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ABOUT ANTIQUE JEWELRY

L - P

LACE PIN
A small, curved brooch used to fasten a fichu or lace scarf.

 

LALIQUE, RENÉ
The leading French Art Nouveau jeweler and designer, known for his creative designs and inventive use of materials. He presented his first series of pieces in the Nouveau style in 1894 to critical acclaim. He then caught the attention of the aristocracy at the Paris Exhibition in 1900 and continued to focus solely on jewelry and small object until 1910. Using gold, gemstones, organic materials and enameling, Lalique depicted the female form, natural images and anthropomorphic figures in his unusual jewelry. His pieces are the benchmark of the period. Moving on from the Art Nouveau style, Lalique focused on glass manufacture and embraced the style of Art Deco.

 

LANDSCAPE AGATE
A type of moss agate in which the dendritic inclusions appear to create a landscape scene.

 

LAPIS LAZULI
A gemstone that is characterized by it’s opaque, deep-blue and gold-flecked color, sometimes with white streaks. It is usually cut en cabochon or used in inlay, intaglios and seals. Lapis lazuli is one of the birthstones for the month of September.

 

LASQUÉ
A thin, flat diamond with a small beveled edge cut by Indian cutters, used to cover a portrait miniature or as a watch glass.

 

LAVA JEWELRY
Pieces of jewelry made from the lava of Mount Vesuvius and carved in Italy. The pieces are usually shades of tan or gray and have a matte surface that works well for cameos and intaglios. Lava jewelry was popular as inexpensive souvenir jewelry in the nineteenth century.

 

LAVALIER
French, after Louise Françoise de La Baume Le Blanc, duchesse de La Vallière; a necklace of small links with a single, elongated gem-set pendant. This type of necklace was very popular during the Belle Époque and Edwardian periods.

 

LIBERTY & CO.
An English company known for its Arts & Crafts objects and jewelry. Liberty originally sold Asian imports, but moved into jewelry in 1899 with its own line of Celtic Revival pieces by artists such as Archibald Knox. He continued to produce Arts & Crafts style jewelry, characterized by natural motifs accented with whiplash curves or more linear, Celtic-inspired designs. Liberty brought the aesthetic of the Arts & Crafts to the public at a reasonable price by mass-producing the pieces. Most Liberty & Co. pieces are produced in silver (or pewter) with hammered finishes, semi-precious stones and bright enamelwork.

 

LIMOGES ENAMEL
A type of very fine enamel, in which the enamel is painted onto a metal surface one color at a time and fired after each application. This type of enamel was perfected in Limoges, France in the fifteenth century and continues to be made today. See also PAINTED ENAMEL and GRISAILLE.

 

LINE BRACELET
A type of flexible bracelet in which gemstones are arranged in a single line.

 

LINK BRACELET
A type of flexible bracelet which consists of a series of links. These links may be of the same or different style, and can range in size from small to large.

 

LOCKET
A small case, usually hinged, designed to hold a memento such as a photo or lock of hair. Lockets can be worn on a chain or incorporated into a necklace, bracelet or brooch.

 

LONGUARD
A long chain, which can be worn doubled or tripled and often has a swivel at the end, from which to hang a watch or small personal item.

 

LORGNETTE
A pair of spectacles with an attached handle, which is usually folded and suspended from a chain.

LOUPE
A jeweler’s magnifying glass.

 

LOVER’S EYE MINIATURE
A painted portrait miniature of an eye which was usually set in jewelry. These miniatures were popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Originally they were painted as love tokens, meant to provide a portrait without revealing the subject.


LOVERS’ KNOT
A continuous knot with no end.

 

LOZENGE
A decorative shape of four equal sides similar to a diamond, sometimes with rounded corners.

 

LUCKENBOOTH BROOCH
Scottish, ‘street stalls’; a brooch of one or two hearts, surmounted by a crown, especially popular in Scotland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Luckenbooth brooches were love tokens, originally purchased in street stalls in Edinburgh. Also called Queen Mary brooches.

 

LUSTER
The surface brilliance of a material, defined by the amount and quality of light reflected. There are several kinds of luster: 1. metallic, as displayed by metals and metallic minerals, 2. adamantine, as displayed by diamonds, 3. pearly, as displayed by the nacreous surface of pearls, 4. silky, as displayed by cat’s eye, 5. vitreous, as displayed by corundum and glass and 6. resinous, a waxy luster displayed by amber and other resins. The intensities of luster are splendent (mirror-like), shining (shiny but indistinct), glistening (weak) and dull (practically none).

