What do we mean?

This is our mini dictionary to help you understand what we’re talking about in our blog!  Please bear in mind these are only our own interpretation of these terms and we recommend Wikipedia or stronger jewellery texts for more info.

Alloy – a mixture of metal and another element.

Alluvial – sediments deposited by flowing water.


Cabochon – a type of shaping on a gemstone, rather than being faceted (see below) the stone is shaped into a large round convex top with a flat bottom and polished.

Carat (1) – the unit of weight used for diamonds.  A carat equals 1/5 of a gram.  Abbreviated to ct.

Carat (2) – the measurement for purity of gold.  Pure gold is 24 carat (karat in the US).  Abbreviated to ct.

Checkerboard – a type of faceting found on gemstones, a pattern of squares arranged like a checkerboard.

Clarity – the degree to which a stone is free from external and external marks

Colour – not sure we need this one but essentially the colour of gemstones is important and gems may come in different colours.

Compound – a mixture of two or more elements.

Cut – the proportions and finish of the stone.  Common cuts include round, brilliant and emerald but there are many more.

Dichroic – the showing of two colours in a gemstone, caused by the double refraction of light.

Enamel – A pigment composed of powered potash and silica is bound with oil, coloured with metal oxides and applied as a surface decoration to a variety of materials.

Engraving – the technique of decorating the surface of a hard material (e.g. metal or a gemstone) from the front with incised lines, patterns etc. By means of a sharply- pointed steel tool.

Facet – the way in which a gemstone is cut.

Fluorescence – a phenomenon exhibited by some gemstones whereby they emit a visible light (or glow) when exposed to a certain light source, such as UV.

GIA – The Gemological Institute of America, established in 1931 it is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, coloured stones, and pearls.


ICAInternational Coloured Gemstone Association

Loupe – a 10x magnifier used for examining diamonds.

Mohs scale – the universal scale of hardness for gemstones.

Niello – a black inlay used in decorating metal – mainly silver.

Opaque – a material that you cannot see through.

Pear cut

Pleochroism – the colour variation displayed by some gemstones when exposed to different lights.

Princess cut

Points – the scale in which small diamonds are often measured.  One point = 0.01 carat


Repousee – a technique producing relief decoration on metal plate often called embossing. Using hand punches and hammers.

Silk – inclusions of rutile needles.

Star ruby – a ruby where the needle inclusions form a star pattern, can only be seen where the stone is cut to a polished cabochon.

Talisman – 

Transparency – the degree to which you are able to see through a stone, whether it is clear or hazy.

Treatments – techniques used on gems to alter their features, common treatments include irradiation, filling or heat treating.  Treatments may be permanent or non permanent.

Troy ounces – the measure of weight for gold.  1 Troy Ounce = 31.103 g roughly, but there’s actually a lot of technical specifications around measuring gold (and remember to also take into account fineness and purity) so do look into this more if you need to know.

Upcycling – changing something from it’s original form, which is no longer wanted and might otherwise be wasted, into a new item.

Veins – a fracture in a rock which may hold a deposit of gemstones (or other minerals)

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2 thoughts on “What do we mean?

  1. Pingback: The colour of love? | Adventures through the loupe

  2. Pingback: Turquoise, the friendship gem | Adventures through the loupe

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