Collecting costume jewelry has quickly become one of the fastest-growing hobbies within the past decade. The beauty of costume jewelry is that it can be enjoyed at any time.  Wearing fine vintage or contemporary costume jewelry promotes friendships with other like-minded collectors.  We hope this new section will improve your knowledge of the world of costume jewelry.  Let us know if you would like us to add or research new jewelry-related terms.


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A deposit made from inside a seashell, also called mother-of-pearl.


Discovered in 1830 in Russia, and named after Czar Alexander II of who was then Crown Prince of Russia, alexandrite is a form of the mineral chrysoberyl noted for its color change in different forms of light. In sunlight, alexandrite looks blue-green, but in indoor (tungsten) light it the same stone changes to reddish-purple. Natural alexandrite with good color is very expensive today, as very little is still being mined, and there are many synthetics on the market. Synthetic color-change sapphire is also sometimes mistaken for alexandrite.


A form of quartz in shades of purple ranging from light lavender to deep, intense purple with subtle flashes of red.


A pendant or charm that is worn for protective magical power.

Art Deco

A style characterized by angular geometric shapes, zigzags, bold colors, molded or faceted Czech glass beads, plastics (like celluloid or Bakelite) and chrome, unlike the curves of the previous era.   Also known as the geometric style that succeeded Edwardian jewelry beginning in the 1910s through the mid-1920's.  Colored stones were utilized more, and the opaque stones such as jade, onyx and coral were set in geometric shapes. Sleek animals such as Borzoi and Greyhound dogs were featured in some designs. It started out with relatively delicate designs, and progressed to a more bold and blocky style also called Art Moderne.

Art Nouveau

A style also known as "Victorian" or "Edwardian" consisting of fluid lines, floral and nature themes and natural colors. Also known for its flowing style with sinuous curves and naturalistic motifs that was popular from about 1895 to 1905. A common motif was a women's head with flowing hair.

Arts and Crafts

A design movement that began in the late 1800s as a rebellion against the mass-produced, machine made designs of questionable aesthetic value common in the late Victorian era. The designers felt that their work should look handmade, and therefore they often left hammer marks on the piece. Although pieces were made of gold, silver was more commonly used to emphasize the craftsmanship of the piece rather than the intrinsic value of the components. Stones were commonly less expensive.   Cabochon stones such as moonstone, mother or pearl, agate,  amber, and enamel work was also used.

Aurora Borealis

(abbreviated AB) A name for faceted glass beads that have an added iridescent coating. Also, a multi-color-producing light coating on part of beads or tops of rhinestones.

"B" TERMS    

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Baguette A gemstone, often a diamond, cut in a narrow rectangular shape. Small diamonds cut this way are often used as accents. A tapered baguette has one short end narrower than the opposite end, forming a trapezoid.
Bakelite A synthetic patented in 1909, bakelite, also called catalin, was used in jewelry extensively during the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930's. Bakelite can be molded, lathe-carved, and one color can be inlaid into another, as in polka dots. The inlaid and carved pieces are especially popular with collectors today. It has a distinct scent when rubbed to warm, somewhat like formaldehyde. Watch for both outright repros, and later plastics from the last 20-30 years that might be mistaken for bakelite by the inexperienced.
Baroque An irregular, rounded stone, glass or bead; also, an imitation pearl with an uneven or craggy shape and/or surface.
Base metal, pot metal, white metal Any combination of alloys of non-precious metals.
Belle Epoque Another name for the Edwardian period.
Bezel Setting A method of setting gemstones in which the stone is held in the mounting by a narrow band of metal surrounding the girdle (outside perimeter) of the stone.
Birthstone 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
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 which has a nice yellow color.
Britannia or pewter A somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
Bronze A brownish alloy of copper and tin that is not used much in costume jewelry because it is very dense and therefore heavy.


