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ABOUT ANTIQUE JEWELRY

A - E

 

800 SILVER
An alloy of silver that is 800 parts silver to 200 parts other metal.

 

À JOUR
French, ‘open to the day’; used to describe openwork settings that allow light to pass through a gemstone. See also plique à jour.

 

ABALONE
Abalone, often called the ear-shell due to its shape, is harvested for both its pearls and shell. Abalone shell is used to make ornaments and inlay.

 

ADULARESCENCE
The name given to the white or bluish-white sheen seen in a moonstone.

 

AESTHETIC MOVEMENT
An artistic and decorative movement that began in Britain in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, epitomized by the phrase ‘art for art’s sake’. Its followers (called Aesthetes) felt art should provide pleasure, not morality. Aesthetic artists and craftsmen embraced the flat, stylized grace of the newly-discovered Japanese arts and the re-discovered Gothic arts. Motifs were natural ones, with an emphasis on sunflowers, irises, chrysanthemums, cranes, dragonflies and butterflies. Aesthetic jewelry usually has bold design, asymmetrical composition and areas of undecorated space. Pieces are often made with mixed-metal overlay, emulating traditional Japanese methods such as shakudo and shibuichi.

 

AGATE
A variety of chalcedony with variegated color that is either striated or dendritic. Agate has been used in jewelry for centuries, originally believed to protect the wearer from danger. Scottish agate became popular in the mid-nineteenth century after Queen Victoria bought Balmoral Castle. See also BANDED AGATE, EYE AGATE, LANDSCAPE AGATE, MOSS AGATE and SCOTTISH AGATE.

 

AIGRETTE
French, from ‘egret’; a type of jeweled ornament, usually for the hair, either depicting a feather or meant to support actual feathers. Occasionally they would be set en tremblant. Aigrettes were especially popular during the Georgian and late Victorian periods.

 

ALBERT CHAIN
Named after Prince Albert, a type of watch chain that contains a swivel on at least one end that is threaded through the buttonhole of a waistcoat, usually secured with a toggle bar. Usually the chain ran from pocket to pocket across the front of the waistcoat, the watch in one pocket and a key, seal or fob in the other.  The Albert chain was popular from the mid-nineteenth century until the advent of the wristwatch.

 

ALEXANDRITE
A dichroic variety of chrysoberyl that appears grass-green in natural light and reddish in artificial light.  It was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1830 on the day Alexander II came of age, earning it its name. Alexandrite is now mined in places such as Brazil, Burma and Ceylon, but the original Russian specimens are the most highly prized. Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

ALLOY
A mixture of two or more metals, used to either create a harder or more durable metal, to economize on precious metals or to create a desired aesthetic effect (such as colored gold). Silver and gold are both alloyed before use because they are generally too soft to be properly worked in their natural state.

 

ALMANDINE GARNET
A variety of garnet that is characterized by its deep red color, often having a tinge of black or purple.  Almandine garnet gained popularity for use in jewelry in the mid-nineteenth century, often being used in pieces of Bohemian garnet. It is often cut as a carbuncle. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

AMBER
A translucent or transparent natural fossilized resin made from the sap of an extinct pine tree that ranges in color from pale honey to red to blackish-brown.  Some amber contains organic particles. The most highly valued pieces are clear and display no cloudiness or cracks. Amber is light in weight but durable, making it especially suitable for pieces with a polished surface. It is often imitated by glass, plastics and several modern substitutes.

 

AMETHYST
A variety of quartz that ranges in color from pale violet to deep purple.  Amethyst has been popular for centuries, originally thought to protect the wearer in battle. Large deposits were found in South America in the nineteenth century, increasing its use in jewelry. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February.

 

AMMONITE
An ancient variety of mollusk whose shell spirals like a snail but is flat and contains interior compartments. In the mid-nineteenth century it was often polished and mounted in gold, silver or jet in England and the western United States.

 

AMPHORA
A vase shape characterized by two handles and a long, narrow neck. It was a popular shape for accessoire for a chatelaine in the nineteenth century.

