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Jewelry Terms

Bail: A loop of sheet metal or wire attached to a pendant to hang it from.

Beads: Beads have a hole at the top and bottom and they can be precious and semi-precious.

Base metal: A non-precious metal. Examples include iron, nickel, lead and zinc and copper.

Cameo: A shell or gem material with two distinct colored layers.
The top layer is carved and the bottom layer provides contrasting background.

Carat: Abbreviated “ct.” and spelled with a “c” for gemstones (“k” is used for karat in gold). One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram (200 milligrams). Stones are measured to the nearest hundredth of a carat. A hundredth of a carat is also called a point. Thus a .10 carat stone can be called either 10 points, or 1/10 of a carat. Small stones like .05, and .10ct, are most often referred to by point designations. A one-carat round diamond of average proportions is approximately 6.5 mm in diameter, but this relationship of weight and size is different for each family of stones. (Ruby and sapphire are both heavier than diamond.)

Gold: Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color. (rose gold is eighteen carat gold containing 25% copper (6 parts) and is often found in antique and Russian jewelry. It has a distinct, though not dominant, copper cast.) Fourteen and eighteen carat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. White gold alloys can be made with palladium or nickel.

Gold Plated(electroplating): The electrical process that puts gold on to base metal, usually copper.

Gold filled: A thin layer of gold is bonded with heat pressure over a base metal, usually brass. It’s more durable & tarnish resistant than gold plated.  It is closer to the look of 14 kt gold and more valuable than plating.

Karat: The purity of gold is measured in karats. 24K is pure gold. 18K is 18 parts gold, 6 parts other metals. 14K is 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metals. 12K is 12 parts gold, 12 parts other metals. 10K is 10 parts gold,14 parts other metals.

Precious metal: Gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium.

Precious stones: Rare and costly gems, including diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Vermeil: Gold plated over sterling silver (yields a brighter gold look,) the same process as gold plating.