Q - U
The most commonly occurring mineral, which is found all over the world and is silica-based. There are three varieties of quartz: 1. crystalline, such as amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, rock crystal and smoky quartz, 2. cryptocrystalline, such as bloodstone and chalcedony and 3. massive, such as jasper.
Middle English, ‘four leaves’; an ornamental motif first used in Medieval times that has four lobes that are either rounded or pointed.
The queen of Great Britain from 1837 until 1901 and the longest-reigning British monarch. She was married to Prince Albert and together they promoted the ideas of morality and family values.
A monocular device with a handle, similar in fashion to a lorgnette but with a single lens. Quizzing glasses were popular from the eighteenth century onwards and began to wane in popularity in the mid-nineteenth century.
A type of ring that contains a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond to spell out “Regard”. Regard rings were popular during the Georgian and early Victorian periods.
A method of ornamentation in which a modeled form is raised from a flat background without disconnecting from it. Low relief is called bas relief while high relief is called alto relief.
A period in which there was an increased interest in a romanticized version of the Renaissance, beginning in the eighteenth century and peaking in the late nineteenth century. Renaissance Revival pieces are usually decorated with enamel and feature pearls and cabochon stones.
French, ‘pushed out’; a metalwork technique in which a piece of metal is worked up from the back in order to create a design in relief. In the nineteenth century, stamping became mechanized and was used to mass-produce pieces that feature repoussé.
A piece that is a close copy of an original piece but that is reviewed as such and has no intent of deception.
Retro is a term used for jewelry from the late 1930s through early 50s derived from the term ‘Retrospective of Art Deco’. It is characterized by large, glamorous designs utilizing yellow and rose gold. Synthetic and semi-precious stones were popular as precious stones were scarce. During World War II and the post-war years, metals and stones were harder to come by so jewelers creatively used small amounts of material to make chunky cocktail jewelry. Retro jewelry is still wearable and en vogue today.
A variety of garnet that is characterized by its mauve-red to rose-purple color. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.
French, ‘river’; A short necklace consisting of a single row of graduated gemstones.
French, ‘rocky terrain’; a decorative ornamentation popularized in eighteenth century France during the Rococo, which is characterized by scrolling rock-like shell motifs. Rocaille motifs were revived in the nineteenth century.
The colorless and transparent form of crystalline quartz that has been used in jewelry for centuries. Rock crystal is the traditional birthstone for the month of April.
A period during the mid-nineteenth century in which there was an increased interest in the eighteenth century French Rococo. Rococo Revival pieces are characterized by their scrollwork and emphasis on rocaille, floral and shell motifs.
An item that has been gold-plated, with the layer of gold being at least 10K and less than 1/20th of the total weight of the piece.
A gemstone or metal disc that usually has faceted edges and is pierced through the center, often acting as a spacer on a necklace.
A gemstone cut in which the stone has a flat base and convex crown with triangular facets that create lots of twinkle. The cut was first used in the fifteenth century and remained in use through the nineteenth century. There has recently been a renewed interest in rose-cut stones.
A gold and copper alloy that is characterized by its pinkish tone. The common recipe is 75% gold and 25% copper, although many variations and tones exist.
A stylized rose motif, often depicted in the process of blooming. Rosettes often feature a central gem or gemset petals.
A gemstone setting in which the stone is surrounded by a strip of metal which is pressed over the girdle of the stone. Rub-over settings are often used in signet rings.
A variety of corundum characterized by its transparent red color. A naturally flawless and finely-colored ruby is extremely rare and valuable. Ruby is the modern birthstone for the month of July.
A variety of rock crystal that has needle-like rutile inclusions that create a unique design. Rutilated quartz is often cut en cabochon.
A short, fine chain used on bracelets and necklaces to prevent loss by attaching to either side of the clasp. Safety chains are also used on brooches and attach to the piece itself and the wearer’s apparel.
A term that refers to any variety of transparent corundum that is not red (see RUBY) although it is often used in reference to blue sapphire, which ranges from cornflower to deep blue. Sapphire also refers to white, yellow, purple, green, pink and brown corundum. When cut en cabochon, some sapphires exhibit asterism and are called Star Sapphires. Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September.
A variety of chalcedony that is various shades of brown and often has a reddish tint. It is often used in seals and cameos.
A variety of onyx that is banded with sard. The contrasting bands are often utilized in the creation of cameos, allowing the design and ground to be of different colors. Sardonyx is the traditional birthstone for the month of August.
A type of Japanese earthenware pottery characterized by its crackled ivory-colored ground and polychromatic decoration accented by gold. Satsuma jewelry usually comes in the form of bracelets, pendants and button earrings.
French, ‘rope necklace’; a long necklace or chain with decorative terminals that are often in the form of tassels. Sautoir were especially popular during the Edwardian and Art Deco periods.
