A mineral with the same chemical composition as cubic zirconia. It is
powdered, melted down, and mixed with oxides to make cubic zirconia.
Baffa diamond is actually rock crystal and not a real diamond.
A gemstone cut in a narrow rectangular shape reminiscent of a loaf of
French bread, from which it draws its name. Small diamonds cut this way
are often used as accents for rings and necklaces.
A hoop-like attachment for a pendant that allows a pendant to be worn
on a chain or
necklace. Some pins or brooches are supplied with removable bails. These
are usually made by soldering a hoop to a small tube which can then be
slipped over the pin stem so the piece can also be worn as a necklace
on a chain, collar or omega necklace.
A moldable plastic invented by Leo Bakeland in 1909, it was used in jewelry
extensively during the U.S. Great Depression of the 1930's. Bakelite can
be molded, lathe-carved, and one color can be inlaid into another, as
in polka dots. The inlaid and carved pieces are especially popular with
collectors today. It has a distinct scent when rubbed similar to formaldehyde.
A ring, (such as a traditional wedding band), that has the same width
all the way around.
Banded agate is a type of agate with distinct layers of color.
A bangle is a stiff bracelet. Some bangles have a hinge (like the Miriam
Haskell bangle pictured above); others are solid and must be slipped over
Bar and Ring Clasp
A bar and ring clasp (also called a toggle clasp) is a jewelry fastener
in which a bar can be inserted into a ring to fasten a pice of jewelry.
It is used to attach the two ends of a necklace or bracelet.
A bar shaped, (long, narrow), brooch which is often set with gemstones
Barclay was a Providence, Rhode Island costume jewelry company that sold
many of its pieces through Marshall Field Department store. It began production
in May, 1948. One hallmark is an artist's palette, reading, "Barclay
Art in Jewelry." Barclay is NOT the same as McClelland Barclay
A hinged bar which fits into a catch and is secured in the catch with
'Baroda Gem' is a trade name for a colorless glass stone with a foil back.
A pearl with an uneven or craggy shape and/or surface. Also an irregularly
shaped stone or glass bead.
Baroque pearls are irregularly-shaped pearls. Baroque pearls can be natural
A bar pin (also called a bar brooch) is a long pin that is worn horizontally
A method of securing two ends of a chain together by having one half of
a fitting screw into the other half. When the two halves are screwed together
they resemble a barrel.
A barrette is an ornament worn clipped into the hair.
A dark volcanic rock, often with a glassy appearance, composed chiefly
of plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine.
The collective term for any and all non-precious metals.
A fancy setting with a lacy or basket-looking appearance due to numerous
holes pierced in the side.
Basse-taille (meaning "low cutting" in French) is an enameling
technique in which the underlying metal (usually gold or silver) is carved
in low relief (the metal's surface is cut away by engraving or chasing,
producing a sculpted surface). The highest point of the relief carving
is below the surface of the surrounding metal. Translucent enamels are
applied over the carved metal, allowing the design to remain visible through
the enamel. The hue of the enamel changes with the depth of the glaze,
resulting in subtle variations in color over the high and low design elements.
A baton is a stone that is cut in a long, thin rectangular shape. A baton
is larger than a baguette.
A clay-like mineral, bauxite is the principal ore of aluminum. It is composed
of aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides. Bauxite is used as an abrasive,
a catalyst, and a refractory for the lining of furnaces which are exposed
to intense heat.
A bayadère is a pearl necklace that has many strands of pearls
B. David is a mark used by the B. David jewelry company. This Cincinnati,
Ohio, company was started in 1945 and is still in business. The company
produces medium-quality costume jewelry pieces (often studded with rhinestones
and faux pearls) and also now makes pieces from gold and silver. Marks
from this company include B. David, b. David and bd (on the diagonal).
Beach glass (also called sea glass) is glass from old broken bottles,
windows of wrecked ships, etc. that has been worn down and etched by the
sea and sand over the years. This glass is smooth and looks like beautifully
sand-blasted glass and has a beautiful patina. Pieces of this glass are
collected on beaches and often made into jewelry items. Brown, deep green
and clear are the most common colors of sea glass; after these come blue,
amber and aqua. Rare colors include pink, red, purple, light yellow, and
A small, usually round, object with a hole pierced through it to be strung
as a necklace, bracelet, etc. Beads are commonly made from stone, shell,
glass, or plastic.
