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ABOUT ANTIQUE JEWELRY

F - K

FABERGÉ, PETER CARL
A Russian jeweler and goldsmith known for his goldwork and enameling during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The jeweler of choice for the Russian royal family, Fabergé was known for his jeweled and enameled flowers, eggs and decorative objects. Fabergé took the color palette and technical workmanship of enamels to new levels. While known for his decorative objects, Fabergé’s jewelry is lesser known but just as collectible.

 

FACET
A flat planar surface ground on a gemstone.

 

FAHRNER, THEODOR
Theodor Fahrner, senior began producing affordable jewelry in the mid nineteenth century. When his son took over the company in 1883, he began to work with German and Austrian designers producing pieces mainly in the Jugendstil style. When Fahrner died in 1919, the company came under the control of Gustav Braendle and moved into the Art Deco style. Most Fahrner pieces are wearable designs made in silver or gold set with semi-precious stones and are highly collectable.

 

FAÏENCE
A term for tin-glazed earthenware, although it often refers to other types of glazed earthenware and porcelain.

 

FELDSPAR
A group of minerals, of which moonstone is the main sub-variety

 

FERRONIÈRE
French, ‘blacksmith’s wife’; A thin band worn around the forehead, sometimes with a jeweled center. These were popular in the fifteenth century and revived for a short time in the 1840s.

 

FETTER CHAIN
A type of chain with elongated links, often interspersed with a series of shorter links like those in a curb chain. Fetter chains may also be twisted (snaffle chain) or ornamented with knots, stones or bars (fancy fetter chain).

 

FILIGREE
A type of metalwork decoration in which fine wire is shaped, scrolled, twisted or plaited to form a delicate openwork design. It is generally used on necklaces, brooches and rings.

 

FIRE
The prismatic flashes seen in some gemstones, especially diamonds and demantoid garnets.

 

FIRE OPAL
A variety of opal whose background is reddish-brown to orange-red and has very few prismatic colors (but may display iridescence). Opal is the modern birthstone for the month of October.

 

FLORENTINE FINISH
A type of textured metal, the finish made by a series of engraved parallel lines cross-hatched with a perpendicular series of parallel lines.

 

FOB
A small ornament worn on a watch chain or chatelaine, usually with a seal-stone set in the base.

 

FOILING
The process of changing or enhancing the color and brilliance of a stone by backing it with a thin foil. Foils were traditionally created by hammering a sheet of metal to the thinness of paper, heating it and affixing it to the back of a stone. This process has been used for centuries.

 

FRENCH JET
A hard, glittery black glass used in imitation of jet. Unlike jet, it is cold to the touch.

 

FRESH-WATER PEARL
A variety of pearl naturally produced by fresh-water mollusks, usually found in rivers. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

FROM, N.E.
Nils Erik From was a Danish silversmith contemporary with Georg Jensen. His pieces tend to be fairly geometric and incorporate semi-precious stones.

 

GALLERY
A pierced metal border with a repeating pattern, usually used to vertically-frame openings, especially on rings. A closed gallery is a complete pattern, while an open gallery is one that has been horizontally halved, leaving the pattern open.

 

GARNET
A variety of gemstone that is deep red in its most common form. There are five main varieties of garnet used in jewelry, varying in chemical composition and color: almandine (purplish-red), andradite (opaque blackish or the vibrant green demantoid), grossular (mainly the orangish hessonite), pyrope (blood red or the purplish-red rhodolite) and spessartite (yellowish- or brownish-red). Garnets have been used in jewelry for centuries, but were exceptionally popular in the late-nineteenth century. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

GEORGIAN
A period of history running from 1714 to 1830, named after the English kings George I-IV. Moving away from the heavy enamels of the seventeenth century Georgian jewelry became lighter and more airy. It is a period generally characterized by exquisite goldwork and the use of Old Mine cut, rose cut and table cut stones. Common motifs are stars, ribbons, scrolls and flowers. Popular trends were memorial jewelry, cameos and intaglios, neoclassical motifs, Berlin iron and painted miniatures. Many Georgian pieces were later re-set to reflect more contemporary Victorian design, making original and intact pieces highly collectible.

