“Jewelry Glossary” – The Top 100 Jewelry Terms You Must Know

“Few activities are as delightful as learning new vocabulary,” said American author and TV personality Tim Gunn. We can’t say we disagree, especially if the vocabulary in question has to do with our favorite topic – jewelry. Whether you’re looking to purchase or admire, you’ll be better equipped to do either if your knowledge of jewelry terms and their meanings is up-to-date. Be it styles, settings, or stones, we have you covered with this super-exhaustive list! Save this alphabetical catalog of 100 most used jewelry terms and talk like a veteran next time you enter a jewelry retail store!

1. ABRASION: As the name suggests, it refers to bruises, scratches, or lines that appear on the surface of a precious or semi-precious stone. These are typically caused by age or excessive use.

2. ACCENT-DIAMONDS: These are the unsung heroes of a jewelry piece. Accent diamonds are a row of tiny diamonds used to frame, complement and enhance the beauty of a larger and more prominent diamond or gemstone.

3. ALLOY: When two or more metals are mixed together, it is called an alloy. Metals like gold and silver, which are too soft in their pure form, are often mixed with copper or nickel for durability, practicality, and cost.

4. AMETHYST: This violet variety of quartz comes in hues ranging from mellow lilac to deep, rich purple. A semi-precious stone that is the birthstone for February, its durability makes it ideal for jewelry.

5. AMULET: In many cultures, the amulet is hailed as a good luck charm. Made from metal and precious or semi-precious stones, it is most commonly worn as a pendant but can be carried as a talisman anywhere close to the body to protect it from harm.

6. ANNIVERSARY RINGS: When a marriage or relationship reaches a milestone, anniversary rings or bands are exchanged between partners to symbolize the event. Popular milestones include crossing the five and ten-year mark, as well as silver, golden, and platinum anniversaries.

7. ANTIQUE: Antique jewelry is any piece of jewelry that was crafted over 100 years ago. This is very distinct from vintage or estate jewelry, which are much newer.

8. ART DECO: A style of jewelry made popular in the 1920s and 1930s, art deco used abstract and linear designs that were more geometric and lesser fussy. White gold and platinum were typically used along with vintage cuts like Cushion cuts or Asscher cut.

9. ART NOUVEAU: An Avant-Garde European style of jewelry making, art nouveau marked the transition from the Victorian to the modern era with free-flowing and asymmetrical designs, surface embellishments, a three-dimensional quality, and the use of nature motifs like flora, fauna, and insects. It also used unusual materials like ivory and glass juxtaposed with precious metals and stones.

10. ASSCHER-CUT: Also known as the ‘square emerald cut’, Asscher cuts come with large step facets (50-58 in number) and a high crown for a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. Although they look square, the corners are cut as well for light to enter the diamond, making it an octagon.

11. AQUAMARINE: A pale blue-green variety of the beryl gemstone, aquamarine gets its name from its ocean hue – aqua is water in Latin, and marina is ‘of the sea’.

12. BAGUETTE: No, we’re not talking about French bread! The Baguette is a small, rectangular, step-cut diamond that is usually elongated and thin. They have only 14 facets and are often used as larger accent stones.

13. BAR NECKLACES: This understated piece of jewelry refers to a horizontal bar, which comes attached on either side to a chain made of gold or silver. The bar can be engraved or plain, made from metal, or encrusted with stones.

14. BEADED: One of the oldest forms of jewelry, the bead is a circular bauble with holes on either side, which can be strung on a bracelet or neckpiece. Any piece of jewelry that uses beads is called beaded jewelry.

15. BEVELED: The word beveled is used in reference to corners or edges, especially with rings. It means a flat edge set at an angle of 45 degrees to the top surface. This gives a ring a contemporary, crisp and engineered look.

16. BEZEL/ BEZEL SETTING: There’s nothing more secure than a bezel setting for a stone! Rather than prongs, a collar or a rim of metal is used to securely hold the gemstone snugly in place and enclose it fully.

17. BIRTHSTONES: The clue is in the name here – birthstones correspond to the period when a person is born. Typically, there is one gemstone for each month, but some cultures follow zodiac signs to determine their birthstones.

Different Birthstones Jewelry

Birthstones for Each Month

18. BLEMISHES: Just as with any other surface, gemstones too can have flaws or spots or scratches externally on their surface. These are called blemishes.

19. BRILLIANT-CUT: When does a diamond or any other gemstone sparkle the brightest? When it is cut with as many facets as possible, and in a manner that exudes maximum brilliance and radiance, it is referred to as a brilliant cut.

20. BYPASS RING/BYPASS SETTING: Not all rings are perfect circles with no beginning and end. The Bypass Ring or Bypass Setting is also called a ‘crossover’ ring because the ends do not meet. Rather, they diverge and pass each other, wrapping the center stone up and down, respectively.