 

ANDRADITE GARNET
A variety of garnet found in several colors: green, yellow, red, brown and black. Andradite has two sub-varieties that are used in jewelry: DEMANTOID (green) and MELANITE (black). Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

ANGEL-SKIN CORAL
The highly sought-after pale pink shade of coral.

 

APPLIQUÉ
French, ‘to put on’; a decorative technique where a design of one material or metal is applied to a base of another.

 

AQUAMARINE
A transparent variety of beryl that ranges in color from blue to blue-green with the preferred color being sky blue. Stones are usually brilliant or step cut. Aquamarine is the modern birthstone for the month of March.

 

ARABESQUE
An intricate type of decoration consisting of interlacing flowing lines, scrollwork and swags. Both Islamic and Greco-Roman in origin, arabesques were introduced to Europe during the Renaissance through trade and the discovery of Nero’s castle (see GROTESQUE). They can be seen in nineteenth century Renaissance revival jewelry.

 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIVAL
After archaeological excavations of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan sites during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, new decorative styles were introduced to craftsmen. The first wave of neoclassicism occurred during the late eighteenth century after the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum and is epitomized by the Empire style of Napoleon. The second wave was inspired by Etruscan burial sites found in the nineteenth century, epitomized by the work of Castellani and Guiliano. Oftentimes, jewelry might display the motifs of more than one archaeological style in the same piece.

 

ART DECO
A decorative style that originated in France just before World War I and gained popularity in the 1920s and 30s, taking its name from L’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925. Art Deco emphasized geometric design, abstract pattern and exotic motifs, leaving behind the sensuous curves and soft colors of the nineteenth century. Craftsmen embraced modern streamlined designs, with geometric gemstone cuts and bold color combinations taking center stage. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires were the gems of choice, embellishing the long necklaces and dripping earrings of the time.

 

ART MODERNE
A decorative style of the 1940s that still exhibited a slight Art Deco influence and was a precursor to the Retro period.

 

ART NOUVEAU
A decorative style that began in the 1890s and lasted until the early 1900s, taking its name from the Parisian gallery of Samuel Bing, Maison de l’Art Nouveau. It took on many guises throughout Europe: Jugenstil in Germany, Stile Liberty in Italy (after Liberty of London), the Glasgow School and the Vienna Secession. Art Nouveau artists reacted against what they saw as the uninspired mass-produced copying of historic styles, choosing instead to focus on flowing lines, asymmetry, and superior craftsmanship. They took inspiration from the natural world and the arts of Japan, often utilizing insect, floral and female motifs. Instead of encrusting pieces in faceted stones, jewelers chose to use enameling, semi-precious stones (usually cut en cabochon) and unusual materials such as moonstone, opal and horn to enhance the beauty and originality of their design. Soon, copies of artisan pieces were being mass-produced and extravagant style began to decline. Major craftsmen of the Art Nouveau period were René Lalique, Tiffany & Co. Maison Vever, Georges Fouquet, Philippe Wolfers and Lucien Gaillard.

 

ARTICULATION
The movement created by having separate sections joined together. An example would be a Victorian snake bracelet with flexible sections that allow it to be wrapped around the wrist.

 

ARTS & CRAFTS
A movement in the decorative arts that began in England in the 1880s and continued until the first World War, although its effects were felt into the 1930s. The movement was based on the philosophy of William Morris, who rejected mass-production and focused on craftsmanship, simple design and truth to materials. The movement originally intended to bring quality design and craftsmanship to the common man, but with the rising cost of materials and labor it quickly became an expensive aesthetic embraced by the upper class. Arts & Crafts jewelry focused on abstract natural motifs and humble materials. Artists used silver, copper, enamel and cabochon-cut stones to enhance the design of the piece, preferring them to precious metals and faceted stones. Common motifs are thistle, peacocks and Renaissance and Celtic designs. The style was made especially popular by the work of C.R. Ashbee, who brought the style to Liberty & Co. where it was mass-produced for the public, and Dorrie Nossiter, who is known for her curvaceous gemset pieces.

