Glossary of Terms
The following is a list of tems used in jewelry collecting as a guide for beginning collectors.
Antiquing - the process of giving something a faux patina to make it look aged.
Aurora Borealis - an iridescent coating washed over crystal, glass beads or rhinestones.
Apple Juice - Translucent bakelite in the amber color of apple juice.
Art Deco - An art movement characterized by clean lines popularized after the Paris Exhibition of 1925.
Art Nouveau - A decorative art movement of the late Victorian and early 20th century period characterized by flowy floraform designs.
Bakelite - Named after the inventor Leo Baekeland this early plastic was invented in the first decade of the 20th century and was widely used in product and jewelry design throughout the middle part of the century. The words catalin and bakelite are associated with brand names of the manufacturers and tend to be used interchangeably as a generic term for the same phenolic plastic material. Highly collected, this material came in a wide array of colors and was used in everything from silverware handles to multicolored child’s crib toys. The jewelry made from bakelite can be very expensive now and there are reproductions and fakes on the market so buy from a reputable dealer. Many less experienced dealers will mark items bakelite that aren’t so learn how to test bakelite yourself if this is a field of collecting you enjoy.
Baguette - a rectangularly cut stone.
Bangle - a cylindrical or oval bracelet which slips over the hand onto the wrist.
C clasp - a style of clasp on a brooch in the shape of a C.
Cabochon - a non-faceted stone usually convex oval shape.
Cameo - a relief cut shell often in the profile of a woman’s head used as the centerpiece of a piece of jewelry. Costume versions may also be of molded plastic or reverse cut glass.
Celluloid - Invented in the Victorian period this material was the first plastic made.
Clamper - a bangle style bracelet with a spring hinge that when closed makes a clamping sound.
Confetti - sparkling confetti in Lucite sometimes in the shape of tiny stars, crescent moons and diamonds popular in the late 50’s into the 60’s.
Crystal - leaded glass.
Cuff - an open ended bangle style bracelet with enough space between the ends so it can be slid onto the wrist from the side instead of slipping the hand into it like a standard bangle.
Damascene - a style of jewelry that uses gold or silver inlay on a metal background popularized in Spain as well as in Japan.
Duette -a brooch that separates into two pieces that can then be worn as dress, collar or shoe clips.
Demi-parure - A matching set of 2 pieces of jewelry.
Emerald cut - a square cut stone.
Enameled - the process of adding enamel color to metal or porcelain.
Expansion bracelet - a circular bracelet that expands to fit over the hand like a metal watch band.
Faux - from the French meaning false, fake or artificial.
Foiling - a reflective mirror like film flashed to the back of a rhinestone or cabochon to make the stone brighter and improve light reflectiveness.
Fruit salad - Multicolored assortment of stones.
Japanned - a painted black metal setting, usually matte.
Jelly Belly - Primarily made by Trifari and Coro these whimsical brooch and earring designs are characterized by a large lucite or glass center stone.
Jet - term used generically for any black glass or rhinestone jewelry. Also refers to petrified coal used in Victorian mourning jewelry.
Lariat - a long beaded rope-like necklace usually worn knotted in front popularized in the 1920’s
Lavaliere - an ornamental charm or pendant usually worn on a fine metal chain.
Lucite - A translucent clear plastic originally invented in the early 1930’s lucite wasn’t in wide use until the 1940’s and beyond.
Micro mosaic - jewelry that uses small pieces of glass arranged to make a picture often Italian in origin.
Nielloware - a style of sterling silver jewelry in which parts of the surface are blackened by baking it with chemicals and then polished.
New Old Stock - New old stock - also known as "dead stock" - is an antiques industry term for vintage items that have never been used. Sometimes coming from forgotten stashes of stores that closed long ago, sometimes items purchased but for whatever reason never used. Items in this category may have the original price tags on them. Sometimes abreviated N.O.S. sometimes NWOT - new without tags or NWT. In retail the words "dead stock" refer to inventory that is not selling. Some of these items got sent back to the factories which stored them in warehouses. Some of it got stashed in backrooms and attics.
Parure - a matching set of 3 or more pieces of jewelry.
Pave - a group of rhinestones set very close together - usually glued in.
Paste - this term is interchangeable with the word rhinestone perhaps used because rhinestones are often pasted (glued) into a setting.
Patina - refers to the look of a piece as the result of the natural aging process.
Prong Set - a stone held in place by thin, pointed metal prongs.
Retro - In terms of jewelry collecting this word speaks specifically to a style of jewelry just post Deco and pre Mid-century from the late 1930's to the early 1950's. Much of it being manufactured during World War 2.
Rhinestone - a glass or crystal “stone” cut or molded to look like a natural gemstone often backed with mirror-like foiling for maximum reflectiveness.
Rhodium - a white metal element used for plating jewelry.
Rhodoid - a type of cellulose plastic made from natural fibers rather than petroleum. See Lea Stein.
Roundel - a round or disc-like spacer usually set with rhinestones.
Seed Pearl - a tiny pearl or faux pearl the size of a small seed.
Siam Silver - sterling silver jewerly produced in Siam and later Thailand usually Nielloware and sometimes in colorful enamel. Most often depicting one of many Buddhist Gods.
Suite - A large group of matching jewelry; parure.
Rhinestone - cut or molded glass or crystal “stone”.
Trembler - a piece of jewelry with a part or parts attached with springs allowing the part to shake or "tremble" when worn.
Vermeil - gold plated sterling silver.
Watermelon Stone - a rhinestone with a pink center feathering into a green outer ring.