Tag Archives: jewelry terms

Inspirational Jewelry Keepsakes

(Jewelry Terms: I, J & K)

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Idiochromatic – much like an idiosyncratic gemstone enthusiast, stones of this ilk are essentially pure at heart.  That is to say that the hue exhibited by this type of gem is a result of its integral chemical components, not from impurities in the stone.  The other kind of gems are called allochromatic (like the sultry sapphire) and appear a certain shade because they are laden with beautifully colorful dirt.

Ingot – oddly enough, this is not a French term and so it is pronounced exactly how it looks.  This describes a precious metal that has been rolled, drawn and stamped to create specific pattern or design.  In non-jewelry form, an ingot can take the shape of a bar, brick or seriously valuable paperweight.

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Inro – are nifty little carrying cases that handily attach to one’s kimono.  If you didn’t catch on, they are made in Japan.  Usually crafted out of wood or metal (or for the murderous sect, tortoise or ivory), these cool cases have various metals, lacquers and shells inlaid to construct artful scenes and marvelous creatures (ie, Godzilla wreaking havoc on the populace).

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Inseperables – no, not you and your friend Stacy in 6th grade.  This is a brooch that came into fashion during the 1830’s, replete with two stick pins that are held together with a tiny little chain.  No one knows why this style disappeared or why it’s name looks like a distinct misspelling.

Invisible Setting – this is a type of ring setting that you can claim you have given your lover when you actually have given them nothing.  Actually, its a setting type that makes a row of featured gems appear as if there is nothing holding them in place.  This is achieved by cutting tiny divots into the gem girdles and then securing them with a minuscule matrix of wires.  Gemstones mounted in this kind of setting can look like a row of teeth (presumably held straight with Invisalign braces).

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J

Jabot Pin – yup; you jab this pin right into yourself.  On either end of the pin are fancifully arranged jewels.  Each side sticks into clothing so the only thing one sees are the sparkling jewels, not the dangerous pin mechanism underneath.  Jabot refers to that frilly ever-so-manly swath of fabric that men of the mid-1600’s adorned with cocky glee; the jabot pin holds said lacy puff piece in place.  During the Art Deco explosion of the 1920’s, women took a shine to Jabot pins, making them an indispensable facet of flapper fashion.

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Japonaiserie (aka Japanesque) – any jewelry item that exhibits influence from Japan, typically those embossed with lacquer.  These got hot in the western world at the end of the 1800’s.  Elements commonly found on such works include bamboo motifs and etchings of provincial peoples fanning themselves.  The best way to care for this type of jewelry is to wax on, wax off.

Jarretière – this is a trendy bracelet that looks kind of like a chic little belt for your wrist.  Often made from metal patterned with geometric shapes (like the honeycomb), this comely clasp came into style during the 1800’s and hasn’t really waned yet, as you can still find them in Saks Fifth Avenue and Claire’s Accessories alike.

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Jasperware – Fashion (and, naturally, pottery) maven Josiah Wedgwood developed this porcelain-esque product which mimics onyx, but also allows for you to have a white design on the surface.  This material was used to make cameos and other fun pieces during the 1700’s, but eventually died out in terms of popularity.  Perhaps an integral lesson in survival learned by Wedgwood’s grandson: Charles Darwin.  #FashionOfTheFittest

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Jou-Jou Or – the adorable French term for “toy gold,” which is a gold alloy that has a fairly low karat rating of 6.  It is also the proper way to address the first two potential people to be chosen for something, in a row of three, pending the picker has an audible accent (ie: “Jou, jou or…jou.”)

Justaucorps – the end of the 1600’s saw France gripped in Justaucorps fever.  It’s a relatively trim and fitted coat that suddenly, unapologetically flares out at the waist (basically, a groovy disco jacket of 17th century Europe).  Included on this jewelry aggregation because the buttons were usually constructed of diamonds, gold, gems, silver and perhaps even small, mirrored balls that reflected light in a totally far out way.

