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A

Alexandrite

A gemstone described as ‘an emerald by day and a ruby by night’. This gemstone has the ability to change colour from green in daylight to red in candlelight. First discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Amber

An organic gemstone created from fossilized tree resin, used in adornments since the New Stone Age.

 

Amethyst

A beautiful deep violet purple variety of the mineral quartz, and the most well known and most prized variety. In many cultures and throughout the ages, Amethyst has been said to protect the wearer from many problems such as the powers of seduction, drunkenness, locusts, aid in the winning of wars, help against insect bites and stomach acid. Most amethyst comes from Zambia.

Ametrine

A naturally occurring variety of quartz. A mixture of amethyst and citrine, ametrine has zones of purple and yellow, and sometimes tinge of orange.

Andalusite

An aluminium silicate that is named after the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. It displays different colours in different directions and features all of its colours all at once.

Antique

A collectible object, which has more value because of its age or the era it was created in. It is considered that to be ‘antique’, an item should have been made over 100 years ago.

Antiques Cushion

1830s – 1900. This is often referred to as a ‘pillow’ shape. It has a large or ‘open’ culet and is rectangular to square, with rounded corners. Like the modern emerald cut, your eyes will delve deep into an antique cushion cut stone.

Aquamarine

A bluey green transparent variety of beryl, the name is meant to suggest the colour of seawater. The gemstone aquamarine is associated with trust, harmony, friendship and good feelings in general. 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale. Aqua in ancient times was credited with aiding sleep, protecting sailors and counteracting the effects of poison.

Art Deco

This term refers to the decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s. Bold geometric shapes and opulence characterized the style of the era.

B

Baguette/Baguette Cut

The French ‘Baguette’. This is a cut shape of any gemstone which is most often a small oblong. They are similar to emerald cuts.

Band

The section of the ring which fits round the finger. Also known as a shank.

Bangle

A bracelet that is rigid and often without a clasp. Often a bangle is worn a little further up the arm as opposed to around the wrist.

Base Metal

Any non-precious metal – such as copper or zinc.

Basket Mount

Describes the area where the sides and part of the shank of the ring head are in an openwork basket shape.

Bezel

The central part of the ring that holds the gem or main ornaments.

Bezel Set

A setting where a thin band or rim of metal holds the gemstone around the girdle and the top of the gemstone sits flush. This can sometimes refer to a rub over setting.

Bombé

A term used to describe a convex shaped design usually used in cocktail rings and brooches. Sometimes spelt Bombay.

Boodle and Dunthorne

A Liverpool based jewellery house, founded in 1798. Now referred to as simply ‘Boodles’, the jewellery house is known for its principles of designing and crafting jewellery themselves and has been owned and run by the Wainwright family for over 130 years.

Boucheron

The first jeweller of the Place Vendome in Paris. Founded in 1858 by Frederic Boucheron. First opening in London in 1903, Boucheron is a jewellery house that creates some of the finest luxury and high-end jewellery creations in the world. They are particularly well known for creating the first gold and gemstone encrusted wristwatch for a man in 1900, and the Queen Mothers favourite diadem.

Bright Cut

A deep, sharply cut engraving in metal, associated with the Victorian period.

Bright Cut

A deep, sharply cut engraving in metal, associated with the Victorian period.

Brilliance

Is an essential attribute of a beautiful diamond and has 2 components; brightness and contrast. Bright diamonds return lots of light from the surroundings back to an observer. If light from above leaks out the back of a diamond, or its facets are not symmetrical or optimally shaped, naturally it has less brightness. To be brilliant, a diamond also needs to have contrast, and when it moves it should intensely sparkle. For maximum brilliance, every facet of a diamond should be professionally polished after the cutting process.

Briolette Cut

A form of rose cut (sometimes known as the double rose) with no top or base, usually used to create a teardrop shaped gemstone, whereby the gemstone is surfaced with many triangular shaped facets. This gemstone cut was very popular in the Victorian era after Napolean Bonaparte gave a 263 carat briolette diamond to his Empress consort Marie Louise.

Bulgari

Bulgari are a famous Italian jewellery house founded by Sotirio Bulgari in 1884. In 1932 his sons Giorgio and Constantino, who created the distinctive Bulgari style, succeeded the business. Bulgari is heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance combined with Greek and Roman classicism. They expanded internationally in the 1970s, first opening in New York, then on to Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. It was at this time that they began making watches. Bulgari are best known for their bold designs, with bright, high quality gemstones, geometric shapes and archaeological influence. They were one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favourite jewellers.

Burmese

A gemstone that is from Burma. Burma (now Myanmar) is a country which is known in the gemstone industry as the source of the worlds finest rubies, which have a distinctive deep bluish-red colour and velvety appearance – known in the trade as a ‘pigeons blood’ ruby. Another reason for the allure of Burmese rubies is that they emit red fluorescence in normal light, making them appear to glow from within, enhancing their colour.

C

Cabochon

A stone that has been polished into a dome shape with no facets. The cut is used primarily to create and enhance phenomenon in gems such as star sapphires.

Calibrated

Calibrated gemstones are mass-produced and come in certain ‘calibrated sizes’, for standard mass produced gemstone settings. If a gemstone does not fit a standard mount, one will need to be custom made.

Calibré

A stone specially cut to fit a particular mount, rarely used in modern jewellery due to the expense.

Carat

A weight measurement of a gemstone or gold. The term is derived from the ancient used of carob seeds to balance scales when selling amounts of gold or gemstones. The term is often shortened to ‘ct’.

For diamonds and gemstones, one carat is equal to 0.2g. Read more about The Four C’s.

For gold, the carat is expressed as a part of 24, 24 carat being pure gold. For example, 9 carat gold is 9 parts pure gold and 15 parts alloying metal such as copper.

Cartier

A renowned French jewellery house founded in 1847 by the jeweller Louis-Francois Cartier. The maison Cartier created the first practical wristwatch, ‘Santos’ in 1904. They have a long history of creating special pieces for royalty and celebrities all over the world, so much so that The Prince of Wales, the Future King Edward 7th declared Cartier the ‘jeweller to kings, king of jewelers.’

Ceylon

Used in the trade (though decreasingly) in relation to gemstones when describing the origin of sapphires from Sri Lanka.

Channel Set

A method of setting whereby stones are set and secured between two ‘channels’ of metal side by side in a row.

Chatoyancy

A phenomenon in a gemstone known as ‘Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl.’ This is created from a number of similarly aligned inclusions in a stone that when cut in a cabochon creates a defined streak of light across the surface. Read more

Chenier

A decorative enhancement to a ring, in the shaped of a metal tube that was usually added under the shoulders of the ring – particularly used in antique pieces.

Citrine

A pale yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, rare in nature. Its colour is sometimes confused with topaz. It is an attractive alternative not only for topaz but for yellow sapphire. Read more

Clarity

A term used to describe the severity of the internal and external inclusions in a gemstone. See The Four C’s for further information.

Claw Set

A method of setting whereby stones are set and secured between a number of ‘claws’, usually four, six or eight. The method of setting was popularised by Tiffany & Co. in the late 1880s, and allows more light to pass through a gemstone than other settings. Sometimes referred to as prong set.

Cleavage

This is a plane in gemstone along which a clean break may occur. The term ‘feather’ is often used to describe an inclusion in a diamond which is a small break along such a plane.

Closed Back

A method of setting whereby the back (or bottom) of the stone is enclosed.

