Tag Archives: ancient Egyptians

Glorious Jewelry Terms

Starting with “G”

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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-Joe Leone 

Jewelry Terms: Fascinatingly Fancy

Starting with “F”

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Faience – a “non clay based ceramic” the ancient Egyptians used to craft things with a flare of color and a flourish of glaze.  Those sneaky Pyramid builders would use this material to deceive onlookers into thinking they were seeing actual sapphire, malachite or turquoise.  Do not give you fiancée a faience ring or they will give you back a slap.

Fausse Montre – Legend has it, that there was once a time when people didn’t have cellular phones, and needed something called a “watch” to tell the time.   In fact, so coveted were these “watches,” that some dreadful individuals couldn’t even afford them.  For just such a rakish cad, the fausse montre, or “false watch,” was invented by the ever resourceful Frenchies.  This Georgian era device of deceit had the shape of a watch, the dials and hands of a watch, but, alas, only told the correct time twice per day…

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Fede Ring – these are the two-hands-grabbing-each-other rings.  They were originally conceived during the Roman times and remained popular in Europe for quite a while.  They eventually switched hands and became more of an Irish thing.  Certain people use them in lieu of diamond engagement rinds, including internationally renowned DJ Fedde Le Grand (one can assume, right?)

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Fer de Berlin – a German term, correct? Nope – French again.  It means “Berlin Iron,” and refers to a very specific style of jewelry that was worn during the turn of the 19th century.  Needing supplemental finances to combat the lilliputian warrior Napoleon and his advancing troops, Prussian citizens were ever so nicely asked to hand over their gold jewelry.  In exchange for their patriotic efforts, they received alternate, cast-iron jewelry, with the inscription “Ich gab Gold fur Eisen” which roughly translates to “I got screwed by the government.”

Ferronnière – here we have a cranial jewelry piece that first appeared during the renaissance period; it made a comeback during the 1830’s and then recently started popping up on the foreheads of girls at Coachella (even though they definitely don’t know what it’s called).  It’s a fine chain that loops around the forehead with a small gemstone in the middle.  It means “the blacksmith’s wife,” originating from a portrait Leo Da Vinci did (‘La Belle Ferronnière’) of a woman wearing this item, that he definitely had the hots for.

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Festoon – oh those NeoClassics and their love of festive jewelry.  This fellow surfaced during the middle part of the 18th century; a collection of flowers, fruit, leaves and other flouncy things.  Used in all sorts of jewelry forms, festoons are the fancy precursor to wearable Edible Arrangements.

Fibula – is indeed the name for a leg bone, but it also the thingy that the Romans used to clasp their togas together (to avoid anything funny happening on the way to the forum).  They are like super elaborate and fancy safety pins (minus the safety).

Fichu Pin – French dammes of the 1650’s wouldn’t be caught dead without these.  Anyone who was anyone wore a fichu, which is an elegant scarf that is draped around the shoulders, that is held together at the bosom with a beautiful brooch, the fichu pin.  Rumor has it that this jewelry piece received its name because when one inquired to the tailor about how it looked on them, the tailer would reply “It fichu perfect.”

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Figural – this style of jewelry (of having little figurines attached to things) goes all the way back to the ancient times, with popularity pockets popping up throughout history.  The reason for the unrelenting admiration is simply because people will always like little miniatures of big, living things; of animals, bugs, mythic creatures…themselves.

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Fleur de Lys – is a highly recognizable, stylized version of a lily, used in many jewelry pieces all over the globe.  French in origin, it was often seen in the family crests and the coat of arms of many monarchs, who liked to showcase how florally fluent they really were.  There was an abrupt cessation to this style after the French Revolution, as certain people suddenly didn’t want to be identified as the ‘ruling class’ so much anymore (watch ‘Les Mis’ for further clarification, and to see a bald Anne Hathaway cry.)

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Florentine finish – this is a technique that can be applied to the surface of metals to make them appear like they are made up of numerous alloy types.  The different pieces intersect and interlock in an alternating pattern that looks cool but can make you dizzy if you stare at it for too long.  A ‘Florentine’ finish is also what non-meat-eaters get (in the form of iron-rich spinach) in lieu of Canadian bacon on Eggs Benedict.

French Jet – if you couldn’t afford actual jet (or your own private jet) in the 1800’s, you wore French jet to funerals.  It’s just black glass that resembles the precious gem.  Since it is French by name, it is inherently fancy, and lets you mourn in fiercely fabricated style.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-French-jet-jewelry-black-noir-glassFringe Necklace – once again, a jewelry commodity first made relevant by the ancient Egyptians (the Tom Fords of their day), the fringe necklace showcases numerous pendant-like units that hang from a chain or cord.  They went out of vogue after a few centuries but were figuratively and literally resurrected in the 1850’s.  Still the go-to necklace for anyone into #ThrowbackThursdays or #FringebackFridays.

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-Joe Leone

Blast from the Past: The History of the Engagement Ring

You’ve been dating someone for a few years now, and the time is right. You’re going to pop the question. But first, you need to drop two months’ salary on a band of metal with a shiny hunk of superheated carbon in it. Why? Because everyone else does. It’s an ancient tradition that goes all the way back to the… late 1930s. Yeah, diamond engagement rings have really only been a thing for just under a century. Sure a few existed, but diamonds weren’t considered a necessary part of the engagement ring until relatively recently. So what were engagement rings like before then? And where did the whole tradition start?

Ancient Times

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