Glossary of Jewelry Terms: P

Palladium: A charcoal gray form of platinum found in Russia, South Africa and North America. Palladium has many of the same properties as platinum, such as its resistance to corrosion and versatile applications in jewelry designs. Pieces made with Palladium bear the hallmarks of Pd950 or Pd500.

Paste: In the context of jewelry, "paste" is a glass-based substance used to simulate gemstones. It has become a slang term for all fake gemstones; paste stones are lead crystals with a high lead content. Paste is more brilliant than glass rhinestones.

Paté de Verre: An ancient process of grinding glass into a powder, adding color, putting it into a mold and heating it so the powder became molten. Basically, an early rhinestone.

Pavé: From the French term for "pavement" or "cobblestone", means a large field of small stones set very close together to create a "wall-to-wall" paved effect. The more stones in the field, the more faceted surfaces there are, creating a more reflective piece.

Pearl: Pearls are organic gems grown within oysters and other mollusks, which are most valued and sought after when they are perfectly round and are lustrous. Pearls form as a result of an irritant or foreign body has made its way into the oyster or mollusk shell. The living oyster or mollusk’s natural reaction is to secrete "nacre", the luminous substance that forms around the irritant. This process can take between five to eight years, usually the entire life of an oyster or mollusk. With the marvels of science, this process has been reproduced using human intervention to create "cultured" pearls. Natural Pearls are made with no human intervention. For more information about the history of pearls, visit Fabulous Facets Gem History (use your browser's "back" key to return here).

Pearlescent: A term used to describe a surface with lustrous cloudy rainbow-like colors like one might see in an oil slick or mother of pearl. Synonymous with iridescent

Pear-shaped Cut: Stone cut into the shape of a pear or teardrop, rounded at one end and pointed on the other..

Pietra Dura: An inlaying technique usually associated with workshops in Florence, Italy, used to describe sculptural or decorative use of hard stones to decorate furniture, cameos, vases, and panels with various stones such as malachite, lapis lazuli, and jasper

Pinchbeck: A type of imitation gold composed of an alloy of copper and zinc invented by Christopher Pinchbeck in the 18th century.

Platinum: Platinum is over 20 times rarer than gold. It takes 10 tons of ore to get one ounce of platinum, whereas gold takes 3 tons of ore for one ounce of gold. Platinum is more difficult and consequently more expensive to refine. Platinum is almost double the weight of 18k gold. White gold is a less expensive "white metal", white gold is man made and does not occur naturally in nature (see also "Gold"). Platinum is the most precious of white metals. Both platinum and silver have the appearance of a white metal, but platinum is extremely durable and resists tarnishing. Platinum will never wear out.

Plique-a-Jour: A form of enameling popular in Art Nouveau jewelry that is similar to cloisonné, but where the transparent enamels are held in place by wires on the edges rather than on a metal plate.

Pot Metal: Any alloys which do not have gold, silver, or platinum as a component. Also called White Metal

Precious metal: Metals valued for their color, malleability, and rarity. There are only three precious metals: gold, silver and platinum.

Princess Cut: A highly faceted, square cut crystal similar to a brilliant cut, but adapted to a square shape to increase its brilliance.

Prong setting: A gemstone held in place by small finger-like wires attached to the bezel which bend over the edges of the stone.

Prystal: Trade name for a glass substitute invented in Italy made of plastic