 

GIARDINETTI RING
A type of ring in which the central motif is a spray of flowers set with colored gemstones and/or diamonds. Giardinetti rings were popular in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

 

GILDING
A process of overlaying or washing a surface (often metal, wood and ceramics) with a thin layer of gold or gold alloy. While early gilding used mercury in the application process, electroplating (invented in the 1840s) quickly became the dominant method of gilding.

 

GIRANDOLE
French, ‘chandelier’; a form used in earrings and brooches that consists of three pendant drops suspended from a central motif, usually a ribbon or bow. Girandole were popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. See also SÉVIGNÉ BROOCH.

 

GIRDLE
The widest part of a cut gemstone, separating the crown above from the pavilion below.

 

GIULIANO FAMILY
Carlo Giuliano is an Italian goldsmith known for his work in Renaissance and Archaeological Revival styles, in the manner of Castellani. Working in London, Giuliano caught the attention of Queen Victoria, as well as King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, who became major clients. He is well known for his work in granulation and enamel. When Carlo died in 1895, he passed the business down to his sons Carlo and Arthur, who remained in business until 1914.

 

GOLD
A heavy, malleable and ductile noble metal. It is very soft, so is usually alloyed with silver or copper in order to be more easily worked. The rich yellow metal has been highly valued since prehistoric times, used for jewelry, objects and coins.

 

GOLD-FILLED
An item that has been gold-plated, with the layer of gold being of any fineness but equal to at least 1/20th of the total weight of the piece.

 

GOLD-PLATING
The process of electroplating silver, base metal or a gold alloy with a layer of gold.

 

GOTHIC REVIVAL
A period from about 1835-50 in England and France (and to a lesser extent America) in which there was an increased interest in a romanticized version of the Middle Ages. Gothic Revival pieces are decorated with angels, saints, knights, medieval figures set amongst elongated Gothic elements such as arches. These pieces are usually dimensional and often incorporate baroque pearls.

 

GRANULATION
The process of decorating a metal surface with tiny round grains of metal, usually seen in goldwork. Originally worked with a high degree of skills by the Etruscans, the style was revived in the nineteenth century. There are several patterns of granulation: 1. massed, in which the grains cover large areas of surface, 2. linear, in which the grains form simple linear elements, 3. outline, in which the grains follow the contours of an embossed area, 4. silhouette, in which the grains block in figures and 5. reserved silhouette, in which the grains block in the background.

 

GRIFFIN
A fantastical monster with the head, wings and claws of an eagle and the body and hind of a lion. It sometimes symbolizes the dual properties of the beast: watchfulness (eagle) and courage (lion). As a Christian symbol, it signifies the dual nature of Christ: divine (eagle) and terrestrial (lion).

 

GRISAILLE
A type of painted enamel characterized by its exclusive use of dark and pale colors (usually shades of black and gray accented with pastels) to create a monochromatic effect.

 

GROSSULAR GARNET
A variety of garnet, of which the sub-variety hessonite is used in jewelry. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

GUARD CHAIN
A long chain, from which keys and other useful objects were hung. These were in use from the early nineteenth century until the 1920s. This term is now generally used to mean any long chain.

 

GUARD RING
A ring, usually a simple hoop of metal, worn above a more valuable ring to guard against its loss.

 

GUILLOCHÉ
French, ‘engine-turned’; a type of enamel in which translucent enamel powder is applied over an engine-turned design and fired.

 

GUIRLANDE
French, ‘garland’; a decorative garland, popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

 

GUNMETAL
An alloy of nine parts copper to one part tin, although later used to refer to any metal with a matte black color and silky finish. It has been used in jewelry since the nineteenth century.

 

GUTTA PERCHA
A dark natural rubber derived from tropical trees, introduced to Europe in the 1840s. Originally used as insulation, jewelers quickly found its use in jewelry due to its durability and light weight. It was especially popular when used in mourning jewelry as an imitation of jet.

