(my own definitions)

Aurora borealis a rhinestone that has a metallic finish to produce sparkling colorful reflections.

Bakelite Carbolic Acid and formaldehyde when heated, form a phenolic resin or phenol-formaldehyde which is a very early, very hard plastic discovered in 1908 by Dr. Leo Baekeland. For End of Day Bakelite see below.

Bale A small ring that is attached to a cameo or brooch that can flip up and become a holder for a pendant.

basse-taille (bas TIE yuh) An enameling technique that applies translucent enameling over an engraved, or decorated metal base.

bezel The metal around a stone that holds it in place.

bezel set A stone is set by tightly wrapping metal around it to hold it in place without the use of prongs.

bib A necklace that is in the shape of a child's bib. It is usually showier and more dramatic than just a regular necklace and these necklaces are more valuable than regular necklaces since less of them were made originally and there original prices were higher.

brilliant cut a rhinestone or paste stone that has been cut with twice the number of cuts (usually 16) than a chaton cut stone has therefore giving it more brilliance. They were made to look like authentic gems such as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.

bog oak petrified wood from an oak tree, used for carvings during the mourning period in Victorian times.

bubble glass (my word) usually from Venice from the 1950s, blown glass spikey looking beads that have dripped on tiny glass balls sometimes white and sometimes in color.

Cabochon A stone (either costume or fine) that is round on the top and flat on the bottom. It is smooth without facets.

Champlevé a special type of enameling in which the metal has grooves or a design, and powdered glass enamel is poured over it and fired. The design of the metal is still seen.

Chased A pattern of rectangles and/or grooves that is imprinted or carved into metal for decoration.

Chatelaine Originally this was a ring or hook attached at the waist or a fancy brooch, to which chains were attached, to carry useful things like keys, etc. Now, it also refers to 2 part brooches linked by a chain (such as a dog on a leash held by a lady) or to a brooch that has dangling items hung from chains.

Chaton A round rhinestone that has 8 facets around an octagonal table.

Celluloid Invented in 1869, it is a very early plastic invented in the 1800s to mimic the look of glass, tortoise shell, coral, and other jewels. Quite flammable so don't lean over a candle.

Champleve A groove or area is cut out of (or cast into) metal and a gelatinous translucent enamel is poured into it and then fired. The depth of these grooves vary from shallow to deep .

chaton a rhinestone or paste stone that has 8 cuts. Most rhinestones are chaton cut.

culet a round hole is cut in the bottom of a diamond or gem stone to allow more light to come through. Popular in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Demi Parure see Parure below

Duette A pin and plate mechanism that hold 2 brooches. Each brooch can be worn separately or they can be put on to the mechanism and worn as one larger brooch. Usually the brooches match each other.

Eagle Mark From 1945 to 1979 (some literature dates it from 1948 to 1980) in Mexico, sterling was indicated by an eagle mark. The eagle can be somewhat worn off so that it looks like a bell, a ship, a face, a child, a cameo, and various other things. Depending on how much of the whole eagle is still seen may indicate that it is older or newer. See also Pre-Eagle below

en esclavage In a multi-strand necklace, the lower strand or strands are longer than the higher one or ones.

End of Day Bakelite At the end of the day, since the hot Bakelite could not be stored overnight without hardening, several similar colors would be swirled together giving a beautiful marbleized look.

Festoon A loop of ribbons or jewels hanging from 2 places.

Foiled glass A 3 step process whereby glass is wrapped in silver or gold foil and then that foiled glass is enclosed with more glass or crystal.

French jet Black glass that is made to look like Victorian jet which is black ignite (from the coal family). Victorian jet was used during mourning. Many antique dealers call all black glass "jet". But the real French jet is black glass set in metal backings.

Galalith A material first made in 1897 made of a combination of organic materials such as vegetable, milk products and natural protein.