A motif originating in ancient Egypt symbolizing the sun and rebirth. Depictions can range from simple faïence scarabs to detailed Art Deco gemset scarabs. In the Victorian period it was popular to mount the shimmery green exoskeletons of real scarabs.
An American jeweler and silversmith known for his medallions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His ‘curio medallions’ of deities appear rough and worn as if recently excavated. These medallions appear on brooches, bangles, cufflinks and necklaces as well as silverware and small objects. George W. Shiebler & Company went out of business in 1915.
SCOTTISH AGATE JEWELRY
A type of jewelry inspired by a romantic interest in Scotland triggered by the writings of Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria’s purchase of Balmoral Castle. These pieces feature various kinds of agate, are usually set in silver and sometimes contain cairngorm. Not all pieces of Scottish agate jewelry were made in Scotland.
An intaglio design used to create a relief impression in a soft material such as wax or clay. Seals can be mounted in rings, hung on a chain or suspended from a chatelaine or watch chain. See also INTAGLIO.
A small round pearl that can be either natural or cultured. They can be used in clusters, set in frames or as accents. Pearl is one of the birthstones for the month of June.
A term that refers to all gemstones other than precious stones (diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire). It is less widely-used today as it can be slightly misleading. Some semi-precious stones, such as demantoid garnets, are more rare and valuable than some precious stones.
In jewelry, the serpent is often used as a symbol of eternal love. The engagement ring given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert depicted a coiled serpent and led to a prodigious use of the serpent motif during the Victorian period.
A type of ornamental stone usually characterized by a green color that is mottled with reddish-brown. It is often used in cameos and intaglios.
French, after Marquise de Sévigné; a type of ornament popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that depicts a bow set with diamonds and was usually worn as a brooch.
A term used to refer to the skin of sharks and rays, which is characterized by its pattern of round bumps. It was used in small decorative objects in the eighteenth century and was used again in the early twentieth century.
An ancient Japanese alloy of gold and copper, usually 4% gold to 96% copper, that is characterized by its velvety purplish-black color. Shakudo, shibuichi and mixed metal inlay were traditionally used to craft decorative Japanese sword fittings. Some of these sword fittings were incorporated into Western jewelry during the nineteenth century.
Generally refers to the hoop of a finger ring that connects the two sides of the central decorative element.
In jewelry, shell refers to the covering of certain mollusks. Shell is used in mother-of-pearl pieces (from the interior of the shell) and carved shell cameos (from the multicolored layers of the shell).
Japanese, ‘one fourth’; an ancient Japanese alloy of silver and copper, usually 15-25% silver and the remainder of copper, that is characterized by its blue to green color. Shakudo, shibuichi and mixed metal inlay were traditionally used to craft decorative Japanese sword fittings. Some of these sword fittings were incorporated into Western jewelry during the nineteenth century.
The part of a shank that connects the rest of the shank to the central ornament, often a gemstone.
A type of ring in which there is a central signet or intaglio. Signet rings were originally used to seal letters but were later worn as ornament.
A heavy, malleable and ductile noble metal. It is very soft, so is usually alloyed with copper in order to increase its hardness. The rich whitish metal takes polish well and can be beaten, rolled and cast. It gained popularity for use in jewelry in the nineteenth century.
An item made of base metal that is electroplated with silver.
A gemstone cut that is usually used on small stones and consists of eight table facets and eight pavilion facets.
A type of metal fastener that slides along a long chain. Slides were worn during the Victorian period when women wore their watches on long chains and were used to adjust the length of the chain and support the weight of the watch.
As wrist watches came into fashion at the end of the nineteenth century, long watch chains began to fall out of fashion. The slides worn on these watch chains were later strung as a group on a double chain to create a bracelet. Slide bracelets were especially popular during the Victorian Revival.
A type of chain in which the links are joined cups of metal.
In jewelry, the snake is often used as a symbol of eternal love. The engagement ring given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert depicted a coiled snake and led to a prodigious use of the snake motif during the Victorian period.
A translucent mineral that is usually blue (sometimes flecked with pyrite) and has a waxy luster. It is one of the components of lapis lazuli. It is usually cut en cabachon or used as beads.
A ring or pendant in which a single gemstone or pearl is the central and sole ornament. Diamond solitaire engagement rings became popular in the late nineteenth century after diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867.
Travel became more accessible during the eighteenth century and travelers looked for reminders of their trip to take home. Souvenir jewelry from foreign countries allowed the wearer to display their worldliness and sophistication. Italian souvenir jewelry was popular, especially inexpensive lava jewelry from Rome, cameos from Venice and pietra dura from Florence. Parures of coral or shell cameos, pietra dura and micromosaics were often given to a new bride from her husband as a honeymoon gift.
