We understand that buying jewellery can be a daunting task. We want our customers to feel comfortable with their choices and informed in their decisions when shopping with us, so we have put together the following glossary…
An alloy is a combination of two or more metals. Alloys commonly used in jewellery are:
- Sterling silver – 92.5% silver.
- 9ct gold – 37.5% gold with differing amounts of other metals.
- 18ct gold – 75% gold with differing amounts of other metals.
- 22ct gold – 91.6% gold. As a result, it is relatively soft and is rarely used in European jewellery.
Aluminium that has been electrochemically processed to create a durable, decorative finish. This can be used to create different colours on the surface of the metal.
An assay is a test of the purity of an alloy. The Dublin assay office tests the metal and confirms whether a piece qualifies for an appropriate hallmark.
A rigid closed band that can vary in width, worn around the wrist.
Bangles can be made to different sizes to fit different hands/wrists. They may also come in round or oval shapes. Oval bangles can be easier to put on without being large in size.
A way of setting a centre stone by surrounding it with a frame of metal. This is a very secure, minimalist and contemporary stone setting style.
Having a smooth glossy finish, typically used to highlight the edges of a matte finished piece.
Computer Aided Design, sometimes used to create images of jewellery before they are created to give a clear idea of the finished piece.
Cabochon cut gemstone
A stone cut with a domed top and a flat bottom. These are usually round or oval gemstones.
A unit of weight measurement for diamonds and gemstones.
A style of setting used in halos and in eternity rings. The sides of the small gemstones are relatively exposed, allowing a lot of light to reach each stone.
Catches and clasps
- Lobster catch – a standard trigger catch to close a necklace or bracelet.
- Bayonet clasp – an elegant, hidden clasp that opens and closes with a twist. The mechanism is somewhat similar to taking a light bulb in or out.
- Crocodile clasp – an elegant, hidden clasp that is released by pressing a button with the fingernail.
- T bar catch – a short length of metal that is fed through a round or oval shape to secure a piece of jewellery.
Chains can come in a variety of lengths, with 16” and 18” being the most popular.
A setting style where several stones are secured by two parallel tracks of metal. This style of setting is most effective when using princess cut (square) diamonds.
A style of setting where typically 4-6 claws hold gemstones in place. This is an alternative to bezel setting.
Comfort fit ring
A ring which has a gentle curve on the inside, making it easier to take on and off.
Court shaped ring
A ring which has a gentle curve on the inside and on the outside.
A rigid band that spans the wrist but is open at the back, allowing the wearer to put it on and remove it with ease.
Cuts and shapes for diamond and gemstones
- Asscher cut – a stepped, square cut with cropped corners.
- Baguette – a long, slim rectangular shape. Baguettes can also be tapered.
- Cushion shape – literally cushion shaped, square but with softer edges.
- Emerald cut – rectangular shape with cropped corners.
- Marquise cut – a slim oval shape with pointy ends.
- Oval – oval!
- Princess cut – square shape.
- Round brilliant cut – a round 58 facet cut diamond or gemstone.
Utilised to secure earrings on to your ear. These are necessary with stud earrings, and may also be used for drop earrings. There are a number of different styles available.
This is the practice of cutting a design into a piece of metal by cutting grooves in it. Engraving such as text or design embellishments can be done by hand, while more complex images and even fingerprints can be laser engraved.
Typically a narrow ring with a line of diamonds or other gemstones set half way or the entire way around the band. Eternity rings can be worn as a wedding band, on its own or stacked with an engagement and wedding ring.
A flat cut or polished face on a diamond or gemstone. Diamonds are typically faceted while gemstones can be, amongst other options, faceted or cabochon cut.
The proportion of silver or gold in a metal alloy. Generally given as parts per thousand, with sterling silver having a fineness of 925.
- Polished – a high-shine, mirror like finish.
- Satin – smooth to the touch with a non-reflective appearance.
- Textured – a surface decoration applied to metal using various tools. There are many styles of texture available.
- Hammered – a strong textured pattern created by hammering the metal.
A pearl that has been cultured (farmed) in freshwater rather than in the sea.
A setting style for smaller diamonds or gemstones whereby the stone is set flush into the metal.
Gold is naturally yellow, and different alloys can be added to give it different colours.
- Yellow gold – gold mixed with an alloy that minimally alters its natural colour.
- Rose gold – gold mixed with an alloy that contains copper to give it a rosy tint.
- White gold – gold mixed with a white alloy such as palladium. White gold is typically rhodium plated to enhance the white appearance.
When a metal has a thin layer of gold applied, by chemical or electrochemical plating.
A circle of pavé or castel set small diamonds or gemstones that surround or frame a centre stone.
This is a stamped mark applied to jewellery and silverware by the Irish assay office as a confirmation of authenticity.
Made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality.
An inclusion is any material that is trapped in a stone as the crystal is being formed. These may or may not be visible to the naked eye, and can alter the value of some stones, such as diamonds. Inclusions are ranked on a scale of perfection called clarity.
Used to refer to the shininess of a precious metal or the surface of a pearl.
Milgrain (thousand grains)
Where a setting is secured, or a decorative effect created, by multiple tiny beads of metal. Milgrain can give quite a vintage look to a contemporary piece of jewellery.
A measure of the fineness of gold, given as a number out of 24. 24ct gold is pure gold, whereas 9ct gold is 9 parts gold to 15 parts another alloy.
Jewellery worn around the neck that sits in a structured round shape as opposed to hanging on a chain.
A style of setting where each small diamond/gemstone is individually set with tiny claws. Pavé setting looks slightly more structured than castel setting.
Over time, metal can tarnish, polished items may dull, or matte finished pieces can become slightly polished. Refinishing jewellery is the simple process of reapplying the original finish to a piece that has been altered with wear.
Rhodium plating is silvery-white in colour and used primarily on 9ct and 18ct white gold to make the metal look even whiter.
The size of the ring to fit your finger. In Ireland we use an alphabetical system whereas in the US the system is numerical.
A low-melting alloy, used for joining less fusible metals. As a verb, to solder is to fuse two pieces of metal by melting solder at the join.
A piece of jewellery, typically a ring, which has a single main gemstone. This usually refers to a diamond.
Discolouration of metal over time, due to exposure to air or moisture. Silver is particularly susceptible to tarnish, however it can easily be refinished to return it to its original beauty.
A diamond is held in place by the pressure of the band’s metal. This allows a large proportion of the stone to be visible.
If you have any questions that haven’t been answered here, our friendly and knowledgeable team are always happy to help!