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All About Jewels:
Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.

B

BAFFA DIAMOND

Baffa diamond is actually rock crystal and not a real diamond.


BAGUETTE

A baguette cut is a stone (usually a diamond) that has been cut into a long, rectangular shape. Baguette means "stick" or "rod" in French.

BAIL

A bail is a triangular finding that attaches a pendant to a necklace.


BAKELITE

Bakelite (also called catalin) is a dense, synthetic resin that was used to make jewelry, game pieces, and many other things. Bakelite was patented by L.H. Baekeland in 1907. Bakelite plastic is made from carbolic acid and formaldehyde. Bakelite pieces are molded, extruded, or carved. When one Bakelite color is inlaid into another, interesting designs like polka dots can be made. Bakelite was first used to imitate amber. The bangle above is "butterscotch" bakelite.

BAND

A band is a ring that is made from a thin, flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated. Wedding rings are often bands.


BANDED AGATE

Banded agate is a type of agate with distinct layers of color.
Haskell bangle

BANGLE

A bangle is a stiff bracelet. Some bangles have a hinge (like the Miriam Haskell bangle pictured above); others are solid and must be slipped over the hand.


BAR AND RING CLASP

A bar and ring clasp (also called a toggle clasp) is a jewelry fastener in which a bar can be inserted into a ring to fasten a piece of jewelry. It is used to attach the two ends of a necklace or bracelet.

BARCLAY

Barclay was a Providence, Rhode Island costume jewelry company that sold many of its pieces through Marshall Field Department store. It began production in May, 1948. One hallmark is an artist's palette, reading, "Barclay Art in Jewelry." Barclay is NOT the same as McClelland Barclay.

BARODA GEM

'Baroda Gem' is a trade name for a colorless glass stone with a foil back.

BAROQUE

Baroque is a term that refers to irregularly-shaped stones or pearls.

BAROQUE PEARLS

Baroque pearls are irregularly-shaped pearls. Baroque pearls can be natural or artificial.


BAR PIN

A bar pin (also called a bar brooch) is a long pin that is worn horizontally.


BARREL CLASP

A barrel clasp is a jewelry fastener that resembles a barrel. The two pieces of this clasp screw together. It is used to attach two other rings or links of a necklace or bracelet.

BARRETTE

A barrette is an ornament worn clipped into the hair.

BASE METAL

Base metal refers to non-precious metals. Base metals include copper, zinc, tin, and lead.

BASSE-TAILLE

Basse-taille (meaning "low cutting" in French) is an enameling technique in which the underlying metal (usually gold or silver) is carved in low relief (the metal's surface is cut away by engraving or chasing, producing a sculpted surface). The highest point of the relief carving is below the surface of the surrounding metal. Translucent enamels are applied over the carved metal, allowing the design to remain visible through the enamel. The hue of the enamel changes with the depth of the glaze, resulting in subtle variations in color over the high and low design elements.

BATON

A baton is a stone that is cut in a long, thin rectangular shape. A baton is larger than a baguette.

BAYADÈRE

A bayadère is a pearl necklace that has many strands of pearls twisted together.

B. DAVID

B. David is a mark used by the B. David jewelry company. This Cincinnati, Ohio, company was started in 1945 and is still in business. The company produces medium-quality costume jewelry pieces (often studded with rhinestones and faux pearls) and also now makes pieces from gold and silver. Marks from this company include B. David, b. David and bd (on the diagonal).


BEACH GLASS

Beach glass (also called sea glass) is glass from old broken bottles, windows of wrecked ships, etc. that has been worn down and etched by the sea and sand over the years. This glass is smooth and looks like beautifully sand-blasted glass and has a beautiful patina. Pieces of this glass are collected on beaches and often made into jewelry items. Brown, deep green and clear are the most common colors of sea glass; after these come blue, amber and aqua. Rare colors include pink, red, purple, light yellow, and sea green.


BEADS

Beads are small objects, each with a hole through it for stringing. Beads are made of glass, stones, wood, plastics, seeds, and ceramics.

BELL CAP

A bell cap is a jewelry finding that is used to convert a hole-less bead or stone with into a pendant. A bell cap is glued onto the bead or stone and had a loop for attaching to the piece of jewelry.

BELLE EPOQUE

The Belle Epoque (meaning "Beautiful Time" in French) was the Edwardian period, the time of the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910).