Collet Set

A method of setting gemstones whereby stones are set and secured by a band of metal that goes all the way around the girdle of the gemstone.

Colour

The diamond colour grading scale ranges from D to Z. See The Four C’s for more information.

Colour Zoning

Areas of different colour in a gem caused by variations in grown conditions. Examples are a bi-colour or watermelon tourmaline, or ametrine (a type of quartz).

Comfort Fit

The name for a band that is slightly curved on the inside to provide extra comfort against the finger.

Crossover Ring

A term to describe any style of ring where the shank either splits and crosses over each other, or where the two ends of the shank bear away from each other and lay side by side. Crossover rings are usually diamond set. See a selection of our crossover rings.

Crown

The top part of a gemstone above the girdle.

Culet

The smallest facet of a diamond, the culet is located at the very bottom of the stone. If the diamond ends in a point, the diamond grading report will show a value of ‘None’ for the culet designation. This small facet was originally intended to protect the diamond’s pavilion, although today’s settings are usually strong enough to render it unnecessary.

Curb Chain

A type of chain created from connected flat oval shaped links.

Cushion Cut

First introduced to the jewellery market in the early 1800’s, the cushion cut diamond is rich with diamond history. Cut into a square or rectangular shape with rounded corners and sides, it’s considered by many to be a more vintage version of the round cut diamond.

Cut

One of the most defining characteristics of a diamond is its cut. While high grades of color, clarity, and carat weight affect a diamond, it’s the cut that determines the symmetry of the stone’s facets, its overall proportions, and its ability to reflect light. An expertly cut diamond will achieve high levels of brilliance, sparkle, and durability. For more information and cut types, see The Four C’s.

D

David Morris

Known as ‘The London Jeweller’. David Morris is a jewellery design house and brand established in 1962 by jeweller David Morris, now run by Jeremy Morris. The design house places emphasis on the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. Royalty and celebrities all over the world have worn designs by David Morris, including a famous heart shaped diamond necklace bought for Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton for Valentines Day in 1965.

Demantoid

A variety of andradite garnet. Demantoid garnet is green in colour and is a very rare and beautiful gem. Demantoid garnets have a long association with Russia and the Russian royal family, appearing in many commissioned pieces created by Carl Faberge. Demantoid garnets also often have interesting inclusions known as horsetails, which often radiate outward from a central point. Horsetail inclusions are not found in any other gemstones.

Designer Cut

A unique gem cut that isn’t limited by specific proportions or shapes.

Diamond

Derived from the Greek meaning ‘unbreakable’, diamond is a mineral, considered to be the most beautiful and rare of all gemstones. Diamond has been associated with love for centuries.

99.95% of a diamond is created from a single element – crystalized carbon that is formed at high temperature and pressure around 100 miles beneath the surface of the Earth, over billions of years. As a result of a diamond’s unique chemical structure, the gemstone has incredible durability, rating 10 on the Mohs scale. When cut, a diamond shows exceptional levels of brilliance and fire, which makes it sparkle and in turn be valued as the most precious and desired of all gemstones. Read more

E

Edwardian

The period during the rule of Edward VII, between 1903 and 1910.

Emerald

Named so from the Greek ‘green stone’, emerald is coloured by the trace elements chromium or, less often, vanadium. Emeralds have been mined in Egypt since the 4th century BC. Emerald is a stone that is said to open the heart chakra and symbolize ‘successful love’. It is green variety of the Beryl family, a species that also includes aquamarine, morganite and red beryl. The most desirable emeralds are mined in Muzo, Colombia, though emeralds are also being mined in other areas of South America, Central and Eastern Africa, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Read more

Emerald Cut

A rectangular cut with rectangular facets arranged parallel to the girdle and usually with 45 degree corner angles. This type of cut is more transparent than other shapes, often requiring higher standards of clarity.

En Tremblant

A French term used to describe jewellery that has been set in such a way that it trembles when touched. This is mostly seen in 18th and 19th century jewellery. The movement is particularly effective in diamond set jewels as they shimmer beautifully when trembled.

Enamel

A pigment of a vitreous nature composed usually of powdered pot ash or silica, bound with oil coloured glass as a surface decoration, fired at a very low temperature.

Engine Turned

A fine geometric pattern engraved onto metal by a machine.

Engraving

The practice of incising a design or inscription on a hard surface of metal, created by cutting grooves into it, by hand or machine. Engraving was very popular during the Victorian era to create a scrolled pattern on the gallery or shoulders of a ring.

Eye-Clean

A description for a gem with no visible inclusions to the naked eye (mostly a trade term).

F

Facet

One side or flat surface or plane of a cut gem. A facet can be any shape, but usually some kind of triangle or kite shape.

Faceting

The art of cutting and polishing the surfaces/planes of a cut gem. A modern brilliant diamond usually has 57 or 58 facets.

Fancy

Naturally coloured diamonds that fall outside the normal colourless range are called fancy diamonds. They are either yellow or brown diamonds that have more colour than a Z grade, or are a colour other than yellow or brown. Fancy diamonds can be pink, red, blue, orange, green, purple, yellow and brown. See The Four C’s.

Filigree

Delicate ornamental work created from a thin wire of metal and fashioned into an ornate or fanciful design.

Fluorescence

The natural visible emission of light/glow (usually blue/yellow) when a gemstone is subject to UV light. A 1997 survey by GIA concluded that fluorescence does not negatively impact the face up appearance of a diamond.

Flush

A term used when two materials are sat next to each other at the same level, for example when a wedding band sits right next to an engagement ring it is said to sit ‘flush’. A flush setting is used to describe when the table (top) facet of a gemstone sits in line with the bezel (surrounding metal) setting.

Foil Backed

Used to describe a stone when a piece of foil (often coloured) has been set behind the stone. This was popular in Georgian era, particularly with aquamarine pieces.

G

Garnet

A species of gemstones, traditionally known for being red. Red garnets adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs and used in signet rings in ancient Rome but come in a variety of greens, yellows, browns and pink. Read more

Gilt/Gilded

When an item of jewellery has been dipped in gold, to created a thing layer on the surface.

Girdle

The middle and widest part of a gemstone, forming the outer edge – separating the crown and the pavilion. The girdle can be polished or faceted. The girdle is often where grading laboratories engrave the report number on a diamond.

Gold

A chemical element with the symbol Au. Gold is a yellow, malleable metal which makes it perfect for use in jewellery making.

Goldsmith

A person who creates gold articles, namely jewellery. The term is often used to describe a jeweller.

Gubelin

Widely known as a world-renowned and highly esteemed independent gemological laboratory, Gubelin has also been a Swiss jewellery and watch design house since the mid 1800s.

H

Hallmark

A mark or a series of marks stamped on precious metal such as gold, platinum or palladium. The hallmark often denoted the place the item was made, the fineness of the metal and the year in which the item was hallmarked/made.

Heart Cut

Living up to its name, the heart cut diamond has become synonymous with love and affection, making it an excellent choice for an anniversary or engagement ring. One of the most demanding diamond cuts to create, a heart shaped stone requires great skill and dexterity from the diamond cutter.

Heat Treated

A term used to describe a gemstone that has been enhanced by treatment under high temperatures which can alter colours or inclusions.

I

Illusion

A setting whereby metal surrounds the stone, in a design and such a way that makes the stone look bigger than it actually is.

