À jour (from French: jour = day) is a term used to describe open worked backgrounds, either by sawing or piercing. The open work resembles a honeycomb with either square or hexagonal openings. À jour settings for gemstones became popular around 1800.
A jewelry appraisal is a descriptive statement and monetary amount assigned to a particular item. The most common appraisal is an insurance appraisal. An insurance appraisal uses the monetary term “replacement value”. Replacement value is the actual cost to replace an item with an exact or similar item in the most common market of which the item is sold.
There are several other types of appraisals with different monetary calculations that are used for different purposes. Estate Liquidation and Fair market appraisals all use methodology.
Diamonds and other gemstones are secured with a bar running perpendicular to the ring separating each gem.
A bezel setting is one where a ring or rim of metal, perpendicular to the surface of the item, surrounding the girdle of a stone, is used to hold the stone in place. Also know as a collet setting.
Diamonds and other gemstones are set similar to a shared prong setting, where the prongs are connecting or bridged between the gems. The technique resembles a bar setting but is much lighter.
Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed using metric carats. Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points, which means that a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats.
The word “carat” is derived from word for “carob,” a Mediterranean seed from the carob tree. The carob seeds are inedible, but they were observed to have a very uniform size and weight. Centuries ago traders used these seeds as a standard of weight when trading gemstones.
Over time, it was discovered that despite their visual uniformity, carob seeds were not as consistent in size as previously thought and standardization of the measure for a gemstone”s weight was required. In 1907, a international conference on weights and measures adopted the carat as the official metric measurement for gemstone weights. One carat is defined as one-fifth of a gram or 200 milligrams.
Carat weight should not be confused with size. Different gemstones have different masses; therefore two round differing gemstones with the same dimension will have different weights.
Channel setting is a style of gemstone setting that involves placing a line of stones girdle-to-girdle in a groove so that there is no metal between them. No prongs, beads or bezels are required to hold the stones in place. The edge of the “channel” is smoothed over the stones to secure them.
A jewelry item that is cast has been made by a process that involves pouring molten metal into a mold and letting it harden.
Gemstones cut to exact millimeter sizes generally used in channel setting.
Jewelry that has been formed by striking gold or silver sheet in a die or between two dies is die struck. This compresses the molecules and forces the metal into every crevice of the die. The result is a highly detailed, strengthened metal object that easily takes a high polish.
A dog collar necklace fits closely to the neck and is usually comprised of several rows of pearls or beads or a wide ribbon ornamented with gem set plaques or brooches. The dog collar necklace was popular in the Edwardian period in emulation of Queen Alexandra who wore multiple rows of pearls to conceal a scar on her neck. The French term is collier de chien.
Enameling is the fusion of a special powdered glass to metals. Enamel can be applied in almost any color with engraved lines, engraved cells and raised borders. The glass can be applied using different techniques, but all methods use heat to melt the powder.
Basse-taille (from French: basse = “low”; taille = “engraving”) is a technique very similar to champlevé with a few differences. Basse-taille is an enameling technique in which the jeweler creates a low-relief pattern in metal, usually silver or gold, by engraving or chasing. The entire pattern is created in such a way that its highest point is lower than the surrounding metal. Translucent enamel is then applied to the metal, allowing light to reflect from the relief and creating an artistic effect.
Translated from the French, Champlevé means “raised field.” Champlevé is an enamel process where the surface to be enameled is carved, engraved, stamped or etched with a design prior to enameling. The powdered enamel is fired into the design highlighting it. Later processes involves cutting the metal away to leave thin walls similar to those used in cloisonné. With this technique the cells are filled with enamel to the height of the cell walls and smoothed over.
Cloisonné (from French: cloison = partition) is an enamel technique where formed wires in closed shapes are affixed onto a base and then filled with enamel. The wires form the raised walls or partitions surrounding these individual cells. This is the reverse of the Champlevé technique where the cell walls are at the same level as the base metal.