Beau and Beaucraft
Beau and Beaucraft are marks used by the costume jewelry company called
Beaucraft, Inc. This Providence, Rhode Island company was started in 1947
and is still in business. Beau and Beaucraft pieces come in a variety
of styles (including many figurals) and compositions; pieces are made
from silver, goldplated metal, gold over silver, and 14kt gold.
A bell cap is a jewelry finding that is used to convert a hole-less bead
or stone with into a pendant. A bell cap is glued onto the bead or stone
and had a loop for attaching to the piece of jewelry.
The Belle Epoque (meaning "Beautiful Time" in French) was the
Edwardian period, the time of the reign of Edward VII of England (1901-1910).
A form of body jewelry worn in or on the belly button.
Benitoite is a rare, blue gemstone that is found mostly in the San Benito
River in San Benito County, near Coalinga, California (lesser quality
benitoite is found in Mont St. Hilaire, Quebec, Canada). Benito means
"blessed" in Spanish. This gemstones is strongy dichroic; although
Benitoite is blue when viewed from most directions, it appears colorless
when viewed in a single direction (the c-axis). Some unusual Benitoite
is blue, but pink or orange when viewed through the c-axis. Benitoite
is BaTiSi3O9 (Barium Titanium Silicate); no one is sure what element causes
the blue color of benitoite, but it may be iron. Benitoite has a hardness
of 6 - 6.5, a specific gravity of 3.68, and a refractive index of 1.757
- 1.804. Benitoite has a very unusual crystalline shape - it is the only
known ditrigonal-dipyramidal crystal. Large stones (over 1 or 2 carats)
are exceedingly rare. Benitoite was discovered in California in 1907,
either by Mr. Hawkins and T. Edwin Sanders or James Marshall Couch (the
story is in dispute). Heat-treated benitoite becomes orange; these stones
are more expensive. Benitoite is California's official state gemstone
Bergere is a mark used on costume jewelry made by the company Herbet and
Pohs, Inc. This medium- to high-quality costume jewelry has been sold
in stores like Lord and Taylor and Marshall Fields.
Beryls are a family of gemstone that include emerald, aquamarine, beryl
(green), red (red beryl), morganite (pink), and heliodor (greenish yellow,
named for the sun), and goshenite (colorless). Beryl has a hardness of
7 - 8, a specific gravity of 2.6 - 2.9, and the chemical formula Be3Al2SiO6.
Internal flaws in beryl gems can be hidden by treating the stone with
oil (this is often not disclosed to the buyer).
Another name for Glucinum.
A tradition dating back to as early as ancient Rome where it was called
an anulus pronubus, a betrothal ring is usually a plain ring without a
stone presented by a man to his fiancée indicating their intention
Any surface that is cut at an angle less than 90 degrees.
Although it is now often used to refer to the entire ring setting, the
bezel is more accurately the term for the metal case which the gem is
set into. The ring of metal that surrounds the stone is called the "collet".
A bezel setting is a technique of setting a stone in jewelry. The stone
is held in place by first soldering the bezel, or metal ring, to the base
of the piece. Next, the stone is inserted and the metal is compressed
tightly around the stone.
A bib necklace (also known as a collarette) is a short necklace with flowing
ornaments in the front.
Birefringence is another name for double refraction. In doubly-refractive
stones, the light entering the stone is split into two light rays, and
the rays travel in different paths. These stones have more than one refractive
index. Calcite, peridot, zircon, tourmaline, and titanite are doubly-refractive
Birthstones have their roots in ancient astrology, and there have been
many birthstone lists used over the years. The most common one today is
based on a list first publicized by the Jewelers of America in the 1950s:
January - Garnet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Pearl or Moonstone
July - Ruby
August - Peridot
September - Sapphire
October - Opal
November - Citrine
December - Turquoise (or Blue Topaz)
Biwa pearls are freshwater pearls from Lake Biwa in Japan. These irregularly-shaped
pearls are smoother and more lustrous than most other freshwater pearls.