 

MACKINTOSH, CHARLES RENNIE
A Scottish designer and architect who worked in the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau styles. He was the main force behind the Glasgow School, which focused on functional design based on modern life (as opposed to styles of the past). Mackintosh is known for his contrast between elegant linear elements and stylized floral motifs. The Vienna Secessionists and the Wiener Werkstätte were both highly influenced by the clean linearity of his work.

 

MALACHITE
An opaque mineral characterized by its dark green color and variegated bands of light and dark green. It is cut en cabochon or used for intaglios, fobs, seals and inlay. It was sometimes used in Scottish agate jewelry.

 

MALAIA GARNET
A variety of garnet characterized by its light to dark pinkish- or yellowish-orange color. Sub-varieties include pyrope and spessartite. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.

 

MALTESE CROSS
A type of cross in which the four arms are equal in length and widen as they spread from the center. The end of each arm is slightly indented giving the cross eight points. The Maltese cross was popular in the early- and mid-nineteenth century. It is sometimes called the cross of St. John.


MANCHETTE
French, ‘cuff’; a bangle bracelet that tapers like a cuff.

 

MARCASITE
Originally a name for crystallized iron pyrites, but is now also used to refer to pyrite. Marcasite is usually rose-cut to enhance its surface sparkle (since it has no internal sparkle) and set in silver. Marcasite has been used in jewelry for centuries.

 

MARQUISE
A gemstone cut that is a modification of the brilliant cut. The girdle is navette-shaped and the table is hexagonal.

 

MARRIED JEWELRY
A piece of jewelry from an older item that is put together with a newer piece of jewelry.

 

MASSIN, OSCAR
A nineteenth century Parisian jeweler known for his naturalistic floral designs and invention of the illusion setting in the 1860s.

 

MEMENTO MORI
Latin, ‘Remember you must die’; a motif, piece of jewelry or small decorative object that serves as a reminder of mortality. Such images may be a coffin, skeleton or waning hourglass, usually enameled and gem-set. Memento mori were popular in the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

 

MICROMOSAIC
A mosaic created from small tesserae or tiles that are embedded into a cement or paste to create a pattern. Micromosaics were especially popular as souvenir jewelry in the early- and mid-nineteenth century.

 

MILANESE CHAIN
A mesh-like chain consisting of interwoven rows of small links.

 

MILLEFIORI
Italian, ‘a thousand flowers’; A type of ornamental glass whose pattern is derived from the arrangement of small canes of glass embedded within clear glass. Millefiori jewelry were popular souvenirs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 

MILLEGRAIN
A type of metalwork decoration made by making indentations along a metal strip. Millegrain settings are gemstone settings in which the girdle of a stone is secured by a millegrain collet. This type of setting was developed in the nineteenth century.

 

MOONSTONE
A variety of feldspar that is translucent to transparent with a white or bluish sheen. When cut en cabochon, moonstone displays adularescence. Moonstone was extremely popular in Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts jewelry. Moonstone is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

MOSAIC
A type of inlay decoration, of which there are two kinds in jewelry: pietra dura (also called Florentine Mosaic) and micromosaic (also called Roman mosaic). See also PIETRA DURA and MICROMOSAIC.

 

MOSS AGATE
A variety of agate that has moss-green, brown or black dendritic inclusions.

 

MOTHER-OF-PEARL
The iridescent nacreous lining of pearl-producing mollusks. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.

 

MOURNING JEWELRY
When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria was grief-stricken and followed a strict mourning code and the rest of the country followed suit.  Mourning codes during the Victorian era were stringent: full mourning generally lasted for six months to one year and was followed by a period of half-mourning in which the code was slightly relaxed.  Dress, along with jewelry, had to comply with these codes.  Jet, jet substitutes and black enamel were appropriate for full mourning and tortoiseshell, niello and gunmetal were acceptable for half-mourning.


NACRE
The iridescent substance secreted by mollusks from which pearls are made.

 

NAVETTE
French, ‘little boat’; a boat-shaped form, like a marquise.

 

NEGLIGÉE
French, ‘negligent, careless’; a pendant or necklace with two unevenly suspended drops. Negligée were popular during the Edwardian period.

