Jewelry Terms You Should Know

It’s important to be in the know when you are shopping for and purchasing jewelry. Whether you’re looking for new bracelet styles or a gorgeous piece of diamond jewelry, knowing key terms will help you make wise purchasing decisions and smart jewelry investments. Roman Malakov is passionate about educating our clientele and walking alongside each individual as they explore new rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelet styles.

Jewelry Types & Styles

If you’re looking for a particular jewelry piece or style, it’s important to know the correct terms before beginning your shopping. You may desire a jewelry style from a certain era, or you may be looking for a specific type of earring or a particular bracelet style. These terms will help you understand what you’re looking for so you can better communicate with your jewelry consultant.

Antique – Any piece of jewelry that is more than 100 years old

Bangles – A closed bracelet that is not flexible; one of the most popular bracelet styles

Chandelier – An earring style that resembles a chandelier; typically long and elaborate in design, often consisting of tiers of gemstones

Drop – A style of earring and necklaces where a gemstone or focal point of the jewelry “drops”; typically more formal than other jewelry styles and often features a gemstone

Estate – Any piece of jewelry that has been previously owned; may also fall into another category of jewelry, such as vintage or antique

Eternity – A ring style that has an infinite circle of diamonds or other gemstones with no break between them; most commonly seen as wedding bands

High Jewelry – The most luxurious, superior, and high-quality jewelry; also known as high-end jewelry; commonly made of the finest materials and created by the most exclusive designers

Modern – A style of jewelry that is defined by clean lines, geometric patterns and shapes, and chic design

Retro – A style of jewelry established in the 1930s; characterized by chunky designs, bold colors, and large stones

Vintage – Any piece of jewelry or style of jewelry from between 50 and 100 years ago; characteristics include intricate details, as well as free-flowing and organic designs

Diamond & Gemstone Terms

When shopping for jewelry, you need to know the important terms that the jeweler may use to ensure you’re making a well-informed decision about your purchase. This section includes a variety of terms covering the basics of diamonds and gemstones, from settings to characteristics and more.

Appraisal – Assigning a monetary value to a piece of jewelry, a diamond, or a gemstone; usually done by a qualified gemologist for insurance purposes or to ensure a wise purchase decision

Bezel – A type of setting for a diamond or other stone that uses a collar instead of prongs to hold the stone in place

Brilliance – Refers to the amount of life or sparkle reflected from inside a gemstone

Carat – Not to be confused with “karat”; the unit of weight used to measure diamonds and other gemstones; one of the 4 Cs of diamond education

Clarity – One of the 4 Cs; refers to how many or how few blemishes and inclusions exist within a stone

Cut – One of the 4 Cs; refers to the proportions, depth, and symmetry of the diamond[1] , as well as its brilliance, fire, and overall beauty; not to be confused with the shape of the diamond (round, princess, oval, marquise, Asscher, etc.)

Eye-Clean – In regards to clarity; when a diamond or gemstone that appears flawless with the naked eye

Facet – A flat surface on a gemstone; directly responsible for how much light reflects and how brilliant and sparkly a stone is

Hardness – Ability of a stone to resist being scratched; diamonds have the highest hardness level of any material

Lab-Created – A gemstone that was created in a lab rather than in nature

Natural Stones – Any gemstones (including diamonds and pearls) that were sourced from nature and is not made or enhanced in any way made without any involvement from people

Precious Gemstone – A grouping of rare and expensive gemstones that includes diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires

Semi-Precious Gemstone – Stones that are thought to be less rare and are traditionally less expensive than precious gemstones; amethysts, peridot, aquamarine, agate, citrine, garnet, tanzanite, topaz, turquoise, etc.

Metal Terms

Metals are often an afterthought when looking at jewelry, but you should do your research on metal choices before starting to shop for a new piece of jewelry. Knowing these metal-related terms will help you select the best metal for your particular needs and desires.

Alloy – A mixture of two or more metals; commonly chosen to enhance appearance or strength

Durability – Referring to a material’s resistance to damage

Enamel – A glass-based powder or paste used in jewelry-making; often colorful and smooth

Engraving – A method of carving a design or words into metal for a decorative or sentimental reason

Etching – A chemical process of removing part of a metal surface for decorative purposes

Filigree – Detailed ornamental work done with thin strands of wire or metal; often lace-like in appearance; may be open without a metal backing or may be soldered to a metal base

Finish – Describes the texture of a metal, often applied to surface; may be highly polished, matte, brushed, etc.

Gold-Plating – A coating of gold on top of the base metal; done via electrical current to alter the look of the metal without the cost of an all-gold piece

Inlay – A decorative effect where gemstones, ivory, wood, or other materials are laid into cut out sections of a piece of jewelry

Karat – Not to be confused with “carat”; a unit of measure regarding the purity of gold; 24 karats is pure gold with no alloy, whereas 18 karat gold is 18 parts gold and 8 parts alloy

Metal – The base material used in most pieces of jewelry; gold, silver, platinum, titanium, steel, nickel, brass, tungsten, copper, rhodium, etc.

Milgrain – A decorative element on many pieces of jewelry, particularly antique and vintage pieces, that includes beaded designs

Precious Metal – A group of metals that are rare and expensive and regularly used in jewelry; includes gold, silver, and platinum

Rose Gold – An alloy often used in jewelry; made up of gold and copper; pink in color

Soldering – The process of melting metal and joining it to another piece of metal in order to make or repair jewelry

Two-Tone – Designs that have two different colored metals in one piece

White Gold – An alloy often used in jewelry; made up of gold and nickel, and sometimes also containing palladium or zinc; white or silver in color

See These Terms Come to Life by Shopping with Roman Malakov

Whether you explore our inventory in-stores or online, Roman Malakov will happily show and describe each item so you can feel confident and excited about your purchase. Contact us today to shop online or visit us in-store to shop with a jewelry expert at your disposal.


[1] This is not the Cut but the shape. The cut refers to the make of the diamond. How brilliant it is, proportions, etc.