BEAU and BEAUCRAFT

Beau and Beaucraft are marks used by the costume jewelry company called Beaucraft, Inc. This Providence, Rhode Island company was started in 1947 and is still in business. Beau and Beaucraft pieces come in a variety of styles (including many figurals) and compositions; pieces are made from silver, goldplated metal, gold over silver, and 14kt gold.

BENITOITE

Benitoite is a rare, blue gemstone that is found mostly in the San Benito River in San Benito County, near Coalinga, California (lesser quality benitoite is found in Mont St. Hilaire, Quebec, Canada). Benito means "blessed" in Spanish. This gemstones is strongy dichroic; although Benitoite is blue when viewed from most directions, it appears colorless when viewed in a single direction (the c-axis). Some unusual Benitoite is blue, but pink or orange when viewed through the c-axis. Benitoite is BaTiSi3O9 (Barium Titanium Silicate); no one is sure what element causes the blue color of benitoite, but it may be iron. Benitoite has a hardness of 6 - 6.5, a specific gravity of 3.68, and a refractive index of 1.757 - 1.804. Benitoite has a very unusual crystalline shape - it is the only known ditrigonal-dipyramidal crystal. Large stones (over 1 or 2 carats) are exceedingly rare. Benitoite was discovered in California in 1907, either by Mr. Hawkins and T. Edwin Sanders or James Marshall Couch (the story is in dispute). Heat-treated benitoite becomes orange; these stones are more expensive. Benitoite is California's official state gemstone (since 1985).

BERGERE

Bergere is a mark used on costume jewelry made by the company Herbet and Pohs, Inc. This medium- to high-quality costume jewelry has been sold in stores like Lord and Taylor and Marshall Fields.

BERYL

Beryls are a family of gemstone that include emerald, aquamarine, beryl (green), red (red beryl), morganite (pink), and heliodor (greenish yellow, named for the sun), and goshenite (colorless). Beryl has a hardness of 7 - 8, a specific gravity of 2.6 - 2.9, and the chemical formula Be3Al2SiO6. Internal flaws in beryl gems can be hidden by treating the stone with oil (this is often not disclosed to the buyer).

BEZEL

The bezel is the part of a cut stone that protrudes above the edge of a setting. The bezel is also known as the crown.

BEZEL SETTING

A bezel setting is a way of setting a stone in which the stone is held by a band of metal around the outside of the stone.

BIB NECKLACE

A bib necklace (also known as a collarette) is a short necklace with flowing ornaments in the front.
birefringence
BIREFRINGENCE


Birefringence is another name for double refraction. In doubly-refractive stones, the light entering the stone is split into two light rays, and the rays travel in different paths. These stones have more than one refractive index. Calcite, peridot, zircon, tourmaline, and titanite are doubly-refractive stones.

BIRTHSTONE

In the 1930's, the British and U.S. jewelry industries assigned stones to the months of the year as follows:
Month Birthstone
January Garnet
February Amethyst
March Aquamarine
April Diamond
May Emerald
June Pearl or Moonstone
July Ruby
August Peridot
September Sapphire
October Opal
November Topaz or Citrine
December Turquoise Tanzanite, or Blue Zircon

BIWA PEARL

Biwa pearls are freshwater pearls from Lake Biwa in Japan. These irregularly-shaped pearls are smoother and more lustrous than most other freshwater pearls.
Black Hills gold ring
BLACK HILLS GOLD

Black Hills gold is gold jewelry that is made (but not always mined) in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, USA. The first gold found in that part of South Dakota was about 1874, discovered by Horatio N. Ross. E.O Lampinen opened the Black Hills Jewelry Manufacturing Company in Deadwood, South Dakota in the early 1900's. Modern day Black Hills jewelry often has a three-color (yellow gold, pink gold and green gold) grape leaf and vine pattern. There are many companies that make Black Hills jewelry today, but by law, their creations must be made from Black Hills gold. This jewelry is often (but not always) 10 Karat gold.


BLACK MOONSTONE

Black moonstone is a type of labradorite and not true moonstone.


BLACK OPAL

Black opals are a valuable type of precious opals with a dark ground color. They are luminous, iridescent, and frequently have inclusions of many colors ("fire"). Opal is a mineral composed of silica (and some water) and is a species of quartz. The rainbow-like iridescence is caused by tiny crystals of cristobalite. Many opals have a high water content - they can dry out and crack if they are not cared for well (opals should be stored in damp cotton wool). Opals have a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 and a specific gravity of 1.98-2.50. Black opals are found in Australia.