 

ASSAYING
The process of purity-testing the metal in an item to discover the proportion of precious metal to alloy. The piece is then marked with the fineness of the metal. This process has been used in Europe for centuries.

 

ASSCHER CUT
A gemstone cut developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is a wide-stepped square cut with chamfered corners that give the stone an octagonal appearance. The Asscher cut has recently gained popularity, causing a plethora of modernized cuts. Older Asscher cuts have fewer facets, a smaller table and larger corners than modern stones and can be quite rare.

 

ASTERISM
An optical phenomenon of a reflected star shape in a cabochon stone, as seen in star rubies and star sapphires.

 

BAGUETTE
A gemstone cut where the table is a narrow rectangle with four bordering facets that are step cut in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid.

 

BANDED AGATE
A variety of agate that has distinct bands differentiated by varying degrees of color and or transparency.

 

BANGLE
A non-flexible bracelet that is either clasped or slips over the hand. They can be made of almost any material, from polished agate to engraved silver to inlaid gold. During the Victorian period women often wore matched pairs, onel on each wrist.

 

BAR PIN
A type of horizontal brooch that is long and narrow, often enameled or set with gemstones.

 

BAROQUE PEARL
A large, irregularly-shaped pearl. They were often utilized as the base for a figure in Renaissance jewelry. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

BASE METAL
In jewelry, this usually refers to any metal other than platinum, gold and silver.

 

BASKET MOUNT
A gemstone setting that is pierced to give a lacy appearance and has the effect of a basket.

 

BASSE-TAILLE
French, ‘shallow cut’; a type of enameling in which the metal is worked to create a design in relief, which is then covered with transparent or translucent enamel and fired. The relief causes the depth of enamel to vary over the piece, giving depth to the design beneath.

 

BEAD SETTING
A gemstone setting in which small beads of metal around the girdle of the stone hold it in place.

 

BELCHER CHAIN
A type of chain in which the links are broad and of equal length.

 

BELLE ÉPOQUE
The ‘beautiful era’ in France, beginning at the end of the nineteenth century and lasting until the first World War, when peace prevailed and technology blossomed. People embraced luxury and elegance. Like the Edwardian period, design was influenced the neoclassical and restrained Rococo revival. Jewelry was characterized by garlands, swags, flowers, lace and bows.

 

BERLIN IRON
Delicate openwork jewelry made of cast iron, most of which was made in Germany in the early nineteenth century. The Royal Berlin Factory began producing such wares in 1804, and production increased significantly after 1813 with the onset of wars, namely the Napoleonic wars. During this time, the German government began a campaign to collect gold jewelry for the war effort, giving iron pieces inscribed Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron) in return. Iron pieces were also produced in France after 1806, when Napoleon marched on Berlin and took the moulds back to France. The early pieces of Berlin iron were made in the neoclassical style, often incorporating cameos and crosses as the central motif. Later pieces, towards the middle of the century, were of the Gothic revival style. Berlin iron declined in popularity towards the end of the century and is highly sought-after today.

 

BERYL
A transparent mineral producing a variety of gemstones, including emerald and aquamarine. Beryl has moderate hardness, exhibits double refraction and is dichroic.

 

BEZEL SETTING
A gemstone setting in which a metal rim surrounds the opening where the stone is set, encircling the stone.

 

BLACK TRACERY
A type of taille d’épergne enameling in which a design is engraved in a piece of metal and then partially filled with opaque black enamel. Taille d’épergne was often used in Victorian mourning jewelry.

 

BLACKAMOOR
The head or bust of a young black African male, often made of onyx or ebony. Made either as a cameo or a free-standing figure, they were generally used as pendants, fobs or seals. Blackamoors were a specialty of Venice, but were also created elsewhere during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. One of the preeminent blackamoor artists is Nardi. Also called ‘moretto’.