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Cabochon A stone with a rounded surface, rather than with facets. This style is commonly used with opaque to translucent stones such as opal, moonstone, jade and turquoise. Less expensive transparent stones such as amethyst and garnet, are also sometimes fashioned as cabochons. A garnet cabochon is also referred to as a carbuncle.
Carat Abbreviated "ct." and spelled with a "c" is a measure of weight used for gemstones. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram (200 milligrams). Stones are measured to the nearest hundredth of a carat. A hundredth of a carat is also called a point. Thus a .10 carat stone can be called either 10 points, or 1/10 of a carat. Small stones like .05, and .10ct are most often referred to by point designations. Note that karat with a "K" is a measure of the purity of a gold alloy.

A one carat round diamond of average proportions is approximately 6.5mm in diameter. Note that this relationship of weight and size is different for each family of stones. For example ruby and sapphire are both heavier than diamond (technically, they have a higher specific gravity, so a 1 carat ruby or sapphire is smaller in size than a on carat diamond.

Cameo A style of carving in which the design motif is left and the surrounding surface is cut away leaving the design in relief. Cameos in jewelry are often made of shell, although hard stone cameos such as sardonyx are more valuable. Cameos have been carved from ancient times, and ancient motifs such as the goddess Athena or a Baccante or follower of Bacchus were popular cameo subjects in Victorian times, through the 1930's. Cameos are still being made today in Italy. A cameo habille is one in which "jewelry" such as a miniature diamond pendant is actually attached to the carving.
Cast Made by a centrifugal method of casting metal which becomes thick and hard.
Celluloid One of the earliest plastics, celluloid is derived from cellulose, a natural plant fiber, and was first synthesized around 1870. Items commonly found today include hair combs, dresser articles. Celluloid items for wear were often set with pave rhinestones. Celluloid is flammable and deteriorates easily if exposed to moisture, so care should be taken in its use and storage.
Channel set A gem setting technique in which a number of square or rectangular stones are set side by side in a grooved channel. Unlike most setting methods, the stones are not secured individually, so there is no metal visible between the stones.
Chatelaine Said to be from the French for "Lady of the House", a chatelaine is a set of implements worn at the waist. A chatelaine clip clip is fastened to the waist, and various items such as needle cases, pencil, scissors, dangle from chains attached to it. Chatelaines may be utilitarian or beautifully decorated and made from precious materials like silver.
Choker A short, close fitting necklace; like a collar.
Citrine A variety of quartz, citrine occurs in a color range ranging from light yellow to a brilliant orange that may be confused with fine imperial topaz.
Coin silver A silver-colored metal that is a mixture of 80% silver and 20% copper. A lot of European silver pieces are coin silver and are marked 800, the number of parts out of 1000 that are silver.


Formed when small sea animals create living quarters, coral comes in colors ranging from vivid orange to palest pink. During the mid-Victorian large brooches of coral finely carved in high-relief floral sprays, or faces were popular. At the turn of the century, small natural pieces of branch coral or small cameos of coral were more popular.

Crimp Bead

Small, soft metal beads that are squeezed shut to secure loops of threading material fasteners onto clasps.


A glass stone or bead, usually with high lead content.

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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.
Diamond Diamonds, a form of crystalline carbon, are prized because they are exceptionally hard and durable, have high refractivity and brilliance, and because really fine diamonds are rare. Today diamonds are valued based on the "4 C's" of color, cut, clarity and carat size. Many diamond imitations have appeared over the years, with the most common today being the ubiquitous cubic zirconia which appears similar to a diamond to the uninitiated, but can be readily distinguished by a diamond tester which measures thermal inertia. Trained individuals, despite claims of cubic zirconia manufacturers, also have little trouble distinguishing a genuine diamond when it is examined under at least 10 power magnification.
DiamanteA Faceted, glittery glass bead; rhinestone.
Dog Collar A wide "choker" style necklace worn tight around the neck above the collarbone just like a dog's collar, this look was popular in Edwardian times, around the turn of the twentieth century. This look was popularized by Queen Alexandra, who had a long graceful neck.
Doublet A form of gemstone trickery that was devised to allow inexpensive materials to imitate the more valuable gemstones before modern synthetics were available. A doublet can take several forms but always involves a fake gemstone produced by gluing together two different materials to form an illusion.