Inclusion

An internal clarity characteristic of a gemstone. See The Four C’s for further information.

Iridium

A chemical element with the symbol Ir. Iridium is a brittle metal and part of the platinum family. Iridium is often alloyed with platinum to make the metal harder – a practice often used in American jewellery in the early 1900s.

J

Jade

A term referring to two different gemstones that have been mined for over 3,000 years – jadeite and nephrite. In its purest form, Jadeite is white, but is most commonly shades of green and often is shades of lilac, orange, red and black. Jadeite is known as the ‘stone of heaven’ in China as it is said to symbolize the five virtues of humanity: wisdom, compassion, justice, modesty and courage.

Jet

A black coloured gemstone from Whitby in England. Popularised in the Victorian era.

Jewellery

A personal ornament such as a necklace, ring or bracelet, usually made from precious metals and gemstones.

K

Kashmir

A region in India that is known as a source for the top quality sapphires, which were only mined between 1881 and 1887. Sapphires from this region are exemplary due to the deep cobalt blue colour and silky appearance. A sapphire from this region is very rare and demands top prices.

Knife-Edge

A style of shank, popularized by Tiffany & Co. which comes to a point in the middle.

Kunzite

A variety of the mineral species spodumene. Kunzite was first discovered in 1902 and named after the pioneering mineralogist George Frederick Kunz. Kunzite is largely a collectors stone and has a subtle pink and violet hue, to intense pink colour. Kunzite is mainly mined in Afghanistan. Brazil, Madagascar and California. Read more

L

Labradorite

A gemstone named after its place of discovery – Labrador, Canada. It displays a phenomenon known as ‘labradorescence’, an iridescent play of colour.

Lapis Lazuli

A deep midnight blue opaque gemstone, often speckled with golden and white flecks.

Lower Girdle Facets

Facets that extend from the girdle edge toward the culet. Sometimes known as ‘lower halves’ in the trade.

M

Mabe Pearl

Assembled cultured pearls.

Maker’s Mark

The initials or stamp of the maker engraved or stamped on a piece of jewellery.

Malachite

The stone’s name derives from the Greek molochitis lithos meaning ‘mallow-gree stone’, given it’s name due tot the resemblance to the leaves of the mallow plant. It is estimated that malachite had been mined since at least 8000BC and is used as a pigment for green paint as well as in cosmetics.

Mappin & Webb

A famous English silversmith company founded by Jonathan Mappin in 1810.

Marquise

The shape of a cut gemstone or the shape of a design of a ring or other piece of jewellery, credited to King Louis XV of France. The marquise shape is distinctive due to its oval shape, with pointed ends.

Melee

An assortment of small diamonds, usually under 0.20 carats.

Metric Carat

The international unit of measurement for gem weight, see ‘carat’.

Millegrain

A granular relief pattern design on metal, produced using a chisel. The effect produces slightly raised bumps and was often used in antique pieces through to the late Art Deco era.

Mixed Cut

A cutting style that combines brilliant-cut and step-cut facets.

Modern Round Brilliant Cut

In the early 1900s, diamond cutters began to experiment with new techniques. A breakthrough came in 1919 with the introduction of the round brilliant cut. Due to its ability to maximize fire and brilliance, the round brilliant cut has become the standard and most popular way to cut diamonds. Like the old European cut, a round brilliant cut diamond has a circular girdle and 58 facets. However, the round brilliant cut lacks a culet. The round brilliant cut became prevalent during the Art Deco and Retro periods. See The Four C’s for more information.

Mohs Scale

A ‘scale’ with which to compare the hardness of a given gemstone, developed by the mineralogist Freidrich Mohs. Gemstones are ranked from numbers 1-10 with 1 being the softest and 10 the hardest. The scale goes up exponentially.

Moonstone

Part of the Feldspar group – the most abundant minerals found in the Earth.
In the worlds first encyclopedia, written between 20-79 AD by Pliny the Elder, moonstone is referred to as ‘astrions’ meaning ‘star stone’- named so as it possesses a silvery blue or white iridescent sheen. This sheen is called ‘adularescence’ by gemmologists. Moonstone was used extensively during the Art Nouveau era.
Read more

Morganite

A pink coloured variety of the mineral species beryl, alongside emerald and aquamarine. A relatively new gem on the market, most notably promoted by Tiffany & Co in the last century. Read more

Muzo

An area in Colombia that is known as the source of the finest emeralds in the world which possess a deep bluish green colour.

N

Nacre

A layer of calcium carbonate, which produces the iridescent effect on a pearl.

Natural

A term used to describe a gemstone that has not been subject to any treatment, such as heat treatment.

O

Old Cut

A term used to describe the cut of a stone, usually cut prior to 1910. They are characterized by having small tables, large culets and rounded outline with a high crown. They were cut so to produce optimal levels of fire, seen best in candlelight.

Old European

1700s – 1900. These stones are largely round in shape, have circular girdles, small tables, a heavy (or tall) crown and great overall depth.

Old Mine

1830s – 1900. These have more of a square or cushion shape in comparison to the Old European. It was an early version of the modern brilliant cut. They have a high crown, small table and large ‘open’ culet. The old mine cut was originally developed to sparkle its best in incandescent or candle light; the perfect evening accessory.

Onyx

A black gemstone that occasionally has bands of white running through it. A variety of the chalcedony species of gemstone. Read more

Opal

A gemstone, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit ‘upala’ meaning ‘precious stone’. Opals can be plain in colour (common opal) or can display a phenomenon known as ‘play of colour’, whereby the gemstone shows flashes of colour, which appear and disappear when the stone is moved (precious opal). Read more

Oval Cut

Cut with the same number of facets as a round diamond, an oval shape emits nearly the same level of brilliance and fire. Due to its elongated shape, the oval cut can appear larger than a round diamond of equal carat (weight).

P

Padparascha

A term derived from the Singhalese for ‘Lotus flower’ and refers to a sapphire that has a distinct mix of pink/orange – a kind of sunset orange/pink or salmony colour.

Palladium

A chemical element and metal with the symbol Pd. First discovered in 1803, palladium is a rare silvery white metal.

Parure

Paste

A term for glass when it has been moulded to resemble a gemstone, normally diamond.

Pavé

When the surface of piece is covered with stones held in their pattern position by small claws.

Pavilion

The lower part of a faceted gem below the girdle. Located between the girdle and the culet (point), the pavilion is integral to the stone’s light reflecting properties. A properly cut pavilion will allow the maximum amount of light to reflect from the surface of the stone. An excessively deep or shallow diamond can cause light to escape out of the bottom and sides, reducing its sparkle.

Pavilion Main Facets

Diamond or kite shaped facets between the culet and the girdle.

Pear Cut

Exuding elegance, the pear shape diamond (also referred to as a drop cut or teardrop diamond) is cut to resemble a drop of water with a single point and rounded end. The result is a cross between a round and marquise cut.

Pearl

A gemstone and an organic substance. Pearls have been coveted through the ages for their beauty as symbols of wealth and status. Pearl formation process begins when a foreign body enters a mollusk (usually an oyster or mussel) and is coated with nacre as a natural defense. The natural pearl market declined after 1900, and today 99% of pearls are cultured and are grown around the world in saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels. Read more

Peridot

Gem quality olivine, of olive (yellowish green) colour. The highest quality peridot is found in Myanmar. Read more

Pigeons Blood

A term coined by the Burmese in the Bronze Age and used in the trade to describe what is considered to be the best colour ruby from the Mogok region in Burma (now Myanmar). The stone should be deep bluish-red with a velvety appearance.

