A Quick A-Z of Jewellery Terms


The vocabulary of jewellery is a vast and beguiling place, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you haven’t bought any jewellery in a long time.

Here’s a quick useful list of key terms to help you discover and further appreciate your unique jewellery item:

Alloy: a mixture of different metals.

Base Metal: non-precious metal, such as copper.

Bezel: a groove holding a stone secure in its setting.

Burnish: the shine on a highly polished surface.

Cabochon: the style of an oval or round, highly polished gemstone, where colours are enhanced over a domed surface.

Chasing: the punching of a design into the front of a piece of metal, also known as embossing.

Etching: the removal of a surface using acid, to create a patterned relief, in a controlled environment.

Facet: a flat surface ground onto a stone by a trained lapidary or diamond cutter.

Findings: a range of clasps, fastenings and earring wires, enabling jewellery to be worn on the body.

Forging: hammering to alter the shape and profile of metal.

Gallery: a wire used in jewellery to raise the level of a piece to allow suitable clearance for stones.

Lobster Claw Clasp: A jewellery fastener that imitates the claws of a lobster.

Milk and Honey Effect: the apparent coloring of a stone changes, from milky to the color of honey; when a light is shined on the stone, one side of the stone is the color of milk and the other is the color of honey.

Patina: a gloss or sheen which develops naturally over time due to polishing or aging.

Planishing: repeatedly hammering metal using a polished hammer to remove surface marks, creating an even finish.

Repousse: patterned relief punched or hammered into metal from the reverse side.

Rouge: polish used for the final stage of precious metal polishing.

Shank: the part of a ring which goes around the finger.

Tempering: heating metal to reduce brittleness.

Zircon: a lustrous gemstone that comes in colors ranging from golden brown to red to violet to blue.