As I’ve mentioned before, my love affair with jewelry started early. One of the great things about jewelry and gemstones is that there is so much to learn – and the more you learn, the more obsessed you become!
I know many Local Charmers are interested in knowing not only the names of their favorite gemstones, but some of the more technical terms and “jargon” that we in the jewelry industry use. Here’s a few words you may hear the next time you’re shopping at Local Charm. How many of these do you know?
Cabachon vs. Faceted stones A cabochon is a stone that has been cut into a smooth, domed shape. It is a popular way to cut opaque gemstones to show off the color and texture of the stone. Faceted stones are cut with many flat, polished surfaces that allow light to bounce off the surface of the stone, creating a sparkly effect. Clear gemstones, such as Diamonds, Emeralds, and Amethyst, are most often cut in faceted designs.
Enhanced Stones An enhanced stone is a natural stone that has been treated in some way to improve the look or durability of the stone. Common methods of enhancing a gemstone include heat treatment, oiling, and surface diffusion. Sometimes a stone such as a Blue Topaz will be enhanced to deepen the color of the stone. Other stones, such as Mystic Topaz (a clear Topaz treated with a metal coating to give the stone a rainbow-color effect) are always enhanced.
Claddagh A Claddagh is a traditional Irish symbol commonly found on rings. It features a pair of hands (representing friendship) clasping a heart (representing love) encircled by a crown (representing loyalty). When the design is worn facing outward on the right hand, it means the wearer is single. When turned inward on the right hand, it indicates that love is being considered. When worn on the left hand facing out, the ring symbolizes a serious relationship or engagement. When turned inward on the left hand, a Claddagh ring becomes a wedding ring.
.925 Sterling Silver All Sterling Silver is stamped .925. But why? Pure silver is usually considered too soft for use in jewelry, so it is alloyed with a base metal (usually copper or nickel) to make it a bit stronger. The term “Sterling Silver” indicates that alloy is 92.5% silver and 7.5% base metal. Hence, pieces made of Sterling Silver will carry a .925 stamp.
Carat vs. Karat A carat is a unit of weight (equivalent to 200 milligrams) that is most often used for gemstones. Karat is a measurement of the fineness of gold; pure gold is 24 karat. All other types of gold are identified by the amount (out of 24 karats) of gold in the alloy. Therefore, 14 karat gold is 14/24ths (about 58%) gold. Other metals commonly alloyed with gold to strengthen the metal include silver, copper, nickel, and titanium.
Is there a jewelry term that has you puzzled? Comment below and maybe I can solve the mystery!