BLACK PEARL

Black pearls (also called Tahitian pearls) are dark-colored pearls. They are produced by the large, black-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera (also called the Tahitian black pearl oyster), a mollusk found in the tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean. Black pearls come in many colors, including many body shades and overtone tints including gray (light gray to almost black), peacock green (especially valuable), aubergine (eggplant), and deep brown. The color of the dark nacre is determined by the minerals in the oyster's diet (plankton) and in its environment. Many "black pearls" are dyed or irridiated to enhance or change their color; it is difficult to tell a natural pearl from a treated pearl. Tahitian pearls are graded on six factors: 1.Shape (round is most valued), 2.Size (the larger the better), 3.Surface Quality= (clean is superior to blemished), 4.Luster (the more high-gloss luster the better), 5.Nacre Thickness (thicker is better and longer lasting), and 6.Color (overtones atop the body color add value to the pearl. The most sought-after color is peacock green and darker colors are more valuable Overtone colors include blue, pink, gold, silver, aubergine, and peacock green).


BLACK STAR DIOPSIDE
(BLACK STAR OF INDIA)

Black star of India is another name for Black Star diopside (CaMgSi2O6), an opaque black gem with a white, four-rayed star (an asterism). It has a hardness of 5.5 and a specific gravity of 3.3 - 3.6. These stones are found mostly in India. Stones are generally cut cabochon and are not enhanced.

BLEACHING

Bleaching is a process in which a gemstone's color is removed using a bleaching agent.

BLING BLING

Bling bling is an American slang term used to describe large, showy jewelry, especially jewelry encrusted with diamonds. The term was coined in the late 1990s by the New Orleans rappers Cash Money Millionaires.


BLISTER PEARL

A blister pearl (also called a bouton pearl) is a pearl that developed attached to the inside of a mollusk's shell. This type of pearl must be cut off the shell, and is therefore hemispherical. Because of their shape, blister pearls are mostly used for earrings.

BLOODSTONE

Bloodstone (also called heliotrope) is an inexpensive type of chalcedony that is green with red highlights (caused by iron oxide). Bloodstone is porous and relatively soft.


BLUE DIAMOND

Blue diamonds are rare, fancy diamonds and are quite valuable. Diamonds are precious, lustrous gemstones made of highly-compressed carbon; they are one of the hardest materials known. Diamonds have a hardness of 10, a specific gravity of 3.5, and a refractive index of 2.417 - 2.419.

BLUE GOLD

Blue gold is gold with a bluish tinge. It has been alloyed with a mix that includes iron.

BODKIN

A bodkin is a heavily jeweled, Renaissance era hairpin.

BOG-OAK

Bog-oak is old oak wood that has been blackened and preserved by being in low-oxygen Irish and Scotish peat-bogs for thousands of years. Bog-oak was carved and used as inexpensive Victorian era jewelry. It was also used for decorative objects, bowls, chests, dagger handles, and other decorative items.

BOGOFF

"Bogoff" and "Jewels by Bogoff" are marks used on costume jewelry made by the Spear Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The Bogoff mark was first used in 1946. Bogoff jewelry is high-quality, was made in small runs, and is often studded with rhinestones.

BOHEMIAN DIAMOND

A "Bohemian diamond" is not a diamond at all, it is actually a rock crystal.

BOHEMIAN RUBY

A Bohemian ruby is actually a pyrope garnet (and not a ruby at all).

BOKE

Boke is a Japanese term for coral that is rose colored.


BOLT RING

A bolt ring (also known as a spring ring) is a hollow circular metal fastening ring with a spring opening. It is used to attach two other rings or links of a necklace or bracelet. The bolt ring was invented early in the 1900's. Jewelry made prior to 1900 or so will not

BONDING

Bonding is a process in which a colorless bonding agent (like plastic) is applied on and into a porous gemstone to make the stone more durable and give it an enhanced appearance.

BONE

Bone is animal bone, carved to make beads, pins, bangles, etc. It superficially resembles ivory, but has a less-complex characteristic internal patterns and a yellower color.

BOOKCHAIN

A bookchain is a metal chain with rectangular links of folded metal, each of which looks like a little book. This style dates from the Victorian Era, when these chains held lockets.

BORT

Bort is a term for industrial grade diamonds.