 

BLISTER PEARL
An irregularly shaped pearl cut from the nacreous interior of an oyster shell. They are usually mounted with the non-nacreous back in the setting, seen as pendants and small brooches. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June. Also called mabé pearl.

 

BLOODSTONE
Also called heliotrope, bloodstone is a variety of chalcedony that is characterized by its green color flecked with red spots of jasper. It was often used on fobs and signet rings. Bloodstone is the traditional birthstone for the month of March.

 

BLOOMED GOLD
A type of textured gold where the gold is given a matte finish. It can then be immersed in acid to create a slight pitted effect, like that of an orange peel. This technique is sometimes used in conjunction with basse-taille enamel to create contrast to the non-enameled sections.

 

BOG OAK
Oak that has been preserved in the peat bogs of Ireland. It was often carved and used as an imitation of jet in cheaper Victorian mourning jewelry.

 

BOHEMIAN GARNET
A type of jewelry popular in the late nineteenth century and originating in the region now known as the Czech Republic. These pieces feature close-set deep red rose-cut or cabochon garnets set in a low carat of gold. The motifs were often natural, depicting flowers, crescent moons and starbursts. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January. See also ALMANDINE GARNET and PYROPE GARNET.

 

BONE
A hard, opaque and cream-colored substance derived from vertebrate skeletons, most commonly derived from wild boars and hogs. Bone has been used for centuries to create anything from bracelets to small objects. It is mainly used for inexpensive jewelry, sometimes imitating ivory.

 

BOOK CHAIN
A type of chain popular during the Victorian period that consists of interlocking flat links of metal. It gets its name from its similarity to the binding of a book. Also called a Venetian chain.

 

BOX SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is bead-set in a rectangular frame of metal.

 

BRELOQUE
A small charm worn on a watch chain or chatelaine.

 

BRILLIANT CUT
A gemstone cut developed in the late eighteenth century, designed to reflect as much light as possible from the bottom of the stone through the top. There are 56 facets not including the table and the culet. The Old Mine cut is the earliest form of the brilliant cut, which then developed into the Old European cut as technology allowed for more precise cutting. By the 1920s, the crown became shorter, the table larger and the culet disappeared, giving rise to the modern round brilliant cut. See also OLD MINE CUT and OLD EUROPEAN CUT.

 

BRIOLETTE
A gemstone cut that is a drop-shape with all-over triangular facets, often worn as a pendant.

 

BROOCH
An ornamental clasp with attached pin, worn on apparel and headwear either as a fastener or merely for decoration.

 

BUCCELLATI
An Italian firm started by Mario Buccellati in 1919 famous for its textured goldwork. Four of his sons (Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca, Lorenzo) entered the business, carrying on the family tradition. In 1951, Buccellati was the first Italian jeweler to open a store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Mario died in 1967 and his sons continue the family business.  Buccellati pieces are known for their bold design and rich gold, finished to look like fine fabrics and patterns. Many pieces incorporate mixed metalwork and gemstones.

 

C CLASP
An early pin catch shaped like a C, used prior to 1900 (when mechanical catches began to be used).

 

CABOCHON
A gemstone cut that consists of a smooth, domed surface that is highly polished. This cut is used with opaque stones, stones that display asterism and any time that a soft look is desired. Used in antiquity, it was revived with the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts movements at the end of the nineteenth century and is still in use today.

 

CAIRNGORM
A variety of quartz that is yellowish-brown and is often used in Victorian Scottish agate jewelry. It takes its name from the Cairngorm mountain range in Scotland where it was originally found.

 

CALIBRÉ CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone is specially cut to fit a particular shape in a setting. Calibré stones are normally small, fitting snugly with other stones to create a line or pattern.

 

CAMEO
A cameo is a banded hardstone, usually sardonyx or carnelian, in which a design is carved in the top white layer and the colored layer underneath remains as the background. Cameos became especially prevalent in popular jewelry of the nineteenth century and were carved in other materials such as jet, coral and shell. See also HABILLÉ and NICOLO.

