The following terms are defined to help you become better educated about jewelry as a whole. Some of these terms may be found in our catalogs.
A mixture of two or more metals. For example, 100 ounces of sterling silver is a minimum of 92.5 ounces silver and 7.5 ounces or less of other metals (in our case we use copper).
A type of setting that uses a rim to completely surround the stone. Bezels can be molded into any shape to fit the stone, such as straight edges or scalloped.
An alloy of copper and zinc. The proportions are variable. Most common alloys in jewelry making are between 80 and 90 percent copper and 10 to 20 percent zinc.
Technically, an alloy containing copper and tin. However, several modern copper alloys are called bronze because they look like bronze even though they do not contain tin. For example, “commercial” bronze is 90 percent copper and 10 percent zinc.
A gemstone cut featuring a smooth, rounded surface. (Pronounced kabé shon´.)
A measure of weight used for gemstones equal to 200 milligrams or 1/5 gram. This is different from “Karat” but is pronounced the same. Diamonds are measured in carat weight and points. Gemstones other than diamonds are usually measured in carat weight and millimeters (mm).
The process of forming an object by pouring molten metal into a hollow mold. In the lost wax casting process used to produce jewelry, molten metal is forced under pressure into a mold from which a wax pattern has been melted and burned out. The molds can be either sand or a plaster type “investment” mold. We use the “lost wax” method in our casting of jewelry.
Decorated designs, usually carved or hammered into the face of the metal with various small forming tools, and usually linear in character.
A term used to define the clearness of a gemstone or absence of inclusions (distortions or impurities in the crystalline structure).
Copper is one of the few elements that occurs naturally as a metal and has been used by mankind for thousands of years to create adornments. Copper is the only “red” metal and is prized for its rosy or peachy color that darkens over time to a brown or green patina. To increase its strength and durability and to modify its color, copper is sometimes alloyed with zinc (to make brass) or tin (to make bronze). It is often valued in its purest form for both practical applications and artistic expressions.
Any type of pearl that is created within a mollusk by manually inserting an irritant into the shell. This becomes the nucleus of the pearl and is then surrounded by the actual pearl substance itself (called the nacre). Almost all pearls for sale today are cultured. Learn more about pearls.
Essentially, this is the same method used by ancient Greeks to make their coins. A die-struck object is produced by striking metal with a “stamping hammer” against a die (which has a design “engraved” in it). The stamping hammer forces the metal, under tremendous pressure, into every crevice of the die cavity, and the metal forms into the shape of the die cavity. “Coining” is a term sometimes used to refer to this process. Another term that is closely associated with die striking is “stamping.”
The process of cutting a design on a hard surface (metal, stone, or wood) with a sharp instrument.
The cutting of regular, flat surfaces on a gemstone in a specific geometric pattern. A facet is the polished plane surface of a gemstone. Faceted gemstones come in many shapes, such as the brilliant cut, emerald cut, heart shape, and Marquis (an oval pointed on each end).
The Gemological Institute of America provides a system for grading diamonds in both color and clarity. Although not universally accepted, most reputable jewelers use this system. The diamonds in our jewelry are all of very high quality.
A heavy, yellow precious metal. Gold has been a popular jewelry metal for centuries. Fine gold is very malleable (easy to form or shape).
Fine Gold: 99.9% gold or higher; contains no alloy material. Fine gold is 24K gold.
Solid Gold: A term that some would reserve for fine or 24K gold because it contains no other metals (alloys); however, in 1967, the Federal Trade Commission held that “solid gold” may be used to describe articles that do not have a hollow center and are at least 10K or finer alloy, such as 14K or 18K.
Karat Gold: One Karat equals 1/24 part by weight in an alloy (mixture). Twenty-four Karats, then, is equal to pure gold. All alloys of gold of 10K or finer should be stamped with a Karat weight or quality stamp. Avery 14K gold items are marked with either the International Export standard of “585” or the 14K mark.
A form of metallic decoration obtained by repeated taps on the surface of the metal with a small hammer, leaving indentions.
Finishing is accomplished by hand labor and manually controlled methods permitting the maker to control and vary the type of finish of each individual piece.
Any foreign matter or distortion that is enclosed within a mineral or gemstone.
A man-made stone which essentially has the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as a natural gemstone. They are more affordable since they can be produced in less time in a laboratory setting by controlling the temperature and pressure under which they are formed.
The first lab gemstone was produced in 1902 in Paris, France by a chemist named Louis Verneuil. A gemstone that is grown in a laboratory is not imitation or artificial, and is carefully crystallized over time. It has essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as a natural gemstone. Only a trained gemologist can tell them apart.
Natural gemstones are crystals formed by heat and pressure within the earth. A similar heat and pressure environment is created in the laboratory using the same natural elements. This process takes 10 to 14 months to complete.
