Glossary of Jewellery Terms

Have a look through our extensive list of jewellery terms, to help you make the most informed choices when selecting and purchasing your latest piece of jewellery. We are constantly adding new terms to this list so check back regularly for the latest information.

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Simply click on a letter below:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, W, Y, Z


Abalone - The iridescent inside surface of a mollusc’s shell comprised of nacre or mother-of-pearl.  This surface is highly iridescent with many strong changeable colours

Agate – A type of quartz, mainly chalcedony, that varies in colour from white to grey, light blue, orange to red and black

Alexandrite - A mineral which changes colour or appears to change colour as the source of light changes. Found in Russia, Sri Lanka and Brazil

Alloy - A mixture of two or more metals

Amber - Fossilised resin in shades from honey through to yellow and reddish brown

Amethyst - Transparent and opaque varieties of crystallised quartz, typically purple or violet in colour

Ametrine - A variety of quartz that contains both amethyst and citrine sectors in the same crystal

Andalusite - An orangey brown, yellowish green or gold mineral, named after Andalusia, where it was first discovered. Sometimes called 'poor man's alexandrite'

Antique style - Process by which something takes on an aged look. Usually a darkened or tarnished appearance

Appliqué - An ornamental piece that's created separately and then applied to a piece of jewellery

Aquamarine - A blue semi-precious stone in the beryl family

Armoire - A moveable cabinet to store your jewellery with several doors and shelves

Art Deco - See 'Deco style'

Austrian crystal - Imitation of natural or rock crystal (quartz). see also crystal

Aventurine - Translucent greenish quartz mineral, internally granular. Often mistaken for jade, another green stone

Azurite malachite - A mineral which is characterised in appearance by bands of light and dark blue


Baguette – A faceted rectangular shaped stone  

Bail – This is the loop on for example a necklace, to which the actual pendant gets attached. Can also be the loop on a pendant which the chain goes through  

Band – A ring that has the same width all way around. Often used as a wedding ring

Bangle – A stiff bracelet. You either slip it on to your wrist or open it like a clasp

Base metal – A non-precious metal like iron and zinc

Baryte - A generally white or grey stone

Bead – The shape of a stone or other material cut like a small sphere. Is often pierced and used for threading

Belcher chain - A type of trace chain where the links, made of D-section wire, are broad and of equal length

Bell cap – A bell shaped setting for drop settings

Bezel – A setting used for rings where a band of metal is shaped around the gem used. This is often used to raise the gem to make it look its best

Box and tongue clasp – A type of clasp that locks by a small v-shaped ‘tongue’ fitting into a small box

Box chain – A type of chain made from square links that are connected to form a smooth chain

Brazillianite - A much sought after precious stone, usually ground into facet cuts, and it is a very popular item with collectors.

Brilliant cut – A round cut with 58 facets, mathematically placed to produce the greatest sparkle. The now most common cut for diamonds

Brooch – A piece of jewellery which you attach to your clothing with a pin  


Cabochon – A type of gemstone cut which is flat on the underside and has a smooth dome on the upper. The name comes from the Norman word ‘Caboche’ meaning 'head'

Cameo – A piece that has been carved out of shell or gem for example. It is raised from the background and used as jewellery

Carat (used with gems) – The weight unit usually used for gems, where 1 carat = 0.2 grams

Carat (precious metals) – Used to indicate how many parts of an item is precious metal (gold or silver) and how many parts are alloy. It can be between 1-24 parts, where for example 9 carat gold has 9 parts of gold and 15 parts alloy

Cornelian – A red or reddish-brown variant of Chalcedony

Cat's eye – A stone which has a sweeping band of light across the centre.

Chalcedony - Composed of very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and morganite. Often refers to various types of coloured quartz

Chandelier – A drop style earring or pendant with a number of sections branching out like a chandelier

Channel setting - Channel set gemstones are placed into a metal channel. The gemstones flow in a continuous row, because no metal is used to separate them

Charm – A charm or 'pendant' that you can wear on a bracelet, necklet or earring

Charm bracelet – A bracelet with attached charms

Chrysoprase – A green variety of chalcedony

Citrine – A yellow version of quartz

Clasp – the part that keeps the ends of jewellery together on, for example, a bracelet.

