**Many thanks to Wikipedia


Brass is a common choice for jewelry, since it has an attractive gold color and is an affordable alternative to precious metals. A combination of copper and zinc, it is a very strong material, which means that jewelry products made with brass are durable as well as affordable, since it does not contain precious metals. Brass may tarnish over time but simple polishing will solve that. Today's brass jewelry is mostly lead-free, but some vintage brass pieces may contain small amounts of lead.which can be toxic to children and adults. Brass may also contain nickel and aluminum, so people with metal allergies should avoid it.


Similar to brass, bronze is an alloy of multiple metals, often, containing copper, tin, and zinc. Bronze has a warm, brownish-gold tone that works well with a variety of stones and materials. Bronze is great for detail work, is affordable, and is strong and durable.

Like more metals, bronze has a tendency to tarnish or change color but simple polishing will solve this. It usually contains some nickel and aluminum, and can bother people with metal allergies. Older bronze jewelry may also contain dangerous quantities of lead.


Copper has a lovely, warm reddish glow which makes it a gorgeous choice for artisan jewelry. Copper is extremely easy to work with and was actually the first metal worked by jewelers in ancient civilizations. It is also affordable compared to gold and silver although more costly than brass and bronze.

As with all metals, Copper will tarnish over time, so its color will darken, easily fixed by polishing occasionally. It can turn skin green on occasion, especially if worn for extended time.


Gold is one of the most versatile and lovely metals for jewelry. It is fairly easily worked into almost any shape; because of the softness of pure gold, it is available in different karats, which denotes it’s purity and alloy content. There are actually several different colors of gold available. It is one of the most precious and expensive metals. Because gold is so expensive, many pieces are gold-filled or gold-plated. This means that a layer of gold is applied over a less expensive base metal. Items that are gold-filled have a much thicker layer of gold than pieces that are gold-plated.


Silver is another beautiful white metal used in jewelry. Silver is extremely soft, and jewelry is rarely pure silver. Variations include Sterling Silver which is made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or other alloy, These proportions are fixed by law. Sterling silver will tarnish over time, taking on an antiqued look. Fine Silver is 99.9% silver. This more pure version of silver is softer and whiter than sterling silver. Since there is no copper used as an alloy less oxidation occurs than in sterling silver. It also fuses beautifully. Sterling silver filled items are made by combining an outer layer of sterling silver (.925/20) and a base metal core. Sterling silver-filled must be at least 1/10, or 10%, sterling silver. This information may be seen as .925/10. Sterling silver-filled items handle like sterling silver in most techniques. Silver-plated items have a very thin layer of silver, which is easily damaged.

Barrel Clasp

A jewelry closure resembling a barrel; the two pieces screw into one another to keep the piece secure.

Bezel Setting

Bezel setting is the earliest method of setting stones into a piece of jewelry. The bezel is a band of metal that has been shaped into the size and shape of the gemstone. The setting is soldered to the piece of jewelry and the stone is inserted and secured by manipulating the bezel rim.

Bicycle Chain

Chain that resembles the chain on a bicycle.

Body Jewelry

Jewelry worn in piercings on various parts of the body: eyebrows, lip, nose, belly button, nipples, cheek, bridge of the nose, etc.

Bold Ring

(Statement Ring) A large or glamorous ring that attracts attention.


A chain with wide, square links resembling a box.


A pin.


Having a smooth finish as though rubbed or polished.

Byzantine Chain

A chain with links that are set closely in an intricate pattern. This creates a cylindrical tube with circular links going vertically, horizontally, and diagonally across one another.


Gem or stone which is cut and polished with a dome or rounded upper surface as opposed to faceted and typically has a flat back. These are typically bezel-set.


A piece of jewelry that features a stone at the center that is caged in with “bars” of metal or gemstones.

Calibrated Stone

A stone cut to a very specific size to fit a specific setting..


A jeweler or lapidary tool used for measuring accurately.


A design cut in low relief, with the background cut away.


Gems are weighed in carats. A carat is 1/5th of a gram.


A necklace that sits close to the throat along the collar bones.