 

NECKLACE
A flexible ornament worn around the neck, not as tight as a choker or dog collar and not as long as a longuard.

 

NEOCLASSICAL
A decorative style that emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century and drew on classical art and culture.

 

NEPHRITE JADE
The more abundant form of jade, which is not as hard and shiny but is more tough and durable than jadeite. Nephrite comes in a range of colors including white, dark green, brown and black. A common form of nephrite is called mutton-fat jade and is pale, translucent and yellowish- or greenish-gray.

 

NIELLO
An ancient type of decorative inlay in which the design is engraved in the metal base, usually silver. The engraving is then filled in with an alloy of metallic sulfides that become black when heated. The effect is a velvety black and silver pattern. Niello was revived in the nineteenth century and was especially used in Russia and France.

 

OBJECTS OF VERTU
Small objects of high artistic and intrinsic value, usually of precious metal and embellished with gemstones. Examples of such objects are snuff boxes and étui, usually from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

 

OBJETS TROUVÉS
French, ‘found objects’; objects found in nature, such as shells, pebbles and feathers that have a small hole drilled in them for suspension.

 

OBSIDIAN
A type of natural glass that is solidified volcanic lava. It appears black and is transparent to opaque.

 

OLD EUROPEAN CUT
A gemstone cut that is a predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut. It has the same number of facets as modern round brilliant (plus an open culet) with a round girdle, high crown and small table.  The Old European cut began to transition into the round brilliant cut in the 1920s.

 

OLD MINE CUT
A gemstone cut that is a predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut. It has a cushion-shaped girdle, large open culet, small table and high crown. Because Old Mine-cut stones were cut by hand, the facets tend to be slightly irregular.

 

ONYX
A variety of chalcedony that is composed of parallel layers of shades of black and white. It is often used in cameos, intaglios, fobs and seals. It was also popular during the Art Deco period because its dark color was a bold contrast to white diamonds and sparkling colored stones. It is often dyed to produce a uniform black material often referred to as black onyx. Onyx is one of the birthstones for February.

 

OPAL
A gemstone that is characterized by its prismatic color play, with the highest quality stones displaying iridescence. Opals are usually cut en cabochon. Opal is the modern birthstone for the month of October.

 

OPALESCENCE
The optical phenomenon of a display of milky-white or bluish-white light in some gemstones, such as opal, moonstone and some varieties of chalcedony.

 

OPENWORK
A type of metalwork decoration in which the metal is open to allow the passage of light. This can be achieved either by the manipulation of thin wires or the piercing of a metal base into a design.

OX-BLOOD CORAL
A highly-prized deep blood-red coral.

 

OXIDATION
The effect that occurs when a metal comes in contact with oxygen and produces an oxide, which adds a patina.

 

PAINTED ENAMEL
A type of enameling in which the enamel is painted onto a flat surface with a brush and then fired. This can be done in multiple layers, with the later layers having a lower melting point than the previous layers. This type of enamel was developed in Limoges, France and is often referred to as ‘Limoges enamel’. See also GRISAILLE and LIMOGES ENAMEL.

 

PARURE
French, ‘set’; a boxed set of at least three pieces of jewelry and personal adornments designed en suite and worn as a set. A parure often includes a necklace, earrings and a brooch. An evening parure was more extensive and often incorporated a necklace, earrings, hairpins, a stomacher, brooches and a pair of bracelets. Parures were originally worn in the Renaissance and were revived in the nineteenth century.

 

PASTE JEWELRY
Jewelry made with paste stones that became especially popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The growing middle class wore paste because it was affordable and attractive while the upper classes wore it as an alternative to their precious jewels when they traveled. Early paste was highly refractive glass used to imitate diamonds. In the eighteenth century, Georges-Frédérick Strass invented a leaded glass alternative that could be both colorless or tinted. True old paste is usually foil-backed to increase its sparkle. See also FOILING.

 

PÂTE DE VERRE
French, ‘glass paste’; a material made by grinding glass into a powder and adding flux to melt it. This mixture is then tinted and poured into a mould and fired. Color variations can be achieved by adding different reactive ingredients to the mould. This process was especially popular in France during the Art Nouveau period.

 

PAVÉ
French, ‘paved’; a gemstone setting in which many small stones are set very close together in order to create an area of sparkle in which little or no metal is visible.

 

PAVILION
The portion of a brilliant cut that lies beneath the girdle.