Platinum

A metal prized for its rarity, whiteness, high tensile strength and insusceptibility to corrosion. It first became widely used in jewellery in the late nineteenth century, when methods were found to make it more easily workable.  It features heavily in the delicate Edwardian jewellery of the first decades of the twentieth century.

Polish

The quality of the surface condition of a gemstone, as a result of the polishing process.

Princess Cut

A square stone with 90-degree corners, the princess shape originated in the United States in 1980. The most desirable princess diamonds are perfectly square in shape, with the more rectangular variations decreasing in value.

Q

Quartz

The second most abundant mineral in the Earth. Varieties include many popular gemstones such as amethyst, citrine and rose quartz.

R

Radiant Cut

A patented diamond cut, first created in 1977. The radiant cut is often referred to as a ‘cut cornered square (or rectangular) brilliant’. The shape consists of 70 facets and is a combination of the emerald and princess cut.

Rose Gold

Pink coloured gold. The pink hue comes from the alloying metal which is copper or sometimes copper and silver.

Round Brilliant Cut

The standard modern round cut diamond, first invented in 1919. The stone has either 57 or 58 facets depending on whether it has a culet or not.

Rubover

A setting style in which the stone is set with a thin band of metal slightly covering its edges. See bezel setting.

Ruby

A red gemstone and variety of the mineral corundum.  In ancient Sanskrit ruby is known as ‘ratnaraj’ meaning ‘the king of precious stones’. Throughout the ages ruby has been regarded as the stone of royalty and the upper classes. Its red colour makes it also the stone of love and passion. The famous Black Prince Ruby was discovered to be a Red Spinel by scientists in the 19th century. Today it sits in the British Imperial Crown, next to the Cullinan II diamond. Ruby is 9 on the Mohs scale. Read more

S

Safety Chain

An extra small chain added to either side of the catch of a necklace chain or bracelet chain to give extra security.

Sapphire

A blue gemstone and variety of the mineral corundum. A sacred gemstone; Moses was supposedly given the Ten Commandments on a tablet of blue sapphire. Sapphire has since been known as a gemstone that symbolizes wisdom and truthfulness.  Sapphires from Kashmir are said to have unrivalled beauty, being a deep cobalt blue colour with a silky look. More recently sapphires have become more popular as an engagement stone following the engagement of Katherine Middleton to Prince William. Kate wears a 12 carat Ceylon sapphire as her engagement ring which was previously owned by Diana Princess of Wales. Read more

Shank

The section of the ring which fits round the finger. Also known as a band.

Silver

An element and metal with the symbol Ag. The name derives from the Greek meaning ‘grey’ or ‘shining’. Silver is a malleable metal which makes it ideal for use in jewellery.

Single Cut

Also known as an eight cut. Usually used on diamonds of melee size (usually under 0.20 carats), the diamond has either 17 or 18 facets.

Spinel

The word spinel is derived from the Italian ‘spinello’ meaning ‘joint’ or ‘spina’ meaning ‘thorn’.  This it thought to be a reference to the rough shape of the stone – which in its perfect form is a sharp-edged octahedron. The gemstone is sometimes known as ‘Balas Ruby’ and is frequently confused with the gemstone ruby. Spinel is 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. Read more

Star Facet

Triangular shaped facets with edges on the table facet and which extend to a point toward the girdle.

Starlight or Star Set

A setting where a gem is set deep in surrounding metal, which has radiating star-like rays from the gem outwards. The setting can sometimes make a gemstone look bigger than it is in the setting.

Step Cut

A diamond cut which includes emerald and asscher cuts. They have angled four-sided facets that are cut below the table and run parallel to the girdle of the stone. Their corners are generally cut.

Suite

A matching set of earrings, necklace and bracelet, often known as Parure, first introduced in the 1700s.

Symmetry

The precision and balance of corresponding parts of a finished gem, graded from fair to excellent.

Synthetic

Used in reference to a gemstone when it has been made by chemical synthesis to imitate a natural substance (such as diamond). Unlike a simulant a synthetic gemstone has essentially the same chemical physical and optic properties as the natural. The value of synthetic stones is much lower than natural stones.

T

Table Facet

The largest facet of the diamond, a table is the flat surface on the top of the stone, resembling a ‘table’.

Tanzanite

A name coined by Tiffany & Co. for one of the most beautiful stones found in recent history. Tanzanite is a violetish blue stone that was discovered in 1967 when a Masai tribesman discovered the crystal in Northern Tanzania, Eastern Africa. Read more

Tension Set

A setting whereby a gemstone is held in place by pressure rather than by other types of mounting such as prongs or bezel.

Tiffany & Co.

An American jewellery house known for producing top quality jewellery and silverware, founded in 1837 in New York. Tiffany & Co is known for its superlative craftsmanship and pioneering work in the gemology arena.

Tigers Eye

A brown variety of quartz, normally cut as a cabochon to display chatoyancy.

Topaz

A gemstone, which, in its purest form is colourless, but is normally known for being blue or yellow.  Topaz derives from the name of an island in the red sea ‘topazos’. In Sanskrit topaz also means ‘fire’. Read more

Tourmaline

The word tourmaline derives from the Sinhalese word ‘thuramali’  which means simply gemstones or pebbles.  Tourmaline is known for the dazzling array of vibrant colours in which it is available. Read more

Trade Terms

Terms used in the jewellery industry to describe particular gemstone colours or link gemstones with specific geological areas – such as ‘Burmese’ or ‘Pigeon’s Blood’.

Transitional Cut

1870s – 1940s. This is the transition between the old European and the modern brilliant cuts. The angles of these stones are more similar to the modern brilliant to other antique cuts. For example, the table facet size is increased, and culets are nearly nonexistent or ‘somewhat large’ but could not be described as ‘large’ or ‘open’.

Turquoise

First mined 5,000 years ago by Tibetans and Egyptians, turquoise’s colour can range from dull greys, to yellows, grass greens to bright sky blues. The most prized colour, a bright robins egg blue, comes from the Nishapur district of Iran. This is sometimes said to be ‘Persian Blue’. Turquoise has long been a symbol of wealth as well as being associated to meanings of purity and healing. Read more

V

Van Cleef and Arpels

A French high end/luxury jewellery house founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and brothers Julien and Charles Arpels when they opened their first store at 22 Place Vendome. Sometimes just shortened to ‘Van Cleef’ the jewellery house is famous for inventing the intricate ‘mystery setting’, which they patented in 1933. The ‘mystery setting’ is a setting where the prongs are not visible to the eye; these pieces are extremely rare. The company designed the famous tiara worn by Grace Kelly on her coronation in 1956.

Vintage

A term used to describe an item that is approximately 50-100 years old but not an antique.

W

White Gold

Gold that is silver in colour. The colour is created from yellow gold being alloyed with another silver coloured metal such as palladium or rhodium.

Z

Zircon

A gemstone largely known for its similarity with diamonds, they have been mined for over 2,000 years, first found amongst gravel in Sri Lanka. The name derives from ancient Persian ‘zargun’ which means golden-coloured. Zircon can be a multitude of autumnal colours as well as blue and colourless. Not to be confused with cubic zirconia, blue zircon was particularly popular in Victorian Britain, as it was known as a ‘stone of virtue’.

