Tag Archives: French expressions

Glorious Jewelry Terms

Starting with “G”


Gallery – much like the photo galleries you are ‘click-baited’ into viewing online, a gallery in the jewelry realm typically aids in making the main attraction (gemstone) look even cooler.  A series of designs or repeated patterns, usually accompanying a center stone or other precious material, is what constitutes a gallery in this sense.

Gardinetto – if you’ve got a bunch of sapphires, rubies and emeralds you need to show off, you need a practical way to present them; luckily the enterprising Italians came up with the gardinetto.  This is a little jewelry basket (or pot or coffee can) of flowers, where the gems can reside.  Most commonly used as a trinket to trade amongst lovers during the mid-1700’s, gardinettos rose to fashion once again during the extravagantly fabulous Art Deco period (the roaring/raging/raving ’20’s).


Gaud – this is a very neat little orb that hangs from, typically, a rosary.  This tiny ball can be opened and inside there are often entire scenes carved within, usually straight from the Bible, replete with sacred saints and other symbolically significant peeps.  Mostly made of wood and resembling walnuts (these kind are actually referred to as ‘nuts’ – hence the term “religious nut”), gauds can sometimes show up in metal forms.

Georgian Silver – around the inception of the Baroque period (referring to 1600’s Europe, not necessarily when poor people were feeling especially ba-roke), people began to notice that setting white diamonds in silver made them really sparkle.  Fast forward a bit to the Georgian era, when silver mines in South America were booming and India was popping out and polishing more diamonds than e’er seen before; thus, the perfect recipe for silver Euro-ring fun!


Germanic Jewelry – when you think of Goth jewelry, you probably imagine black bats, big pewter crucifixes and scary goblin pendants, not ornately decorated gold with glorious, colored gems inlaid.  The jewelry of the Germanic tribes (the 5th century Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals …Hoodlums, etc.) greatly resembled that of the Romans, as these tribes had been under their resplendent rule for generations.  Basically a lot of colored glass, precious stones and intricate designs on gilded materials.



Giacomo Raffaelli – if there is a name synonymous with the mastery of mosaics, it’s Raffaelli.  This 18th century born italian artiste was so adept at crafting mosaics, he eventually was able to create a ‘micro mosaic.’  These tiny masterpieces could then be used in jewelry design, much to the delight of late period Settecento (1700s) donne everywhere.  Thankfully, this concept would become mass produced and is now responsible for breathtaking Cosplay jewelry items everywhere.


Gimmel Ring – is basically two bands that are twisted together to form one complete ring.  Used as symbols of betrothal during the Renaissance, where the groom would wear one ring and the bride to be the other (essentially, his and her engagement rings), which the bride would absorb into one fused ring on the day of the wedding.  A little gimmicky, these gimmel (which is actually derived from the Latin word, gemellus, for ‘twin’) rings would sometimes contain a secretly inscribed baby and skeleton under the main stone, as an eerie reminder that you are born with nothing and you die with nothing, and that nothing is forever.

…How romantic.


Girandole – All the rage during the 1600s, these are earrings that consist of three teardrop shaped gems which hang down from a fanciful bow design.  Once the 1700s rolled around and people started to view these as “le lame” the earrings would typically be broken down into their component parts and redesigned into less heavy (and not so gaudy) earrings and other jewelry types.  Hence, we have the first instances of “jewelry repurposing” on record.

Girasol – Ok, this is the name ascribed to any type of gemstone that exhibits a milky luster that appears to drip along and mosey inside the stone as it is moved (or as the sun or Smurf nightlight or whatever light source hitting it is put into motion).  Girasols should never be given as a present to lactose intolerant individuals.  That’s just cruel.


Glyptography – What do intaglios engraved into metal and cameos etched from a stone have in common?  Why, they are both are shining examples of glyptography, the ancient art of sending messages through jewelry.  Duh.  Long story relatively short, people were trying to text each other by carving things (called petroglyphs) into cave walls around 15,000 BC – Cut To a few thousand years later and folks were using these etchings to identify personal property with – these became “seals” and were eventually worn, for good luck, favor from the gods, and all that jazz.


Gold à Quatre Couleurs – one can never have too much gold; or too many gold colored varieties at once.  This term, coined in the 1750s, means you have four different gold hued alloys all employed in one jewelry piece.  A repetitious pattern is often created to give the overall golden design symmetry, beauty and super ultra uber goldiness.

