For the uninitiated, jewelry terms can be a bit confusing, and the number of options available to you can be dizzying. We've prepared this jewelry primer for you to make everything a bit clearer. Of course, we're also happy to answer any questions you have, so don't worry! Just ask.
General Jewelry Terms
Gold is durable, sturdy, and dependable. To get a lifetime of enjoyment from your jewelry:
- Keep your gold jewelry free from dust, moisture, perspiration, and make-up
- Do not wash your gold jewelry with ordinary soap and water, as this will leave a dull film on the surface. Instead, clean gold jewelry with a jeweler-recommended cleaning solution or an ultrasonic machine.
- Avoid wearing gold jewelry when using harsh chemicals or doing rough work.
- Protect your gold jewelry by storing it in a fabric-lined jewelry box or wrapping it in a soft cloth when not being worn.
There is no mystery to caring for your fine silver jewelry. Just follow these tips:
- Store your silver in a cool, dry place that is preferably airtight, to avoid oxidation. Do not store directly on wood, which often contains acids that can affect silver’s surface.
- Store items in a tarnish-proof cloth, or in drawers with tarnish-resistant strips. Store each item individually, either in its own soft pouch or in a separate compartment of your jewelry box.
- If a piece of silver jewelry becomes tarnished, use a paste, liquid polish, or a treated cloth to restore its original luster.
Colored gemstones can be categorized in two primary ways – Genuine and Synthetic.
Genuine - Genuine gemstones are natural gems brought to us courtesy of nature with no interference from humans. Genuine gemstones vary in color and color intensity from stone to stone. They also have different hardness ratings, which require special attention when wearing or cleaning a piece of jewelry. The Gemological Institute of America has developed a colored gem grading system similar to the well-known Diamond grading system.
Synthetic - A synthetic gemstone shares a genuine stone’s physical, chemical, and optical qualities. However, they are created in a laboratory-type setting. All synthetic gems have a consistent color and color intensity and generally have a higher hardness rating than genuine gemstones.
The most often used synthetic gemstones are oval and/or cushion antique (think of a rectangle with rounded corners) in shape. The gemstones may have a buff top (smooth) or faceted top and, more often than not, are one of the recognized “birthstone” colors.
Alloy – A mixture of two or more metals created to enhance the strength and/or appearance of a particular metal.
Antique Finish – An item is dipped into a chemical treatment and then hand buffed to create a look of aged metal, whether it be gold antique, bronze antique, silver antique, or copper antique.
Avantus – E.A. Dion’s response for a high-value, non-plated “yellow” jewelry offering with a less demanding price point than Karat Gold Products. Avantus is an optimum mix of the most recognized “noble” metals in the world – Gold, Platinum (Palladium), and Silver. The gold-led, precious metal alloy delivers a pleasing “Champagne” hue.
Baguette-Cut – A stone cut into a small rectangular or tapered shape with a step cut and often used as an accent to larger stones.
Bail – A triangular finding that attaches a pendant to a necklace.
Bangle – A stiff bracelet. Some bangles have a hinge; others are solid and must be slipped over the hand.
Barrel Clasp – Two metal pieces on either end of a necklace or bracelet that screw or click together forming a clasp.
Barrel Plating – Adding a thin layer of gold or silver to the surface of an item by grouping them together in a “rolling barrel” container, which is then dipped into the appropriate plating solutions. This is a faster and more economical plating process than rack plating.
Base / Bezel – the top portion of a ring consisting of lettering and the center base-stone setting area. The outside area around a base-stone is also known as the bezel.
Base Metal – Refers to non-precious metals. Base metals include copper, zinc, tin, and lead.
Base Stone – A shaped, natural, or synthetic-colored stone set in the base/top of the ring.
Bead Setting – A decorative setting in which stones are set evenly with the metal surface and secured by small metal bead-like prongs.
Bezel Setting – Metal is wrapped around the girdle of the stone, making only its crown and table visible. This setting is admired for its protection, security, and its ability to minimize inclusions.