Black Hills Gold
A style of jewelry made in the Black Hills area of South Dakota featuring
10kt yellow gold with accents of 12kt rose and green golds usually featuring
a grape and grape-leaf motif.
Black opals are a valuable type of precious opals with a dark ground color.
They are luminous, iridescent, and frequently have inclusions of many
colors ("fire"). Opal is a mineral composed of silica (and some
water) and is a species of quartz. The rainbow-like iridescence is caused
by tiny crystals of cristobalite. Many opals have a high water content
- they can dry out and crack if they are not cared for well (opals should
be stored in damp cotton wool). Opals have a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 and
a specific gravity of 1.98-2.50. Black opals are found in Australia.
Opaque black colored onyx.
Black pearls (also called Tahitian pearls) are dark-colored pearls. They
are produced by the large, black-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera
(also called the Tahitian black pearl oyster), a mollusk found in the
tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean. Black pearls come in many colors, including
many body shades and overtone tints including gray (light gray to almost
black), peacock green (especially valuable), aubergine (eggplant), and
deep brown. The color of the dark nacre is determined by the minerals
in the oyster's diet (plankton) and in its environment. Many "black
pearls" are dyed or irridiated to enhance or change their color;
it is difficult to tell a natural pearl from a treated pearl. Tahitian
pearls are graded on six factors: 1.Shape (round is most valued), 2.Size
(the larger the better), 3.Surface Quality= (clean is superior to blemished),
4.Luster (the more high-gloss luster the better), 5.Nacre Thickness (thicker
is better and longer lasting), and 6.Color (overtones atop the body color
add value to the pearl. The most sought-after color is peacock green and
darker colors are more valuable Overtone colors include blue, pink, gold,
silver, aubergine, and peacock green).
Black Prince’s Ruby
Not an actual ruby, but a ruby-red color of spinel.
Black Star Diopside (Black Star Of India)
Black star of India is another name for Black Star diopside (CaMgSi2O6),
an opaque black gem with a white, four-rayed star (an asterism). It has
a hardness of 5.5 and a specific gravity of 3.3 - 3.6. These stones are
found mostly in India. Stones are generally cut cabochon and are not enhanced.
Bleaching is a process in which a gemstone's color is removed using a
A flaw, such as a nick or scratch, on the surface of a stone.
Bling bling is an American slang term used to describe large, showy jewelry,
especially jewelry encrusted with diamonds. The term was coined in the
late 1990s by the New Orleans rappers Cash Money Millionaires.
A pearl that forms attached to the shell.
Bloodstone is a soft green jasper mottled with red spots from iron oxide.
A type of chalcedony it is also known as Heliotrope. Bloodstone is a relatively
soft stone and is one of the ancient birthstones for February or March
The term used for gold jewelry that has been immersed in an acid bath
giving it a textured, slightly matte appearance.
Blue diamonds are rare, fancy diamonds and are quite valuable. Diamonds
are precious, lustrous gemstones made of highly-compressed carbon; they
are one of the hardest materials known. Diamonds have a hardness of 10,
a specific gravity of 3.5, and a refractive index of 2.417 - 2.419.
Blue gold is gold with a bluish tinge. It has been alloyed with a mix
that includes iron.
Blue Lace Agate
A translucent light blue agate with milky white banding.
A topaz that is light brown or colorless when mined but turns a vivid
blue when exposed to heat. Blue Topaz is an alternate birthstone for December.
A bodkin is a heavily jeweled, Renaissance era hairpin.
Jewelry designed to be worn on or in any part of the body. While all jewelry
is technically worn on the body, the term "Body Jewelry" is
typically used when referring to belly rings, nose studs, toe rings, tongue
bars, and for jewelry designed for pierced lips, eyebrows, nipples, or
any skin surface.
Bog-oak is old oak wood that has been blackened and preserved by being
in low-oxygen Irish and Scotish peat-bogs for thousands of years. Bog-oak
was carved and used as inexpensive Victorian era jewelry. It was also
used for decorative objects, bowls, chests, dagger handles, and other
"Bogoff" and "Jewels by Bogoff" are marks used on
costume jewelry made by the Spear Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois,
USA. The Bogoff mark was first used in 1946. Bogoff jewelry is high-quality,
was made in small runs, and is often studded with rhinestones.