A

Alexandrite

A gemstone described as ‘an emerald by day and a ruby by night’. This gemstone has the ability to change colour from green in daylight to red in candlelight. First discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Amber

An organic gemstone created from fossilized tree resin, used in adornments since the New Stone Age.

 

Amethyst

A beautiful deep violet purple variety of the mineral quartz, and the most well known and most prized variety. In many cultures and throughout the ages, Amethyst has been said to protect the wearer from many problems such as the powers of seduction, drunkenness, locusts, aid in the winning of wars, help against insect bites and stomach acid. Most amethyst comes from Zambia.

Ametrine

A naturally occurring variety of quartz. A mixture of amethyst and citrine, ametrine has zones of purple and yellow, and sometimes tinge of orange.

Andalusite

An aluminium silicate that is named after the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. It displays different colours in different directions and features all of its colours all at once.

Antique

A collectible object, which has more value because of its age or the era it was created in. It is considered that to be ‘antique’, an item should have been made over 100 years ago.

Antiques Cushion

1830s – 1900. This is often referred to as a ‘pillow’ shape. It has a large or ‘open’ culet and is rectangular to square, with rounded corners. Like the modern emerald cut, your eyes will delve deep into an antique cushion cut stone.

Aquamarine

A bluey green transparent variety of beryl, the name is meant to suggest the colour of seawater. The gemstone aquamarine is associated with trust, harmony, friendship and good feelings in general. 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale. Aqua in ancient times was credited with aiding sleep, protecting sailors and counteracting the effects of poison.

Art Deco

This term refers to the decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s. Bold geometric shapes and opulence characterized the style of the era.

B

Baguette/Baguette Cut

The French ‘Baguette’. This is a cut shape of any gemstone which is most often a small oblong. They are similar to emerald cuts.

Band

The section of the ring which fits round the finger. Also known as a shank.

Bangle

A bracelet that is rigid and often without a clasp. Often a bangle is worn a little further up the arm as opposed to around the wrist.

Base Metal

Any non-precious metal – such as copper or zinc.

Basket Mount

Describes the area where the sides and part of the shank of the ring head are in an openwork basket shape.

Bezel

The central part of the ring that holds the gem or main ornaments.

Bezel Set

A setting where a thin band or rim of metal holds the gemstone around the girdle and the top of the gemstone sits flush. This can sometimes refer to a rub over setting.

Bombé

A term used to describe a convex shaped design usually used in cocktail rings and brooches. Sometimes spelt Bombay.

Boodle and Dunthorne

A Liverpool based jewellery house, founded in 1798. Now referred to as simply ‘Boodles’, the jewellery house is known for its principles of designing and crafting jewellery themselves and has been owned and run by the Wainwright family for over 130 years.

Boucheron

The first jeweller of the Place Vendome in Paris. Founded in 1858 by Frederic Boucheron. First opening in London in 1903, Boucheron is a jewellery house that creates some of the finest luxury and high-end jewellery creations in the world. They are particularly well known for creating the first gold and gemstone encrusted wristwatch for a man in 1900, and the Queen Mothers favourite diadem.

Bright Cut

A deep, sharply cut engraving in metal, associated with the Victorian period.

Bright Cut

A deep, sharply cut engraving in metal, associated with the Victorian period.

Brilliance

Is an essential attribute of a beautiful diamond and has 2 components; brightness and contrast. Bright diamonds return lots of light from the surroundings back to an observer. If light from above leaks out the back of a diamond, or its facets are not symmetrical or optimally shaped, naturally it has less brightness. To be brilliant, a diamond also needs to have contrast, and when it moves it should intensely sparkle. For maximum brilliance, every facet of a diamond should be professionally polished after the cutting process.

Briolette Cut

A form of rose cut (sometimes known as the double rose) with no top or base, usually used to create a teardrop shaped gemstone, whereby the gemstone is surfaced with many triangular shaped facets. This gemstone cut was very popular in the Victorian era after Napolean Bonaparte gave a 263 carat briolette diamond to his Empress consort Marie Louise.

Bulgari

Bulgari are a famous Italian jewellery house founded by Sotirio Bulgari in 1884. In 1932 his sons Giorgio and Constantino, who created the distinctive Bulgari style, succeeded the business. Bulgari is heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance combined with Greek and Roman classicism. They expanded internationally in the 1970s, first opening in New York, then on to Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. It was at this time that they began making watches. Bulgari are best known for their bold designs, with bright, high quality gemstones, geometric shapes and archaeological influence. They were one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favourite jewellers.

Burmese

A gemstone that is from Burma. Burma (now Myanmar) is a country which is known in the gemstone industry as the source of the worlds finest rubies, which have a distinctive deep bluish-red colour and velvety appearance – known in the trade as a ‘pigeons blood’ ruby. Another reason for the allure of Burmese rubies is that they emit red fluorescence in normal light, making them appear to glow from within, enhancing their colour.

C

Cabochon

A stone that has been polished into a dome shape with no facets. The cut is used primarily to create and enhance phenomenon in gems such as star sapphires.

Calibrated

Calibrated gemstones are mass-produced and come in certain ‘calibrated sizes’, for standard mass produced gemstone settings. If a gemstone does not fit a standard mount, one will need to be custom made.

Calibré

A stone specially cut to fit a particular mount, rarely used in modern jewellery due to the expense.

Carat

A weight measurement of a gemstone or gold. The term is derived from the ancient used of carob seeds to balance scales when selling amounts of gold or gemstones. The term is often shortened to ‘ct’.

For diamonds and gemstones, one carat is equal to 0.2g. Read more about The Four C’s.

For gold, the carat is expressed as a part of 24, 24 carat being pure gold. For example, 9 carat gold is 9 parts pure gold and 15 parts alloying metal such as copper.

Cartier

A renowned French jewellery house founded in 1847 by the jeweller Louis-Francois Cartier. The maison Cartier created the first practical wristwatch, ‘Santos’ in 1904. They have a long history of creating special pieces for royalty and celebrities all over the world, so much so that The Prince of Wales, the Future King Edward 7th declared Cartier the ‘jeweller to kings, king of jewelers.’

Ceylon

Used in the trade (though decreasingly) in relation to gemstones when describing the origin of sapphires from Sri Lanka.

Channel Set

A method of setting whereby stones are set and secured between two ‘channels’ of metal side by side in a row.

Chatoyancy

A phenomenon in a gemstone known as ‘Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl.’ This is created from a number of similarly aligned inclusions in a stone that when cut in a cabochon creates a defined streak of light across the surface. Read more

Chenier

A decorative enhancement to a ring, in the shaped of a metal tube that was usually added under the shoulders of the ring – particularly used in antique pieces.

Citrine

A pale yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, rare in nature. Its colour is sometimes confused with topaz. It is an attractive alternative not only for topaz but for yellow sapphire. Read more

Clarity

A term used to describe the severity of the internal and external inclusions in a gemstone. See The Four C’s for further information.

Claw Set

A method of setting whereby stones are set and secured between a number of ‘claws’, usually four, six or eight. The method of setting was popularised by Tiffany & Co. in the late 1880s, and allows more light to pass through a gemstone than other settings. Sometimes referred to as prong set.

Cleavage

This is a plane in gemstone along which a clean break may occur. The term ‘feather’ is often used to describe an inclusion in a diamond which is a small break along such a plane.

Closed Back

A method of setting whereby the back (or bottom) of the stone is enclosed.