 

GYPSY SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the stone is secured within a recess of the body of the piece without a collet.  In this type of setting, the table of the stone is level with the surface of the metal.

 

HABILLÉ
French, ‘dressed’; a cameo in which the figure is wearing gem-set jewelry.

 

HAIR JEWELRY
Jewelry embellished with or made of hair, of which there are several styles: 1. plaited to form a tube, from which was made a bracelet, watch chain or necklace, 2. woven as a background for gold wirework and set under a piece of crystal (see STUART CRYSTAL), 3. worked into a funereal or floral design or 4. a lock of hair enclosed in the compartment of a ring, pendant, brooch or locket. Hair was originally used in the seventeenth century to honor one’s loved one in memorial jewelry, and was revived in the nineteenth century with the popularization of both sentimental and mourning jewelry. Hair jewelry originally used human hair, but later some examples from the late nineteenth century are made with horse hair when jewelry became more mass-produced.

 

HALF ETERNITY BAND
A type of eternity band having stones only on the top third to half of the circumference, the remainder being a plain or engraved shank.  The stones may be bead set, bezel set, channel set, collet set or prong set.

 

HALF-HOOP RING
A type of ring having decoration or gemstones only along the top third to half of the circumference, the remainder being a plain or engraved shank. This differs from the half eternity band in that the stones are larger and often slightly graduated towards the edges.

 

HALLMARK
A mark stamped on some pieces of gold and silver from Britain and some European countries to designate the purity of the metal. Hallmarks must meet legally-established standards for metal content. Britain has the most thorough hallmarking process, with marks for the following: 1. the Maker’s Mark, 2. the Assay Office Mark (of the city where the piece was assayed), 3. Standard Mark (to attest the purity of the metal) and 4. the Date Letter (to show the year the piece was assayed). There are many other hallmarks, including import, export and duty marks.

 

HAMMERED FINISH
A metal finish achieved by beating a piece of metal to stretch it into a sheet. This was a method of making jewelry prior to the use of casting, and was revived during the Arts & Crafts period.

 

HARDNESS
In gemology, this refers to the power of a material to resist abrasion. Hardness is measured in relation to the Mohs’ Scale.  Diamond is the hardest on the Mohs’ Scale, with corundum (ruby and sapphire) just below it. See also MOHS’ SCALE.

 

HARDSTONE
A loose term used to describe stones used for cameos, intaglios, mosaic and pietra dura. Examples of hardstones are agate, carnelian, onyx, sardonyx and serpentine.

 

HEAT-TREATMENT
The process of heating 1. a natural or synthetic gemstone to change or eliminate its color or 2. metal to change its color.

 

HEMATITE
An iron ore that exhibits a metallic luster, used in cameos, intaglios, seals, rings earrings and as beads.

 

HERCULANEUM
An ancient Roman town destroyed (along with Pompeii) by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was first excavated in 1738, initiating the first wave of neoclassicism and Archaeological Revivalism.

 

HESSONITE GARNET
A sub-variety of grossular garnet, characterized by its brownish-yellow to yellow-orange color. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

HOLBEINESQUE JEWELRY
Pieces of jewelry originating in England in the 1870s that take their inspiration from the work of the Renaissance artist and goldsmith Hans Holbein the Younger. These pieces contain a central gemstone with a diamond-studded polychromatic champlevé enamel border and a gemset drop, usually a pearl or diamond. The back is generally engraved with a fine foliate pattern.

 

HORN
A light, translucent and easily-worked substance derived from the fibrous growths of some mammals, most commonly derived from the ox. Horn has been used for centuries to create anything from bracelets and beads to hair ornaments and small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid with metal. It was especially popular for use in jewelry during the Art Nouveau period, which focused on unusual and interesting materials. René Lalique and Lucien Gaillard are known for reviving the use of horn and for their masterful working of it.