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K

Keeper Ring – sometimes jewelry can be more about function than fashion.  The Keeper Ring is just that; a band that keeps another, more costly ring from slipping off one’s slender digits.  These became necessary during the 1700’s, when more people starting wearing diamond rings (and possibly eating greasy fast food).  Eventually they would be deemed ‘guard rings,’ and they went from just utilitarian bands to fairly fancy things.  They now not only keep the expensive ring in place but also add some extra blingage to it.  The third incarnation of a keeper ring is the obviously binder clasp that secures loose leaf in your Trapper Keeper.

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Kitemarks – are little insignias that the 19th century British began stamping on their jewelry to indicate the date that the specific jewelry design of a piece was officially registered (similar to a hallmark).  The date would be found in a diamond or kite shape.  It’s kind of like the original copyright date found at the front of a book (not the publication date).  Those who opposed this and suggested that they should just stamp the date that the piece was forged on the metal were told to “Go fly a kitemark.”

-Joe Leone

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

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

Jewelry Terms: Endearing

Starting with “E”

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Edna May – is a necklace type that has two stones hanging from it; the second one attached below the first and ensconced in a cluster of smaller stones.  Worn mostly during the turn of the 20th century, it derives its nomenclature from an American actress of the same name, who often sported one.  While she starred in the film “David Copperfield,” she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing copper.

Egyptian Blue – who knew that those fancy pharaoh, ancient Egyptians used synthetics?  Egyptian Blue refers to a man-made pigment that was ubiquitously used in art and architecture, intended to mimic tantalizing turquoise and luscious lapis lazuli stones.  It’s a composition made of quartz, copper, some organic plant material and possibly mummies.

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Electric Jewelry – is kind of hilarious.  It’s a style that was all the rage during the latter part of the 1800’s, where jewelry pieces and ornaments designed for the hair would move tither and thither.  This mystical phenomenon (referred to as “en tremblant”) was achieved with the aid of a tiny battery hidden in the piece.  This whimsical tradition still lives on today, in little dancing snowmen pins your gramma gets you around the holidays from CVS, for two dollars.

En Esclavage – is a somewhat gaudy style used in necklaces and bracelets, where several #swag chains hold together a bunch of plaques.  The plaques can feature all manner of things, such as images of loved ones, flowers, jewels and even other plaques – in a sort of plaque-ception.

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En Pampille – that’s right; get ready to be pampered in a waterfall of gemstones.  Here is another trend of the roaring 1800’s, where the jewelry (pendants, brooches, earrings, cell phone cases) featured sparklers of decreasing size, culminating in little pointy, stabby shapes.

via Pinterest.com
via Pinterest.com

Enseigne – is a kind of badge that was worn on hats during the illustrious 1500’s.  These enseignes could feature a portrait-like image of the wearer, a family crest, a favorite figure from mythology or this popular story book called “The Bible.”  Precious metals, lavish enameling, pricey gemstones and the like were the norm on these widespread badges, which many people donned – except, of course, those who exclaimed “We don’t need no stinking badges!”

Entourage – …please, no references to the show/“film”… this is a ring style where a prominent center stone is encircled by a group of more diminutive stones (routinely diamonds).  This method of setting is known as “cluster setting” – as in, “I’m in the center of a cluster of fools, namely Johnny Drama and Turtle.”  Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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Equipage – a preterite French phrase that connotes all of the essential every day articles that people would carry around with them.  This falls into the jewelry category, because all these components would be contained in a little Étui.  And that is:

Étui – a small, decorative container that French courtesans and maids alike would carry around with them.  Basically, you put your stuff in there.  They were usually gold or silver, and had intricate design patterns etched onto them.  The not so fair sex would sometimes use étuis too, but larger in size, so they didn’t feel so emasculated for carrying around a little fancy canister.

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Escalier – is a jewelry style featuring huge triangular links, used in bracelets.  A miniature version of this would be replicated for rings in a bezel mounting.  Escalier comes from the time period known as “retro,” which followed Art Deco (so the mid-1930-40’s).  Today we think of anything from the past as retro, so you’d probably instinctively call any Escalier themed jewelry ‘retro,’ without even knowing how accurate that was:  *mind blown*

-Joe Leone