 

PEARL
A natural, lustrous material created inside the shell of some mollusks when a foreign particle (such as a grain of sand) becomes coated in nacre. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June. See also BAROQUE PEARL, BLISTER PEARL, CULTURED PEARL, FRESH-WATER PEARL, MOTHER-OF-PEARL and SEED PEARL.

 

PENDANT
An ornament worn on a chain or as a necklace.

 

PENDELOQUE
French, ‘drop’ or ‘pendant’; a gemstone cut that is rounded at the bottom and pointed at the top, similar to a pear. It is often pierced at the top so it can be worn as a pendant or hung as an earring.

 

PERIDOT
A gemstone known for its greenish color that ranges from dark green to yellowish green. It is usually faceted. Peridot is the modern birthstone for the month of August.

 

PETRIFIED WOOD
Fossilized wood in which the original material has been replaced with stone such as agate, jasper and opal. Often called agatized wood, jasperized wood or opalized wood.

 

PIERCING
A type of metalwork in which a pattern is sawn out of metal to create an openwork pattern.

 

PIETRA DURA
Italian, ‘hard stone’; refers to a type of mosaic in which various hardstones are inlaid into a piece of hardstone. Pietra dura is a specialty of Florence, but is produced throughout Italy as well as in Russia. Pietra dura jewelry was especially popular as souvenir jewelry in the early- and mid-nineteenth century.

 

PIN
A small, thin object used to fasten garments and small articles. Also refers to the fastener at the back of a brooch. See also BAR PIN, CLIQUET, JABOT, LACE PIN, STICKPIN and TIE PIN.

 

PINCHBECK
A gold substitute that is an alloy of copper and zinc and was invented in the 1720s by Christopher Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck is almost indistinguishable from gold as it is lustrous and does not oxidize. It fell from favor with the introduction of electroplating in the nineteenth century.

 

PIQUÉ
French, ‘pricked’; jewelry and small decorative objects of tortoiseshell or ivory that have a pattern of inlaid silver and gold. There are two types of piqué: 1. piqué point, in which the metal is applied in tiny geometric shapes or points and 2. piqué posé, in which the metal is applied in strips to create patterns. The two types are often combined within the same piece. Piqué was popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, with most of the finest pieces being made during the Georgian period.

 

PLAQUE
A rectangular shape, sometimes with rounded or chamfered corners, that can have any design constrained within its border. It is often used in bracelets and as a pendant or brooch.

 

PLATINUM
A heavy and durable noble metal. It has a high tensile strength and high melting point, requiring high heat to be worked. The silvery-white metal has been used in jewelry since the late nineteenth century, when methods to work it were discovered.

 

PLIQUE-Á-JOUR
French, ‘open to the day’; a type of enamel in which a design is outlined in metal, filled with enamels and fired. The groundplate is removed after the firing, leaving behind a translucent enamel that resembles stained glass. It is very fragile and few pieces remain fully intact today. It is an ancient technique revived during the Art Nouveau period.

 

POISSARDE
French, ‘fishwife’; a type of earring with an elongated pendant that was especially popular at the end of the eighteenth century.

 

POMPEII
An ancient Roman town destroyed (along with Herculaneum) by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was first excavated in 1748, initiating the first wave of neoclassicism and Archaeological Revivalism.

 

PORCELAIN
A very fine, white earthenware that is sometimes used in jewelry, usually mounted as plaques or pendants.

 

PORTRAIT MINIATURE
A painted miniature of a portrait that was often set in jewelry, a trend which was popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These portraits were usually painted on vellum or ivory and set under a crystal as a ring, pendant or brooch.

 

POSY RING
A type of ring engraved or enameled with a short sentimental expression, called a ‘posy’. This message can be either on the interior or exterior of the ring. Posy rings were popular form the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries.

 

PRINCESS CUT
A gemstone cut developed in 1979 that is square in shape with pointed corners and modified brilliant-cut facets.

 

PRONG SETTING
A gemstone setting that features small prongs of metal that grip the stone along the girdle.

 

PUTTO
A chubby child figure that is often nude and winged. Putti were used extensively in the Renaissance as personifications of love and were revived as a popular motif in the nineteenth century. Cupid is usually represented as a putto.

 

PYROPE GARNET
The most popular variety of garnet, characterized by its transparent red color that ranges from brownish-red to ruby-red to blackish-red. It is often used in Victorian and Bohemian garnet jewelry. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.