 

HORNER, CHARLES
Charles Horner, founder of Charles Horner of Halifax, began producing jewelry and small objects with both an Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau influence at the end of the nineteenth century.  His pieces are unique because all stages of production were done under one roof, giving him full control over his product, even though it was mass-produced. Horner pieces are known for their high quality enamel work, hand-hammered look in silver and gold and stylized Celtic designs. Though Horner died in 1896, the company continued to produce jewelry until the end of the twentieth century.

 

ILLUSION SETTING
A gemstone setting in which the setting is brightly burnished and shaped around the stone so that it seems to be an extension of the stone, making it appear larger. This type of setting was invented by Oscar Massin in the 1860s.

 

IMITATION STONE
A man-made gemstone made to look like a natural gemstone, with its only resemblance being its color. Unlike synthetic stones, imitation stones are made of entirely different materials from the stones they are imitating and share no chemical properties.

 

INCLUSION
A normally minute amount of foreign substance (in either sold, liquid or gaseous form) that is trapped within a natural mineral. Examples of inclusions are crystal spots in diamonds and trapped insects in amber.

 

INLAY
A metalwork technique in which shaped pieces of a decorative substance are imbedded into another so that the two substances are flush; niello and enamel are not considered inlay techniques.

 

INSCRIPTION
Words inscribed on a piece of jewelry or small object, usually an expression of sentiment or commemorating an occasion such as a birth, death or marriage.

 

INTAGLIO
A carved or engraved stone or piece of metal in which the design is sunk below the surface of the material. This allows the intaglio to leave a relief impression when pushed onto a softer substance. An intaglio is the opposite of a cameo, in which the design is in relief and the background is cut away. Intaglios were originally used as seals, but later were also worn as rings, earrings, brooches and pendants. James Tassie and Josiah Wedgwood helped popularize intaglios in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries during the first Archaeological Revival.

 

IRIDESCENCE
The optical phenomenon of a soft rainbow-like play of color that sometimes resembles an oil slick. It occurs in certain gemstones such as fire agate and iris quartz.

 

IVORY
A hard, opaque and cream-colored organic substance derived from mammal tusks, most commonly from the elephant. Ivory has been used for centuries to create anything from jewelry to small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid with metal and jet. Thin sheets of ivory were used as the base for miniature paintings. It was especially popular for use in jewelry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Imitation ivory is made from palm seeds (called vegetable ivory) and various forms of plastic (including celluloid).

 

IVY
Ivy is often found as a sentimental motif in Victorian jewelry, relaying the idea of love and friendship.

 

JABOT
French, ‘ruffle’; 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 CLIQUET.

 

JADE
A name generally applied to two distinct substances, jadeite and nephrite. Both are hard, compact and tend to be light to emerald green in color. Both must be shaped with abrasives as they are too hard to carve. Jade is the traditional birthstone for the month of March. See also JADEITE and NEPHRITE.

 

JADEITE
The superior and more rare form of jade. It is harder and shinier than nephrite, fractures more easily and can be variegated in color. The most valuable variety, called Imperial Jade, is translucent and a deep, intense green. Jadeite can also be found in a variety of colors including white, orange, blue and black.

 

JAPONAISERIE
Japonaiserie is a term used for the influence of Japanese arts on the West. When Japanese ports reopened for trade with the West in 1854, Europe was flooded with Japanese goods, from prints and porcelain to tea and. Japanese aesthetics were especially influential on the Aesthetic and Art Nouveau movements and artists such as Whistler and Van Gogh. Japanese motifs, such as fan, kimonos, cranes, irises, chrysanthemums and bamboo were found on everything from silver brooches to mixed metal earrings. Looking at Japanese prints, artists began to elongate their spaces, vary their perspective and create asymmetrical compositions. Also referred to as ‘Japonisme’.

 

JARDIN
French, ‘garden’; refers to the moss-like inclusions in emeralds.

 

JARRETIÈRE
French, ‘garter’; a type of mesh strap bracelet of broad links with a buckle fastener that is also usually a slide. Jarretière have been in use since the middle of the nineteenth century.

 

JASERON CHAIN
A type of fine gold chain worn with crosses and pendants in the early nineteenth century.