 

CANNETILLE
A type of goldwork consisting of a filigree pattern created by the twisting and rolling of thin wires. These wires made rosettes, beads and pyramids that add dimension to the pieces. Cannetille was popular in the early nineteenth century.

 

CARAT
The unit of weight used for gemstones, standardized as one-fifth of a gram. In England, this also refers to the fineness of gold.

 

CARBUNCLE
A red garnet cut en cabochon.

 

CARNELIAN
A variety of chalcedony that ranges in color from yellowish-red to orange-red to reddish-brown. It is often cut into a cameo, intaglio, seal or fob. Carnelian is the traditional birthstone for the month of July.

 

CARTIER 
One of the leading French jewelry houses, established in 1847 by Louis Françoise Cartier, who began designing his own jewelry in the early twentieth century. He created intricate Belle Époque pieces in platinum and diamonds that featured bows, swags and floral motifs. A decade later, Cartier began producing Art Deco pieces in diamonds and colored gemstones with Egyptian and Asian inspiration.

 

CASTELLANI
Fortunato Pio Castellani founded Castellani in Rome in 1814, and by the 1830s he was producing the Archaeological Revival styles that he is most famous for. Joined by his sons Alessandro and Augusto, Castellani was inspired by the designs of antiquity and perfected the ancient technique of Etruscan granulation. By the 1860s, the Archaeological Revival was in full swing and Castellani became famous throughout Europe. The company closed in 1930 with the death of the last Castellani jeweler.

 

CAT’S EYE EFFECT
An effect seen in gemstones (usually cat’s eye chrysoberyl and tiger’s eye quartz) when cut en cabochon in which a moving stripe of light appears over the surface of the stone.

 

CHALCEDONY
A variety of quartz that is usually pale blue or grayish in color. Sub-varieties of chalcedony include agate, carnelian, chrysoprase, onyx and sardonyx.

 

CHAMPLEVÉ
French, ‘raised field’; a type of enameling in which a design is cut or stamped into the base metal, filled with enamel powder and fired.

 

CHANNEL SETTING
A gemstone setting consisting of two parallel bands that are bridged beneath a single row of stones in order to secure them. This type of setting is often used in eternity bands.

 

CHASING
A decorative metalwork technique in which the front surface of a piece of metal is tooled to create a design. It can be used alone or to define repoussé work. Unlike engraving, no metal is removed in this process.

 

CHATELAINE
A clasp worn at the waistband, from which several short chains (usually five) are hung. These chains terminate in rings or swivels, and were attached to various small objects for daily use. These objects could range from a seal, watch and keys to scissors, notebooks and various other etui.

 

CHATOYANCY
An effect seen in gemstones (usually cat’s eye chrysoberyl and tiger’s eye quartz) when cut en cabochon in which a moving stripe of light appears over the surface of the stone.

 

CHRYSOBERYL
A transparent gemstone that ranges in color from yellow and brown to yellowish- or bluish-green. Alexandrite and cat’s eye are varieties of chrysoberyl.

 

CHRYSOPRASE
A variety of chalcedony characterized by its apple-green color. It is used for beads, cabochons, intaglios and cameos. Chrysoprase was especially popular in the Victorian period and utilized by Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts artists. Chrysoprase is the traditional birthstone for the month of May.

 

CITRINE
A transparent yellow variety of quartz, its color ranging from lemon to gold to reddish-brown. Citrine is the traditional birthstone for the month of November.

 

CLAW SETTING
A gemstone setting in which a series of projecting prongs hold the stone just above the girdle. This manner of setting allows a considerable amount of light to get to the stone, thus making it a popular setting for transparent faceted stones. It first emerged in the nineteenth century.

 

CLIQUET
French, ‘catch’; a pin with an ornamental terminal at each end. When worn, the pin stem is hidden and the two terminals appear separated by fabric. See also JABOT.

 

CLOISONNÉ
French, ‘partitioned’; a type of enameling in which designs are created with thin metal wires or strips attached to a metal base. These are then filled with enamel powder and fired.