BOTANICAL GEMS

Botanical gems are minerals that form from plants or plant material. Some botanical gems include amber (fossilized tree resin), coconut pearl (a rare, shiny, calcareous, pearl-like mineral that forms inside the coconut, Cocos nucifera), and pearl opal (also called Tabasheer opal, which form in injured bamboo joints).


BOUCHER

Marcel Boucher (?-1965) was a French jewelry designer who started the Boucher company ( in NY, NY). Boucher began the company: Marcel Boucher and Cie, which produced high-quality costume from 1937 to 1972 (after Boucher's death in 1965, his wife Sandra Boucher, who was also a jewelry designer, led the company - in 1972, the company was purchased by Dovorn Industries). Boucher had designed jewelry for the MAzer costume company before starting his own company. The bird pin above is gold-plated with paste and enamel. Boucher marks include "Marcel Boucher", "Boucher" and "Marboux."

BOUTON PEARL

A bouton pearl (also called a blister pearl) is a pearl that developed attached to the inside of the mollusk's shell. This type of pearl must be cut off the shell, and is therefore hemispherical (half a sphere). Because of their shape, blister pearls are mostly used for earrings.
Trifari bow

BOW

Bows are a common motiff in jewelry. The pin pictured above is a sterling bow made by Trifari.


BRACELET

A bracelet is an ornament worn wrapped around the wrist. Types of bracelets include solid and hinged bangles, expansion, cuff, beaded, charm, spiral, Yurman-style and, and link bracelets.

BRAGANZA

The Braganza is a huge gemstone that may or may not be a diamond. This Portuguese stone is said to weigh 1680 carats (which would make it the largest-known diamond), but it has not been authenticated - it may actually be a clear topaz.

BRASS

Brass is a metal alloy containing (at least 50%) copper and zinc.


BRAZILIAN CHAIN

A Brazilian chain (also called a snake chain) is a metal chain made up of a series of small, linked cups.

BRILLIANT CUT

Brilliant cut stones have 56 facets, 32 facets are above the girdle, 24 are below. Most modern-day diamonds are brilliant cut since it maximizes the amount of reflected light from the stone (its natural fire). The brilliant cut was introduced in the 1600's, possibly by Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), a politician and lover of gems.

BRIDGE JEWELRY

Bridge jewelry is jewelry that "bridges the gap" between fine (precious) jewelry and costume jewelry. An example of bridge jewelry is sterling silver pieces.

BRIOLETTE

A briolette (or drop cut) is a pear-shaped cut gemstone with triangular facets on top. This type of stone makes a nice pendant.


BROOCH

A brooch (also called a pin) is an ornament that can be pinned to a garment. The pink rose brooch above was made by Trifari.

BRONZE

Bronze is a metal alloy containing (at least 60%) copper plus tin and other metals.


BRUSHED FINISH

A brushed finish on a metal's surface is made by rubbing a stiff metal brush across the surface of jewelry, slightly reducing the metal's reflectivity.

BRUTING

Bruting is the first step in cutting a diamond. Bruting involves shaping the girdle, which gives the stone its basic shape.


BSK

BSK is a costume jewelry company that made mid-range pieces. This New York company was in business from around 1950 until the 1970's (?). BSK stands for the initals of the owners: B for Benny Steinberg, S for Hy Slovitt, and K for Kaslo. The BSK pin above is gold plated and decorated with rhinestones and enamel.

BUBBLES

Bubbles are spherical or tear-shaped bubbles of gas captured in glass stones. Bubbles can also be found in resins (like plastics and amber), and much less-frequently in minerals (like quartz, emerald, and topaz). Looking for bubbles is one way to determine if a gem is glass or a gemstone.

BUCCELLATI

Buccellati and Mario Buccellati are marks of Buccellati, Inc., a costume jewelry company that made intricate silver-colored pieces in ornate and modern styles.

BUGLE BEAD

A bugle bead is a long, thin, tube-shaped glass bead.

BULLA

A bulla is an ancient Roman pendant that consists of a rounded container holding an amulet (a good luck charm). The bulla is worn on a strap around the neck.


BUTTERFLY WING JEWELRY

Butterfly wing jewelry is made from real butterfly wings. A picture is usually painted on the wings, which is then enclosed in glass or plastic and then mounted in metal to make a pin, pendant, or other piece of jewelry.

All About Jewels:
Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the jewelry term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail me and I'll add it.




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