Definitions about various precious materials and stones.

Term Definition
Alloy A mixture of two or more metals.
Birthstone Gem associated with the month in which a person was born.
Brass Any of various metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and zinc or an alloy of copper and zinc
Butterfly clutch A fitting that slips onto the back of a post to hold an earring in place.
Cabochon A smoothly rounded polished gem with a domed top and a flat or curved base.
Charm bracelet A bracelet consisting of one or more small ornaments attached to precious metal links.
Choker A short, fairly tight-fitting necklace that hugs the throat.
Copper The bright reddish metal in these earrings is copper. Copper is much
less rare than gold and, unlike that metal, its shine will dull with age.
Crystals Crystals are minerals that have flat faces that meet at regular angles. A lot of geologic time are required for large, beautiful crystals to form.
Cuff bracelet A C-shaped band that fits over the wrist or arm.
Drop earring An earring with one or more dangling ornaments.
Earring jacket A detachable ornament that surrounds or otherwise adorns a stud earring.
Electroplating Using electricity to deposit a coating of precious metal, suspended in a solution, on another metal.
Enhancer A removable pendant designed to accent a strand of beads or cultured pearls.
Fine Virtually free of impurities or alloying metals.
Gold Alloys 14K Yellow Gold, copper, silver, zinc
Gold Alloys 18K Yellow Gold, copper, silver, zinc
Gold Alloys Green Gold, copper, silver (amount of silver increased)
Gold Alloys Rose (pink) Gold, copper, silver (amount of copper increased)
Gold Alloys White Gold, nickel or palladium, copper, zinc
Gold 10K 10 parts gold, 14 parts other metals by weight
Gold 14K 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metals by weight
Gold 18K 18 parts gold, 6 parts other metals by weight
Gold 24K 24 parts gold
Gold plate The item must be coated with gold or a gold alloy of at least 10K, to a minimum thickness of one-half micron. You can indicate the exact thickness if you also list the karat fineness.
Gold electroplate A gold or gold alloy of 10K or finer, with a minimum overall thickness of 0.175 microns, applied by an electrolytic process. If the gold is fine enough but not thick enough, it’s called “Gold Flashed” or “Gold Washed.”
Gold filled A material with 10K or finer gold alloy soldered or attached to a less costly metal. The plating must make up at least 1/20 of the total
metal weight. If it doesn’t, the exact percentage has to be listed. Also called “Gold Overlay” or “Rolled Gold Plate.”
Gunmetal A type of bronze with properties of alloy of copper, tin and zinc.
Hoop earring A dangling, circular earring made from solid wire or tubing.
Karat A unit of measure for the fineness of gold, based on a total of 24 parts, abbreviated “K.”
Minerals Minerals are basically, naturally occurring solid chemical substances. They are formed through various geological processes.
Omega chain A flexible chain consisting of tightly joined diagonal segments.
Pavé setting Bead setting with many small gems placed close together, often in a honeycomb pattern.
Pendant An ornament or gem suspended from a strand, band, or chain.
Plating Depositing a metal coating electrically or applying it mechanically onto another metal.
Post The part of an earring that passes through a pierced earlobe.
Precious metals Metals valued in jewelry, specifically gold, platinum, and silver.
Prong (claw) setting Setting style consisting of narrow metal supports that hold a gem in its mounting.
Rocks Rocks are composites of one or more different minerals. For instance, granite is a rock. It does not have a uniform structure. Usually made of feldspar, quarts, and mica. You can usually look at a piece of granite and see the black mica, pink feldspar, and white quartz.
Rope chain Solid or hollow chain that usually has oval links and resembles a woven rope.
Semi-precious stones
Slide A pendant that attaches to a chain without a bail.
Solitaire Jewelry piece with one main gem, typically a diamond.
Station necklace A necklace with gems, cultured pearls, or beads positioned at regular intervals.
Strand A simple necklace typically composed of pearls or beads.
Stud earring An earring with a small ornament or gem on a post, designed to nestle against the earlobe.
Synthetic gem A manmade gem with essentially the same properties as its natural counterpart.
Pewter The pewter forming this rose brooch is a mixture of base metals that
includes tin and copper. Base metals are much more common than
precious metals and lack their special properties.
Silver plate A base metal coated with a layer of silver that must be thick enough B80to provide a durable covering. Also
called “silver coated.
Vermeil Sterling silver base coated with gold or gold alloy of 10K or finer. The coating must be at least 2.5 microns thick.
Precious metal plated Precious metal plated goods are legally defined by the thickness of the plating and the fineness of the precious metal.
Reproduction jewelry A modern recreation of jewelry from a past era.
Art Deco jewelry A style prominent in the 1920s and 1930s that features geometric patterns and abstract designs in contrasting primary colors.
Art Nouveau jewelry Jewelry inspired by a decorative arts movement (1890-1914) and characterized by free-flowing lines and natural motifs.
Edwardian (Garland) jewelry Jewelry fashionable among upper classes in Europe and the US (1900-1915) that showcased high-quality gems and precious metals.
Victorian jewelry A variety of styles popular during the reign of England’s Queen Victoria (1837-1901).
Retro jewelry Jewelry of the 1940s, characterized by sculptured curves in yellow or rose gold and floral, bow, and mechanical motifs.


* The definition glossary is partly taken from the GIA Education Center.