Box Chain – A classic chain with small box-like links.
Box Clasp – A piece of folded metal on one end of a chain or bracelet fits into the opening of a box on the other end and securely fastens the chain or bracelet together.
Brass – An alloy made up of copper and zinc, with other metals in varying lesser amounts. By varying the copper content, several colors can be produced, from a gold tone (high brass) to a copper tone (gilding metal).
Brushed Finish – This finish is made by rubbing a stiff metal brush across the surface of the jewelry, slightly reducing the metal's reflectivity.
Buffed Epoxy – In this process the epoxy overfills the recessed areas so that the entire surface can be buffed down to one smooth surface. Colors can be PMS matched.
Cabochon Cut – A common cut for gemstones that features a smooth, rounded surface rather than faceted.
Carat – Unit of measure of diamonds and gemstones. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be divided into 100 "points." A .75-carat stone is the same as a 75-point or 3/4-carat stone.
Channel Setting – Jewels rest in a metal channel, held only by a slight rim that runs along the edges of the channel. Channel set jewels are usually round or baguette-shaped.
Clarity – The clearness of a gemstone, or the lack of internal flaws. The clarity scale for diamonds runs from FL (flawless, with neither internal nor external flaws), to I3 (having many clearly visible imperfections using only the naked eye). A ten-power loupe is used to examine a diamond for clarity.
Clasp – A fastener that can open and close, attaching two things together.
Claw - A metal prong that holds a stone securely in a setting.
Cloisonné – A vitreous enamel that under extreme temperature is melted onto a piece of jewelry and when it cools it is polished to achieve a glossy, glass-like appearance.
Collet – Formed metal in either a round or square shape and set into a ring base stone for the purpose of holding a smaller stone – usually a diamond set-in-stone.
Crown – The upper part of a gemstone.
Crystal – A high-quality glass containing at least 10% lead oxide. Lead added to the melt produces very clear glass resembling rock crystal. Crystal is colored by adding various metallic oxides to the melt.
Cuff Bracelet –- A stiff, relatively wide bracelet.
Cushion Cut – The stones are shaped like a cushion - they have a squarish shape that is rounded on the edges. These stones usually have facets similar to those of a brilliant-cut stone.
Die – A specialized tool used in manufacturing to cut or shape material using a press. Dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create.
Die Casting – A viable alternative to die striking and rubber mold casting in which pressure injection is used to force a molten zinc aluminum alloy into a die made out of steel. Two halves of a metal die are placed on a clamp inside a die-casting machine. Under a tremendous amount of pressure, the dies are pressed together. The molten metal is then forced into the cavity between the two halves. The die is cooled; the metal solidifies and from one to eight pieces are removed.
Die Striking – The classic method of manufacturing emblems is preferred when an emblem requires finer lines and crisper detail. A paper design is translated into a solid metal die. A flat piece of metal, slightly larger than the emblem itself, is placed in a press and struck one or more times, depending on the depth of the die and the amount of detail. After the first striking, the metal emblem is annealed or re-softened so the material will flow easily into recessed areas of the die upon a second strike. Once all detail is sharp and clear, excess metal is trimmed from the edges and the emblem is ready for finishing.
Electroplating – A process in which one metal is coated with another metal using electricity. In jewelry, inexpensive metals are frequently electroplated with more expensive metals, like gold, copper, rhodium, chromium, or silver. The thickness of the metal coat varies.
Emerald Cut – The stones have a girdle that is rectangular with truncated corners. Emerald cuts are frequently used on emeralds and diamonds.
Enamel – A paint that air dries to a hard usually glossy finish. Most commercially available enamel paints are significantly softer than either vitreous enamel or stoved synthetic resins.
Engraving – The ornamentation of metals by means of small hand-pushed or hammer-driven chisels; differs from carving in that depth is suggested by shaded lines.