A very common one in Victorian times was the garnet and glass doublet. This involved a red garnet top, glued to a colored glass bottom. The refractive properties of a faceted stone are such that the red of the garnet only shows at odd angles, or if the stone is immersed in a special liquid with a high refractive index. Thus, for example, a green glass bottom with a garnet top will give the appearance of a fine emerald because the top is a natural gemstone with cut facets, and a few natural imperfections, and the bottom is bright green which reflects throughout the stone. The effect is hard to appreciate unless you've seen one.

Duette A combination of two clips on a pin back. Duette was a registered design by Coro, but is now used generically for this design.

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Edwardian Refers to the period during the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910), but the style has it's beginnings during the final years of Victoria's reign, and continued until shortly before World War I when the more geometric influences later to be called Art Deco began to make headway.

In jewelry, this period was characterized by delicate filigree in white gold and platinum, with diamonds and pearls predominating, and colored stones used less frequently, producing a light, monochromatic look. Delicate bows, swags, and garland effects were used in necklaces and brooches. Both dog collars, and long fringed necklaces were also "in", being popularized by the graceful, long-necked Queen Alexandra.

Electroplated Jewelry can be mechanically plated with gold in a variety of ways, including electroplated. Eventually, the gold plating wears away, but it depends on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is.
Emerald A gemstone of the beryl family, fine emeralds are among the most valuable gemstones. Unlike most gemstones, flaws (called inclusions by gemologists )are quite common in emeralds, so they lower the value much less than with other precious stones such a diamonds. The most highly prized emeralds are mined in Columbia. A valuable emerald will be a bright, vividly colored green. Those with a slight blue cast to the bright green are actually the most valuable color.

Many emeralds seen in jewelry are of relatively low quality. They are often dyed or oiled to improve the color and minimize flaws. If an emerald appears to be very fine, it may actually be a synthetic. There are several types of synthetic emeralds on the market, and some of them are challenging to identify, even for a trained gemologist.

Engrave To decorate metal by gouging a design with graver's tools; embellishing metal or other material with patterns using a stamping tool or drill. This was a popular technique in mid-Victorian jewelry. The resulting depressions were often filled with colored enamel. Also refers to inscribing a dedication or monogram to identify a piece. Stamped pieces can be designed to imitate hand engraving. Under magnification, the design is much more sharp in a hand engraved piece, with subtle irregularities.
Enamel In its simplest terms, all enamel is produced by fusing colored powdered glass to metal to produce a vitreous or glass-like, decorative surface. The enamel may be translucent with fancy engraving on the metal underneath, which produces guilloche (ghee-YOSH) enamel. Popular during during the mid-Victorian period was a solid black blue or white enamel used to fill engraved designs. 

Enamel is a decorative technique in which a glass "paste" is applied to the surface of a metal--normally bronze, copper or gold. This glass composition adheres to the metal through fusion under very high temperatures. The color of the enamel and its degree of transparency depend on the metal oxides that exist in the glass and the temperature at which the glass melts and coheres to the surface:

"Harder"=fused at higher temperatures=more durable, more translucent
"Softer"=fused at lower temperatures=more fragile, more opaque

European Cut The style of diamond cutting popular from approximately 1890 to the 1930s. Unlike the old mine cut preceding it, the European cut has a round girdle (perimeter) made possible by the introduction of the power bruiting machine (Bruiting is the term for shaping the girdle of a diamond, the first step in the cutting process). The European cut can be distinguished by the size of the table (the top, flat facet) in relation to the diameter of the stone. In a European cut, the table is smaller in relation to the diameter of the stone. Also, the culet (the bottom facet, is often large, often appearing to create a hole at the bottom of the diamond, when viewed from the top, since the large culet lets light escape instead of reflecting back to the viewer.
Eyepin A wire finding with a loop at one end. used for linking beads or beaded links together