A scale for measuring the hardness of a mineral or other hard substance, developed in 1812 by Friedrich Mohs of Austria. Mohs took ten well-known minerals and assigned them numbers according to their hardness. They are: 1) talc, 2) amber, 3) pearl, 4) rhodochrosite, 5) lapis, 6) peridot, 7) emerald, 8) topaz, 9) ruby/sapphire, and 10) diamond. Talc is the softest, and the diamond is hardest. Example: Amethyst and garnet are about a 7, or about the hardness of emerald. Mohs Scale Chart
A hard, silver-white metal used in alloys and plating. Nickel can be used as an alloying metal in sterling silver. Because about 5% of the population has an allergic skin reaction to the nickel, we use copper as the alloy in our sterling silver. Also, we do not use nickel in our white gold alloy opting instead for the noble metal palladium.
The intentional dark coloring of metal, usually silver, copper or brass, used to accent a design or define details. The coloring is achieved by using sulfur compounds to form metal sulfides on the surface. It is similar to the patina or oxidation, which forms naturally over time on many metal surfaces. Although usually more permanent than a patina, abrasion or over-vigorous polishing can remove desired oxidation. (Tarnish is what we usually call undesirable patina or oxidation).
A metallic chemical element of the platinum group on the Periodic Chart of the Elements. It has a silvery white color and is somewhat rare. Palladium is malleable and can be used in alloys with both gold and silver. Unlike some jewelers who use nickel to give white gold alloys their distinctive color; we use palladium, a much more expensive, but less reactive metal.
(Pronounced “pah-vey”) A jewelry setting in which small gems (usually diamonds) are set very close together.
A weight measurement used for diamonds of less than one carat. Example:
1/4 carat diamond = 25 pt. diamond
1/3 carat diamond = 33 pt. diamond
1/2 carat diamond = 50 pt. diamond
3/4 carat diamond = 75 pt. diamond
1 carat diamond = 100 pt. diamond
Repoussé is a French term meaning “to push back.” It is a jewelry-making technique whereby a piece of metal is hammered and pressed from the back, using various sizes of punches and tools, to form a design in relief.
A “white” precious metal that is extremely malleable and combines well with other metals. Other “white” precious metals include platinum, palladium, and white gold.
Fine silver: Commercially pure silver, 99.9% fine or higher, and contains no alloy material.
Sterling silver: Our sterling silver is a mixture (alloy) of at least 92 1/2% pure fine silver and a maximum of 7 1/2% copper.
Our sterling is stamped with the number “925” and the word “sterling.” The jewelry we made before 2004 was stamped “sterling”. The “925” is the international standard for sterling and means that the jewelry has at least a 92.5% fine silver content. Nickel is sometimes used by other manufacturers, however, nickel can cause skin irritation to some people; therefore, we do not use it in our sterling silver.
Silver can blacken when it is exposed to chemicals in hand creams, lotions, hair products, and colognes. Natural body cycles, which can raise the acid content in the skin, will sometimes cause temporary blackening. So can perspiration because of the salt content. To clean your sterling silver, use a mild soap and water and a toothbrush. A brand-name silver cream can be used if there is tarnishing. For polishing, a soft, treated cloth is best. We sell them here at James Avery. Avoid harsh chemical dips as they can harm the finish. James Avery will inspect your James Avery jewelry in store free of charge. If an item requires a more extensive cleaning or repair and must be sent to our Product Care Department, there is a nominal charge. We have a Care and Cleaning page that explains tarnishing, blackening, cleaning, care, and other concerns you might have about our jewelry.
Stainless Steel is a tarnish and corrosion resistant metal that is much stronger than any precious metal. The resilience of this metal makes it the perfect choice for a few of our link bracelet styles that are worn continuously by some of our customers.
The surgical quality stainless steel we use in making our designs is a mixture of iron with chromium, nickel, manganese and molybdenum. The combination of these elements results in a metal with a lustrous, smooth surface that is hypo-allergenic, resists scratches, tarnish and corrosion and requires very little care while still providing a sense of beauty and fine craftsmanship.
Synonymous with lab grown. A man-made stone that has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as a natural gemstone. We currently offer three synthetic gemstones: the lab grown emerald, the lab grown sapphire, and the lab grown ruby. Synthetic stones are not imitation or artificial.
A six-prong setting for solitaire diamonds introduced to the trade by Charles L. Tiffany in 1886.
Titanium’s durability, lightweight, and resistance to denting and corrosion make it an ideal choice for everyday wear.
An alloy of gold colored by the presence of platinum or palladium. As with any gold, the amount of gold over 10K must be stamped with a Karat weight. James Avery offers a few selected designs in white gold.