Epoxy – A thermosetting polymer formed from the reaction of an epoxide "resin" with polyamine "hardener". Epoxy has a wide range of applications, including fiber-reinforced plastic materials and general-purpose adhesives.
Facet – One of the flat surfaces of a cut stone or glass.
Filigree – Open, lacy, decorative metal work.
Findings – The functional metal parts used in the construction of jewelry - clasps, jump rings, etc.
Finish – Refers to the type of look given to a finished piece using different variations of the plating, polishing, and color-filling techniques.
Fold-Over Clasp – A hinged clasp used on necklaces and bracelets where a piece hinges and clips to closure.
Full Cut – A gemstone with 58 facets.
Gemstone – A mineral, rock, or petrified material that when cut or faceted and polished is collectible or can be used in jewelry.
Girdle – The widest perimeter of a gemstone.
Gold – A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element that is the most malleable and ductile metal. Gold in its pure 24K state is very soft. It is alloyed with copper silver and zinc to make it harder and therefore more durable as a jewelry item. The three karat grades we use are 10K, 14K, and 18K. 10K is approximately 41.5% pure gold; 14K is approximately 58.5% gold; and 18K is approximately 75.2% pure gold.
Gold Filled – Made of a hard base metal (often brass) with a bonded layer of karat gold on top. This is an excellent way to obtain a gold precious metal award item without the expense of 10K or 14K gold. 10K or 14K gold sheet is bonded through a soldering process or mechanically bonded through extreme pressures to a base metal substrate. It is rolled repeatedly to obtain the desired thickness and percentage of gold required.
Gold Plated –- Gold layer over base metal less than 1/20th of the total weight of the metal and marked GP.
Hallmark – Mark on the back of jewelry denoting gold or silver content.
Hidden Box Clasp – A necklace or bracelet closure that consists of a flat slip piece that locks into a rectangular box hidden under the last link of the chain.
Incised – Lettering or detail is cut into the ring (below the main surface); on a ribbon top or smooth sides.
Inclusion – A particle of foreign matter contained within a mineral. Inclusions can be solid, liquid, or gaseous.
Jump Ring – A circular metal ring with an opening. It is used to attach two other rings or links and is then often soldered or pressed shut.
Karat – Used to define the amount of pure gold found in a jewelry item.
24 karat (24K) gold is pure gold
18 karat (18K) gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts another metal or metals (75.2% gold)
14 karat (14K) gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts another metal or metals (58.5% gold)
10 karat (10K) gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts another metal or metals (41.5% gold)
Lever Back – An earring closure that consists of a hinged lever that bends and latches behind the ear.
Lobster Claw Clasp – A jewelry fastener that resembles the claw of a lobster. A tiny spring keeps the arm of this clasp closed. It is used to attach two other rings or links to a necklace or bracelet.
Lost Wax Casting – A process of casting metal in which the original model is sculpted in wax. The wax is then enclosed in clay and the wax is melted out, making a hollow mold. The mold is then filled with molten metal. The clay is broken off and the cast metal remains.
Marquise-Cut – A gemstone cut in an oval shape, pointed at both ends creating a boat-shaped design.
Micron – A unit of length equal to 0.001 mm (millimeter).
Moh's Scale – Conceived by German mineralogist, Moh’s, it is the most commonly used scale of relative hardness of minerals. Each mineral of a given hardness scratches all of those with a lower number. The highest number in the Moh's Scale is 10 and only the diamond fits this category of hardness.
Nick Setting – Stones are placed in a row, with metal bordering on either side. In a nick setting, small prongs are nicked from the surrounding metal to secure the stones.
Omega Back – A straight piece of metal (a post) goes through the earlobe while a hinged curved arm supports the back of the earring.
Opulite – E.A. Dion’s response for a “white” precious metal offering with wear properties exceeding Sterling Silver, priced more agreeably than White Gold and does so while maintaining its luxurious white appearance without the need for rhodium plating. The Palladium based alloys’ membership in the Platinum Metals Group (PMG) only adds to the credibility and desirability of the offering. Opulite delivers a platinum family metal, Palladium, with a permanent, un-enhanced, luxurious white appearance combined with greater wear properties such as, tarnish resistance and durability when compared with Sterling Silver. Opulite also compares favorable to white gold economically and for maintaining its brilliant white color over time.
