Miraculous Jewelry Terms (“M”)

Jewelry Phrases beginning with “M” 

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Macaroni – aside from being one of the tastier carbs and an old timey term for being ‘in fashion,’ this also describes a chatelaine that is draped over one’s belt instead of hooked.  The chatelaine, if you recall, is that fancy keychain the ‘Lady of the House,’ or “Big Momma,” wore during the Elizabethan period.

Mallorca Pearls – these are faux pearls, with hearts of glass.  From the Spanish isle which bares their name, these little orbs are created by repeatedly dipping a glass ball into a shiny concoction made of fish scales and oil (aka: ‘smelly stew’ or ‘sea goo’).  The term is now widely used to describe all kinds of fake pearls – and older women named ‘Pearl’ who act phony.

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Manchette – leave it to the French to turn yet another everyday item into a sneakily chic jewelry creation.  This word means “cuff” en Français, hence the manchette is what is commonly known today as a ‘cuff bracelet.’  It looks just like the frilly end of a Victorian lady’s sleeve, and really comes in handy if you simply abhor having cuffs made out of fabric.

Married Jewelry – while you naturally assume that this refers to wedding bands, you naturally are wrong.  This is any type of jewelry piece that embodies one specific style and then is augmented with another add-on piece (which can be from either the same time period/design motif or from another one altogether).  Hence, you have two separate goods that have been ‘married’ together, like Kardshians and athletes.

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Mascaron – is the equivalent of a modern emoji, but the mean/scary ones.  A mascaron is a face, which can be human, animal, a human-animal hybrid, or a goblin/demon.   They are used in architecture on the side of buildings to keep evil spirits away and in jewelry to keep normal people away.

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Meander – this refers to a border, often seen in ancient Greek architecture, that has a repetitious, angular linear pattern.  The Hellenists (or ‘Greek Revivalists’) were fond of this motif, using it in a lot of jewelry items (such as “Greek Key” bracelets) at the turn of the 19th century.  Another term for a meander design is the “running dog,” as it looks like a little Fido trying to eternally catch itself in an M.C. Escherian maze.

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Meershaum – is a whitish, very lightweight clay-esque material that is often used in lieu of ivory (thankfully, for those who deplore ivory usage).  Importing tons of the stuff from Asia, German designers have used meershaum for generations to craft cigarette holders and ornate bowl pipes (thankfully, for those who enjoy smoking…things).  Meershaum sometimes makes a cameo in cameos, once again impersonating cruelly derived ivory.

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Memento Mori – and now for the single most morbid jewelry trend in history thus far.  This phrase translates directly from Latin to “Remember, you must die,” which is quite helpful if you’re the forgetful type.  Oddly popular for over 200 years (from the 1500’s through the 1700’s – and then again with modern day “Goths,” of course, who inundate Hot Topics in malls all over the country), these are rings, pendants and lockets, often with secret compartments, that were fashioned to look like skulls, skeletons and Larry King.

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Memorial Rings – are just what they sound like; rings that are constructed to memorialize or laud a person (ie – the King) or a special event (Macy’s year-end clearance sale).  Often they will have the silhouette of a chap or lady embedded in them, which serves as a creepy reminder that the soul depicted there is always with you.  ALWAYS.

Menuki – are intricately designed metal ornaments that were originally used to make Japanese sword handles look really pretty…right before they killed you.  Menuki became all the rage in the Western world during the end of the 1800’s, in the super throwback Art Nouveau era.

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Micromosaic – this is a form of art that is extremely difficult to achieve, so if someone ever gives you a micromosaic pendant or brooch, just be grateful to the person who spent days putting it together and send them a micro-kiss.  It’s made from tiny glass or enamel parts (called ‘tesserae’) that have a bunch of different hues.  You put it all together in a gold, copper or brass tray to create an image (like an ancient Italian Lite Brite).

Milk and Honey Effect – much like the biblical land of the same name, this is something you strive for when picking out chrysoberyl gemstones.  Don’t recall what those are?  They’re those stones that exhibit the ‘cat eye’ phenomenon; so the M&H effect here is when the feline eye looks like equal parts the sugary goo that bears enjoy and the liquid that cows generously supply our children with.

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Millefiori – speaking of micro mosaics, these are minuscule flower bouquets sometimes found in these miniature works of art.  It’s also a good name for a Bond Girl.

Minaudière – One of the many Van Cleef & Arpels patented items, this is a dainty little clutch designed for women to use to store their make-up, combs and secrets.  The exterior typically features floral, woven designs with little lipstick-protecting hummingbirds and the like on there.

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Mizpah Ring – taken right out of the bible, Mizpah is Hebrew for “Watchtower,” and refers to god watching over man.  Ergo, gold, silver or sometimes brass rings would be engraved with this word (and for jewelers with tiny baby fingers, sometimes the a whole quote from the bible in relation to this).  Not to be confused with a bar mizpah (that’s a tavern where god watches you drink).

Mokume Gane – is the Japanese nomenclature for a technique of lamination that makes metal look like grained wood.  This was used back in the day for Japanese sword blades (possibly so they appeared to be wooden and then opponents would let their guards down?), but today it can be found on all manner of wearable jewelry.

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Mordant – the end of the one’s belt (that doesn’t have the buckle on it) can be affixed with a mordant, which is a metal thingy that helps the belt easily slide through the pant loops.  Some buckles are fancy and are bejeweled and the mordants are set with matching stones.  In jewelry, mordants are mostly used to jazz up bracelet ends.  A common misconception is that Mordants are inhabitants of Mordor.

Moresque – a design style which contains scroll-like shapes, originating from the North Africa.  Renaissance people were really into this look, incorporating it into all kinds of jewelry.  The designs are beautifully complicated, ironically giving rise to the phrase “less is moresque.”

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Mounting on Moor – is a sneaky trick in the diamond world, where one gives the stone a little bit of a ‘tint’ in the pavilion portion, which hides unsightly blemishes inside it.  Like putting a “Kelvin” filter on an unflattering Instagram pic.

Mourning Jewelry – a self-explanatory term, these are jewelry pieces that people would wear when a loved one departed, to show the world they were very sad but still of course cared about fashionable accessories.  Obviously darker materials were employed in making these pieces, such as onyx, black enamels and crystals, jet and in some cases, the actual hair of the mourned individual.  These particular, hair-inclusive jewelry pieces were also known as “please get that away from me.”

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Muff Chain – is a lengthy chain that loops around a lady’s neck, hangs all the way down and clasps her muffler, or muff, which is that fuzzy guy that keeps hands warm.  This was a must-have object during the 1700’s, when people were apparently losing their muffs left and right.

Joe Leone 

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