 

JASPER
A variety of quartz that is characterized by its opacity and variety of colors, including red, brown, yellow and green. Jasper is often used in intaglios and fobs as well as for inlay.

 

JASPERWARE
A hard, fine unglazed stoneware invented by Josiah Wedgwood in 1764. The body can be stained with metallic oxides to give a variety of colors including lavender, sage and black, with the most common color being a soft cobalt blue. It is usually seen with relief decoration done in white (like that of a shell cameo), and was used in all forms of jewelry and objects.

 

JENSEN, GEORG
A Danish silversmith and jeweler who began in the Arts & Crafts style, founding his own workshop in 1904. Jensen’s jewelry features stylized naturalistic motifs of flowers, vines and animals. Most of his pieces are of silver and feature a pebbly, textured surface that is highly polished and accented with chasing and oxidation. When stones are used, they are semi-precious and often en cabochon. When Jensen died in 1935, the workshop had already begun to produce pieces in a more geometric, abstract style. The firm is still in business today, making both reproductions of old pieces and new designs.

 

JET
Jet is a carbonized black substance formed from ancient driftwood. It was mined in Whitby, England for several centuries and gained popularity when Prince Albert died in 1861. Queen Victoria was grief-stricken and adopted the strict code of mourning, with the rest of the country following suit. Jet (and jet substitutes) were appropriate for full mourning. Because jet is lightweight, easily carved and takes a nice polish, it became popular for mourning jewelry. Between the popularity of cheaper substitutes such as French jet and a general weariness of wearing mourning dress, the use of jet began to decline in the 1880s.

 

JUGENDSTIL
German, ‘youth style’; an artistic style similar to Art Nouveau that occurred in Germany and Austria at the end of the nineteenth century, taking its name from the German Art Nouveau magazine Die Jugend. More linear and abstract than the Art Nouveau of France and Belgium, Jugendstil was originally rooted in the styles of the Japanese arts, Arts & Crafts movement and Glasgow School.

 

KALO SHOP
The Kalo Shop was a school and craft workshop in Chicago, started by Clara Barck Welles in 1900. Their handcrafted silver pieces, often set with semi-precious stones, reflect the influence of English Arts and Crafts style by designers such as C.R. Ashbee.  Many of the pieces feature natural motifs, such as flowers and leaves, set within gentle curves and simple shapes. Kalo’s goods were so popular that the shop remained in business until 1970.

 

KARAT
The spelling adopted in the United States and the Continent to describe the fineness of gold, avoiding confusion with ‘carat’.

 

KING EDWARD VII
The king of England from 1901 until 1910. The son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward took the throne upon Victoria’s death. He was married to Queen Alexandra, Princess of Denmark.

 

KING GEORGE I
The king of Great Britain from 1714 until 1727.

 

KING GEORGE II
The king of Great Britain from 1727 until 1760. The son of King George I, George II took the throne upon his father’s death. He was married to Queen Caroline.

 

KING GEORGE III
The king of Great Britain from 1760 until 1820, although the United Kingdom was ruled by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) from 1811 until 1820. The son of King George II and Queen Caroline, George III took the throne upon his father’s death. He was married to Queen Charlotte.

 

King George IV
The king of the United Kingdom from 1820 until 1830, although he ruled as Prince regent from 1811 until 1820. The son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, George IV took the throne upon his father’s death.

 

KINGFISHER-FEATHER JEWELRY
Pieces of jewelry in which the decoration is made from small sections of blue kingfisher feathers mounted over metal. Sometimes small gemstones are added for further decoration. These pieces are quite delicate and it is rare to find one in perfect condition.

 

KNIFE-EDGE
A type of setting, especially used in Edwardian jewelry, in which a thin piece of metal is turned to its side so as to appear almost invisible.

 

KUNZITE
A variety of spodumene, characterized by its transparent lilac-pink to violet color. Discovered in San Diego, California at the beginning of the twentieth century, it is seen mainly in American (as opposed to European) twentieth-century jewelry.