Oxidation – A chemical process in which oxygen atoms bond to atoms of a material (like a metal) and electrons are transferred from the oxidized material to the reduced material. Iron oxidizes when exposed to air and moisture, forming iron oxide (rust). Silver oxidizes (tarnishes, turning the surface black) when it is exposed to hydrogen sulfide in the air.
Palladium – A white precious metal similar to platinum, but weighs and costs must less.
Pavé Setting – A stone setting in which multiple small stones are set close together and very close to the surface of a piece of jewelry, making it look like the jewelry has been paved in gemstones.
Pavilion – The lower part of a cut gemstone, below the girdle.
Pear Shaped Cut – Gemstone cut that resembles a pear or teardrop - rounded on one end and pointed on the other.
Platinum – A heavy silver-white precious metal that is 35X rarer than gold. Platinum is 95% pure with a brilliant luster that does not tarnish. Its purity also makes it hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin or those with jewelry allergies. It is highly pliable and can be shaped into very intricate patterns.
Precious Metal – This metal group is generally defined as referring to platinum, gold and silver, which are valued for their rarity, color, and malleability.
Price Adjustment Factor (PAF) – This Factor is used to adjust the price of Gold and Silver jewelry as the commodity price of an ounce of gold or silver fluctuates up & down. There are three key components used to determine an individual product's PAF. They are Metal Purity, Product Weight and the Market Price of Gold/Silver.
Product Weight –Precious metals are measures in Troy Ounces. A Troy ounce is equivalent to just over one (1) ordinary ounce: 1 Troy ounce = 1.097 ordinary ounces
A Troy ounce is further divided into 20 Pennyweight. Pennyweight is the most common unit of measure for precious metal products
The PAF is used to re-price, up or down, the precious metal content (purity & product weight) of a jewelry product that has had a price change based on the free market price of the commodity.
Princess Cut – A square-cut stone. This fancy cut is also known as a Quadrillion cut.
Prong Setting – Stones held in place by metal claws or prongs.
Rack Plating – A plating process where pieces are hung on a rack individually, then dipped into the appropriate plating solutions. Best for pieces that have hand polished surfaces.
Radiant Cut –- A method of cutting rectangular stones so that they have the sparkle of brilliant cut round stones. The shape is a rectangle with the corners clipped off.
Rhodium – Non-tarnishing white precious metal that resembles platinum. It is often used to plate precious and base metals, giving jewelry a hard, platinum-like sheen.
Rose Gold – Gold of a pinkish color (alloyed with copper).
Sandblast and Polish – Provides a rich, textured look for the background of the item, while the raised detail is hand polished to an exquisite shine.
Satin Finish – This semi-glossy finish is done by making shallow parallel lines on the surface of the metal, reducing its reflectivity.
Screw Back – A highly secure earring fastening similar to a standard post but the back or “nut” actually screws onto the post. Many diamond stud earrings use this secure fastener.
Setting – A jewelry piece or enclosure that holds gem stones in place.
Shank – The part of a ring that encircles the finger.
Spray Lacquer – A very thin layer of color which is sprayed, usually through a cut out stencil, onto parts of the background of an item. This does not fill recessed areas. Can be PMS matched.
Spring Ring Clasp - A common clasp for necklaces and chains made from a circle with a small spring-tension knob that can open a gap in the circle, allowing the circle to hook onto the other end of the chain.
Square Setting – A diamond or gemstone setting with four prongs that hold a stone, usually a square or princess-cut gemstone.
Stainless Steel – Made from steel (iron combined with various other metals) this is then alloyed with chromium. It is virtually immune to rust or corrosion and is a very cost-effective metal. Exceptionally durable; cannot be resized if a ring.