Gorget – getting gorged on a gorgeous gorget is just glorious, no?  This guy started out as a metal collar that had an open back (we’re talking during the ancient European times of roughly 800 BC), and would go through numerous iterations over the centuries.  It would eventually become more of a military thing, as soldiers would wear them for protection.  Various cultures changed gorgets up a bit, crafting them from bones, shells, leather, ribbon, etc.  Certain designers working today have thrown the style back to the elder times, resorting to full on metal once again.


Grisaille – this French expression means “in the grey,” and is not nearly as cryptic in jewelry practices as the idiom makes it sound.  It’s an enameling technique where first a black, or “noir” (again, really not mysterious), layer of enamel is applied to a surface, and then white enamel is later layered over it.  Depending on the degree of thickness of the white enamel, the various “shades of grey” are then expressed (again, really, nothing clandestine, mystical or seductive going on here; just boring enameling).  Some jewelry glazed with this process is said to be cursed (alas, there it is!)

Grotesque – is a vile piece of jewelry, like something purchased at “Hot Topic,” right?  Nope.  Stemming from the Latin “grotto,” translated to ‘hollow,’ this refers to the Roman practice of encircling a main figure with a bunch of finely carved out scrolls.  For instance, a #troll with #scrolls.


Guilloché – if you are good with a lathe, you can probably bang out a really cool guilloché design.  Just in case you aren’t a jeweler, a ‘lathe’ is a deluxe engraving tool, and the guilloché technique involves forging a concentric pattern, that originates from the center of a piece and appears to ripple outward.  It looks like a water droplet in a pond, or a really angry cartoon character with those squiggly lines coming out of his head.


Guirlande – usually showing up in the form of a gem encrusted floral wreath, the guirlande is a broach-like pendant.  Totally en vogue during the Renaissance period amongst the nobles, the NeoClassics dredged this style up and wore it with tons of throwback flare.

Gutta-Percha – this makes this list just because it is fun to say.  Aside from the fact that is sounds like a colorful Italian curse word, it’s a rubber-esque organic material that comes from “pantropical” trees.  It’s a stygian substance, and was used primarily in the ever-uplifting-to-wear ‘mourning jewelry.’


Gypsy Ring – we conclude with the beautifully bohemian gypsy ring.  Key characteristics include a single stone, in a bezel mounting, that often is elevated just a hair above the band.  The cabalistic center gem can be of any variety, but cool stones like obsidian, onyx or dark amethyst make it all the more mysterious.


-Joe Leone 

Comely Jewelry Terms

(starting with “C”)


Here it is: Part III of our super informative and fun collection of fancy jewelry phrases.

Cabochon – (sounds like “Cabbage Shawn”) – stemming from the French word for “knob,” what this connotes is a gem that is ‘domed’ (not “doomed”), meaning the top is rounded and silky smooth.  Like a wondrously sleek egg, a cabochon formed stone holds unlimited potential, with nary a facet to hold it back.

Cairngorm – is a brownish citrine quartz that hails from the Cairngorm Mountains in the land of haggis and Ewan McGregor fans.  Found throughout history in typical Scottish jewelry, like kilt buckles, naturally.  You can take their land, but you can never take their Cairngorm.


Calibré – yes, this is a highly popular font style, but it also refers to gemstones that are cut in a very deliberate way to fit into a particular mounting design.  For instance, if you wanted a Pikachu shaped engagement ring, you would need several calibré yellow diamonds to complete the elegant piece.

Cameo – in addition to being the type of appearance you make at less than desirable friends’ birthday parties, cameos are lovely and intricately carved works of art.  Dating back to the ancient times, before Instagram, cameos were used to depict scenes or selfies, by carving into gemstones or various other precious materials.  The technical term for jewelry with this type of design is “glyptograph,” but that just sounds like one of those excessively expensive calculators.


Cannetille – What was the most desirable jewelry design style during 1827?  Well, cannetille. Obvi.  This is a highly sophisticated way of structuring settings, so that complicated and baroque patterns can be achieved (similar to filigreed).  Some such patterns include: curls, webs, snakes, floral shapes, seashell motifs, squiggly things and momma’s spaghetti and meatballs.