21. CABOCHON: We’re so used to focusing on the cut of our diamonds that sometimes we fail to notice the beauty of an unfaceted surface. A cabochon gemstone is one that has been polished into a smooth, domed surface instead of featuring multiple facets.

22. CHARM: These add your own individual personality and character to your jewelry! A charm is usually a trinket crafted from metal, worn on a bracelet or chain. It is sometimes worn to ward off evil and, at other times, is purely ornamental.

23. CUFF: Synonymous with the ends of a full-sleeved shirt or blouse, the cuff is an open bracelet that wraps itself around the wrist. A narrow opening allows you to slide it on easily from the slide, so you can opt for a fitted look.

24. CARAT: Contrary to popular belief, the carat is not a measure of your diamond size. The term refers to the weight of any gemstone, with one carat being equivalent to 200 milligrams.

25. CENTER STONE: This refers to a gemstone that is the focal point of your jewelry piece. Pendants, rings, and brooches typically feature a large centrally-located stone, around which smaller accent stones may or may not be set.

26. CHANNEL SETTING: When the accent stones or stones along the ring’s shank are set in a row, close together between two lines of metal, it is called a channel setting.

27. CHEVRON: Also known as the wishbone ring for its delightfully unique shape, the chevron ring has an inverted V shape that slides onto your finger. Necklaces and pendants can also feature the chevron in various ways.

28. CITRINE: A transparent, warm-hued variety of quartz, citrine takes on the hues of citrus fruits. A citrine can range from pale yellow to orange or even pale brown.

29. CHOKER: A kind of necklace that fits snugly around the neck, the choker gives the appearance of ‘choking’, which is where it gets its name from.

30. CROWN: We’re not necessarily talking here about the kind of crown you would wear on your head! Instead, the crown refers to the topmost facets of a gemstone.

31. CUBAN LINK: When thick round or oval rings interlock with one another to form a harmonious pattern for a necklace or a bracelet, these are called Cuban links.

32. CUFFLINKS: They may look stunning, but cufflinks are one of those jewelry items that are also functional. They help secure the ends or cuffs of your shirt together instead of using an ordinary button!

33. CUSHION CUT: When a gemstone is cut in the shape of a square, but with rounded edges, it is referred to as a cushion cut. This is majorly because of its ‘cushion-like’ appearance.

34. DIAMOND CUT: The cut of a diamond refers to the number of facets or surfaces that have been cut into it, as well as their dimensions and reflective qualities, to create a brilliant sparkle.

35. DOUBLE HALO: When a center stone is encased with two layers of pavé or accent diamonds, it is called a double halo. These provide added sparkle and protection to the center stone.

36. EAR CUFFS: This is a unique piece of jewelry that doesn’t require ear-piercing. Simply slip your ear cuff over your cartilage and wrap it securely with a wire behind the year.

37. ENGRAVINGS: This is pretty self-explanatory – engravings are words or images that have been etched or embedded into the metal.

38. EAR CLIMBERS: This is your go-to if you want to give the appearance of multiple earrings without actually piercing your ears multiple times. Simply put, it is an elongated stud earring that climbs up your ear.

39. EMERALD: Emerald is one of the four precious stones, along with the diamond, ruby, and sapphire. It is a green gemstone belonging to the beryl family, as well as the birthstone for May.

40. EMERALD CUT: An emerald-cut diamond or gemstone has long parallel step cuts with corners that have been clipped to form an octagon-like shape. They do not have multiple facets and are also cheaper than most other cuts.

41. ETERNITY BANDS: The eternity band is a row of glittering gemstones, which seemingly go on and on across a circular band, gifted as a symbol of lasting affection.

42. FANCY DIAMOND CUTS: Any shape other than a brilliant round-cut diamond is called a fancy diamond cut. This could refer to anything from oval or heart-shaped to pear or marquise cut.

Center Stone Shapes

Fancy Diamond Shapes and Cuts

43. FILIGREE: Delicate and intricate, filigree refers to metalwork that uses fine threads of gold or silver. It often resembles a lace-like pattern.

44. FREE FORM: When gemstones are presented in their natural shape, designed to be irregular and emphasize the stone’s features, it is called free form.

45. GALLERY: This is the bit of area beneath a large stone, which joins the base and provides a setting for the stone.

46. GARNET: A semi-precious stone that is deep red in color, garnets are made from silicate minerals and are one of the oldest gemstones in use since the Bronze Age.

47. GEMSTONES: A precious or semi-precious stone used in jewelry is called a gemstone. These could be minerals such as quartz, stones such as opals, and organic materials like ambers and pearls.