Clip-back – Earrings you can wear although you don’t have pierced ears. You clip them on and they sit around your earlobe

Cluster – A type of setting where the stones are grouped together in a cluster

Collarette – Collar style necklace

Coral - Calcified skeletons of sea creatures that grow in formations resembling the branches of a tree

Corundum – The family to which sapphire and ruby belongs

Crown - The upper part of a gem

Crystal - A colourless and transparent natural or rock crystal

Cuff link – A piece of jewellery used to close the cuffs on a shirt with no buttons

Cultured pearl – A foreign object is inserted into a mollusc to induce the creation of a pearl. Nacre builds up in layers around it and forms a pearl

Curb link chain - A chain where the links are oval and twisted so that they lie flat

Cushion cut – A type of cut where the gem is square with rounded corners


Diamond – A precious gemstone made from carbon. One of the most popular stones and the hardest mineral in the world

Diopside – A mineral which comes in different colours but usually in green

Diaspore - A rare colour changing aluminium oxide gemstone from Turkey.  The name comes from the Greek word 'Diaspora' which means 'to scatter' because it crackles when heated.  The colour changes from a brownish pink under incandescent light to a brownish green under flourescent light


Earring back or Butterfly – The lose piece of the earring which you put on the earring post to keep the earring in place

Electroplating – When covering a metal with a thin coat of another metal

Emerald – A beautiful green gemstone which thanks to its colour and rarity is one of the most valuable gemstones.

Emerald cut – A faceted rectangular cut stone with truncated corners

Enamel – A hard and usually glossy material in different colours is fused on to jewellery as decoration


Facet – The polished surface on a gem that reflects the light

Faceted – A stone that has been cut with facets

Fancy cut – Gemstone cuts in different shapes such as flowers, triangles etc.

Finish – The way the surface of a piece of jewellery is finished usually by polishing

Freshwater pearl – A pearl made naturally from a mussels living in rivers or lakes


Garnet – A group of minerals whose name originates form the Latin word “granatus” because of its similar colour to pomegranate seeds. Garnet also comes in other colours

Gem – A mineral that has been cut and polished and is used as jewellery

Girdle - The outermost edge of a cut gem, the part where it is the widest

Gold – A soft but heavy and valuable precious metal. It needs to be alloyed with other metals to become more workable and hardwearing when used for jewellery.  The carat of the metal tells you how many parts of gold there are compared to the other alloys. Pure gold is 24 carat which equals 24 parts of gold

Gold plated – When a metal item has covered with a thin coat of gold

Gold tone – An item coloured to look like gold

Golden finish – When an item is finished to look like it is gold


Half-hoop – Earrings which appear to be hooped but are not completely cirrcular

Hallmark – A mark made on most gold, silver and platinum items to provethe purity of the item. The mark is made either by hand, laser or stamped. This is done at an Assay office where the item is first tested to make sure of its purity. The hallmark also has to state who requested the hallmarked and which Assay office marked it. There are other voluntary marks that can be added as well

Hammered – A texture made by using a small hammer to create a “hammered” surface

Hessonite – Is part of the garnet family with a yellow, red or brownish colour

High polish – When an item has been polished to get an almost mirror like finish

Hoop – An earring in the shape of a circle


Inlay – When a stone is set into another material so that is lies flush and creates a smooth surface

Iolite – A gemstone whose name comes from the Greek word for violet. The colour ranges from sapphire blue to blue violet to yellowish gray to light blue as the light angle changes

Iridescent – When you can see different rainbow-like colours in a piece, depending on which angle you look at it from


Jade – A green ornamental stone often used in jewellery


Kunzite – A lilac, pink gemstone. When looking at the gem two shades of the body colour and a colourless section show  depending on which angle you look at it from


Lapis lazuli – An azure blue stone (rock) with small patches of white and yellow made up of several different minerals

Lever back – An earring that has a hinged back section that latches behind the ear

Links – Several hoops joined together to make up a chain

Lobster claw clasp – A clasp often used for necklaces and bracelets with the shape of a lobster claw. A spring in the “claw” makes it possible to open and close the clasp to put the other end of the chain on to it to secure it


Malachite – A stone with light and dark green bands going across it

Marcasite – The white form of Iron Pyrite and is also known as “fools gold”. When polished they sparkle beautifully!  