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Faceted Cut with many facets or planes.
Faux Pronounced: fo (like go) Faux is a French word used to describe something made to resemble something else. The original French word means false, fake, imitation or artificial. Faux marble looks like marble. Faux bois looks like wood. Faux porphyry looks like stone.
Fetish An amulet, pendant or charm often representing an animal or person.
Filigree A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Findings All types of fasteners, and construction components used in jewelry making.
Florentine Finish Finish has a brushed or striated appearance.
Fob A short chain with a decorative seal or other device attached to the end. The fob and chain hung outside watch pocket, and could be used to pull the watch out of the pocket.
Foilback A method of coating the back of a stone with silver, gold, or colored foil. This enhances the brilliancy of the stone, by reflecting back as much light as possible. It is commonly seen in costume jewelry. A foilbacked rhinestone whose foil has been damaged (often from water creeping in) does not sparkle anymore and is said to be a "dead" stone, lowering the value of the piece. Before, modern, highly reflective cuts were developed, even diamonds were foilbacked.
French Jet Black glass fashioned to imitate real jet. Glass is heavier than real jet, and can feel cold to the touch compared to real jet.
Freshwater Pearl A pearl produced by a mollusk that inhabits freshwater, usually these pearls are shaped like an uneven grain of rice. There is also a variety called Tennessee fresh water pearls that taper like a long tooth, as in the illustrated 1940's brooch.


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Garnet A group stones that share a similar chemical structure, the garnet family includes pyrope, almandine, and demantoid, among others. Almandine garnet are red varieties, with pyrope being the common Bohemian garnet found in much Victorian and turn of the century jewelry. Demantoid garnet is a much rarer bright green variety, first mined in the mid-nineteenth century. Demantoid has the highest dispersion of colored stones usually found on the market, which means it is very sparkly. Demantoid is generally found only relatively small stones.
Gemstones Include diamond, brilliant, beryl, emerald chalcedony, agate, heliotrope; onyx, plasma; tourmaline, chrysolite; sapphire, ruby, synthetic ruby; spinel, spinelle; oriental topaz; turquoise, zircon, cubic zirconia; jacinth, hyacinth, carbuncle, amethyst; alexandrite, cat's eye, bloodstone, hematite, jasper, moonstone, sunstone.
Genuine It is common to see the following words when describing costume jewelry:  amethyst, diamond, garnet, emerald, ruby, sapphire.   These words should not be interpreted to mean the precious stones with these names. The terms are used only to describe the color of the non-precious stones. If the genuine stone is meant, it is usually indicated with the word genuine in the description. This general rule also applies to words for metals, such as gold, silver, copper, and pewter.   When used to describe costume jewelry, they mean gold-tone, pewter colored, etc.
Gilt Gold plating.
Gold Since ancient times, gold has been prized for its beauty, and purity since it does not oxidize or tarnish like most other metals. It has also been used as a store of value to build wealth and shield against hard times. Gold used in jewelry is almost always alloyed with other metals since gold in its pure form is very soft and malleable, and would not wear well by itself. Much gold jewelry from the 19th century and before is not marked. Tests must be done to determine if it is solid gold and to determine purity.

The familiar Karat marking system used in the United States did not become popular until around 1890 or so. (Note that Karat with a "K" refers to gold purity, while Carat with a "C" refers to the weight of a gemstone, e.g. a one carat diamond set in a 14 karat gold ring.) The karat number refers to the parts of pure gold per 24 in the alloy. So a 14K alloy is 14/24 parts pure gold, or about 58% gold.

Other countries used a marking system well before the United States. For example, Britain has had a system of hallmarking in place for hundreds of years.

It is also common in many European and other countries to mark gold with a three digit number indicating the parts per thousand of gold. Thus gold jewelry is often marked "750" for 750/1000 gold. (Equivalent to US 18K).

In addition to many purities, alloyed gold also comes in many colors. Variations in the metals alloyed with the gold account for the ability to produce white, pink and even green gold, in addition to the familiar yellow gold. Pink gold was popular in late Victorian times, and again in the 1940s. White gold was very popular from 1900 through the 30's.

