Jewellery Jargon

ALLOYS OF PRECIOUS METALS

Alloy 

A mixture of different metals together

Carat - Unlike diamonds & gemstones, where carat refers to the size of the stone, in precious metal terms Carat relates directly to the purity of a metal, relative to that in its natural state. For example, Gold in it's purest state as found from the earth is 24ct, whereas 9ct Gold features far less Gold content and more alloys mixed. 

Copper- A natural precious metal mined from the earth, with an overall lower market than the well known others, such as those listed below. Dark Reddish in appearance, frequently added to jewellery to increase robustness and provide strength, is said to have some healing properties when worn as jewellery in it's pure form such as in bangles. Copper is prone to oxidisation which can occur when certain acidic liquids (natural or unnatural), moisture or sulphur comes into contact with it, resulting in a green colour.  Clear effects can be seen underneath copper bangles worn for a period of time.

Gold - A natural precious metallic element mined and resourced from the earth. In it's purest form as found from the earth it is yellow in appearance.  In jewellery includes varieties such as: Rose Gold, Yellow Gold White Gold.

Rose Gold - Once Copper is mixed with Gold in a higher percentage this changes the natural yellow colour of gold (whilst retaining a significant percentage of actual gold content) into a red or rosey metallic appearence.

Yellow Gold - Gold is a bright yellow apperance in its natural state. An item described as 99.9% gold purity this the same as 24ct gold or fine Gold. Gold as a commodity in bullion bars and coins is 24ct Yellow Gold. Yellow Gold is available to buy in different Carats, commonly 24ct, 22ct, 18ct, 14ct (more in the U.S. than the UK), 9ct. As the carat reduces, so does the brightness of the Yellow in the Gold, and the value. This is because with each carat that is less, more alloys are added for several purposes. This effectively waters down the colour and content of the Gold. Some reasons are owing to 24ct being a soft metal to work with and adding alloys makes it easier to work with. Another is for reasons of affordability, as gold has for millenia been seen as a symbol of status it is still fashionable to wear as jewellery.

White Gold - Different precious metals are mixed with Gold in a higher percentage this changes the natural yellow colour of gold (whilst retaining a significant percentage of actual gold content) into this white silvery metallic appearence

Platinum

Rhodium A reflective highly durable, robust metal, silvery white in appearance. Often used as plating upon Jewellery instead being as jewellery itself. Commonly, plated ontop of Sterling Silver Jewellery for the purposes of maintaing colour and reducing tarnish, but leaves a darker finish when used.

Silver A reflective bright metal derived from the earth. Often found alongside gold in the earth when mined. An affordable precious metal compared with gold, and used in jewellery and kitchenware. Very soft in it's purest form to crafting into ornaments, kitchenware and jewellery, and so added with an alloy to enhance strength and withstand robust manufacturing processes. Pure silver will never be prone to tarnish, unlike sterling silver but on its own is too soft to craft into jewellery in a cost effective method, and is often avoided. Can be crafted by hand as jewellery but requires much effort and patience.

Sterling Silver A term coined by the British, for articles which specifically have a ratio of 92.5% pure silver content and 7.5% alloys of other combined within it. Commonly, other alloys include copper and zinc amongst others. Owing to copper, may tarnish over a period over time if not properly maintained

 

HALLMARKING

Assay

Assay Office Mark

Commemorative Marks

Date Letter

Millesimal Fineness Mark

Sponsor’s Mark

Traditional Fineness Mark

 

CHAIN LINK STYLES: Below are the names of chain link styles, some with historic naming others with more modern descriptive names. More about Chain link style are covered in depth in our dedicated Chain Style Guide page

Anchor / Cable / Forzatina / Trace

Ball / Bead

Belcher / Rolo

Box / Venetian

Byzantine

Curb

Foxtail

Figaro

Herringbone

Loose Rope / Prince of Wales

Marina / Mariner

Omega

Popcorn / Coreana

Real Snake

Rope

Singapore

Spiga / Wheat

 

FASTENINGS & FINDINGS

Bail - A supporting section of a pendant or charm that allows for a chain or other type of necklace to pass through and make the pendant wearable around one's neck

Bolt Ring Clasp - A round shaped clasp with one closure through which the opposite end of chain or bracelet can be hooked onto. Operated manually by pulling the trigger with the tip of one's fingers.

Clasp - A clasp connects to each end of a chain or bracelet

End Cap - With jewellery chain being manufactured in a continuous role of chain pattern, once the chain is cut to a certain length, it requires some attachment, or cap on the end. This cap will allow a clasp attached one one end and on the other end the clasp can hook onto the other cap. Round edged in touch and appearance, encaspsulating the link neatly without exposing the chain.

Flat Cap - Like pincers, a flat cap bites onto the chain links and solder is then applied.

Hook Clasp

Jump Ring

Lobster Clasp

Padlock Clasp

Split Ring

 

TYPES OF CHAIN LENGTH

Collar Length

Choker Length

Princess Length

Matinee Length

Opera Length

Rope Length

 

OTHER TERMS

Anti-Tarnish - A coated layer on top of Sterling Silver. Used to prolong the lifetime of silvery shine and lustre of the silver. Effectiveness of anti-tarnish dependent upon use and care of wearer.

Diamond Cut - Neatly slicing the surface of a link with a diamond tipped tool, resulting in a precisely small flat surface allowing for a clean enhanced reflection and added sparkle.

GaugeA unit of measurement of wire, determining its thickness. The higher the gauge, the thicker the wire. For certain styles of chain like the curb chain, this wire is then twisted and bend to create the shape. Gauge isn't the same as link width which is a measurement that is taken after the chain is finished

Finish

- Types of manufacturing processes added after the main processes are completed. Provide an enhancement to the finished article to add effect. Types include: Diamond Cutting, Milling, Artistic Engraving, High Polishing, Plating.

Micron - Also known as Micrometer, is a unit of measure to understand the thickness or depth of plating to an article of jewellery. 1 micron is equal to 0.001 millimetres which is the same as there being 1000 microns in 1 millimetre.

Plating

- A process by which a layer of precious metal in a small quantity is added upon the surface of another precious metal. Plating is usually measured in microns and forms a barrier between the surface of the metal that the jewellery is made from and the air or external environment. The purpose of plating is to either to enhance the appearance or act as a protective barrier to the jewellery. Examples include 9ct Gold plating upon Sterling Silver or Rhodium Plating upon Sterling Silver.  

Polish - The method by which a jeweller uses to restore or enhance the reflective properties of a metal. 

Solder - Formed by applying heat to a small metal piece and placing upon another metal piece while in a hot liquid form. Quickly cools and acts as an adhesive between two pieces of metal. Usually the type of metal used as the solder is the same that on which it is being soldered.

Tarnish / Patina - Darkening of a precious metal, usually occuring over time or exposure to other elements that cause oxidisation. Not permenant and can be removed with various clearning agents but prevented by regular care and maintence.

Weight - The heaviness or lightness of an object. Usually quantified in grams in jewellery or kilograms within the EU, whilst in larger amounts quantified as ounces in USA.

Wire - Metal that has been shaped into a long string of varying thickness, used to create types of jewellery. In modern chain manufacturing wires are passed through an automated machine, after which the machine twists and shapes each link to an exact dimension and solders each link together at regular intervals to create a chain.