Gauntlet A bracelet that is oval and rigid and has an opening at the back

Girandole a piece of jewelry that has 3 dangling pear shaped pendants

Givre' a combination of 2 colors in one glass bead

Gold Filled There is 100% more gold in a gold filled item than a gold plated item. It is government regulated. Solid gold is pressed and bonded onto a metal. The quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product. Gold Filled is much more valuable and tarnish resisitant and it is meant to last as long as gold lasts.

Gutta-Percha A material first made in 1840 from the bark of a Malaysian tree.

Habille' A cameo that has jewelry incorporated into the design. Most often it is a diamond. Or, you can think of it as any jewelry wearing jewelry.

Haskellesque or Haskellish a necklace, bracelet, or brooch that looks like a Miriam Haskell piece but is actually done by a different designer who copied Haskell or who never became as famous as Haskell, or who happened to come up with similar looking designs. Some of the pieces may actually be Haskells but only because they lack certain minor criteria such as a specific type of spring ring, bead separator, hook, or earring back, it is not possible to identify them positively as such. They are still quite collectible because they look like Haskells and usually are quite beautiful. Many of them are actually real Haskells.

Illusion heads Normally made from gold or platinum these are little points that look like extra diamonds. They are used to further enhance a diamond watch to make it look like it has more diamonds and a higher carat weight. They can also be made of sterling to add sparkle.

Intaglio A reverse carved piece. The cameo or picture is carved from behind the glass, lucite, or celluloid and shows through to the front.

Integrated band A watch band that is part of the permanent watch display. The band does not come off of the watch. It is all made as one piece.

Japanned metal Metal that has been treated to look black or gray usually used to give the stones a more defined and richer look.

Jewels Instead of using a metal ball bearing in the works of a watch, a semi precious jewel (usually a ruby) is used instead. This insures that the ball bearing can not rust.

Lapis Lazuli A semi precious stone popular for centuries but made more popular with the discovery of King Tutankamun's (King Tut's) tomb in 1922

Lavaliere, Lavalier, Lavalliere, or Lavalliere' (4 spellings) Lavalliere should actually be the correct spelling (in my opinion) because the name of the mistress of Louis XIV was Louise de la valliere and she wore a single jewel (or gem stone) suspended or dropped from a chain and this is from where the name came.

Mabe a cultured pearl that is hemispherical (1/2 of a sphere)

Marcasites Crystalline pyrites cut to look like diamonds. Made through the 1700s and 1800s. Later 1900s marasites are made from cut metal or cut glass.

Micro Mosaic Glass is hand cut into super tiny round, square, oval, and other shaped pieces and then hand set to make a design

Millefiori Thin rods of colorful glass are heat fused and then cross sliced making cubes of intricate patterns and colors. The word literally means thousand flowers.

Mine cut diamond Early diamonds were cut and faceted at the mine site with less than perfect tools compared to the modern diamond. Then the point at the bottom of the diamond was cut off so that you could see through the diamond and it would let light in. That open bottom is called a culet. Mainly 1800s through the early 1900s.

Navette a rhinestone or diamond that is long and pointed on each end and is also called a marquise

Niello A metal alloy made with sulphur to produce a black or very dark accent color

Parure A set of jewelry including a necklace, bracelet, earrings, brooch, and ring. That's considered 5 items (earrings are 1). However, most people consider a parure everything except the ring. Demi Parure is 2 pieces of jewelry or more pieces but less than 4 pieces (again, earrings are 1). So, a bracelet and earrings, or a necklace and bracelet, or a necklace and earrings, or a brooch and earrings, or bracelet and brooch, etc. would be a demi parure.

Paste stones Even shinier than rhinestones, cut crystals with higher quality leaded crystal. They can be open backed or foil backed. They are normally shinier, and glitzier than rhinestones and they are frequently brilliant cut. They look more like real gem stones. They were common during the Victorian age up through the 1930s and on occasion, in the early 1940s.