48. GIA: GIA stands for the “Gemological Institute of America”. It is a highly coveted non-profit organization, based in California, that is committed to research and education on gemology and all facets of jewelry making. A GIA authentication certificate is the most valued accreditation for diamonds worldwide.

49. GRADUATED ACCENT DIAMONDS: When a row of accent diamonds starts to gradually go from big to small in size, they are referred to as graduated accent diamonds.

50. HALO SETTING: The halo setting is a row of small accent stones, typically pave diamonds, which encircle a larger center stone.

51. HIDDEN HALO: Imagine your halo playing peekaboo from the side. That’s what a hidden halo does! It is a row of accent stones encircling the base of the center stone.

52. HOOPS: Circular or semi-circular – just like a hoop – these earrings can be opened to pass through your ear piercing.

53. HUGGIE: If your hoop earrings are small, are they still hoops? Apparently not. These are called huggie earrings because they are small enough to sit close to your earlobe and give the impression of hugging it.

54. INCLUSIONS: Small imperfections trapped within a diamond’s structure are called inclusions. These are created due to heat and pressure when a diamond is formed and can’t really be fixed.

55. INITIAL NECKLACE: Who wouldn’t want their initials or those of their loved ones to be a part of their jewelry? The initial necklace allows you to personalize your jewelry and wear these close to your heart.

56. J HOOPS: These are like your classic semi-circular hoop earrings, only slightly more elongated to form the shape of a J.

57. KARAT: Quite unlike the carat, which measures weight, karat is a measure of the gold’s purity. Gold is measured in 24 parts of purity, and 24-karat gold is the purest form. When an alloy is mixed with gold, the number of parts of gold out of 24 as opposed to that alloy, is the purity of gold. So if 22 parts gold is mixed with 2 parts copper, the gold purity is 22 karats.

Gold Karat Chart

58. LEVERBACK: Adding a layer of safety, the leverback earring uses a curved wire clasp to fasten and hold it in place securely.

59. LINK: When a series of metallic wires are looped together to form a piece of jewelry such as a chain or a bracelet, they are each called a ‘link’.

60. MILGRAIN: An antique technique used in jewelry making, milgrain is an enduring way of incorporating tiny dots or beads along the edges of the piece to create borders.

61. MIXED METAL: Why choose when you can mix it all up? Mixed metal is the layering of different metals of varying colors in your jewelry piece – silver, rose gold, yellow gold, platinum, and more.

62. MOTHER OF PEARL: This is the nacre or the layer that coats a pearl. However, the oyster starts secreting nacre before the pearl takes shape, forming a sheeny, luminescent layer that adheres to the inner area of the shell called mother-of-pearl.

63. OPAL: An opal is a unique, opaque, semi-precious gemstone found in almost every color. Precious opals display iridescent qualities, while common ones do not.

64. OVAL-CUT: These are diamonds or gemstones in the shape of an oval – symmetrical and elongated. They provide all the brilliance of the round-cut diamond with the added benefit of looking bigger on your finger.

65. PAVE DIAMONDS: The word ‘pave’ comes from the French pavement and literally refers to a tiny paved pathway of accent diamonds around the ring’s shank.

66. PEAR CUT: Also known as the teardrop or pendeloque cut gemstone, the pear cut blends the pointed end of the marquise with the slightly rounded end of the oval.

67. PEARL: A pearl is a semi-precious organic gemstone produced within the shell of a mollusk as it secretes layer after layer of nacre.

68. PERIDOT: Also called chrysolite, the peridot is a rare gemstone that occurs in just one color – yellowish-green. The birthstone for August, it is formed as a result of lava or meteorites.

69. PLATING: Plating is the method of coating jewelry with another metal. A classic example is white gold, which is coated with the more precious rhodium to give it a pure white shade without any yellow tints.

70. POLISH: The process of smoothening the surface of the jewelry, leaving behind an even surface, is called polishing.

71. PRONGS: A prong setting uses metal ‘claws’ that creep up from the base of the gemstone and creep over the top to secure it in place. Three, four or six prongs are the most commonly-used numbers.

Different Prong Setting Styles for a Ring

72. PRINCESS CUT: When viewed from the top, the princess cut diamond looks like a square or rectangle, but from the side, it resembles an inverted pyramid. It is the second most popular type of diamond cut for an engagement ring, following the round cut.

73. REMOUNTING: If you’d like your antique jewelry to be repaired, or simply give it a new look, remounting is the answer. Simply put, it is the art of taking an existing gemstone and transforming it by putting it into another setting.

74. RING ENHANCERS: As the name suggests, these improve your ring’s appearance. They are ring wraps or curved rings that wrap above, below, or behind your existing ring to add extra layers and dimensions but seamlessly.

