Gem Jargon

In my posts I may occasionally use industry words that I refer to as gem-jargon that may be unfamiliar to you. Therefore, I’ve created a handy site glossary for you to reference in the event you want to know more.  STONED is not for jewelry experts but for anyone who loves jewelry and accessories. Feel free to look it up here and email me with any questions.

I want all my clients feel  informed and shop with complete confidence as we work together. 

Back to The Birthday Basics: birth gems date back to ancient astrology and there have been many birthstone lists used over the years. The most common one today is based on a list first published by the U.S. jewelry industry in the 1950s as this one reads below:

  • January – Garnet
  • February – Amethyst
  • March – Aquamarine
  • April – Diamond or CZ
  • May – Emerald
  • June – Pearl, Moonstone or Alexandrite
  • July – Ruby
  • August – Peridot
  • September – Sapphire
  • October – Opal
  • November – Citrine or YellowTopaz
  • December – Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Blue Zircon or Tanzanite

We often don’t recall anyone’s birth-stone other than our own. It is always nice to learn our loved ones designated birth gem as it is the perfect thoughtful gift to give someone special in your life. Wether it’s a lover, bestie, family member or even client it will surely be appreciated.


Gem-Jargon 101

Gemstone: Any mineral composed of crystallized matter, in which the atoms are regularly arranged throughout the structure.

Engagement Ring Terminology

Shopping for an engagement ring may be one of the most epic purchases you make in your lifetime next your home and car. You want the experience to be memorable and romantic but you also need to be prepared and informed. I never want my clients to walk into a situation ready to make a purchase with horse blinders on. Retailers often will try to pull the wool over your eyes by focusing on closing the sale as opposed to offering you premiere customer service and quality. Wether you are shopping with me or not make sure you’re at least are aware of the basics so you don’t get coerced into a transaction with out knowing the facts:

Engagement Ring: A ring given as a symbol of love and commitment preceding nuptials.

Diamond: A naturally occurring mineral composed of 99.95% carbon. The 0.05% of trace mineral elements can alter the diamond color from colorless to a fancy color.
The most common diamond color is yellow, followed by brown. Red is the most rare of the fancy colored diamonds. Diamonds can be found in as many colors as in a rainbow, with varying degrees of intensity. Diamond is the hardest substance on the Mohs hardness scale. It is only one of a few gemstones in the world to exhibit dispersion.

The Four C’s

Color: References the visible appearance of color in a stone and in the case of a diamond may also reference the absence of color as in the color grade “D – colorless.”

Cut: Refers to the proportions and finish of a polished diamond.

Clarity: References the inclusions in the stone and the overall effect those inclusions have on the appearance of the stone.

Carat: The weight of a diamond or colored stone; one carat = 200 milligrams.

Appraisal: A document that includes the most important aspects of the stones and metal of a piece of jewelry and usually includes a retail replacement value. The cost to replace the item should it be lost or stolen. Appraisals are usually required by insurance companies in order to insure a piece of jewelry. Sentimental value is not factored into an appraisal.

Inclusions: The naturally occurring, unique, identifying characteristics that can be found inside a diamond, like a human birthmark. Taken as a whole, inclusions are used in combination with other factors to determine a diamonds clarity grade

Surface Blemishes: Naturally occurring, unique, identifying characteristics that can be found on the surface of a diamond. Considered as a factor in the clarity grade in a diamond.

Unaided Eye: Industry term used to describe viewing or looking at a stone without the use of magnification.

Shape: The outline or silhouette of a stone.

Facet: A small polished surface of a diamond or stone.

Table Facet: The largest facet on a gemstone. Located on the crown.

Crown: The upper part or “top half” of a faceted gemstone.

Pavilion: The lower part of a faceted gemstone found below the girdle. Sometimes referred to as the “base.”

Girdle: The area of a gemstone that helps to define its shape or outline, as well as separates the crown from the pavilion.

Brilliance: The white light return from a diamond, sometimes referred to as “sparkle.”

Dispersion: Colored light that reflects from within the diamond – rainbow colors often referred to as “fire.”

Sintillation: A momentary flash of light as either the diamond, eye or the light source moves. Sometimes referred to as “sparkle.”

Fluorescence: The visible light emitted from a diamond when exposed to long wave or short wave ultraviolet light.  Only 30% of diamonds exhibit Fluorescence.

