Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

As you start to build your jewelry collection, you’ll come across a lot of terminology that you may not be already familiar with — but don’t let that intimidate you or scare you off from curating a fabulous collection of jewelry. With a little practice and time, you can build a jewelry vocabulary that’s every bit as impressive as your actual jewelry collection. To help you, we’ve pulled together a list of the most basic terms and words you need to know before you buy even your very first piece.

Must-Know Ring Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

If you’re particularly shopping for a ring, here’s what you need to know.

The setting: this is where the diamond or other gemstone is mounted, sometimes also called the head. You can have a range of settings, including a prong setting (which uses prongs to lift the gemstone up from the band), bezel setting (wherein a metal collar encircles the gemstone), or a pave setting (which includes lots of gemstones held together with tiny beads of metal), among others.

You already know what the band is, but note that bands come in different varieties as well, such as traditional band (which is completely even all the way around), Euro Style (which is squared on the bottom side) or a bypass band (where the band curves up on one side of the gemstone and down on the other), among others.

Must-Know Necklace Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

Necklaces are necklaces are necklaces, right? Wrong! Even the simplest chains come in a range of styles, each with their own names. Anchor chains are formed from double links of uniform size. Box chains are made up of square links that interlock. Cable chains are made from flat, oval links.

If your necklace features a single hanging gemstone or other decorative piece, it’s a pendant necklace, sometimes called a solitaire if it features a diamond or other gemstone. Strand necklaces, on the other hand, are made up of connected gemstones, pearls or beads.

Necklace lengths also come with their own names. A collar necklace hangs about 16 inches, while a princess necklace hangs about 18 inches. Matinee necklaces hang anywhere from 20 to 24 inches, while opera necklaces can hang as far as 34 inches. Anything longer than 37 inches is a rope necklace.

Must-Know Earring Terms

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You likely already know the basic earring types: clip-ons, studs and hoops. Drops and chandeliers are a little less familiar; drop earrings are pendant-shaped, while chandelier earrings feature long, hanging and usually free-moving elements. Threaders are simply string-like bands of metal that thread through the ear with no closure. Ear cuffs feature a similar modern design, and “cuff” the back of your ear, with no need for a piercing.

Must-Know Bracelet Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

Bracelets similarly come in a swathe of options — bangles, cuffs, tennis bracelets, charm bracelets, chain bracelets. You’ll find the same types of chain options featured in bracelets and anklets that you would among chain necklaces.

Must-Know Watch Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

Watches are arguably one of the most technical pieces of jewelry that one can purchase, so the terminology is vast. You could easily spend years learning about watches and the art of watchmaking, and many collectors do. To scratch the surface, though, you just need to know a few terms and types.

Watches are often categorized by their movements, aka, how they operate. Quartz watches do not require winding and run off a battery. Mechanical watches come in two variants: automatic or manual. Automatic mechanical watches are wound as you move, while manual mechanical watches must be wound manually.

Depending on the watch you purchase, you may enjoy certain extra features beyond the plain analog watch face. An ani-digi watch, for example, shows both an analog face and a digital display in one face. Some watches have built-in calendars, a moon phase indicator, world times or even a chronograph, which is an extremely accurate stopwatch.

Must-Know Diamond Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

But whatever type of jewelry you end up buying, if you’re going for diamonds, you’ll want to know a few certain terms there as well.

A clarity grade ranks how flawless a diamond is. The higher the clarity grade, the fewer the imperfections (and also typically the higher the price). Clarity grade is determined via a few different aspects, including the number of imperfections, size of the imperfections, location of the imperfections, nature of the imperfections and color of the imperfections.

Diamonds also receive grades via the Gemological Institute of America, which uses the “4 C’s” to grade a diamond. These four “C’s” include cut, color, carat and clarity. A higher-quality cut will result in a diamond that “unleashes” more light. The less color a diamond has, the higher the grade it will receive. The Gemological Institute of America grades diamonds on a scale of D to Z, with D to F diamonds being those rare stones that have hardly any color at all, and diamonds that are closer to Z having a brownish or yellow hue. We’ve already discussed the clarity aspect. As for carats, diamond carats indicate a diamond’s weight. A one-carat diamond is equivalent to 200 milligrams and an ounce of diamonds is equal to 142 carats. Natural diamonds mined in nature are generally smaller than one carat. (Do note: carats are used for weighing diamonds, whereas a karat is another jewelry term that applies to
gold purity.)

Diamonds come in three types of cuts. A brilliant-cut diamond is made up of 58 facets with the design intending to allow the most light out of the top (or the table) of the diamond. A step-cut diamond features facets that literally step down from the top of the diamond. While brilliant-cut diamonds are usually round or round-ish, step-cut diamonds are usually square or rectangular. Mixed-cut diamonds are a combination of the two.

Must-Know Gold Terms

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

If you’re shopping for gold, there are a few other terms you’ll need to know. For example, gold karats are different from diamond carats. Gold karats indicate the purity of the gold. The highest-quality, purest gold is 24 karats. You cannot have a piece of gold jewelry that’s higher than 24 karats. The lower the number of karats, the less pure the gold.

Colored gold, as you might expect, contains other metals in order to give it a tint. White gold typically contains some nickel, while red or pink gold (like rose gold) typically contains some copper.

During your shopping, you may come across the terms “new gold” and “old gold,” as well. The former refers to gold refined to current gold standards, while the latter refers to gold created from melting down and recasting older pieces of gold jewelry, among other gold items.

Need To Know More?

Jewelry Terms You Need to Know as You Build Your Collection

Wherever you are on your jewelry-buying journey, the Yamron team is here to help. Whether you’re an old pro or you’re completely new to collecting, we’ll help guide you through the ins and outs of an industry fraught with lingo that the average shopper might not understand — no matter how large their budget or how luxurious their tastes. Browse all of our fine jewelry options online before you buy and then stop in our Naples showroom to see all your favorite pieces in person.