Vintage Jewelry Glossary



Welcome to our Vintage Jewelry Glossary!

There are many terms associated with vintage jewelry, and it will take a long time to get all of those definitions included here, so this vintage jewelry glossary will be a work in progress. As Vintage Jewelry Hunt grows, I'll add more to this glossary, so be sure to bookmark this page to check back periodically for the newest additions.

ANTIQUE JEWELRY:
Jewelry that is generally at least 100 years old.

ART DECO:
The Art Deco period ranged from 1925 - 1940s and was known for its lavish designs in geometric lines and shapes.

ART NOUVEAU:
The Art Nouveau period was popular for its natural flowing designs, which were inspired by leaves, vines, and other organic shapes. The Art Nouveau period peaked around 1890 - 1905. Often incorrectly referred to as "Art Deco" however, the primary difference is that Art Deco characteristics were angular and geometric, whereas Art Nouveau was a period primarily marked by the flowing natural organic shapes.

BAKELITE:
Plastic discovered in 1897, which was manufactured for jewelry and many other uses. Bakelite changes color as it ages, and when rubbed can emit an odor. It was often made into figural and other shapes, bracelet bangles, earrings, necklaces and pendants.

BEZEL:
A band of metal that surrounded and held a stone, diamond, or other gem in place within the jewelry setting.

CELLULOID:
An early type of plastic manufactured for jewelry and other uses. Generally it was thin and lightweight, and was easily shaped into flowers and other uses.

EDWARDIAN:
From 1901 - 1915 Edwardian jewelry was known for it's delicate and intricate styles, and was also referred to as the "Gilded Age".

ETCHED:
Metal with designs created by the use of chemicals. For example, a copper bracelet could have flowers etched into the metal, which would contrast with the surrounding metal not altered by the use of a chemical, generally Ferric Chloride.

FIGURAL:
Jewelry designed and formed into specific shapes such as animals, figural heads, hands etc., as pictorial composition.

GIVRE:
A style of rhinestone or bead, which has variation in the rhinestones color like swirls or stripes creating a multi-coloration within the rhinestone.

GOLD WASH:
A thin application of gold applied to metal. The metal is dipped, burnished or electroplated with a very thin covering of gold.

MARGARITA:
Not a drink when it comes to jewelry, but a type of bead or rhinestone shaped like a flower.

MOLDED:
Glass or plastic was poured into molds in a variety of shapes ranging from geometric, organic floral shapes, figural shapes etc., and then later placed into settings.

NAVETTE:
A shape often used for rhinestones, which is also known as the marquise shape.

POURED GLASS:
Glass is poured within a metal frame, often resembling the same look as stained glass.

REPOUSSE:
Designs hammered into the back of metal or jewelry setting with punches to create a raised design on the front of the jewelry item.

RETRO:
In the 1940's jewelry was produced with large chunky features such as large beads.

STEAMPUNK:
In the 1980's technological movements became the inspiration for items designed from materials dating back to the steam era. Steampunk is often used as the term to describe items made from things such as cogged watch parts, etc.

VICTORIAN:
The era which ranged from 1837 - 1901 brought a wide variety of designs to jewelry.

VINTAGE:
Generally referring to prior to the 1980's, vintage items are not yet old enough to be considered as antiques.

VINTAGE REPRODUCTIONS:
Post 1980's modern day manufactured jewelry items, which mimicked the appearance and designs of vintage jewelry.

Additional Jewelry Glossaries:
Enchanted Learning Jewelry Glossary
Bernardine Jewelry Glossary
Days of Elegance Jewelry Glossary