Collet Set

A method of setting gemstones whereby stones are set and secured by a band of metal that goes all the way around the girdle of the gemstone.

Colour

The diamond colour grading scale ranges from D to Z. See The Four C’s for more information.

Colour Zoning

Areas of different colour in a gem caused by variations in grown conditions. Examples are a bi-colour or watermelon tourmaline, or ametrine (a type of quartz).

Comfort Fit

The name for a band that is slightly curved on the inside to provide extra comfort against the finger.

Crossover Ring

A term to describe any style of ring where the shank either splits and crosses over each other, or where the two ends of the shank bear away from each other and lay side by side. Crossover rings are usually diamond set. See a selection of our crossover rings.

Crown

The top part of a gemstone above the girdle.

Culet

The smallest facet of a diamond, the culet is located at the very bottom of the stone. If the diamond ends in a point, the diamond grading report will show a value of ‘None’ for the culet designation. This small facet was originally intended to protect the diamond’s pavilion, although today’s settings are usually strong enough to render it unnecessary.

Curb Chain

A type of chain created from connected flat oval shaped links.

Cushion Cut

First introduced to the jewellery market in the early 1800’s, the cushion cut diamond is rich with diamond history. Cut into a square or rectangular shape with rounded corners and sides, it’s considered by many to be a more vintage version of the round cut diamond.

Cut

One of the most defining characteristics of a diamond is its cut. While high grades of color, clarity, and carat weight affect a diamond, it’s the cut that determines the symmetry of the stone’s facets, its overall proportions, and its ability to reflect light. An expertly cut diamond will achieve high levels of brilliance, sparkle, and durability. For more information and cut types, see The Four C’s.

D

David Morris

Known as ‘The London Jeweller’. David Morris is a jewellery design house and brand established in 1962 by jeweller David Morris, now run by Jeremy Morris. The design house places emphasis on the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. Royalty and celebrities all over the world have worn designs by David Morris, including a famous heart shaped diamond necklace bought for Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton for Valentines Day in 1965.

Demantoid

A variety of andradite garnet. Demantoid garnet is green in colour and is a very rare and beautiful gem. Demantoid garnets have a long association with Russia and the Russian royal family, appearing in many commissioned pieces created by Carl Faberge. Demantoid garnets also often have interesting inclusions known as horsetails, which often radiate outward from a central point. Horsetail inclusions are not found in any other gemstones.

Designer Cut

A unique gem cut that isn’t limited by specific proportions or shapes.

Diamond

Derived from the Greek meaning ‘unbreakable’, diamond is a mineral, considered to be the most beautiful and rare of all gemstones. Diamond has been associated with love for centuries.

99.95% of a diamond is created from a single element – crystalized carbon that is formed at high temperature and pressure around 100 miles beneath the surface of the Earth, over billions of years. As a result of a diamond’s unique chemical structure, the gemstone has incredible durability, rating 10 on the Mohs scale. When cut, a diamond shows exceptional levels of brilliance and fire, which makes it sparkle and in turn be valued as the most precious and desired of all gemstones. Read more

E

Edwardian

The period during the rule of Edward VII, between 1903 and 1910.

Emerald

Named so from the Greek ‘green stone’, emerald is coloured by the trace elements chromium or, less often, vanadium. Emeralds have been mined in Egypt since the 4th century BC. Emerald is a stone that is said to open the heart chakra and symbolize ‘successful love’. It is green variety of the Beryl family, a species that also includes aquamarine, morganite and red beryl. The most desirable emeralds are mined in Muzo, Colombia, though emeralds are also being mined in other areas of South America, Central and Eastern Africa, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Read more

Emerald Cut

A rectangular cut with rectangular facets arranged parallel to the girdle and usually with 45 degree corner angles. This type of cut is more transparent than other shapes, often requiring higher standards of clarity.

En Tremblant

A French term used to describe jewellery that has been set in such a way that it trembles when touched. This is mostly seen in 18th and 19th century jewellery. The movement is particularly effective in diamond set jewels as they shimmer beautifully when trembled.

Enamel

A pigment of a vitreous nature composed usually of powdered pot ash or silica, bound with oil coloured glass as a surface decoration, fired at a very low temperature.

Engine Turned

A fine geometric pattern engraved onto metal by a machine.

Engraving

The practice of incising a design or inscription on a hard surface of metal, created by cutting grooves into it, by hand or machine. Engraving was very popular during the Victorian era to create a scrolled pattern on the gallery or shoulders of a ring.

Eye-Clean

A description for a gem with no visible inclusions to the naked eye (mostly a trade term).

F

Facet

One side or flat surface or plane of a cut gem. A facet can be any shape, but usually some kind of triangle or kite shape.

Faceting

The art of cutting and polishing the surfaces/planes of a cut gem. A modern brilliant diamond usually has 57 or 58 facets.

Fancy

Naturally coloured diamonds that fall outside the normal colourless range are called fancy diamonds. They are either yellow or brown diamonds that have more colour than a Z grade, or are a colour other than yellow or brown. Fancy diamonds can be pink, red, blue, orange, green, purple, yellow and brown. See The Four C’s.

Filigree

Delicate ornamental work created from a thin wire of metal and fashioned into an ornate or fanciful design.

Fluorescence

The natural visible emission of light/glow (usually blue/yellow) when a gemstone is subject to UV light. A 1997 survey by GIA concluded that fluorescence does not negatively impact the face up appearance of a diamond.

Flush

A term used when two materials are sat next to each other at the same level, for example when a wedding band sits right next to an engagement ring it is said to sit ‘flush’. A flush setting is used to describe when the table (top) facet of a gemstone sits in line with the bezel (surrounding metal) setting.

Foil Backed

Used to describe a stone when a piece of foil (often coloured) has been set behind the stone. This was popular in Georgian era, particularly with aquamarine pieces.

G

Garnet

A species of gemstones, traditionally known for being red. Red garnets adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs and used in signet rings in ancient Rome but come in a variety of greens, yellows, browns and pink. Read more

Gilt/Gilded

When an item of jewellery has been dipped in gold, to created a thing layer on the surface.

Girdle

The middle and widest part of a gemstone, forming the outer edge – separating the crown and the pavilion. The girdle can be polished or faceted. The girdle is often where grading laboratories engrave the report number on a diamond.

Gold

A chemical element with the symbol Au. Gold is a yellow, malleable metal which makes it perfect for use in jewellery making.

Goldsmith

A person who creates gold articles, namely jewellery. The term is often used to describe a jeweller.

Gubelin

Widely known as a world-renowned and highly esteemed independent gemological laboratory, Gubelin has also been a Swiss jewellery and watch design house since the mid 1800s.

H

Hallmark

A mark or a series of marks stamped on precious metal such as gold, platinum or palladium. The hallmark often denoted the place the item was made, the fineness of the metal and the year in which the item was hallmarked/made.

Heart Cut

Living up to its name, the heart cut diamond has become synonymous with love and affection, making it an excellent choice for an anniversary or engagement ring. One of the most demanding diamond cuts to create, a heart shaped stone requires great skill and dexterity from the diamond cutter.

Heat Treated

A term used to describe a gemstone that has been enhanced by treatment under high temperatures which can alter colours or inclusions.

I

Illusion

A setting whereby metal surrounds the stone, in a design and such a way that makes the stone look bigger than it actually is.