Marquise – A gemstone cut into the shape of a long oval. Looks like a rugby ball when seen from above

Matte – A non-glossy finish

Mohs scale – A scale on which minerals are graded from 1 to 10 depending on their hardness, with diamond (10) as the hardest mineral on Earth. The scale works so that minerals with a certain number can scratch minerals with a lower number and get scratched by the minerals with a higher number.  

Moonstone – A stone with a bluish or white sheen, like the moon.  

Morganite – A pink, peach, violet type of beryl.  

Mother-of-pearl – A hard substance that forms on the inside layer of a pearl-bearing mollusc. You can find it in colours ranging from subtle pastels to brighter and bolder shades, all with that deep iridescent glow  


Nacre - The substance that is formed around an foreign object inside a mollusc to become a pearl


Onyx – A variety of microcrystalline quartz, chalcedony. It has brown and white or black and white bands going through it. Often dyed black

Opal – There are both iridescent and non iridescent opals and made from hardened silica gel

Opaque - A stone that is not transparent

Oxidation – When metals react with oxygen and  turn dull and or black


Pave setting – Small stones set close together to make the piece look like it is paved

Pearl – formed within the shell of a mollusc and used as a gem

Pendant – A piece worn on a chain as a necklace

Peridot – A gemstone with an olive - or bottle - green colour

Point – A unit of weight for gemstones, 100 points = 1 carat

Precious stones – Beautiful, rare and costly gems such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires
Princess cut – A square version of a brilliant cut with sharp uncut corners


Quartz – A crystalline mineral and one of the most common minerals of the Earth’s crust. Comes in many colours or can be colourless


Rhodium – A hard silvery-white metal part of the platinum group

Rhodalite – A rose-pink to red mineral related to Garnet and used as a gemstone

Rock crystal – A clear and colourless quartz

Rope chain – A chain looking like a spiral

Rose gold - Gold alloyed with enough amount of copper to give it a pinkish colour

Rose quartz – Pink or peach coloured quartz. You can find transparent rose quartz but the most common one has a “milky” appearance

Ruby – Red or pinkish coloured corundum and one of the best gemstones for jewellery settings.  

Rutilated quartz – Quartz with needle-like rutile red, black or yellow crystals


Sapphire – A precious stone that is part of the corundum family. Comes in different colours and the most valuable one is the clear deep blue sapphire

Satin finish – When an item has a matte finish instead of the normal shiny finish

Screw back – A type of earring that has a clamp with a screw to be tighten against the back of the earlobe instead of a normal earring back

Shank - The back part of the ring that goes around your finger

Shoulder – The side of the ring that joins the shank to the centre piece

Signet ring – A ring with a flat centre piece on which you can have a family crest or similar

Silver tone – An item coloured to look like silver

Smoky quartz – Quartz with a smoky brown appearance

Solitaire – A ring with just one single stone

Spinel – A transparent to almost opaque stone that comes in different colours

Square cut – A square stone with long narrow facets around it

Step cut – When a stone is cut with several parallel rows to create “steps”

Sterling silver (925) – Silver alloy that contains at least 925 parts of silver out of 1000 parts. The other 75 parts are of another metal and is usually added to make the silver more hardwearing

Stud – Usually an earring with one single stone

Synthetic – A stone made in laboratory but with the exact same physical properties as the natural stone


Table – The top facet of a ring that makes it look like the top of a table

Tanzanite – A purple, blue stone mined in Tanzania

Tarnish – When an item has a dull finish as a result of re-acting with air or water

Tennis bracelet - In-line thin diamond bracelet that features a symmetrical pattern of diamonds

Tiger's eye – Type of black quartz with iron oxide staining that gives it golden stripes. Usually cabochon cut to make it look like a cat’s eye

Toggle clasp – When a bracelet or necklace has a ring in one end and a short bar in the other. You secure it by sticking the bar through the ring and then have it horizontally across the ring

Topaz – Comes in different colours with the pink sapphire being the most valuable one.  

Tourmaline – A crystal mineral that comes in different colours

Translucent – Allow light to pass through but are not see-through

Transparent – Being see-through

Tsavorite – A green transparent type of garnet

Turquoise – An opaque to semi-translucent turquoise stone. Varies in colour from sky-blue to greenish


White gold – Gold alloyed with another metal to get its white colour


Yellow gold – Can have different shades depending on which and how much of another alloy you add  


Zircon – The colourless stones are the most famous ones but zircon comes in different colours