Guilloche is a metal engraving style of concentric design made by mechanical means. Often this design is covered by transparent enamels.
Plique-à-jour is a French term for enamel that has no backing. A design is outlined in metal and filled with various colored transparent enamels giving the effect of a stained glass window.
Estate jewelry refers to previously owned jewelry. The category of estate jewelry includes antique and vintage jewelry as well as modern and contemporary.
A ring consisting of a continuous circle of similar sized gemstones or diamonds.
Filigree work is the name given to very fine metal wires, which are form delicate designs. A more commonly known filigree adaptation is to create a design from the wires without a base, thus creating an openwork jewelry object. The latter style was especially popular during the 19th century as a revival of a medieval technique.
No other metal holds such a significant place in world history as gold. The mysticism and value placed on gold dates back to the ancient Greeks and references to gold can even be found in the bible.
“Khrysos (Gold) is a child of Zeus; neither moth nor rust devoureth it; but the mind of man is devoured by this supreme possession.” – 5th century Greek fragment.
Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals making it the perfect medium for jewelry. However, the downside to gold malleability is its softness. To ensure gold jewelry withstands the test of time gold is mixed with other metals to create alloy. Different alloys are produced to modify the hardness and color of gold.
The purity of gold is expressed in Karat measurements, of which there are 24 parts. For example: pure gold is 24-karat gold. 18-karat gold is 18/24th part gold or 75% gold (18-karat gold jewelry is often stamped with either 18K or 750 to signify its purity).
The Karat measuring system was developed when the Byzantine coin, the solidus, was divided into 24 Keratia.
Gold is indestructible and can be recycled and reused over and over again.
Granulation is a process that causes very small gold beads to adhere to the surface metal, through heat, with no apparent solder. Granulation can be applied in designs or lines to form textures or designs. This has been a popular way to decorate and texture jewelry items since ancient times. The technique has been known since Etruscan times and was revived in the 19th century.
A gypsy setting is used for rings where the stone is secured without a bezel but by recessing the stone into a hole in the ring and pressing a flange of metal around the girdle of the stone.
Handmade jewelry must be entirely shaped and formed from the raw materials used. The finishing must also be done by hand labor. The Federal Trade Commission has a strict set of rules regarding the use of the term handmade. At Pampillonia Jewelers designs are entirely handmade with out the reliance on computer assistance. Time-honored techniques are combined with old world craftsmanship avoiding a stiff and wooden machine like outcome. The finished product is fluid composition of balance and sumptuousness avoiding the stiffness of computer-assisted manufacturing.
Inlay is a type of decorative work using thin flat gem material or metal to create a design on the surface of wood, metal, ivory or gem material.
Intaglio is a technique that dates back to at least the times of ancient Greece and is still in use at present. Patterns, designs or — more frequently — images are carved or engraved in gemstones leaving a hollow impression in the untouched background. This style of carving is the opposite of the cameo technique.
Invisible settings are comprised of stones that have been calibrated to very close tolerances and are cut with grooved girdles that are locked into a thin wire framework. This allows large areas of jewelry to be coated “seamlessly” with gemstones. There are no prongs, bezel or other visible means of holding the stones
Jabot is French, meaning, “ruffle”. It is a pin with a jeweled section at each end. When worn, the pin stem is hidden and the two terminals appear separated by fabric.
Micro-pavé is a diamond setting technique using the smallest of round diamonds. New technologies have allowed for cutting diamond in sizes as small as .03 points. The setting of these diamonds is very precise and is done under a microscope.
Millegraining is a detail that finishes an edge on a piece of jewelry. The detail is applied as a fine beaded texture. The millegrained edges on platinum can be on a fine wire, a knife edge wire, a bezel setting around a stone, an outline of a pattern or design detail, a channel edge, and as with the beads in gold used to finish a design detail. The millegraining of the metal edges allow the diamonds and gemstones to sparkle without competing with reflected light from a highly polished platinum edge.