Stamping – Decorating technique where a relief design is achieved by means of die stamping or a mechanical stamping machine.
Step Cut – Generally used for colored stones. This cut is rectangular to square and has many facets parallel to the edges of the stone.
Sterling Silver – A durable jewelry metal consisting of at least 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy.
Table – The large, flat area at the top of a cut gemstone.
Tarnish – Undesirable dulling or discoloration due to the effects of heat, humidity, chemicals or aging on certain precious metals.
Tiffany Setting – A ring with a high, six-pronged solitaire diamond on a simple circular band.
Toggle Clasp – A jewelry fastener in which a bar can be inserted into a ring to fasten a piece of jewelry. It is used to attach the two ends of a necklace or bracelet.
Translucent – Used to describe the effects of light passing through a stone. Translucent stones appear frosted instead of clear or transparent.
Transparent – Used to describe the effects of light passing through a stone. Transparent stones are clear and easy to see through.
Trim Tool – Used for trimming excess material from the edges of a struck emblem.
Vermeil – Sterling silver that has been plated with at least 10K or better gold with an average thickness of 100 mills.
White Gold – Alloy of gold with nickel, palladium or platinum.
Zinc Aluminum – Used in die casting, the industry name is ZAMAC#3. This is an alloy consisting of 95% zinc and 4% aluminum. The aluminum is added to help the flow of metal into the die.
Due to the rise in the precious metals markets over the past few years, some customers have told our distributors that they can no longer afford a karat gold jewelry program. However, they also do not want an award program lacking precious metals, which their employees value. Dion now has a response for our distributors – Avantus and Opulite.
Avantus is Dion’s lower karat response for a high-value, non-plated “yellow” jewelry offering with a less demanding price point. Avantus is an optimum mix of the most recognized “noble” metals – low-percentage gold, platinum, and silver. This low percentage gold led precious metal alloy delivers a pleasing golden color, complementing multiple skin tones, clothing types, and colors as well as being compatible with the other jewelry owned by the wearer.
Opulite is also a market driven response for a “white” precious metal jewelry offering with wear properties exceeding sterling silver. However, it is priced more affordably than white gold while maintaining it luxurious white appearance without the need for rhodium plating. Opulite presents customers with a platinum family metal, palladium, with a permanent, un-enhanced, luxurious white appearance combined with greater wear properties such as, tarnish resistance and durability when compared with sterling silver. Opulite compares favorably to white gold economically and for maintaining its brilliant white color over time. Opulite also allows distributors an improved profitability as an upgraded option to sterling, with a less demanding investment option to white gold.
The introduction of Avantus and Opulite extends Dion’s leadership position in the precious metal recognition and promotional products markets by offering distributors a broader spectrum of precious metal price points from which to choose.
Traditionally, necklaces come in six lengths:
Collar (12-13 inches)
The collar necklace lies snugly around the middle of the neck.
Choker (14-16 inches)
The choker falls perfectly around the base of the neck.
Princess (17-19 inches)
This is the most common necklace length, hanging over the collarbones.
Matinee (20-24 inches)
The matinee necklace hangs between the princess and opera lengths.
Opera (28-34 inches)
The opera's impressive length makes it possible to wear as a single, double, or sometimes even triple, strand.
Rope or Lariat (over 45 inches)
Measuring at least 45 inches in length, the ropenecklace has clasps placed in strategic locations around the necklace which will enable you to break it down into multi-strand necklace and bracelet combinations. Lariats are at least 48 inches long, with the ends left unattached for knotting or wrapping around the neck.
Figaro Link Chain
Mariner Link Chain
When we speak of a diamond's color, we are usually referring to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. Diamonds are found in almost every color of the rainbow, but white-colored diamonds remain the most popular. Color is the result of the composition of the diamond, and it never changes over time.
Because a colorless diamond allows more light to pass through colorless diamonds emit more sparkle and fire. The Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) professional color scale that begins with the highest rating of D for colorless and travels the alphabet to grade stones with traces of very faint or light yellowish or brownish color.
