Jewelry Designers Glossary, Part 1 - A

Welcome to the first in a regular series of articles which I hope will become a valuable and comprehensive jewelry designers glossary!

A is for.....

AB Crystal Earrings
by Erika Price
A rainbow-like iridescence reminiscent of the weather phenomenon called Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. An AB coating of thin layers of metal is applied to glass or acrylic beads to enhance the colour and provide a rainbow-like light reflecting finish

Abalones are gastropod mollucs that have one piece shells with a beautifully dichroic and iridescent surface

Made from natural and manmade materials, and available in various forms including blocks, paper and wheels, abrasives are used to smooth or clean surface marks

Used in resin to help speed up drying time

Acroite is a rare, colourless variety of tourmaline

Frosted Acrylic Earrings
by DesignsbyCher
A glassy thermoplastic material which can be molded into plastic-like beads or used to coat beads to give them colour and lustre. Acrylic is inexpensive, very lightweight, easily dyed and can be made into a variety of shapes. Acrylic beads are manufactured using a process known as suspension polymerization, and are generally less expensive and more durable than metal or glass beads.  Some commonly-known acrylics are lucite and plexiglas

A term that means having a lustre like that of a diamond

A common type of moonstone, a whitish-bluish semi-translucent stone usually set as a cabochon. Adularia was very popular early in the 20th century and was extensively used in Art Nouveau jewellery

The chemical symbol for silver

Agate Ring
by AdroitJewelers
Occurring in many colours ranging from transparent to opaque, agate is a distinctively banded form of chalcedony that is generally translucent in nature. It is composed of microscopic layers of crystalline quartz and is a quite durable stone that can be dyed different colours. In ancient times agate was highly prized as a talisman, and was also said to quench thirst and provide protection from fever. It is also a cooling stone that is believed to cure insomnia and promote strength and healing

A feather-shaped piece of jewellery that is worn in the hair or on a hat

Translucent and milky white, the mineral Alabaster is a variety of gypsum

Alexandrite Topaz Earrings
by CrystalImpressions
Named after Alexander II, Tsar of Russian, Alexandrite is a very rare gemstone of the Chrysoberyl family. Usually pale blue or green in colour, and believed to strengthen intuition. Alexandrite crystals have an optical property called pleochroism, which means that they are light sensitive and appear to change colour when viewed from different angles and in different types of light. This phenomenon is most evident under artificial light: they are blue in fluorescent light, and purple in ultra violet daylight

Alloys are metals made by combining two or more molten metals. Brass, white gold, sterling silver and pewter are all examples of alloys

The most common variety of garnet, Almandine is violet-tinged and ranges in colour from deep red to reddish-brown. Star Garnets are almandines that exhibit an asterism

A silver substitute alloy consisting of about 55% copper, 20% nickel, 20% zinc, and about 5% tin

Also known as Aluminum, this is a strong, durable, rustproof and non-magnetic metal which ranges in appearance from silver to dull grey, depending on the surface roughness. Aluminium is also lightweight and malleable, being easily machined, cast, and extruded, and is often made into jump rings for chain maille jewellery

Amber & Lampwork Glass Bracelet
by Erika Price
Also known as the Hope Stone, Amazonite is a brilliant green variety of feldspar believed to improve confidence and self worth. Despite its name, it is not found in the Amazon!

The fossilized resin from now-extinct conifers and ancient pine trees, and usually golden brown and translucent. Real amber can be distinguished from plastic and glass but its inclusions and its ability to float on water. Said to promote healing and give protection from negativity

This transparent purple semi-precious stone is the best known form of quartz, and is the birthstone for February. Believed to strengthen the immune system, ancient belief held that anyone wearing amethyst could not become intoxicated!

Ametrine Pendant
by Beadsme
A beautiful variety of quartz gemstone that contains both amethyst and citrine in the same crystal

Also known as korite, calcentine, or Buffalo Stone, Ammolite is a  fossilized, opalized ammonite shell used as a gemstone. It is a grey, iridescent stone with flashes of green, red, yellow or - more rarely - blue or purple. The colour changes as the stone is turned. Ammolite is very brittle and is usually treated with a colourless, hard material to increase the strength of the stone

A protective charm that is worn to protect the wearer from evil or illness or to bring good luck

A polymorph with two other minerals, Kyanite and Sillimanite, Andalusite is an aluminum silicate. It is pleochroic, which means it displays all its different orange, brown, yellow, green and golden colours in different directions at the same time. Chiastolite is a form of Andalusite crystal with carbonaceous inclusions that form a dark cross in cross section, which was once worn for protection and to thwart evil eye curses. Andalusite is thought to enhance intellect, problem solving abilities and mental clarity

Garnet Anklet
by SophieLuckJewelry
A chain worn around the ankle

The process of heating and then slowly cooling a material to make it stronger and more pliable, especially for metal sheets and wire. Lampwork glass beads are also annealed to make them more durable and prevent them from shattering