A "Bohemian diamond" is not a diamond at all, it is actually
a rock crystal.
Term for the red pyrope garnet found in much Victorian and turn of the
A Bohemian ruby is actually a pyrope garnet (and not a ruby at all).
Boke is a Japanese term for coral that is rose colored.
A braided leather loop worn about the neck and adorned with a slide, (an
ornament of silver, stone or other material fastened so that it slides
up under the chin), leaving the two leather ends hanging.
A bolt ring (also known as a spring ring) is a hollow circular metal fastening
ring with a spring opening. It is used to attach two other rings or links
of a necklace or bracelet. The bolt ring was invented early in the 1900's.
Jewelry made prior to 1900 or so will not
The word itself simply means "curving or bulging outward". In
regards to jewelry it refers to a dome-shaped setting often seen in rings
and earrings from the 1940s and 1950s.
Bonding is a process in which a colorless bonding agent (like plastic)
is applied on and into a porous gemstone to make the stone more durable
and give it an enhanced appearance.
Bone is animal bone, carved to make beads, pins, bangles, etc. It superficially
resembles ivory, but has a less-complex characteristic internal patterns
and a yellower color.
A Victorian style of chain made in gold, gold filled , and sterling silver,
in which each link is a rectangular, folded piece of metal resembling
a book. They were often elaborately engraved and had large lockets attached.
A soft, brown, nonmetallic element. It is extracted with some difficulty
and in its reduced state appears as a substance of a deep olive color,
in a semi-metallic form, and in colorless quadratic crystals similar to
the diamond in hardness and other properties. Boron is used in flares,
propellant mixtures, nuclear reactor control elements, abrasives, and
hard metallic alloys.
Bort is a term for industrial grade diamonds.
Botanical gems are minerals that form from plants or plant material. Some
botanical gems include amber (fossilized tree resin), coconut pearl (a
rare, shiny, calcareous, pearl-like mineral that forms inside the coconut,
Cocos nucifera), and pearl opal (also called Tabasheer opal, which form
in injured bamboo joints).
Marcel Boucher (?-1965) was a French jewelry designer who started the
Boucher company ( in NY, NY). Boucher began the company: Marcel Boucher
and Cie, which produced high-quality costume from 1937 to 1972 (after
Boucher's death in 1965, his wife Sandra Boucher, who was also a jewelry
designer, led the company - in 1972, the company was purchased by Dovorn
Industries). Boucher had designed jewelry for the MAzer costume company
before starting his own company. The bird pin above is gold-plated with
paste and enamel. Boucher marks include "Marcel Boucher", "Boucher"
Boulder opal forms on a dark ironstone base (the host rock) and occurs
as a thin uneven layer adhering to the ironstone. Because of the uneven
layers, sometimes part of the ironstone is visible on the surface of the
Boulder opal is found in a wide range of colors including: green, blue,
aqua, and pink. See opal varieties and opal description for more in depth
discussions about this wonderful gemstone.
A bouton pearl (also called a blister pearl) is a pearl that developed
attached to the inside of the mollusk's shell. This type of pearl must
be cut off the shell, and is therefore hemispherical (half a sphere).
Because of their shape, blister pearls are mostly used for earrings.
Bows are a common motiff in jewelry. The pin pictured above is a sterling
bow made by Trifari.
Originally just a wide leather strap worn on the left wrist to protect
the arm from bow strings, it is now usually decorated with a wide ornament
A method of connecting two ends of a chain. One end has a box with an
opening which is notched on the top of the box. The other end has a flat
piece of metal which has been folded over to form a spring with a knob
at the end. The folded metal spring slips into the hole in the box with
the knob sticking out through the notch in the top. The compressed spring
holds the two ends in place. It is released by pressing the knob. The
connection is usually reinforced by a figure 8 catch.
See Box Clasp.
A chain in which each link is wide and square so that it resembles a box.
A form of jewelry worn around the wrist.
The Braganza is a huge gemstone that may or may not be a diamond. This
Portuguese stone is said to weigh 1680 carats (which would make it the
largest-known diamond), but it has not been authenticated - it may actually
be a clear topaz.
An alloy made up of roughly half copper and half zinc which has a nice
A Brazilian chain (also called a snake chain) is a metal chain made up
of a series of small, linked cups.
