Tag Archives: fancy

Heavenly Jewelry Terms

starting with “H”

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Habille – some people are never satisfied, are they?  Unable to remain content with the lovely, first incarnation of cameo jewelry, the gentry of the 1840’s decided that the new ‘it’ item would be Habilles.  These are excessively large cameos that actually have other pieces of multi-dimensional jewelry placed on the figures depicted.  Meaning, the ivory lady hanging out in the cameo may be wearing diamond earrings and a necklace.  The name ‘Habille’ was used because “tacky” was already taken.

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Half-Hunter – is exactly what it sounds like (not really).  A ‘Hunting Case’ is the metal encasement that protects a pocket watch, ostensibly while you are on gentlemanly pursuits like day-laboring, engaging in a vigorous croquet match or, of course, tiny game hunting.  The half-hunter is when the glass is exposed – surely only wildly adventurous types would sport such a brazenly reckless and potentially unsafe device.

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Hallmark – much like the sappy greeting card company of the same name, a Hallmark is an intaglio (branded into the metal of fine jewelry) that is very respected and beloved by the peoples of the world.  The term is derived from the stodgy old British practice of goldsmiths being required to have their wears ‘assayed’ (analyzed for genuineness and caliber) at the official Goldsmith Hall – which the O.G.s (old goldsmiths) commonly referred to as ‘The Hall.’  Hence, a hallmark is an official grading of the quality of the metal, stamped right on those lil suckers.

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Handkerchief Ring – is not at all what is sounds like (actually, it is precisely that).  Fancy folk of yesteryear just simply couldn’t be bothered to hold  their handkerchiefs (or, heaven forfend, place them in their pockets!), so a ring was devised that has a chain hanging from it that leads to yet another ring.  In this deliciously dainty and completely necessary second ring, one could slip a handkerchief, or “nose rag,” through and let it flounce about, as the wearer went about their foppish affairs.

Handy Pins – are pins that happen to be handy.  Certain individuals, who happened to be alive during the late 1900’s, just needed a hand keeping their clothing fastened together.  These individuals may or may not have been aware of the somewhat recent invention of the ‘button.’

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Heishi – this is a jewelry style specific to San Felipe Pueblo and Santa Domingo natives now living in the American southwest, primarily New Mexico.  The main identifying characteristic of this jewelry type is the appearance of small shell and bead stones artfully arranged together.  Tiny holes are drilled into these elements which allow for string or twine to hold them tightly together.  Often turquoise, or stones of this hue, are used.  Many tourists who venture to the southwest purchase such items, looking strange as they return to their homes wearing the beautiful bracelets and necklaces along with their Crocs.

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Hellenism – or “heck-enism” for the easily offended, is the ancient Greek-specific style that was brought back into fashion by those crafty Neoclassicists around the 1700s.  See, Helen of Troy (that of ancient Greece, not upstate New York) was a Greek historical/mythological figure who was essentially the Joan Rivers of her day; adored, revered and a wicked judge of fashion.

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Higa – is one of the funnier things on this list.  A higa is a hand amulet, similar to the peace invoking ‘hamsa,’ only in this breed the hand is arranged in a way that is …not so nice.  With the thumb poking through the pointer and middle finger, the higa illustrates a very old, very dirty type of insult (use your imagination to figure out what that is supposed to represent…)  Higas still pop up in modern jewelry, especially in South America, and obviously make great gifts for people who are despised/clueless.

Holbeinesque – you know you’re cool when an entire style of jewelry is named after you.  Such is this case with Hans Holbein, who was tearing up the hot German art scene during the early 1500s.  Holbeinesque jewelry is recognized for having a nice sized center stone, typically oval, surrounded by chrome laden, intricate enamel work.  Became all the rage during the 1870s, in what was defined as the Neo-Renaissance period (much like when modern people go to the Renaissance Fair and speak in awful faux British accents).

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Hololith Ring – aside being fun to say, this is a lovely loop that adorns the finger, cut from one solid piece of gemstone or mineral.  This style of cutting gems is popular with the always jazzy jade.  The fairly preterite invention of Hololith rings symbolized a momentous step in gemstone liberation, as the proud gems showed they ‘don’t need no metal to be a strong, independent ring.’  Work.

Honeycomb – this is a design style made enormously successful by the fancy brand Van Cleef & Arpels during the economically booming epoch of the 1930s.  Those not living in the Dust Bowl would treat themselves to bracelets crafted in this snazzy pattern, which was actually borrowed from the ‘garter bracelets’ of the Victorian period, which were actually borrowed from bees.