Lab reports will note the intensity/strength of the light emitted.

Depending on what you have heard or read, you may be under the misconception that fluorescence in a diamond is a bad thing and impairs the beauty of a stone.

The truth is, that of the world’s diamonds that exhibit fluorescence, less than 3% negatively impact the appearance of the diamond in natural lighting conditions.* In fact, in certain color ranges fluorescence will actually help the diamond appear whiter face up. A bit of information that can help stretch your budget without sacrificing quality. *this number is based on current available data.

Light Performance: A generic term used in the jewelry industry in an attempt to measure and quantify the type and amount of light return.

Light Return: The amount of light that once reflected and refracted through a diamond that returns to the eye of the viewer.

Gold: A naturally occurring, soft, yellow metal. It is the most malleable of all precious metals used in jewelry. Commonly alloyed with other metals to increase the durability and in some cases, alter the color. Most commonly alloyed with nickel, silver, copper and palladium.

Platinum: A naturally occurring grey/white metal that is usually 95% pure and hypoallergenic. It is 30 more times rare than gold and never changes color.  Normally in jewelry a piece needs to be composed of greater than 90% platinum in ordered to be considered a “platinum piece of jewelry.”  Some jewelry manufacturers will use up to 99% platinum in creating a piece.

White Gold: Yellow gold mixed with a whitening alloy to appear white. Can be mixed with nickel, which may cause an allergic reaction most commonly presenting itself as a rash. Since it is not a naturally occurring white metal, over time it will appear to “tarnish” yellow as its natural color comes through. A jeweler can fix this by rhodium plating the piece of jewelry to restore its uniform white color.

Karat: The measurement of the purity of a precious metal (gold, platinum, etc.) Shown as “K”  in abbreviations on jewelry stamps and paperwork.
18Kt gold: 75% gold and a combination of alloys that equal 25% – the alloys are added to increase durability and/or alter its color.
14Kt gold: 58.5% gold and a combination of alloys that equals 41.5% – the alloys are added to increase durability and/or alter its color.

Black Gold: Yellow gold + treatment to the surface of the metal to darken (blacken) the gold.

Blue Gold: Yellow gold + iron

Purple Gold: Yellow gold + Aluminum.

Rose (Red) Gold: Yellow gold + copper.

Green Gold: Yellow gold + silver.

“Green” (Eco-friendly) Gold: A new trend in the jewelry industry. The gold is reclaimed/recycled from post consumer sources like old or damaged jewelry, electronic components, or industrial products.

Palladium: A relative newcomer to the jewelry industry, it is a naturally occurring grey/ white metal. It is hypoallergenic and less expensive that Platinum but more expensive than white gold. It never changes color.

Toughness: The ability of a material to resist breaking.

Hardness: The ability of a material to resist scratching.

Mineral: A naturally occurring, inorganic substance, with a chemical composition and usually an orderly arrangement of atoms.

Mohs Hardness Scale: Created in 1812 by Friedrich Mohs (Mineralogist). The scale characterizes minerals by their scratch resistance to other minerals. The scale is a number system 1-10, ten being the most resistant and hardest mineral.

  1. Talc
  2. Gypsum
  3. Calcite
  4. Fluorite
  5. Apatite
  6. Feldspar
  7. Quartz (Amethyst)
  8. Topaz
  9. Corundum (Sapphire and Ruby)
  10. Diamond

Process: A permanent alteration of the crystal lattice structure of a natural diamond to restore the diamond’s original color. The term applies to diamonds that undergo the HPHT process.

Treated: An action preformed on a gemstone to improve/enhance its color, clarity or both. Most treatments are not permanent. The most common treatment for a diamond are irradiation (to change color), fracture filling (to improve clarity) and laser drill holes (to improve clarity).

Synthetic: A stone that has the same chemical composition, physical properties, optical properties and crystal structure as its natural counterpart. A synthetic stone is created in a controlled laboratory environment. Synthetic diamonds have been on the market since the mid 1980’s and are difficult to detect. Synthetic diamonds are made by a High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) process or by Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process

Simulant (imitation): A gemstone look-a-like. A lab created or natural stone that mimics the appearance of a precious stone. It may have similar optical and physical characteristics of the gemstone it is trying to simulate. The most common diamond simulants are CZ (cubic zirconia) and Moissanite.





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