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Glossary of Jewelry Terms

A widely used foliate motif based on the acanthus plant whose leaves are similar to those of parsley and poppies.
 aesthetic movement
Originating in England, the Aesthetic movement was collaboration of new ideas and influences that affected all facets of the decorative arts. There was an enthusiasm for craftsmanship, and natural materials as well as a passion for ornament and eclecticism. With an increase in trade and travel there was a growing interest in a variety of exotic styles from the Far East and Japan resulting in use of new materials and colors. Figures like Christopher Dresser, an English botanist, were fascinated with the natural world and promoted a new synthesis of Western and Eastern ideals. Although the Aesthetic Movement evolved into two significant styles, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts, the ideals continued into to the early twentieth century.
A type of multi-colored quartz or silicon dioxide.
A type of hair accessory that was either feather shaped or had a hair fastener from which a bird’s feather could be attached. A spring was often included in the device so that the feather moved with the wearer.
A photographic technique developed in the 1850s that consists of a negative on glass with the reverse of the glass painted or lacquered black to make the image look positive.
A transparent quartz that ranges in a variety of purple hues.
 amphora drops
A decorative gold element in a form inspired by a classical oval Greek vessel, featuring two-handles and tapering to a point at the base. Amphorae were used chiefly to hold oil, wine, or other liquids.
This style stemmed from the growing fascination late nineteenth century Europe developed for the Far East. Japanese decoration was applied to recognizable European forms and English designers created decorative objects inspired by Japanese principles of design.
A stylized classical motif based on the honeysuckle leaf and flower. Its similarity with the palmette has allowed for the two terms to be used interchangeably.
A heavy iron block with a smooth face upon which metals, usually heated until soft, are hammered into desired shapes.
Scrolling interlacing foliage often combined with drapery, medallions, festoons and urns, creating a vertical form.
 art nouveau
This style is based on stylized sweeping curves derived from organic and naturalistic forms. Designers of this period were often inspired by the asymmetry of Japanese design, the curves and scrolls of Rococo and the rigid line of the Arts and Crafts.
 artois buckles
Oversized shoe buckles popular in the 1770s and 1780s named after the Comte d’Artois. These buckles were worn by both men and women and came in variety of decoration ranging from plain metal to pastes and diamonds.
 arts and crafts
The primary principle of the Arts and Crafts style was to reinstate the integrity of materials and revive medieval standards of craftsmanship. The result was an emphasis in form versus ornament.
 austrian crystal
A type of colorless glass which resembles rock crystal and contains between 10% and 24% lead oxide. Crystal glass can be colored by adding various metallic oxides to the melt and is used extensively in costume jewelry for beads and stones. In 1892, Daniel Swarovski patented the first machine to cut crystal, allowing the process to become faster and more precise.
 baby armlet
A fastening device used to gather the sleeves of a baby’s dress.
Trade name of a dense synthetic resin made from carbolic acid and formaldehyde, patented between 1907 and 1909 by Leo H. Baekeland. Also known as catalin, bakelite can be molded, extruded, or carved, which made it popular for a variety of uses during the 1930s and 40s, including jewelry, kitchenware, and toys. As a thermostat plastic, bakelite will not melt when exposed to heat.
 base metal
The metal used as the mount or the setting in a piece of jewelry.
 bead & reel
Moulding of small, cylindrical shapes, called reels, alternating with bead shapes. A common neoclassical ornament.
 Berlin iron
Cast iron jewelry usually in openwork designs and lacquered black. This jewelry is named after Berlin, Germany, where the technique was believed to have originated in the early nineteenth century.
The metal ring around a stone or object in a piece of jewelry, which holds it into the setting.
A dark brown fossilized oak commonly found in peat bogs in Ireland.
A bunch of flowers gathered in a bow knot, urn, or vase.
The brightness of the light that is refracted from a faceted transparent gemstone. When less light escapes through the bottom of the stone and refracts back through the crown, or top, the greater the brilliance.
 brilliant cut
A circular cut of gemstone that uses facets to minimize the amount of light that escapes through the bottom of the stone therefore increasing the brilliancy of the stone.
An ancient jewelry form consisting of a hollow ornament or amulet usually worn around neck.
A tool, usually with a smooth, slightly convex head, used for polishing.
A smooth highly polished round cut stone without any facets.
A technique in which an image is carved in relief out of a material (usually shell or stone) with multicolored layers.
Decoration on jewelry consisting of thin gold, silver or metal wires twisted in rosette and scroll patterns.
Glossary of Jewelry Terms