Mourning jewelry is jewelry worn when the wearer is in mourning. Generally gold with black onyx or black enamel accents.
Openwork uses piercing techniques to produce decorative motifs by cutting away metal on a flat area or band to allow the passage of light.
Oxidation results when metal combines with oxygen and produces an oxide or antique finish. This is not tarnish but a coating of oxide such as what results when sterling silver (a copper and silver alloy) is heated and a copper oxide coats the object.
A parure is a set of matching jewelry which is comprised of a necklace, bracelets, a ring, earrings, and brooch. A demi-parure is a less elaborate suite of – usually – a necklace, earrings and a brooch.
Pavé translates as a paving-stone setting. In this technique many small stones are set very close together in order to cover an entire piece, concealing the metal. An item covered in stones using this technique is said to have a pavé setting.
Palladium is a member of the platinum group. The difference between palladium and the rest of the platinum group is that it is subject to attack by nitric acid and by hot sulfuric acid. It is very soft and malleable and is sometimes beaten into leaf for decorative purposes. Alloyed with gold it results in a very white metal with only a 15 percent concentration. It is used in solder for platinum. Alloyed with ruthenium and rhodium it is suitable for jewelry having the look of platinum but half the weight.
To the Native Americans who first discovered Platinum in South America this precious metal was not considered valuable. Europeans were equally unimpressed, they called it; platina, meaning “little silver”.
It was not until the 18th century that Platinum was recognized for its unique properties. Platinum is a durable heavy metal. It is strong, yet at the same time very malleable and, unlike silver, platinum is resistant to oxidization (meaning it will not turn black).
By the Mid 19th century jewelers truly began to appreciate the full potential of platinum. Its beautiful silver color perfectly complimented diamonds, it could be brightly polished and its resistance to oxidation made it a fine metal to put in their jewelry. However, due to platinum”s high melting temperature jewelers were unable to fuse or melt platinum in their workshops.
Today, with the knowledge and tools to melt and fuse platinum, it is used in the finest of jewelry. Due to high demand, rarity and its favorable traits, platinum is more expensive than gold.
A prong setting consists of a series of metal wires or claws designed to hold a stone in place. They are usually arranged in groups of four or six.
Repoussé is a decorative technique whereby relief designs are formed by raising the metal from the inside out. This is accomplished using hand punches and hammers on metal that has been placed into a bed of something that will yield to pressure, such as pitch. The metal is periodically annealed to prevent it from breaking.
A Riviera necklace is comprised of gemstones (most often diamonds) of the same size or gradual size going all the way around the neck.
A long necklace with a tassel or pendant as the main focal point.
Signed jewelry indicates that a particular maker or designer manufactured the item. Jewelry is often stamped with the makers name, initials or logo. In cases where the maker is known, but there is no indication on the piece, it is said to be attributed to that maker.
Solitaire comes from the French word for “alone” and refers mainly to diamonds that are set alone in a ring, as in traditional engagement ring.
The term suffragette comes from the word suffrage, which means the right to vote. The most prominent women suffrage groups to symbolize used three colors: Purple (Amethyst) for dignity, white (diamond) for purity and green (Jade) for hope.
Synthetic gemstones are artificially created gemstones that have the same chemical build up as their natural counterparts. They therefore have the same optical and physical properties as their natural counterparts. They are seldom rare or have much value.
Tiffany setting refers to a two piece assemble setting consisting a narrow shank and a scalloped six prong crown. Developed by Tiffany and Co. in 1880.
White gold was invented in the 19th century where it was alloyed with palladium. It became commercially available as of 1912 in Pforzheim, Germany and gained popularity in the mid-1920’s as a low cost substitute for platinum. It is an alloy of gold with copper, zinc and nickel. In more recent times due to allergic reactions a platinum family metal has often replaced the use of nickel in this alloy.