Inclusion

An internal clarity characteristic of a gemstone. See The Four C’s for further information.

Iridium

A chemical element with the symbol Ir. Iridium is a brittle metal and part of the platinum family. Iridium is often alloyed with platinum to make the metal harder – a practice often used in American jewellery in the early 1900s.

J

Jade

A term referring to two different gemstones that have been mined for over 3,000 years – jadeite and nephrite. In its purest form, Jadeite is white, but is most commonly shades of green and often is shades of lilac, orange, red and black. Jadeite is known as the ‘stone of heaven’ in China as it is said to symbolize the five virtues of humanity: wisdom, compassion, justice, modesty and courage.

Jet

A black coloured gemstone from Whitby in England. Popularised in the Victorian era.

Jewellery

A personal ornament such as a necklace, ring or bracelet, usually made from precious metals and gemstones.

K

Kashmir

A region in India that is known as a source for the top quality sapphires, which were only mined between 1881 and 1887. Sapphires from this region are exemplary due to the deep cobalt blue colour and silky appearance. A sapphire from this region is very rare and demands top prices.

Knife-Edge

A style of shank, popularized by Tiffany & Co. which comes to a point in the middle.

Kunzite

A variety of the mineral species spodumene. Kunzite was first discovered in 1902 and named after the pioneering mineralogist George Frederick Kunz. Kunzite is largely a collectors stone and has a subtle pink and violet hue, to intense pink colour. Kunzite is mainly mined in Afghanistan. Brazil, Madagascar and California. Read more

L

Labradorite

A gemstone named after its place of discovery – Labrador, Canada. It displays a phenomenon known as ‘labradorescence’, an iridescent play of colour.

Lapis Lazuli

A deep midnight blue opaque gemstone, often speckled with golden and white flecks.

Lower Girdle Facets

Facets that extend from the girdle edge toward the culet. Sometimes known as ‘lower halves’ in the trade.

M

Mabe Pearl

Assembled cultured pearls.

Maker’s Mark

The initials or stamp of the maker engraved or stamped on a piece of jewellery.

Malachite

The stone’s name derives from the Greek molochitis lithos meaning ‘mallow-gree stone’, given it’s name due tot the resemblance to the leaves of the mallow plant. It is estimated that malachite had been mined since at least 8000BC and is used as a pigment for green paint as well as in cosmetics.

Mappin & Webb

A famous English silversmith company founded by Jonathan Mappin in 1810.

Marquise

The shape of a cut gemstone or the shape of a design of a ring or other piece of jewellery, credited to King Louis XV of France. The marquise shape is distinctive due to its oval shape, with pointed ends.

Melee

An assortment of small diamonds, usually under 0.20 carats.

Metric Carat

The international unit of measurement for gem weight, see ‘carat’.

Millegrain

A granular relief pattern design on metal, produced using a chisel. The effect produces slightly raised bumps and was often used in antique pieces through to the late Art Deco era.

Mixed Cut

A cutting style that combines brilliant-cut and step-cut facets.

Modern Round Brilliant Cut

In the early 1900s, diamond cutters began to experiment with new techniques. A breakthrough came in 1919 with the introduction of the round brilliant cut. Due to its ability to maximize fire and brilliance, the round brilliant cut has become the standard and most popular way to cut diamonds. Like the old European cut, a round brilliant cut diamond has a circular girdle and 58 facets. However, the round brilliant cut lacks a culet. The round brilliant cut became prevalent during the Art Deco and Retro periods. See The Four C’s for more information.

Mohs Scale

A ‘scale’ with which to compare the hardness of a given gemstone, developed by the mineralogist Freidrich Mohs. Gemstones are ranked from numbers 1-10 with 1 being the softest and 10 the hardest. The scale goes up exponentially.

Moonstone

Part of the Feldspar group – the most abundant minerals found in the Earth.
In the worlds first encyclopedia, written between 20-79 AD by Pliny the Elder, moonstone is referred to as ‘astrions’ meaning ‘star stone’- named so as it possesses a silvery blue or white iridescent sheen. This sheen is called ‘adularescence’ by gemmologists. Moonstone was used extensively during the Art Nouveau era.
Read more

Morganite

A pink coloured variety of the mineral species beryl, alongside emerald and aquamarine. A relatively new gem on the market, most notably promoted by Tiffany & Co in the last century. Read more

Muzo

An area in Colombia that is known as the source of the finest emeralds in the world which possess a deep bluish green colour.

N

Nacre

A layer of calcium carbonate, which produces the iridescent effect on a pearl.

Natural

A term used to describe a gemstone that has not been subject to any treatment, such as heat treatment.

O

Old Cut

A term used to describe the cut of a stone, usually cut prior to 1910. They are characterized by having small tables, large culets and rounded outline with a high crown. They were cut so to produce optimal levels of fire, seen best in candlelight.

Old European

1700s – 1900. These stones are largely round in shape, have circular girdles, small tables, a heavy (or tall) crown and great overall depth.

Old Mine

1830s – 1900. These have more of a square or cushion shape in comparison to the Old European. It was an early version of the modern brilliant cut. They have a high crown, small table and large ‘open’ culet. The old mine cut was originally developed to sparkle its best in incandescent or candle light; the perfect evening accessory.

Onyx

A black gemstone that occasionally has bands of white running through it. A variety of the chalcedony species of gemstone. Read more

Opal

A gemstone, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit ‘upala’ meaning ‘precious stone’. Opals can be plain in colour (common opal) or can display a phenomenon known as ‘play of colour’, whereby the gemstone shows flashes of colour, which appear and disappear when the stone is moved (precious opal). Read more

Oval Cut

Cut with the same number of facets as a round diamond, an oval shape emits nearly the same level of brilliance and fire. Due to its elongated shape, the oval cut can appear larger than a round diamond of equal carat (weight).

P

Padparascha

A term derived from the Singhalese for ‘Lotus flower’ and refers to a sapphire that has a distinct mix of pink/orange – a kind of sunset orange/pink or salmony colour.

Palladium

A chemical element and metal with the symbol Pd. First discovered in 1803, palladium is a rare silvery white metal.

Parure

Paste

A term for glass when it has been moulded to resemble a gemstone, normally diamond.

Pavé

When the surface of piece is covered with stones held in their pattern position by small claws.

Pavilion

The lower part of a faceted gem below the girdle. Located between the girdle and the culet (point), the pavilion is integral to the stone’s light reflecting properties. A properly cut pavilion will allow the maximum amount of light to reflect from the surface of the stone. An excessively deep or shallow diamond can cause light to escape out of the bottom and sides, reducing its sparkle.

Pavilion Main Facets

Diamond or kite shaped facets between the culet and the girdle.

Pear Cut

Exuding elegance, the pear shape diamond (also referred to as a drop cut or teardrop diamond) is cut to resemble a drop of water with a single point and rounded end. The result is a cross between a round and marquise cut.

Pearl

A gemstone and an organic substance. Pearls have been coveted through the ages for their beauty as symbols of wealth and status. Pearl formation process begins when a foreign body enters a mollusk (usually an oyster or mussel) and is coated with nacre as a natural defense. The natural pearl market declined after 1900, and today 99% of pearls are cultured and are grown around the world in saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels. Read more

Peridot

Gem quality olivine, of olive (yellowish green) colour. The highest quality peridot is found in Myanmar. Read more

Pigeons Blood

A term coined by the Burmese in the Bronze Age and used in the trade to describe what is considered to be the best colour ruby from the Mogok region in Burma (now Myanmar). The stone should be deep bluish-red with a velvety appearance.

