Tag Archives: phrases

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 

Alluring Jewelry Terms

(Starting with “A”)


This is the first installment of a multi part series on the etymology of some of the more esoteric, unconventional and ancient phrases in the wondrous world of precious metal and gemstone-based jewelry.

À jour – much like ‘soup du jour,’ this term is extra fancy, and extra French; it means “to the day,” and is as delicious as a lobster bisque.  À jour is a type of jewelry setting that became intensely popular in the 1800’s (just like the sexy steam locomotive and the scintillating stereoscope) where the back of the piece is left open.  This is so the sun can hit it with luscious light and BAM: instant solar style, as the jewel shimmers with glowing glee and bright alacrity.


À la mercure – Ok, this one can be mercurial (and lethal).  Like the name suggests, we’re dealing with actual mercury here.  It’s a type of ‘gilding’ where you meld gold and mercury into a deadly stew and then gently apply it to a jewelry piece (like you would with White-Out to a sensitive document).  Then you burn the heck out of it with a torch or, in a pinch, a lighter with a saucy burlesque dancer etched on to it.  The heat from the fire sizzles the mercury away, leaving behind a smooth golden finish (just don’t breathe while doing this, kids!)


Aiguilettes – now commonly known as the name given to Christina Aguilera’s children, aiguilettes originally referred to thin little strips of material that held ribbons in place on women’s dresses in the 1400’s.  These stylishly ‘sharp’ items (derived from the French word for needle, “aguille”), became more and more fashionable and were eventually constructed from gold and featured various glittering gems.  They usually appeared in pairs, forming a small “v” or “bird in the distance in a painting” shapes.


Allochromatic – just like the Allosaur that gets eaten in Jurassic World, this term has epic connotations.  The phrase “allochromatic” is applied to gems that exhibit a certain color…that is not what their chemical components dictate it should actually look like, but rather a hue which is purely visible due to the impurities therein.  Confused?  Good.  Here’s a nice example of allochroma in action: the highly valuable gemstone Sapphire.  Now, sapphire is blue, right?  Dead wrong! (as if you’ve been huffing mercury)  Sapphire is naturally a clear gem in it’s unadulterated state.  However, typically when it forms, iron and titanium particles get in there, alloying the true chemical composition.  These dirty little elements are what give sapphire that azure allure we know and heart.

Alluvial – this one is a little slippery: literally.  The phrase is really just an adjective meaning “deposited by water,” and in the jewelry universe this refers to precious metals (gold, silver, the Lord of the Rings ring) left behind in riverbed rocks.


Amorphous – Honey Boo-Boo and Momma June jokes aside, amorphous things have no form at all.  What this means in gem terms, is that they are devoid of a “crystal structure.”  Popular gemstones such as amber and opal are amorphous, making them both great gifts for someone whom you want to express the message “Our love has no…form.”


Arabesque – those who frequent hookah lounges will be familiar with the ornate and intricate style that is Arabesque.  Jewelry with extensive filigreed is often in the Arabesque category, which was definitely #trending during the 1500’s with the Renaissance art crowd.  Arabesque designs feature a lot of flowing flowers, hearts and in some rare cases, shawarma samples.

Archaeological Revival – this term is sort of self explanatory, but cool nonetheless.  When art loving Europeans of the 1700’s began digging stuff up from the Roman and Egyptian Empires, they fell in love with the style and started replicating it like mad.  Wearing a Cleopatra inspired golden asp headpiece became totally en vogue with the bourgeoisie crew.


Argentan – if you receive a shiny silver gift with an intaglio on it proclaiming this word, then you have a right to be miffed.  It means that the metal is masquerading as actual silver, but, sadly, is not.  This information can be extremely useful when deciding whether or not to melt jewelry pieces down into bullets to combat attacking werewolves.


Armilla – is just a super fancy word for an ‘armlet’ – a bracelet for the upper arm.  These have been around since the times when people fought lions with their bare hands for the entertainment of the masses (usually on the TNT network).  Roman soldiers wore these to signify rank, as well as for an excuse to show off their biceps.  Today, hordes of  inebriated girls wear them at Coachella.

Assay – is not that thing you had to write to get into college.  Assay is the procedure that jewelry items undergo to analyze the precise content of the precious metal they contain.  The results are often stamped right on the little guys (ie – “24 kt gold” or, in some less than fortunate cases, “100% tin foil”).


Asterism – akin to the mighty asteroid, soaring through the cosmos, the concept of asterism is equally ephemeral and can scorch you if you attempt to grasp it.  …Well, not really.  It just signifies a star-like shape that forms when light hits certain, inclusion laden gems and then reflects out in said stellar fashion.  Basically, it’s like looking at a jewel-born asterisk*


Aventurescence – if you are a gem and you possess this quality, it means you are ready for adventure!  …Or something to that effect.  When stones have aventurescence, they have an entirely unique brand of sparkle to them.  Gems that exhibit this property are chocked full of various mineral inclusions that are too hard to spell or pronounce (and in some cases, sound completely inappropriate).  Not a believer?  Just try to say “fuchsite” in polite society and see what happens.

-Joe Leone