Brilliant cut stones have 56 facets, 32 facets are above the girdle, 24
are below. Most modern-day diamonds are brilliant cut since it maximizes
the amount of reflected light from the stone (its natural fire). The brilliant
cut was introduced in the 1600's, possibly by Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661),
a politician and lover of gems.
Rock composed of sharp-angled fragments embedded in a fine-grained matrix.
Some Jaspers and agates are brecciated (pronounced: bretch-e-ated).
An engagement and wedding ring that come in a set and usually match or
compliment each other.
Bridge jewelry is jewelry that "bridges the gap" between fine
(precious) jewelry and costume jewelry. An example of bridge jewelry is
sterling silver pieces.
The amount of sparkle a stone gives off through reflection and refraction
A cut gemstone having 56 to 58 facets to maximize the volume of light
that is reflected from the inside and thus produce the greatest brilliance.
The most common shape of brilliant cut stones are round, which is why
this is type of cut is sometimes called a "round-cut", but oval,
marquise, pear shape and heart shapes are not unusual.
A gemstone cut with triangular facets into the shape of a teardrop or
Britannia Or Pewter
An alloy of tin, antimony, and copper with a dull silver-color.
A silver alloy composed of 958 parts silver in 1000 hallmarked with the
figure of Britannia. Britannia silver was mandatory in England from 1697
to 1720 to prevent the melting down of sterling coins to create silver
A very dense and heavy alloy of 60% copper and 40% tin. It has a dull
brown color and is not favored for jewelry because of the weight.
An ornamental piece of jewelry with a pin and clasp to be attached to
clothing, from the French word "broche", meaning "to pierce"
or an object/weapon made for piercing.
The term for shaping the girdle of a diamond, the first step in the cutting
A series of tiny parallel lines scratched onto a surface with a wire brush
or polishing tool to produce texture
Bruting is the first step in cutting a diamond. Bruting involves shaping
the girdle, which gives the stone its basic shape.
BSK is a costume jewelry company that made mid-range pieces. This New
York company was in business from around 1950 until the 1970's (?). BSK
stands for the initals of the owners: B for Benny Steinberg, S for Hy
Slovitt, and K for Kaslo. The BSK pin above is gold plated and decorated
with rhinestones and enamel.
Bubbles are spherical or tear-shaped bubbles of gas captured in glass
stones. Bubbles can also be found in resins (like plastics and amber),
and much less-frequently in minerals (like quartz, emerald, and topaz).
Looking for bubbles is one way to determine if a gem is glass or a gemstone.
Buccellati and Mario Buccellati are marks of Buccellati, Inc., a costume
jewelry company that made intricate silver-colored pieces in ornate and
The slang term given to the leaf of the cannabis plant, which is the plant
used to make hemp products. It is a popular motif in modern jewelry. Also
called a "marijuana leaf".
A bugle bead is a long, thin, tube-shaped glass bead.
A bulla is an ancient Roman pendant that consists of a rounded container
holding an amulet (a good luck charm). The bulla is worn on a strap around
A setting in which the gem is set flush with the setting's surface without
using prongs to hold it in place.
A deep six prong setting with prongs that flare from the scalloped looking
base resembling a buttercup flower.
A chain composed of very tiny butterfly-shaped links with oval-shaped
"wings". The butterflies are linked head to tail at a slight
angle very close to one another so that the wings form a long continuous
spiral along the length of the chain.
A fitting that slides onto the back of an earring post to secure it in
Butterfly wing jewelry is made from real butterfly wings. A picture is
usually painted on the wings, which is then enclosed in glass or plastic
and then mounted in metal to make a pin, pendant, or other piece of jewelry.
A method of joining two parts of a garment together by means of a toggle
fastened to one side of the garment which is then pushed through a slit
in the other side of the garment. The toggle, called a "button",
is usually a disk and may be quite ornamental. Some buttons are worn strictly
as decoration rather than serving a functional purpose. The term "button"
is also applied to round pins that usually bear a slogan of some kind.
An earring with no dangling parts.
An intricately designed chain. Two pairs of oval-shaped links are linked
together. Each pair is then parted to allow a large thick oval link to
be attached to the other pair.