Carbuncle – no, this is not an avuncular person that loves ingesting carbohydrates.  This is a type of garnet, with a rich purple, red red wine color.  Highly sought after during the Victorian era, carbuncle themed jewelry goes best with mauve hued Gothic Princess Ball Gowns – so if you have one of those, march into a jewelry shop and demand to know “Dude, where’s my carbuncle?”


Cartouche – is a fashion of framework that encircles a primary jewel.  Often features elaborate and labyrinthine patterns (like the cannetille style!) and glorious glyphs.  Tip: If someone tries to impress you with a beautifully byzantine piece of jewelry, simply retort “Car-touché.”

Cat’s Eye (aka “Chatoyancy”) – is one of the coolest jewel-based things known to humanity.  It’s the mystical effect that light has on certain gems, whereby it reflects out and produces a vertical slit that eerily resembles a feline’s contracted pupil.  In order for this to occur, the gem must be cut and polished “en cabochon.”  Hence, if you’re crazy cat-lady aunt loses one of her furry beloveds, a thoughtful present would be two rings that exhibit Chatoyancy – that she can stare at and pet.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-jewelry-cat's-eyeCave Pearls – these guys almost didn’t make the list, because they are hardly ever used in jewelry – but they are ultra fancy nonetheless.  The term refers to “pearls” that form in underground limestone caves.  Water flowing over them naturally polishes the stones to a lovely luster, but they are so porous that they could crumble upon a firm squeeze.  Would make a great center stone for an engagement ring being given to someone who is highly unstable.


Champlevé – is as sultry as it sounds.  Translated from the French “raised field,” this is an enameling process where a surface area (metal, bone, Play-Doh) is dug or etched into to form a design, which is then covered in a nice, thick layer of enamel.  Then the material is often thinned out from the other side, so light can somewhat penetrate through, like a très fancy Lite Brite.

Chatham – is a super scientific method of creating synthetic gemstones utilizing a smoldering medley of mixed minerals and molten materials – and, it’s an exotic archipelago off the coast of New Zealand – AND, a super boring town in upstate New York.

Chenier – not as glamorous as it sounds, but definitely a very useful item in jewelry construction.  It refers to the ‘hollow tubing’ that is employed in hinges, such as the ones found in bracelets, watches, secret lockets and Gramma’s antique “snuff box.”  Like a bird’s brittle bones, chenier is essential for some jewelry to truly take flight.


Chiaroscuro – finally, a non-French term!  This phrase, in the geological sense, refers to the reciprocity of light and dark areas in gemstones.  It is derived from the Italian word “chiaro,” which means “clear,” and “oscuro,” which means “dark” or “Momma Mia, you burn-a the pasta sauce!”

Chute – this is a pearl necklace where every one of the pearls featured is of the identical size (except the little baby ones near the clasp – which prompts people to exclaim “Isn’t that chute?” upon seeing them).


Châtelaine – has very intriguing origins.  The 1600’s saw the first popular inception of a chatelaine – which means “Lady of the Castle” in, oui, you guessed it, French.  It was simply a hook that attached to one’s belt, which housed the entire key collection for said castle (making the Lady of the Castle look like a janitor).  Over time, it evolved into a jewelry piece that held several chains, each with a different adornment hanging from it.  Like a modern day, functional charm bracelet, you could attach all sorts of ostentatious/useful items, like combs, looking glassses, writing tools, watches, vials of arsenic for the lurking and lascivious, and other such fun trinkets.

Clawed Collet – no, no Collet.  This is a type of ring mounting, where the main jewel is bezel set amongst a vast array of prongs, that serve to hold the stone securely in place.  Like a cougar clutching a valuable stone (either an actual cougar or the euphemism-kind).


Commesso – an elaborate form of cameo, where finely cut gems meld with enameled gold, producing a three-dimensional and dynamic jewelry piece (different from a regular cameo which is just cut from a solitary chunk of stone or other material…how droll).  When finished assembling such delicate and beatific pieces, jewelers often shout “Commesso and get it!”

Croix a la Jeanette – this is a lovely pendant which was at the height of fashion during the mid 1800’s.  It’s a heart with a little crucifix hanging from it, and was quite possibly named for Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson…if you’re nasty).

-Joe Leone