Gold Filled Goldfilled, or gold-filled, abbreviated g.f. = lower in gold content than 10 KT, usually 1/20 or 1/12 KT.In this technique a sheet of gold is mechanically applied to the surface. Victorian pieces are likely to be unmarked, but later pieces are marked with the fineness of the gold layer, and the part by weight of the gold. For example a piece marked "1/10 12K G.F." is composed of at least 1/10 12K gold based on the weight of the finished piece. In the U.S., gold filled pieces must be at least 1/20 by weight to be classified as gold-filled. An older unmarked gold piece may often be identified by wear through to base metal, especially when viewing corners or edges under magnification. Look for a change to a darker, brassy colored material at these spots.
Goldplate A layer of gold applied to base metal, usually by electroplating. This is usually a very thin layer, only a few microns, which is likely to wear much more quickly than gold-filled.
Gold Tone Gold colored or electro-plated, not gold as in measurable in karats.
Gold Washed "Gold washed" describes products that have an extremely thin electroplating of gold (less than .175 microns thick). This will wear away more quickly than gold plate, gold-filled, or gold electroplate.  The gold is applied by either dipping or burnishing the metal, but it is not plated.

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Hair Jewelry In the mid-19th century lockets of hair of loved ones were often preserved under glass in brooches. The hair was sometimes intricately curled or woven, and these pieces are often inscribed on the back to identify the donors. Later in the century, hair was woven into watch chains, bracelets, even earrings and given as tokens of affection. All forms of hair jewelry are very collectible today.


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A design carved down into a gemstone, unlike a cameo in which the design is raised from it's background, in relief. This technique was often used for seals, which made an impression in wax used to seal a letter or authenticate a document. It is also common on watch fobs, since the watch fob was originally a good place to carry a seal. Once seals fell out of use, the intaglio tended to face out to the viewer rather than down as on a seal. Some of the most commonly found Victorian intaglios are carved in Carnelian, an orange-brown variety of quartz.


A metal and member of the platinum family, it is often alloyed with platinum to improve workability, thus you will find pieces marked something like "90% Plat. 10% Irrid" to indicate that the alloy is 90 % platinum and 10% iridium.


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A form of fossilized coal that became popular for mourning jewelry after Queen Victoria's husband, Albert died in 1861. Produced mainly in Whitby, England, it is a very lightweight substance. Black glass was often used to imitate jet which became a fashion item, not just for mourning.


Ornaments worn by people on the body [Fr]; trinket; fine jewelry; costume jewelry, junk jewelry; gem, gemstone, precious stone.  Forms of jewelry: necklace, bracelet, anklet; earring; locket, pendant, charm bracelet; ring, pinky ring; carcanet, chain, chatelaine; broach, pin, lapel pin, torque.

Jump Ring

A small wire ring, not soldered shut, used to link elements of jewelry.

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Cutting, shaping, polishing and creating jewelry from precious and semi-precious stones.

Living Jewelry

Jewelry materials derived from living organisms:   pearl, cultured pearl, fresh-water pearl; mother of pearl; coral.

Lost Wax Casting

A model is made of wax and coated with clay. The wax is melted and poured out from the shape that can then be used to cast metal.


Popular in the 1940's for ladies purses and jewelry, lucite is a clear, strong plastic that can be molded and carved.


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An oval stone which is pointed at both ends, also called navette. Also, a stone cut in a boat shape, pointed at both ends, with rounded sides. Note that the correct pronunciation is "Mar-KEYS", not "Mar-KEY" which is commonly heard.


Means "thousand flowers" in Italian. A method of creating glass or clay beads with intricate patterns using canes.

Mine Cut

A style of diamond cutting popular before 1890 or so, it features a cushion shaped outline, rather than the round outline of the modern cut and old European cuts, and has a different facet arrangement.

Mabe' or Mobe'

A half sphere or domed stone, usually a fake pearl.


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An oval stone which is pointed at both ends.

Nickel silver

A white metal mixture of copper, zinc, and nickel which contains no silver.


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A piece of jewelry that has open areas, see-through, similar to filigree cut.