Platinum

A metal prized for its rarity, whiteness, high tensile strength and insusceptibility to corrosion. It first became widely used in jewellery in the late nineteenth century, when methods were found to make it more easily workable.  It features heavily in the delicate Edwardian jewellery of the first decades of the twentieth century.

Polish

The quality of the surface condition of a gemstone, as a result of the polishing process.

Princess Cut

A square stone with 90-degree corners, the princess shape originated in the United States in 1980. The most desirable princess diamonds are perfectly square in shape, with the more rectangular variations decreasing in value.

Q

Quartz

The second most abundant mineral in the Earth. Varieties include many popular gemstones such as amethyst, citrine and rose quartz.

R

Radiant Cut

A patented diamond cut, first created in 1977. The radiant cut is often referred to as a ‘cut cornered square (or rectangular) brilliant’. The shape consists of 70 facets and is a combination of the emerald and princess cut.

Rose Gold

Pink coloured gold. The pink hue comes from the alloying metal which is copper or sometimes copper and silver.

Round Brilliant Cut

The standard modern round cut diamond, first invented in 1919. The stone has either 57 or 58 facets depending on whether it has a culet or not.

Rubover

A setting style in which the stone is set with a thin band of metal slightly covering its edges. See bezel setting.

Ruby

A red gemstone and variety of the mineral corundum.  In ancient Sanskrit ruby is known as ‘ratnaraj’ meaning ‘the king of precious stones’. Throughout the ages ruby has been regarded as the stone of royalty and the upper classes. Its red colour makes it also the stone of love and passion. The famous Black Prince Ruby was discovered to be a Red Spinel by scientists in the 19th century. Today it sits in the British Imperial Crown, next to the Cullinan II diamond. Ruby is 9 on the Mohs scale. Read more

S

Safety Chain

An extra small chain added to either side of the catch of a necklace chain or bracelet chain to give extra security.

Sapphire

A blue gemstone and variety of the mineral corundum. A sacred gemstone; Moses was supposedly given the Ten Commandments on a tablet of blue sapphire. Sapphire has since been known as a gemstone that symbolizes wisdom and truthfulness.  Sapphires from Kashmir are said to have unrivalled beauty, being a deep cobalt blue colour with a silky look. More recently sapphires have become more popular as an engagement stone following the engagement of Katherine Middleton to Prince William. Kate wears a 12 carat Ceylon sapphire as her engagement ring which was previously owned by Diana Princess of Wales. Read more

Shank

The section of the ring which fits round the finger. Also known as a band.

Silver

An element and metal with the symbol Ag. The name derives from the Greek meaning ‘grey’ or ‘shining’. Silver is a malleable metal which makes it ideal for use in jewellery.

Single Cut

Also known as an eight cut. Usually used on diamonds of melee size (usually under 0.20 carats), the diamond has either 17 or 18 facets.

Spinel

The word spinel is derived from the Italian ‘spinello’ meaning ‘joint’ or ‘spina’ meaning ‘thorn’.  This it thought to be a reference to the rough shape of the stone – which in its perfect form is a sharp-edged octahedron. The gemstone is sometimes known as ‘Balas Ruby’ and is frequently confused with the gemstone ruby. Spinel is 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. Read more

Star Facet

Triangular shaped facets with edges on the table facet and which extend to a point toward the girdle.

Starlight or Star Set

A setting where a gem is set deep in surrounding metal, which has radiating star-like rays from the gem outwards. The setting can sometimes make a gemstone look bigger than it is in the setting.

Step Cut

A diamond cut which includes emerald and asscher cuts. They have angled four-sided facets that are cut below the table and run parallel to the girdle of the stone. Their corners are generally cut.

Suite

A matching set of earrings, necklace and bracelet, often known as Parure, first introduced in the 1700s.

Symmetry

The precision and balance of corresponding parts of a finished gem, graded from fair to excellent.

Synthetic

Used in reference to a gemstone when it has been made by chemical synthesis to imitate a natural substance (such as diamond). Unlike a simulant a synthetic gemstone has essentially the same chemical physical and optic properties as the natural. The value of synthetic stones is much lower than natural stones.

T

Table Facet

The largest facet of the diamond, a table is the flat surface on the top of the stone, resembling a ‘table’.

Tanzanite

A name coined by Tiffany & Co. for one of the most beautiful stones found in recent history. Tanzanite is a violetish blue stone that was discovered in 1967 when a Masai tribesman discovered the crystal in Northern Tanzania, Eastern Africa. Read more

Tension Set

A setting whereby a gemstone is held in place by pressure rather than by other types of mounting such as prongs or bezel.

Tiffany & Co.

An American jewellery house known for producing top quality jewellery and silverware, founded in 1837 in New York. Tiffany & Co is known for its superlative craftsmanship and pioneering work in the gemology arena.

Tigers Eye

A brown variety of quartz, normally cut as a cabochon to display chatoyancy.

Topaz

A gemstone, which, in its purest form is colourless, but is normally known for being blue or yellow.  Topaz derives from the name of an island in the red sea ‘topazos’. In Sanskrit topaz also means ‘fire’. Read more

Tourmaline

The word tourmaline derives from the Sinhalese word ‘thuramali’  which means simply gemstones or pebbles.  Tourmaline is known for the dazzling array of vibrant colours in which it is available. Read more

Trade Terms

Terms used in the jewellery industry to describe particular gemstone colours or link gemstones with specific geological areas – such as ‘Burmese’ or ‘Pigeon’s Blood’.

Transitional Cut

1870s – 1940s. This is the transition between the old European and the modern brilliant cuts. The angles of these stones are more similar to the modern brilliant to other antique cuts. For example, the table facet size is increased, and culets are nearly nonexistent or ‘somewhat large’ but could not be described as ‘large’ or ‘open’.

Turquoise

First mined 5,000 years ago by Tibetans and Egyptians, turquoise’s colour can range from dull greys, to yellows, grass greens to bright sky blues. The most prized colour, a bright robins egg blue, comes from the Nishapur district of Iran. This is sometimes said to be ‘Persian Blue’. Turquoise has long been a symbol of wealth as well as being associated to meanings of purity and healing. Read more

V

Van Cleef and Arpels

A French high end/luxury jewellery house founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and brothers Julien and Charles Arpels when they opened their first store at 22 Place Vendome. Sometimes just shortened to ‘Van Cleef’ the jewellery house is famous for inventing the intricate ‘mystery setting’, which they patented in 1933. The ‘mystery setting’ is a setting where the prongs are not visible to the eye; these pieces are extremely rare. The company designed the famous tiara worn by Grace Kelly on her coronation in 1956.

Vintage

A term used to describe an item that is approximately 50-100 years old but not an antique.

W

White Gold

Gold that is silver in colour. The colour is created from yellow gold being alloyed with another silver coloured metal such as palladium or rhodium.

Z

Zircon

A gemstone largely known for its similarity with diamonds, they have been mined for over 2,000 years, first found amongst gravel in Sri Lanka. The name derives from ancient Persian ‘zargun’ which means golden-coloured. Zircon can be a multitude of autumnal colours as well as blue and colourless. Not to be confused with cubic zirconia, blue zircon was particularly popular in Victorian Britain, as it was known as a ‘stone of virtue’.

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