by Denise
jewellery glossary picture - Carathea

In alphabetical order, please find in our jewellery glossary below a quick reference to common jewellery names and terms.

Alloy

An alloy is a mixture or combination of a metal with at least one other metal (or element).

Argentium Silver

A fairly new discovery of mixing a new silver alloy with at least 95.8% pure silver and alloys including Germanium. This silver has many advantages over Sterling Silver.  See our blog on Argentium Silver here. 

Cabochon

A cabochon stone is flat on the underside and domed and polished on the top.  This contrasts to cut gemstones. It can be in any shape although is most frequently an oval shape. 

Fine Silver

Sometimes called Pure Silver. Contains 99.9% Silver (sometimes referred to as the “three nines fine”)

Hallmark

A series of stamps on a piece of precious metal made by one of a few Assay Offices confirming that the metal is what the stamps state it is.  It is a way of the public knowing that what they are purchasing is what it says it is.  

Iridescence

Displaying colours that seem to shine within it when seen from different angles. 

Nacre

Another word for Mother-of-Pearl.  It is the smooth, hard surface that has formed on the inside of some mollusc shells and also on the outside surface of pearls.  It is a white colour but with other colours shining within it – it is iridescent.

Noble Metals

A metal that does not corrode, resists chemical action and is not attacked by acid. Examples are Silver, Gold, platinum and palladium.

Opalesence

An opaque material that reflects light to change its colours.  It has a red/yellow colour if the light is transmitted through the stone, or a bluish appearance when the light is dispersed throughout the stone perpendicular to the way the light is shining into the stone.  It occurs when the stone forms in layers during crystallisation – such as what happens with moonstone and opal (in fact opalescence is named after the opal in which it occurs). If the layers are thin, a bluer appearance occurs, thicker layers reveals more of a white appearance.  

Play of Colour

A term used to describe iridescence and often used to describe Precious Opal (which does contain play-of-colour) compared to Common Opal (which doesn’t). 

Sterling Silver

A silver alloy consisting of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, often copper.

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