Paste stone rhondelles (see rhinestone rondelles and then see paste stones)

Pate'-de-verre Glass paste stones made of crushed glass. With Miriam Haskell Jewelry, they often have a flat back and are mirror backed. They are usually sitting in wired-on cups.

Pave' Rhinestones or paste stones that look like a paved diamond road. They are glued in, not prong set but are so close together that they give a continuous pavement of sparkle

Pinchbeck A metal (not found in today's jewelry) made from the combination of copper and zinc to look like gold. Wears very well. Often, mistaken for gold filled and gold plated items. When the jewelry has a particularly pinkish gold cast to it, the content of copper is higher. Very popular in the 1800s.

Pique' A process whereby authentic tortoise shell was heated, softened, and then a strip of sterling silver flowers or geometric patterns were inlaid into the shell. Popular in the 17th century and then again in the mid to late 1800s.

Pre Eagle From 1945 to 1979 (some literature dates it from 1948 to 1980) in Mexico, sterling was indicated by an eagle mark. The eagle can be somewhat worn off so that it looks like a bell, a ship, a face, a child, a cameo, and various other things. Depending on how much of the whole eagle is still seen may indicate that it is older or newer. But a pre eagle mark means the jewelry was made before 1945.

Prystal A phenolic plastic made to look like crystal. And it really does look like crystal.

Repousse' Using a small hammer and pounding from the back of the metal, it is hand tooled to make the design.

Rhinestone rondelles Usually these are small showy spacers made out of 2 circular silvertone or goldtone rings with tiny rhinestones carefully placed between the 2 circles to look like a rhinestone wheel but the rhinestones are on the round outer edge, not on the flat part of the wheel. They usually separate either pearls or glass beads.

Rhodium plating Rhodium is one of 6 metals used to look like platinum and is from the platinum family.

Rolled Gold Plate Considerably thicker than regular gold plating or gold filled and it lasts longer.

Russian gold plating A gold plating that was designed to not look too shiny under the cameras eye. Trifari and Joseff among other designers found it to look very rich but not gaudy. Sometimes, the designers would rename it with a variation of their own name.

Signed Indicates that a piece of jewelry has a tiny signature of 14K, Sterling, etc., or a designer's signature. It can be found with a magnifying glass on the clasp, on the back of a piece of jewelry, and sometimes even on the side of a pin or on top of the tiny clasp that goes over a cameo pin. Sometimes quite difficult to find the signature and not all designer pieces are signed... especially the wonderful early pieces.


800 silver 800 out of 1000 parts pure silver

925 silver sterling silver is the classic "sterling silver" which is 925 parts out of 1000 parts pure silver. This is what most sterling silver is.

950 silver Higher qualitysterling silver than classic "sterling silver" with 950 parts out of 1000 parts pure silver (not used very often) and it tarnishes less than regular sterling.

980 silver The highest quality sterling silver with 980 parts out of 1000 parts pure silver (not used very often) and it tarnishes less than regular sterling. Investment quality silver is 999 and regular sterling is 925.

Synthetic Stone Certain hard minerals are found with beautiful colors and are cut into stones to mimic the real gems. They are not glass. They are a higher quality mineral.

Taille d'Epargné (Tie-duh-parn) Deep cuts are made into the metal to form a design. Opaque enamel is poured into the cut marks making the design very pronounced.

Tesserae The tiny tiles that are used in a mosaic that are placed on a piece of jewelry to make a design.

Torsade Many strands of pearls, glass, or beads pulled together at a single clasp to form a very thick necklace; sometimes the strands are twisted and sometimes not. It can also be a bracelet.

Verdegris That nasty green stuff that represents rust! Never buy a Haskell with verdigris. When the gold gilt brass starts turning green, it means it is deteriorating!

Wingback Earrings Concerning the earring backs, there is a double hoop of gold or silver which fits into the ear cradle and there is a thick curved post that holds them onto the ear by looping upward in back of the ear