living organisms.

Pavillion - The bottom portion of a cut stone beginning at the girdle and going to the point at its end.

Pavillion

Reconstitution - A process by which fragments of natural stone are crushed into powder, mixed with a binding agent, and poured into a mold for use in jewelry.

S-Z

Scintillation - Winking or flashing of light from the facets of a diamond as it moves. Scintillation explains why diamonds are much more beautiful when they are in motion.

Simulated - A gemstone that is usually man-made and looks like a genuine gemstone, but does not have the same properties. For example, a cubic zirconia is a simulate of a diamond.

Solid Gold - 24-karat gold. Technically, refers only to pure, or 24-karat gold. It can, however, also describe karat gold that does not have a hollow center and has at least 10-karat gold content.

Solitaire - A ring or other piece of jewelry containing a single diamond or gemstone.

Synthetic - A gemstone created by humans in a lab. Synthetic stones mimic the structure of natural stones. It's often difficult for gemologists to tell a synthetic from a natural stone (also see created).

Table - The flat top of a cut stone, sometimes called its face.

Table

Treatment - Commonly used to change or intensify the color of a gemstone. The treatment is temporary and the stone’s color will fade over time.

Total Weight - Total weight (T.W.) refers to the total weight of all the diamonds in a piece of jewelry. For example, a cluster ring with a number of small diamonds may have a total weight of 1/2 carat.

White Gold - Adding alloys (other metals) in varying mixtures can actually change the color of gold. Pure gold is mixed with the alloys nickel, zinc and copper in order to obtain the white color.

Yellow Gold - Yellow gold is pure gold mixed with alloys other than nickel, zinc and copper (which gives us Karat gold).