 

CLOSED-BACK SETTING
A gemstone setting in which there is metal on the bottom of the stone, with nothing below the girdle being exposed to light. Oftentimes the stone would be foiled or painted in the unexposed area to enhance its luster.

 

COLLET SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is fitted in a circular band. This band can be rbbed over the girdle to secure it, which is known as a rub-over setting.

 

COLORED GOLD
Gold that has been tinted by an addition of another metal or alloy. Blue gold is achieved by adding arsenic or iron; green gold by adding silver or silver and zinc; gray gold by the addition of iron or iron and silver; red gold by adding copper or copper and silver.

 

CORAL
A hard, organic substance that is derived from the skeleton of marine invertebrates. The color varies from pale pinkish-white to soft pink (angel-skin) to red (ox-blood). It is used for beads, cabochons, buttons, intaglios and cameos. For centuries, coral was thought to protect the wearer from harmful spells.

 

CORBEILLE
A traditional gift of jewelry given by the bridegroom to the bride on their wedding day.

 

CORUNDUM
The mineral family that includes the gemstone varieties of ruby and sapphire. Corundum is second only to the diamond in hardness.

 

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

 

CULET
The small flat facet at the base of a brilliant-cut stone, parallel to the table. In modern round brilliant-cuts, the culet is closed (there is no facet, just a point).

 

CULTURED PEARL
A variety of pearl that is created in the same manner as a natural pearl, except the process is stimulated by the insertion of an irritant (such as a bead or grain of sand) that becomes the nucleus of the pearl. This process was first accomplished by Kokichi Mikimoto at the end of the nineteenth century. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

CURB CHAIN
A type of chain in which the links are oval and twisted in order to lie flat.

 

CUSHION CUT
A gemstone cut in which the stone is square or rectangular in shape and has rounded corners. The facets usually follow the standard arrangement for those of the brilliant cut.

 

CUT STEEL
Cut steel jewelry first appeared in England in the 1760s and was later made in France, Holland and other smaller European centers and remained popular until the late nineteenth century. It is made from steel cut as studs or faceted heads and densely set to glimmer in candlelight. The heads were set by riveting them to a base plate through small holes. Earlier examples of cut steel pieces exhibit up to 15 facets per head, while later Victorian pieces may have as few as five. Many of the heads in later pieces were not hand-faceted, but were mass-produced and stamped from a piece of sheet metal.

 

DAMASCENE
The original definition of damascene referred to a watered pattern in steel seen in the arts of India and eastern Asian countries. The modern meaning refers to inlaying metal with gold and silver.

 

DEMANTOID GARNET
The most valuable of garnets, demantoid is a variety of andradite garnet and is characterized by its transparent green color that ranges from lime to emerald to olive. It was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1868 and became exceptionally popular in Edwardian jewelry at the turn of the twentieth century. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

DEMI-PARURE
French, ‘half a parure’; a small, matching set of jewelry such as a necklace and brooch or earrings and bracelet.

 

DIAMOND
A transparent (usually colorless or near-colorless) precious stone that is the hardest of all naturally occurring substances. It has a very high refractive index and strong color dispersion. Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April.

 

DICHROISM
The optical property in doubly-refractive stones of exhibiting two colors according to the angle of the stone. A stone that exhibits more than two colors is referred to as tri- or pleochroic.

 

DOG COLLAR
A wide, ornamented necklace worn tight around the throat. Dog collars were especially popular at the end of the nineteenth century. They had begun to be worn earlier in the century as a ribbon ornamented with gemstones and by the 1880s they were wide bands of metal and strings of pearls or beads. At the turn of the century, they incorporated a rectangular plaque (plaque de cou) centered on the front. Dog collars were even more popularized by Queen Alexandra, who used them to hide a small scar on her neck.

 

DOUBLE CAMEO
A cameo that has a carved relief design on both sides of the stone.

 

DOUBLE REFRACTION
The splitting of a ray of light into two rays as it is refracted through a stone. If looking through the top of a stone through a loupe, the back facets appear doubled in a doubly-refractive stone.