A variety of garnet that ranges in color from yellow to red. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.
A transparent gemstone that occurs in a vast range of colors including colorless, red, blue and brownish-black. Red spinel is the most valuable, as the color is similar to that of ruby.
A jump ring that is a partial coil, such as a modern key ring.
A gemstone cut in which the stone has a square table that is bordered by four narrow step-cut facets.
A metalworking process in which a relief design is stamped into a piece of metal sandwiched between a two-portioned punch. In one, the pattern is in relief while in the other it is depressed. Stamping allows for the making of multiple objects from the same pattern and is an early form of mass production. It was used in ancient times but became highly developed in the nineteenth century for creating mass-produced jewelry and trinkets.
An gemstone cut in which there are a series of graduated parallel facets in the form of isosceles trapezoids. The table is usually square or rectangular and often has chamfered corners. The step cut is an elegant and refined cut often used on large diamonds and exceptionally colored gemstones.
An alloy of silver consisting of 92.5% silver (Britain) or 92.1% silver with the remainder being copper.
A decorative pin usually inserted into a tie or scarf so that only the decorative top is visible.
A type of metal fastener that attaches a watch or small object to a chain. It features a loop-shaped catch that swivels to allow the attached object to move freely.
A man-made gemstone that (unlike an imitation stone) has the exact same physical, chemical and optical properties as its natural counterpart. Synthetic gemstones are set in the same manner as natural gemstones.
The top facet on the crown of a cut gemstone.
A gemstone cut with a square or rectangular table, four isosceles trapezoid facets above and below the girdle and an open culet.
French, ‘saving cut’; a type of enameling in which a design is engraved in a piece of metal and then partially filled with opaque enamel. Taille d’épergne was often done with black enamel during the Victorian period and is referred to as black tracery.
A type of goldwork where the gold is given a textured finish. It can be achieved by overall engraving, heating or chemical treatment. See also BLOOMED GOLD and FLORENTINE FINISH.
The thistle is the symbol of Scotland.
A head ornament that features a curved band and central peaked ornament that is usually gemset. In the Victorian period some necklaces had a detachable center that doubled as a tiara.
A decorative pin usually inserted into a tie or scarf so that only the decorative top is visible.
TIFFANY & CO.
Possibly the most important American jewelry company, founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John P. Young as Tiffany & Young. Tiffany became the sole owner in 1853 and the firm became Tiffany & Co. Tiffany became known for its fashionable jewelry that utilized interesting North American gemstones such as fire opal and turquoise. In 1886, Tiffany introduced the Tiffany setting for diamond solitaires. Tiffany’s son Louis Comfort Tiffany joined the firm in 1900 and introduced the Art Nouveau style to the United States. His pieces were inspired by nature and the Japanese arts. Like many Art Nouveau jewelers, Tiffany utilized enameling and semi-precious stones (often in conjunction with precious stones). Louis Comfort Tiffany took over the firm in 1902 when his father died and remained the director of design until he died in 1939. In the last few decades, Tiffany & Co. has had several designers create collections, including Jean Schlumberger in the 1950s, Elsa Peretti in the 1970s and Paloma Picasso in the 1980s.
A variety of quartz that is characterized by its golden color. It has a silky luster and exhibits chatoyancy when cut en cabochon.
A variety of gemstone that is canary to orange-yellow in its most common form. Topaz also comes in blue, green, pink and brown. Topaz is the modern birthstone for the month of November.
A fairly soft and translucent organic substance derived from the carapace of marine turtles, most commonly from the hawksbill turtle. Tortoiseshell has been used for centuries to create anything from jewelry to small objects. It may be left plain or inlaid and was especially popular for use in jewelry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Tortoiseshell is generally used as the base in piqué pieces. Imitation tortoiseshell is made from various forms of plastic (including celluloid). See also PIQUÉ.
A term generally used to refer to any hallmark or Maker’s Mark.
A variety of gemstone that is available in a wide range of transparent colors including blue, red, green, pink, yellow and brown. Tourmaline is the traditional birthstone for the month of October.
Middle English, ‘three leaves’; an ornamental motif that has three lobes that are either rounded or pointed, which was first used in Medieval times.
A variety of garnet characterized by its intense green to yellowish-green color. Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.
A variety of gemstone that ranges from sky-blue to greenish-blue to grayish-green. Turquoise has a waxy luster and takes a high polish so is usually cut en cabochon. During the Victorian period, small cabochon stones were often pavé set. Turquoise was also combined with silver and gold as well as other gemstones. Turquoise is the traditional birthstone for the month of December.
The underside of the central portion of some ring settings, which is raised and usually consists of decorative filigree, openwork or piercing and allows light to enter the stones from below.