The point where a bracelet, necklace, earring or other type of jewelry closes at the clasp.

Costume Jewelry

Costume jewelry does not contain precious metals or genuine precious gemstones.


The upper part of a cut gemstone, above the girdle.


Describes how a stone is faceted or shaped. The most popular shapes are round, brilliant, marquise, pear, emerald, princess, square, and oval.


A gem or glass stone that appears to have two different colors or shades when viewed from different directions or in different light.


The process of using strong acid to cut away the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design incised into the metal.


An extra piece or chain on a necklace t to adjust the length.


Surface of a cut and polished gem.


Pieces commonly used in jewelry creation to put together, close or finish a piece, such as clasps, bales, settings, o-rings, jump rings, hooks, etc.


Refers to the way a metal surface has been finished as the last step in jewelry creation. Metal can be glossy, brushed, hammered, textured, etc..


Width, of metal and wire in jewelry terms.

Hammered Finish

Hammering a piece of metal so that it becomes multifaceted. This creates more planes or surfaces in the metal from which light can reflect. Hammered finishes can be glossy, satin, or matte.


A term that refers to a stone’s resistance to scratching according to the Moh’s Scale. A diamond is the most hard at 10.

Herringbone Chain

A thick, flat chain that features the classic herringbone design.

High Polished Finish

This is achieved through excessive buffing and polishing. The result is an extremely smooth, unblemished surface with a glossy shine.

Hollow Back

Refers to a piece of jewelry that features a back that has been hollowed out to reduce both weight and also, in most cases, allow light to reach the gemstones more readily. Usually hollowed with a design or logo.


Reflection of light off internal features in a gem, causing a rainbow play of colors.

Jump Ring

A jump ring or O-ring is a piece of round or oval metal that is used in jewelry fabrication to close or to connect parts of jewelry.

Lower Shank

The lower shank is usually found half way down the ring. In the case of with split shanks, it can be lower or higher and is dependent on where the split lies.

Metal clay

Consists of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water. Metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, sculpted or using molds. Pieces that are made of metal clay are fired in a kiln and turn into sterling silver or fine silver (or copper, brass or bronze!) once the binder burns away. They are then workable just like any other metal.

Mirror Finish

A metal finish which is so highly polished that it reflects images as though it were a mirror.


AKA tarnishing……A chemical reaction between different types of metals and air. Tarnish is the result of the oxidation process with sterling silver and pure silver.


A thin layer of tarnish that forms on metal, giving it an antique affect. An artificial patina can be applied using acids and chemical compounds, and is typically used to add “pop” or depth to etched or textured pieces.


Pendants can be switched from chain to chain. A necklace has a chain that connects directly to the featured design and so cannot be removed.

Pressure Open Back

A ring or toe ring that is not connected at the bottom of the shank and can be adjusted for fit.


A tapering metal part, usually one of several, rising a piece of jewelry and formed over a stone to hold it in position.

Rolled Edge

A piece of jewelry that features a rolled edge either through forming or soldering.

Rolo Chain

A chain with oval or circlular links that are connected to one another throughout the design.


A rock or crystal still in its natural state, before faceting or polishing.

Safety Clasp

A secondary closure on some bracelets and necklaces to add extra security.

Satin Finish

A matte finish with a lustrous sheen, less inclined to show dirt and wear than a high-gloss finish.


An edge that is scalloped has a shaped edge created from multiple half circles.


A finding shaped like an "S" that joins parts together without hinges or other moving parts. One side of the "S" is attached with a jump ring securely and the other can be looped into an opening for attachment.

Shank (Band)

The Shank, or the band, is the bottom portion of the ring that wraps around your finger.

Split Shank

Refers to a ring band that splits into two pieces or more usually where the upper and lower shank meet.

Stack bracelets

Just as with stacking rings, these bracelets are designed to be worn stacked together.

Stack Rings

Rings designed to be stacked on the same finger.


A gem or glass stone that shows three different colors or shades when viewed from different directions or manipulated in light.


Jewelry crafted from three different types of metal to add interest or contrast.