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Parure A suite of matching jewelry consisting of several pieces. Commonly, a set of three or more matching pieces; three of either earrings, bracelet, and necklace, or pin/brooch. In Victorian times, a complete parure consisted of two matching bracelets, necklace, earrings and a brooch. Note that before wristwatches became widely worn, it was quite common to wear two matching bracelets.
Paste A term for imitation gemstones. Fine jewelry was often imitated in finely made copies to protect the wearer from theft, and these were referred to as "paste".
Patina As a general term, patina refers to the change in an object's surface resulting from natural aging. (Patina preservation is the reason to avoid all but very superficial cleaning of old objects.) In bronze sculpture, patina specifically refers to the surface of the bronze itself often altered by the sculptor with acid or the application of other chemicals.
Pave' (pah-VAY) very tightly set stones, as in a pavement; a gem setting technique in which the stones are set low and very closely spaced, so that the surface appears to be paved with gemstones. Most commonly seen with diamonds, but may be used with any stone.
Pearl A natural gemstone formed when a oyster is irritated by a substance that gets into its shell. If the irritation is a naturally occurring grain of sand, it is an Oriental pearl. If it is produced by purposefully inserting a mother-of-pearl bead, a cultured pearl is formed. A pearl that forms attached to the shell is a blister pearl, while a pearl that forms a half dome is a mabe (pronounced mah-bay) pearl. Pearls that are irregularly shaped rather than round are referred to as baroque.
Perfumed Beads Recipes are available to make beads that release a scent when warmed by the body.
Pewter Pewter items are described and marked as such if they contain at least 90% tin. Also, a somewhat dull silver-colored alloy of tin, antimony, and copper.
Pierced-Work Same as open work.
Plique-a-jour A form of cloisonné in which the enamel in the cells has no backing, producing a translucent effect. This technique was used to good effect by Rene' Lalique and others during the Art Nouveau period to depict dragonfly wings and other translucent objects.
Pot metal Pot metal is a term used to cover many, many different mixtures which do
not have gold, silver, or platinum as a major component.
pronged Stones set with individual prongs holding them in place.

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REGARD The Victorians loved romantic symbols, and rings or brooches set with a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and a Diamond so that the first letter of each gemstone spelled out "Regard" were given as a token of affection in early Victorian times.
rhinestone A glass stone, facetted to imitate a diamond. In German, it is called Strass, after the man who popularized it.
Rhodium A metal that is part of the platinum family. Silver, gold, and even base metals were often Rhodium plated during the 30's and 40's to give them the white, shiny look associated with platinum. Genuine rhodium in raw state is liquid. Although in the platinum family of metals, it is not the same as platinum which is a solid precious metal.
Rhodium-plating A thin plating of rhodium, which is one of the members of the platinum family, applied over either sterling or other alloy to give a bright, shiny, longlasting silver-colored finish to a piece.
Retro A recent designation for the period in the forties when when large scale, stylized geometric forms were the rage. Pink gold, set with colored stones, sometimes in floral forms was common.
Ruby A precious gemstone, and a member of the corundum family, rubies are always, by definition, red, but be aware that many other red gemstones and imitations might be assumed to be a ruby. Fine rubies of good color can be more valuable than diamonds, but the first synthetic ruby was created in the 1890's and became quite popular in jewelry. Synthetic rubies must be distinguished from natural by sophisticated testing by trained gemologists.


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Safety Catch Prior to 1900 or so, brooches had a simple "C" catch with no locking mechanism, and the pin often extended out beyond the "C" far enough to weave back into clothing for security. At the turn of the century several "safety catches" were invented and came into common used for better jewelry, so a piece that exhibits a safety catch was made in the twentieth century. (Consider the possibility, however, that an old catch was replaced at some point, and look for evidence of this.)
Sapphire A gemstone of the corundum family, although blue is the color most commonly associated with sapphires, they come in a range of colors from white to orange to green to pink. In fact, if a corundum gemstone is red, it is referred to as a ruby, but any other color, including the light pinkish "rubies" in inexpensive jewelry are properly referred to as sapphires. Sapphires were first synthesized in the 1920's, so it takes an expert to determine if a sapphire is natural. Natural sapphires are sometimes found that exhibit a star effect. These can be quite valuable if the star is centered and well-defined, but in 1967 the synthetic Linde Star Sapphire hit the market, and many star sapphires found today are these synthetics.
Sautoir (Soh-TWAH) a long rope style necklace, often with a tassel or pendant at the end, these were popularized in the Edwardian era because Edward's Queen Alexandra often wore them.