75. ROUND CUT: This is the most popular diamond shape, recognized for its symmetry. A round-cut diamond has around 58 facets, which adds to its brilliance.

76. RUBY: A deep pink to blood red gemstone, the ruby is the birthstone for July and a member of the corundum family, a mineral form of aluminium. Along with emerald, diamond, and sapphire, it is one of the four most precious gemstones in the world.

77. SAPPHIRE: Another variety of the mineral corundum is sapphire, a precious gemstone. Although they are most commonly blue, some sapphires are also yellow, pink, black, or grey.

78. SCALLOP: A decorative edge consisting of a series of circular projections, the scallop is reminiscent of the edge of a shell. Alternately, a scalloped setting is when prongs are created from the shank and hold the center stone in place.

79. SCROLLWORK: Akin to the unfurling of a paper scroll, this jewelry style features spirals and incomplete circle motifs as if caught in ‘mid-unrolling’.

80. SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES: All the gamut of gemstones used in jewelry, except for diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds (classified as precious), fall under the category of semi-precious stones.

81. SHANK: The part of a ring or band that encircles the wearer’s finger is called the shank.

82. SOLITAIRE: Nothing to do with playing cards! Any piece of jewelry set with one single gemstone is called a solitaire. Although this is usually a diamond of some value, it could also refer to other gemstones.

83. SPLIT SHANK: As the band or shank reaches the center stone, it splits instead of meeting at the stone. This also highlights the stone, making it look bigger.

84. STACKABLES: Multiple rings, bangles, or bracelets that are ‘stacked’ one on top of another are known as stackables.

85. STACKING: Stacking is the art of layering pieces of jewelry – particularly rings and bangles – over one another.

86. STATION: When a thin metal chain is dotted with gemstones or other adornments that are ‘stationed’ at various points across it, it is called a station necklace.

87. STERLING SILVER: Sterling silver, which is an alloy made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent of another metal (usually copper), is stronger than pure silver. But it’s still pretty soft compared to other ring metals. Silver tarnishes, as well, so it needs to be cleaned frequently, or else it can also be coated with rhodium metal for a long-lasting sheen.

88. STUDS: This versatile earring can be minimalist or OTT. It mainly consists of one point attached to a post that passes through the earlobe and is fastened using a backing.

89. TASSELS: Typically used in earrings or pendants, tassels comprise a series of wires or cords that gather at one end and are free-flowing at the other.

90. TAPERING / TAPER / TAPERED: A piece that doesn’t have a uniform width but instead tapers from narrow to broad or vice versa is called tapered or tapering jewelry.

91. TEARDROP / DROP: Teardrop or drop earrings hang from the ear vertically with a loop. The pointed end goes upwards in a teardrop shape, while the broader rounded edge goes down.

92. TENNIS BRACELET: When a row of diamonds or other gemstones goes around a bracelet, it is called a tennis bracelet. Fun fact – until tennis player Chris Evert popularized this term in the mid-1970s, it was actually known as an eternity bracelet.

93. TRINKET: A small ornament, such as a little pendant or a charm, which tends to be inexpensive and affordable.

94. TOPAZ: The birthstone of November, topaz is usually associated with shades of yellow, pink, or pale blue but is actually colorless in its natural form.

95. TOURMALINE: It is the gemstone used to celebrate the eighth anniversary and also has the most exciting and diverse range of colors that include vivid greens, pinks, blues, and yellows.

96. TWISTED SHANK: When the shank or band of your ring doesn’t form a perfect geometric circle but is twisted for a free-flowing effect, it is referred to as a twisted shank. Multiple twisted shanks are often used in the same ring to create an overlapping, layered effect.

97. VERMEIL JEWELRY: Vermeil jewelry is high-quality silver jewelry (pure or sterling) that is coated with a fine layer of gold. These days, both metals are even bound together through electroplating and then cast into jewelry pieces. Of course, the gold wears off with time.

98. VINTAGE-INSPIRED: Don’t we all love new jewelry that is created to reflect the styles and aesthetics of a few decades ago? Vintage-inspired refers to jewelry pieces that emulate older designs.

99. Y-KNOT NECKLACE: When this is worn, it resembles a perfect Y. The Y-knot necklace features a chain with a single long strand dropping down, forming a lariat.

100. ZIRCON: A mineral that is the source of zirconium metal, it is a common crystal found in abundance. Colors range from reddish brown to grey, but it is most in its colorless form as a substitute for diamonds.

At Gabriel & Co., we believe in educating you before you plunge into your jewelry purchases! This detailed glossary will get you started on your journey toward becoming a discerning jewelry connoisseur. For in-depth details on the nuances of jewelry, read our other blogs and enrich your understanding. 

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