Tag Archives: Neo-Renaissance

Noble Jewelry Terms

“N”

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Naif – You’d have to be a real naif to think this term only applies to easily deceived individuals.  In the diamond world, a naif is any unpolished surface on the stone.  In cut and polished diamonds, some naif may be left behind on the girdle (in this case, called a ‘bruted girdle’) to give the stone a lil’ something extra (in terms of carat weight). 

Násfa – Pendants dating back to the 1500’s were affectionately known as Nasfas, that is if you were in the land of Hungary.  Typically fashioned with a flower theme, gallant groom-to-bes would give these to their betrothed beauties from Budpest as an engagement present.  If they waited to gift them to their brides on the day after their wedding, they were then called “Morgengabes,” which roughly translates to “Prisoner’s Brooch.”

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Navette – this is a nifty name you can give to any gemstone cut in the Marquis style (in an oval shape, with pointed tips).  What sets this apart is that it usually describes gems that have this type of silhouette, but are not faceted (meaning the stone is smooth, in the cabochon category).  If a jeweler asks if you would like your gem cut in this manner and you are opposed to it, simply answer “No, no navette.”

Nécessaire – here we have any sort of container that is used to hold essential, every day items.  These can range drastically in fanciness, from ordinary leather satchels that you stick a fork, spoon or spork in, to fantastically designed golden vessels, utilized in transporting elegant grooming devices, styling products, extra cell phone chargers and a birth certificate authenticating your royal lineage.  

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Négligée – much like the French under garment of the same name, this is a style of necklace that is truly naughty.  The defining features are its delicate chain and two pendant pieces, which hang down about the neck.  What makes this so scandalous is that the pendants are hung at different lengths.   The asymmetry embodied here was the talk of the town in turn of the 20th century France.   

Neo-Renaissance – yes, this is the stylistic period most favored by the protagonist in “The Matrix,” but it also represents the time during the mid to late 1800’s when Europeans were reviving Renaissance (1300-1600’s) inspired art, architecture and jewelry.  Pieces popular during this era were often colorful, ornate and intricately designed.  It is widely unconfirmed if anyone attended the “Neo-Renaissance Fair.”

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Nephrite – is a stone type that is so similar to jadeite, that the two are lumped together and collectively called “Jade.”  Some contentious trading of this gemstone between Burma and China for centuries, mostly resolved today.  

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Nicolo – any design etched into the stone onyx that appears light or bright blue is said to be a nicolo.  These little elevated cameos (or their inverted opposites; hollowed out intaglios) were especially popular in ancient Egyptian jewelry.  

Niello – a sturdier alternative to enamel, this is a black, metallic substance which is applied over a metal surface (usually silver).  Then it’s etched and configured into any number of symbols and designs.  Great for knights who like their shields to be extra strong, as well as flamboyant.  

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Noble Metal – if you can successfully fight off corrosion, and stay eternally shiny, you may qualify to be deemed a noble metal.  These include the big three – that’s right, you guessed it – gold, silver and platinum.  Much like the Tin Man, these precious metals are not only noble in name, but in their pure, metallic hearts as well.  

-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