 

DOUBLET
A composite stone consisting of two layers of man-made materials and/or natural gemstones.

 

DRESS SET
An en suite set of men’s jewelry to be worn in the evening, usually consisting of a pair of cufflinks, three or four studs (for the waistcoat or vest) and two or three shirt studs.

 

EARRINGS
Ornaments for the ear that are secured with a bent wire or thin hoop through the ear or clipped or screwed to the lobe.

 

ÉCHELLE
French, ‘ladder’; a set of at least three jeweled ornaments for the bodice of a dress, decorated en suite but graduated in size. These were popular during the Georgian period, with bows and bow-knots being popular motifs.

 

EDWARDIAN
The dominant decorative style at the turn of the twentieth century, named after Edward VII of England, who was on the throne from 1901 to 1910. Fashion became light and airy, with an emphasis on ethereal white layers, delicate lace and a feminine silhouette. Jewelers recreated Belgian lace and downy feathers in platinum, diamonds and pearls. Common motifs were garlands, swags, bows, tassels and wreaths. Peridot, demantoid garnets and amethysts were favorites of King Edward and Queen Alexandra and gained popularity during their reign. The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of luxury, elegance and refined beauty.

 

EGYPTIAN REVIVAL
Jewelry made with an overall appearance of classical Egyptian jewelry, including pharaohs, scarabs, lotus flowers and figures of Isis. These images were popular in the late nineteenth century as part of the Archaeological revival, and again after Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922.

 

EMERALD
A variety of beryl ranging from pale to dark green. Emeralds are one of the most valuable of the precious stones. Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May.

 

EMERALD CUT
A gemstone cut for transparent stones that is rectangular in shape with chamfered corners and step-cut sides.

 

EN ESCLAVAGE
French, ‘enslaved’; the manner of joining plaques (usually three or more, either graduated or of the same size) with swagged chains, seen in necklaces and bracelets.

 

EN RÉSILLE
French, ‘in a hair-net’; a flexible trellis of wire and stones, often platinum and diamonds, that forms a dog collar or tight necklace. This style was originally created by Cartier at the turn of the twentieth century.

 

EN SUITE
Decorated in a like style so as to form a set, such as a dress set, parure or échelle.

 

EN TREMBLANT
French, ‘trembling’; the manner of mounting a decorative element, such as a flower, on a wire or spring attached to a piece of jewelry so that it trembles when worn.

 

ENAMEL
A glass-like pigment made from powdered potash and silica that is bound to metallic oxides with oil. This substance is then applied in a decorative manner to metal, porcelain or glass and fired at a low temperature.

 

ENGINE-TURNING
A decorative metalwork technique which uses machine-made lines and patterns. This method was invented in the nineteenth century and was often used in conjunction with guilloché enamel.

 

ENGRAVING
A technique in which the surface of a hard material (such as metal or stone) is incised and carved out to create a design. In metalwork, this differs from chasing in that metal is removed in the process.  When done in gemstones, the carving may be incised as an intaglio or carved in relief as a cameo.


EQUIPAGE
A collection of small personal articles, often attached to a chatelaine. These items could include scissors, nail trimmers, thimble, pencil, needle case, and etui.


ESTATE
Jewelry from the 1950s and later is referred to as estate. While not old enough to be true antiques, these pieces have unique style and flair.


ETERNITY BAND
A finger ring in the form of a band set with a continuous row of gemstones, usually diamonds.  The stones may be bead set, bezel set, channel set, collet set or prong set.


ETRUSCAN REVIVAL
The Etruscan Revival of the nineteenth century was part of a larger Archaeological Revival. Victorian jewelers were inspired by the ancient jewelry found in unearthed Etruscan tombs from the sixth and seventh centuries BC, replicating the granulation and forms using modern techniques.  See also CASTELLANI.

 

ETUI
A small case containing useful items such as a thimble, pencil or scissors. Etui were usually suspended from a chatelaine and were made to match.

 

EYE AGATE
A variety of agate that has distinct circular bands resembling an eye.