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Horror Vacui – Mwah-ha-ha!  Yes, this jewelry classification is indeed scary.  Translated from the beautiful, dead language of Latin, this means “fear of empty space.”  In jewelry terms this signifies pieces that are completely jam packed with bulbous gemstones, gaudy designs and other hard-on-the-eyes objects.  A style endemic to many crowns, coronation items and floral pantsuits that your Aunt Rosy just can’t live without.

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Hotel Silver – any white metal that is desperately trying to pass itself off as authentic silver is referred to by this euphemism.  So don’t be fooled if someone tries to sound like they are giving you a fancy type of metal when presenting you with some bogus hotel silver (it really should be called “Motel Silver”).

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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

Delightful Jewelry Terms

Terms starting with “D”

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Daguerreotype – combining science, fashion and technology, the daguerreotype is second only to the diamond encrusted Apple Watch in  the coolest inventions in the world of jewelry history category.  Developed in 1839 by French photographer/innovator/dawg, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, it’s a sort of photograph that would appear on a copper plate, after it was subject to host of potentially lethal chemicals.  Anything for fashion, dahling.

Damascene – is a method used to decorate a metal surface with gold or silver wire inlay in order to create a “scene,” or depiction of an event.  Initially popular in Asia, the Mid-East and eventually Europe, this style of artistry is credited with inspiring the first person to ever use the phrase “…You’re making a scene.”

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Decade Ring – should obviously be given as a present to someone every 17 years.  Thought to have been developed during the 1400’s, the decade ring has ten protrusions jutting out along the band.  These were used to keep track of the ten prayers Christians were supposed to say (like rosary beads), but also doubled as excellent bowling pin counters as well.

Demantoid – Sadly, no: this is not a demented demon humanoid.  This is a gemstone that had quite the time finding its own identity.  Initially mistook for peridot and a host of other greenish sparklers upon its discovery, it was eventually deemed demantoid (which means “diamond-like” or “Shines bright, but only like a diamond.”)

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Diaperwork – …now that doesn’t sound that fancy at all… This term is applied to a style of patterning where interlocking shapes are repeated over and over in an alternating manner (to oversimplify it).  This can achieve an intricately beautiful effect, and, it should be noted, will never not sound funny.

Diaphaneity – refers to the way that light passes through an object.  A degree of scientific complications only rivaled by the amount to syllables in this word, there are three basic forms of diaphaneity; opacity, translucency and transparency (this last one isn’t a reference to a parent that has elected to switch genders).

Dichroism – is a doubly daring and dazzling dance of light!  When light refracts out of a gemstone in two different shades (when viewed at varying angles), this is the phenomena of dichroism.  It’s like getting a ‘2 for1’ special at the disco ball store.

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Difficulta – is exactly what it sounds like; hard.  It’s a fairly esoteric term applied to the action undertaken by artists who attempt to create new forms, but the execution of said forms is increasingly difficult to achieve.  A lot of Renaissance artists strove to master this, but its popularity died down as people became lazier with each generation.  A modern Renaissance of this kind is taking place in the fast-paced and illegal world of Graffiti Art.

Dog Collar (Collier de Chien) – answers the age old question in the jewelry world of “Who let the dogs out?”  This type of close fitting necklace became all the rage during the Edwardian period, as Queen Alexandra was always seen wearing a one that featured multiple strands of pearls (allegedly because she had a gnarly scar on her neck – possibly from a vampire attack?)

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Doublet – is the name given to a tricky little, partially fabricated gemstone made up of two components.  Typically, the top (crown) will be an authentic stone (of a lower quality), which is then slapped on top of a brilliant, synthetic bottom (pavilion), thus producing a wondrous (yet falsely achieved) sparkle.  Doublets are the Wonder Bra of the jewel world.

Doublé d’or – this just denotes a piece of jewelry that is “gold plated,” but since it is in French it sounds fancy and not tawdry, like it truly is.  “Plating” is essentially the technique of painting an alloyed gold substance on to a plain ole, base metal, thereby deceiving the onlooker into thinking that you are indeed a fancy-pants.

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Druse – when you view the inside of a large crystal or geode and see a jagged layer of smaller crystals jutting out all over the place, this is said to be druse.  Druse can make for an interesting accent to a jewelry piece, or as a really sharp and painful loofah replacement, in a pinch.

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Dull Lustre – while this is clearly an oxymoron, it is a very specific term that describes the type of ‘partial shine’ given off by ivory.  It’s no coincidence that if one purchases newly acquired ivory jewelry, which is derived from endangered animals, they are themselves are a ‘dullard.’

-Joe Leone