Many people confuse cut with the shape of a diamond. Cut refers to the angles and proportion of a diamond. Diamonds are cut with a full 58 facets. A precisely cut diamond with the appropriate proportion and angles is designed to give the maximum light reflection, refraction and sparkle.
Generally, there are seven principle diamond shapes for jewelry: Round, Marquise, Emerald, Princess, Pear, Oval and Heart. Side stone options include these seven shapes as well as Baguette and Trillion. The most popular shapes of diamonds are:
Clarity refers to the presence of flaws on the surface of the diamond or inside the diamond. The flaws inside the diamond are referred to as "Inclusions"; those on the surface are referred to as "Blemishes". The degree to which these flaws are present in a diamond affects the clarity grading of the gem. Clarity grading ranges from Flawless (completely free of flaws) to Included 3 (diamond with large, heavy blemishes and inclusions which are visible to the eye).
Carat is often confused with size even though it is actually a measure of weight. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be divided into 100 "points". A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75 point or 3/4 carat diamond.
What are Conflict Diamonds?
The often-cited definition of conflict diamonds is the United Nations definition: “Diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the UN Security Council.”
E.A. Dion deals only with countries and suppliers actively complying with the standards of the United Nations Kimberley Process (www.KimberleyProcess.com) regulating the importing/exporting of government validated diamonds from a source free of conflict. You can read more about our commitment to conflict-free-diamonds by clicking here - Conflict-Free Diamonds.
Gold’s purity is measured in "karats". 24 Karat gold is pure gold, but its purity means it is more expensive and less durable than gold that is alloyed with other metals.
(parts of gold per 24) (parts of gold per 100)
24 Karat 100 percent
18 Karat 75.0 percent
14 Karat 58.3 percent
10 Karat 41.6 percent
The weight of gold or gold articles is usually expressed in troy ounces and/or pennyweight (dwt)
1 Troy ounce = 1.097 ordinary ounce
1 Troy ounce = 20 pennyweight (dwt)
The "d" in the traditional symbol for pennyweight (dwt) is from the Latin denarius, the small Roman coin which was the equivalent of a penny.
Yellow Gold is alloyed with silver and copper. It is the most frequently used type of gold there is.
White Gold is alloyed with a large percentage of silver and is therefore more expensive than yellow gold. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish.
Rose Gold is alloyed with copper and silver.
- 14kt yellow gold is 58.3% gold, 30% silver & 11.5% copper
- 14kt rose gold is 58.3% gold, 9% silver & 32.5% copper
By U.S. law, every gold article must have a karat mark. In addition to the karat mark, every piece of gold jewelry should be stamped with a hallmark or trademark of the manufacturer.
Regional Gold Preferences
Each part of the globe has very different expectations of what "gold" is.
United States 14karat/10karat
European Union 18karat/14karat
10 karat gold in the U.S. is very common and an acceptable alloy. Other parts of the world do not recognize or accept jewelry marked 10K as precious.
Gold-Plated versus Gold-Filled
Gold-plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold that has been applied to any base metal item by means of an electroplating (or dipping) process.
Gold-filled refers to stock material which is made by combining a layer of gold to a layer of base metal. The thickness of the gold layer will determine the percentage of gold by weight. It may be 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% gold.
Fine silver in its natural state, 999/1000 pure, is almost as soft as gold, too soft an element for practical jewelry. To make it workable, an alloy such as copper is added. The following are the more common silver alloys:
Sterling Silver - A mixture of 92.5% silver and 7.5% metal alloy Sometimes jewelry made of this metal mixture is marked .925, to indicate that the metal is at least 92.5% pure silver.
Mexican Silver - 90% - 99% pure silver
Coin Silver - 90% pure silver and 10% metal alloy
German Silver or Nickel Silver - A silver white alloy consisting of copper, zinc, and nickel
Vermeil - Sterling Silver electroplated with karat gold