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Rosetta Stones

To the casual jewelry wearer, the way experts talk about jewelry can sometimes seem like an entirely different language.  Most of us understand what they mean when they label gold as “18 karat” but beyond that the lingo may start to get a bit technical.  Here are a few terms — and their explanations — that may help when you are shopping for your next bit of bling.

  • If a piece of jewelry is gold plated that means only its surface is made of gold. This very thin layer gets electrically charged onto a less expensive metal like copper, nickel, or silver. This gives the appearance of solid gold but lowers the cost and maintenance dramatically.
  • A facet is any flat, polished surface of a stone.  Of those facets, the ones comprising the uppermost surface are called the crown. The opposite end, which usually (but not always) comes to a point rather than a facet, is called the culet.
  • The terms dispersion and fire are used to describe the same phenomenon, which is the prismatic appearance of colors reflected from a diamond.  The more fire a stone has, the greater the spectrum of colors it reflects.
  • The girdle is the widest part of a cut stone, usually a thin band. It functions as a divider between the crown, situated above the girdle, and the pavilion, which is the portion of diamond below it.
  • A rough stone — as in, “diamond in the rough” — is a gem in its natural form, uncut.
  • When point is used as a technical term (as opposed its unscientific definition as “a sharp tapered end,” which we used earlier), it actually refers to a specific measurement: one-hundredth of a karat.  In case you wanted a less scientific reference, that’s just about half the size of a single grain of sand.

These are just a few of the many terms you may hear around the precious stone market.  Now that you’re ready, go ahead and whip out your newly acquired expert lingo and find yourself the perfect jewelry!


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