Seed Pearl

Refers to a very small round pearl or a very small imitation pearl, or f.pearl. These were strung on horsehair and used in intricately woven jewelry during the early-mid Victorian period. In the late Victorian period accents set into gold jewelry. During the Edwardian period, they were sometimes woven into long fringed necklaces called sautoirs.


Silver plated or coated, not sterling silver.

Split Ring

Small base metal finding resembling a key-ring.

Sterling Silver

925 parts silver, legal standard.   800 or less amount of silver is known as silver parts, as marked on the jewelry, not sterling silver.

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Taxco (TAHKS' coh) The small town in Mexico where William Spratling, an American set up his workshop in 1929. Many other silversmiths eventually set up shop here making Taxco the center of silversmithing in Mexico. Much silver is made in Taxco to this day, but the earlier silver , up to about 1970 is considered collectible. In 1979 the government began to require silversmiths to stamp a registration mark consisting of two letters and several numbers, and this mark should be found on nearly on newer pieces.
Tiffany Setting The high pronged setting most common today for large stones such as a diamond solitaire, this setting was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886.
Tortoise shell A popular material for 19th century jewelry and haircombs, tortoiseshell was banned and is no longer used for these items. There are very close plastic imitations of tortoiseshell. One technique to differentiate tortoise from its imitators is to touch the surface with a hot pinpoint. Tortoise will give off a smell like burning hair, while plastic will emit and acrid, chemical odor.
Troy Weight Gold and silver are measured in Troy weight, a system that includes pennyweights, ounces and pounds. The ounces and pounds do not equal the Avordupois or customary U.S. system that other common goods are measured in. Gold is also commonly measured in metric grams. A pennyweight (abbreviated dwt.) is equal to 1.5552 grams.
  • 24 grains = 1 pennyweight = 1.5552 grams
  • 20 pennyweight = 1 troy ounce = 31.1035 grams
  • 12 ounces = 1 pound troy = 373.24 grams.
Turquoise Turquoise is a semi-precious gemstone found in desert regions throughout the world. All the cultures use it--Mongolian, Chinese, Native Australian, Persian & Southwestern Native American.  It is considered a source of good fortune and beauty.  If you see brown or grey streaks in turquoise,   they are caused bythe matrix, or mother stone, from which the turquoise is mined. Interesting matrix patterns are considered to add beauty to the stone.
Only Persian turquoise is usually without apparent matrix. Modern turquoise "stones" that appear very shiny and absolutely flawless are actually manufactured: Pulverized turquoise is reconstituted with a plastic binding medium then cut & shaped as though it were natural stone. This material is generally avoided by collectors.  Different colors of turquoise--varying from sky blue to nearly green occur in untreated turquoise, since it is quite porous. Touching the stone leaves oils on it which alters the color of the turquoise over many years. Collectors tend to value these color nuances as the patina of time.

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Vermeil (Vehr-MAY) Silver with gold plating.
Vulcanite A hard, moldable dark brown or black early plastic sometimes erroneously called "gutta percha". This material was used for memorial pieces in the mid-Victorian period.
Victorian The designation given to the period from approximately 1837 when Victoria became Queen of England until 1901 when she died. This long period is divided into early (approx. 1840-1860), mid (approx. 1860 - 1880) and late (approx. 1880-1900) since it covers a wide span of time, and a number of distinctive design trends. This period was preceded by the Georgian period, and succeeded by the Edwardian period after Victoria died in 1901, and her son Edward became king

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