A-Z List of Jewelry Making Terminology [Updated]


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Jewelry Making & Goldsmithing Terminology and Phrases 2021 [Updated] 

jewelry making terminology
Jewelry making and goldsmithing terminology includes techniques, metal types, tools, and more.

Whether you are interested in professional goldsmithing or are a hobbyist jewelry maker, there are certain words and phrases that you must know in order to understand your work well.

If you have ever been confused or in need of a reminder about what certain terms and phrases within the jewelry making world mean, look no further than the following list of common terminology within the industry.

Listed alphabetically for your convenience, these words relate to goldsmithing, hobby jewelry making, and other aspects of metalworking that you may come across as you explore your craft.

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Professional Jewelry Making: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Jewelry Techniques
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Alloy

Metal made through the combination of two or more metals or ores. Strengthens, hardens, changes color, and resists corrosion.

Anneal

Heating and slowly cooling glass or metal, softens and relieves stress.

Anodize

The process of coating metal through the use of an electrolytic process to decrease the possibility of corrosion and allow paint or glue to adhere better.

Articulated

Connected at a hinge or pivot joint.


Bail

Connector used to attach decorative elements to a chain.

Bar Setting

Ring setting in which the sides of a gemstone are exposed, with a single bar separating each gemstone.

Base Metal

Non-precious metals including iron, tin, zinc, and lead.

Basse-Taile

Engraving technique in which a low relief is applied to metal and a clear enamel is layered over to accent the relief.

Bead

Decorative element made of gemstones, glass, plastic, and other materials with holes through the center for threading.

Bell cap

Metal piece used in jewelry making to cap the end of an oblong bead, or to hide a knot at the end of a strand of beads.

Bezel

Facets on the crown of a cut gemstone.

Bezel Rocker

Tool used to push a bezel around a stone.

Box Chain

Chain composed of square-shaped links.

Bridge Jewelry

Jewelry considered more fine than costume jewelry but less luxurious than high-end pieces. Made of semi-precious stones, sterling silver, and other filled metals.

Brilliance

Brightness of a stone. Both surface polish and facets play into how brilliant a stone will be.

Brilliant Cut

Cone-shaped cut with 57 or 58 facets. Considered to have the highest brilliance of all cuts.

Briolette

A pear-shaped stone with one pointed end and triangular or rectangular facets.

Burnishing

Creating a polished surface on a metal by using friction.


Cabochon 

A gemstone with flat side and smooth, rounded front.

Casting

The process of forming an object by pouring metal into a hollow mold and letting it set

Cathedral Setting

A metal band with arches that rise up to or above the gemstone.

Champlevé

A method of enameling in which troughs are formed in a metal surface, filled with enamel, and then polished.

Channel Setting

A groove created when two bars of metal are placed parallel to each other. Gemstones sit within this channel.

Chaton Cut

A cut with at least 8 facets. Most gemstones are cut in this manner.

Cloissoné

A decorative technique in which enamel is placed in the spaces between metal strips and fired.

Cluster Setting

Setting method in which one large stone is centered and surrounded by smaller matching or different stones.

Costume Jewelry

Jewelry made from cheaper materials like base metals, plastic, glass, wood, etc.

Crimp

Metal bead or tube that secures the beginning of a strand to keep beads on the string or wire.

Cushion Cut

Square or rectangular cut with rounded corners. Resembles a cushion or pillow.


Drawing

Pulling a rod of metal through conically shaped holes to reshape and narrow its width.

Drop

A piece on a jewelry that hangs from the main portion. This piece moves with the wearer and is suspended by a loop on top.

Ductility

The ability for a metal to be drawn into wire.


Electroplating

The process of covering one metal with a layer of another. The piece is placed in a chemical solution and the new metal is placed the original through an electric current (electrolysis).

Embossing

A design technique in which a hammer or punches is used from behind the piece to raise a design onto the front of the piece.

Enamel

A semitransparent or opaque glass-like material that is applied to metal jewelry and then fired for hardening.

Engraving

A process in which patterns are etched or chiseled into a metal surface.


Facet

Flat surface on a cut gem. Gives a gemstone its shape and sparkle as light reflects off the surface.

Filigree

Twisted wire or thin metal that forms decorative shapes.

Flux

Substance that promotes fusion during the soldering process, allows solder to flow by preventing oxidization at the point of soldering.


Gauge

The thickness of metal or wire jewelry, used commonly in earrings.


Hardening

Heating and working steel to reduce its malleability.

Head Pin

A needle-shaped piece of wire with a flat end used to keep beads from slipping off a threaded project.


Illusion Setting

A setting that includes a metal piece that appears to be part of a stone and surrounds it. Gives small diamonds and other stones the appearance of being larger.

Inlay

The use of a material like shell, mother of pearl, or ivory to form depressions in a surface.


Jump Ring

Thick loops of wire used to attach separate pieces of jewelry together. Available in many styles and sizes and allow for clasps to be connected to a jewelry piece.


Karat

Measurement used to determine the quality of gold.


Lock Ring

Method of securing jewelry, has a crimp that adds another level of security to the attachment of jewelry components.


Malleability

Capacity for metal to change its shape without breaking, tearing, or becoming weak in general.

Mandrel

Tool used to shape and size rings and bracelets.


Patina

Green and brown discoloration that occurs on certain types of metal when allowed to oxidize for a period of time.

Pearl Reamer

Tool used to widen or finish drilled holes in pearls.

Plique-à-jour

The method of placing enamel between openwork wire designs. Gives the enamel a more transparent look similar to stained glass.

Polishing

Using tools or substances to make the surface of a metal smooth and shiny. Removes flaws and rough spots that are undesirable.


Repousse

Technique of making relief patterns and designs on the front of a piece using a hammer on the back of the piece.

Rondelle

Flat bead in square and triangle shapes used as a spacer between main stones on bracelets and necklaces.


Silver/Gold Finished

Electroplating silver or gold color over a base metal. Does not contain any actual silver or gold.

Smelting

The process of separating desired metals from nonmetal materials or metals that are not desired.

Solder

Metal alloy with lessened melting and flowing temperature. Used to join metal components together.

Stabilization

Used on turquoise. The application of a clear epoxy or resin over a porous gemstone to protect the surface and improve the appearance of the color.

Sterling Silver

92.5% silver with 7.5% copper or another cheaper metal. Makes the material more durable and slows down the process of tarnishing.

Stripping

The process of removing a thin layer of metal from a surface through immersion in acid or reverse electroplating.


Tarnish

The buildup of oxidation on a metal surface over a length of time.

Titanium

Strongest, hardest metal in the world. Completely hypoallergenic and a dark silver color.

Tumbling

A method of polishing many pieces of jewelry by rotating them in a barrel filled with abrasives and polishing agents.


Vermeil

Made of silver, gold, and other precious metals. Gold component must be at least 10 karat gold to be considered vermeil.


White Metal

Common metal used for costume jewelry. Contains tin, lead, cadmium, bismuth, zinc, and other cheap materials.

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