Anodized metal has been through an electrochemical process which changes the molecular structure of the surface layer, giving it a thin, protective film. The metal is placed in an acid bath, at the "anode" or positive end of the electrical circuit, and an electrical current is passed through it. This process causes controlled oxidation of the metals surface, and colourful surfaces may be produced. Anodized metal has a lustrous sheen. Aluminium, magnesium, titanium, and tantalum are all commonly anodized

The process of electrolytically coating a metallic surface with protective and/or decorative oxide. Anodizing reactive metals like Niobium uses high-voltage, low-amperage and employs non-toxic electrolysis, in contrast to the more common process of anodizing aluminium described above

Antique Copper, Antique Gold, Antique Silver
We're not talking here about real copper, real gold, or real silver, but about inexpensive base metals which have been plated with copper or gold or silver. The surface of the plated metal is darkened and then the flat surfaces are polished, which gives the article an aged appearance that similar to an antique patina

An iron tool used to form metal

Citrine and Apatite Necklace
by fuchsiabloomstudio
Apache Tears
A glassy, lustrous form of obsidian, a volcanic glass. It is formed when viscous lava flows cool rapidly, and is is usually black in colour

Most commonly found in shades of green but also found in yellows, pinks, browns, violets, and blues, Apatite is a soft and often very brittle stone. It has apparently been used in dieting to suppress hunger and strengthen the muscles

Aqua Aura
A beautiful iridescent bluish to clear stone, made by coating clear quartz with a fine layer of gold, aluminium or copper using a process called called vapour deposition. The quartz is placed in a vacuum chamber and attached to very hot electrodes, and is coated with a thin layer of the metal a micron or so thick as the metal evaporates

Aquamarine is a brilliant clear gemstone that is sometimes mistaken for the less expensive blue topaz, but is in fact a member of the beryl family. Often heated to enhance the colour, it naturally occurs in light to dark blue, and sometimes a bluish green. Aquamarine is traditionally the birthstone for March and is believed to be a universal symbol of youth, hope, and health
Natural Aquamarine Pendant
by ovgilliesdesigns

Aqua Regia
A 3:1 mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid used to test gold and platinum

Arcade Setting
Also known as a coronet or chaton setting, an arcade is one in which the stone is held in place by many metal claws around a metal ring

Argentium is a modern new silver alloy which was developed in the UK in the 1990s. Like sterling silver, Argentium is at least 92.5% pure silver, but with germanium replacing some of the copper which traditionally makes up the remaining 7.5%. The addition of germanium gives the silver increased ductility, a whiter appearance and high tarnish resistance. It is also resistant to firestain, the dark copper oxide stain that forms on the surface of sterling silver when it is annealed or soldered

Art Deco
Originating in Paris, Art Deco was a popular style during the period from the mid-1920's until the 1930's.  Art Deco jewellery is characterized by geometric lines and angles, with very few curves

Art Nouveau
A popular style around the period from 1895 until World War I. Art Nouveau jewellery is characterized by curves and naturalistic designs, especially depicting long-haired, sensual women

Art Nouveau Style Pendant
by sendinglovegallery
Arts and Crafts 
An artistic movement that produced hand-crafted jewellery towards the end of the 1800's. Pieces purposely look hand-made, incorporating hammer marks and simple settings, and many jewellery pieces of this period are enamelled

A chemical process used to define the fine precious metal content of a material, expressed as a percentage, as in .925 for sterling silver, or a weight, as in 9ct gold

A star-like luminous effect that reflects light in some gemstones

Chemical symbol for gold

Austrian crystal
Glass imitation of natural or rock crystal (quartz)

Aventurine Earrings
by TheBrassHussy
The gemstone Aventurine is a form of chalcedony and a member of the Quartz family, along with Amethyst, Carnelian and Citrine. It is sometimes mistaken for goldstone as it contains flecks of various shiny minerals, inclusions of mica or iron oxide, that give it a sparkly look known as aventurescence. Most aventurine is naturally reddish brown or yellow. The green, red and blue aventurine you'll find on the market is almost always dyed to achieve its colour. It is named for its resemblance to Venetian aventurine glass - tradition holds that a Murano worker accidentally dropped copper filings into the molten glass, and the attractive new material was named avventurino after the Italian word avventura for "by chance". It is said to calm a troubled mind, thereby bringing inner peace and to increase confidence and gratitude, and promote emotional tranquility and positive attitudes

This dark blue mineral is quite soft and was traditionally used as a pigment or dye. It is often found growing alongside malachite and is believed to help develop a persons psychic abilities and intuition. Azurite has been used in jewellery since ancient times, and is produced by weathering copper ore deposits Registered & Protected


  1. Beautiful blog erika and really informative too. Thankyou!

  2. A very useful resource. Keep writing!

  3. Exquisite blog and photos, what a great idea.

  4. Erika,
    This is great! Whew - jewelry has a lot of A's:P

  5. A huge undertaking here, but I can see you enjoy it. Thanks for supplying a comprehensive and valuable reference!!

  6. Hurrah, this is brilliant, can't wait for more! I'll be putting the theory about amethyst to the test, lol! x

  7. I am not a jewellery maker but this is so interesting.

  8. Wow, this is really a comprehensive glossary! Nice job!

  9. How cool it this! Great great idea! Thanks so much for doing it.


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