Glossary of Jewelry Terms: S

Safety Catch: One of several means of securing a brooch to a garment. Before the invention of safety catches, the most common means of securing a brooch was a simple "C" catch with no locking mechanism. A safety catch has a swiveling head that locks the tip of the pin stem into the "C" catch.

Sand Casting: For hundreds of years sand casting was the most popular of all casting methods. It still plays an important role in the production of large metal forms, (typically Iron, but also Bronze, Brass, Aluminum). Tempered sand is packed onto wood or metal pattern halves, removed from the pattern, and metal is poured into resultant cavities. Molds are broken to remove castings

Sapphire: One of the four precious gemstones. The other three are diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Sapphire is a member of the corundum family which come in a variety of colors from white to orange to green to pink. If a corundum gemstone is red, it is a ruby, but any other color are properly referred to as sapphires. Sapphires have been synthesized since the 1920's. Ancient Persians believed the blueness of the sky was caused by the reflection from an enormous blue sapphire that the Earth rested on. Blue sapphire is the birthstone for September.

Sard: A deep, orange-red to brownish-red variety of chalcedony.

Sardonyx: A variety of onyx consisting of alternating layers of sard and white chalcedony.

Satin finish: A series of tiny parallel lines scratched onto a surface with a wire brush or polishing tool to produce texture. Satin finish is also called "brushed" or "matte" finish.
Sautoir (pronounced soh-TWAH): A long, rope style necklace popularized in the Edwardian era, because Queen Alexandra often wore them. They were usually decorated with seed pearls and had a tassel as a pendant.
Scarab: Known as the sacred beetle in Ancient Egypt; a very fine, gold, original scarab pendant, as shown at right, is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Scarabs were symbols of rebirth and rejuvenation and were popular as amulets. This scarab is inscribed "for Queen Mutnodjemet, wife of Pharaoh Horemheb XVIII", Dynasty c. 1323-1295 BC. This scarab is of unrivaled beauty and delicacy, and is one of the very few in gold to have survived into modern times. Scarabs were ancient Egyptian fertility symbols, based upon a common dung beetle found in Egypt. It was often carried as an amulet cast from gold, or carved from semiprecious stones. The flat underside could have a design carved into it that could be used as a signet.

Scatter Pin: A small pin, usually featuring flowers, birds and insects, that is intended to be worn in a group with many other scatter pins.

Scepter: A symbol of spiritual and worldly power used as a part of royal insignia. A scepter is really nothing more than a simple staff, but the ones used in ceremony are usually highly decorated with precious metals and gemstones. The topping of a scepter varied in different countries and in different periods. In the Middle Ages two forms were distinguished: a long staff (baculum), otherwise called rod, and a short one (sceptrum), although their meaning was identical. The long staff, topped with a globe, is a typical attribute of God in Carolingian painting. A scepter could be crowned with three leaves or a lily, a globe, a bird, etc.

Screw back: A type of earring attachment for non-pierced ears where the earring is tightened against the earlobe by means of a screw with a flat, round end.

Seed bead: Mass produced tiny glass or plastic beads made by slicing tubes into tiny, evenly spaced pieces. This makes them oblong in shape, rather than round, and flat on the ends. Seed beads can be strung together to make a necklace or bracelet, but are commonly used as spacers for larger beads. They can also be strung on a loom to make beaded bands and belts and curtains.

Seed Pearl: A very small pearl popular during the Victorian period as accents set into gold jewelry or woven into long, fringed necklaces called sautoirs; still very popular today, often incorporated into larger designs.

Semi-precious stones: A stone that is less rare and less expensive than precious stones, but is still valued for its beauty. Examples are peridot and amethyst.Semiprecious: Any gemstones valued for their beauty but which are not one of the four "precious stones", (emerald, diamond, ruby or sapphire). Some examples of semiprecious stones are amethyst, aventurine, carnelian, garnet, opal, peridot, rose quartz, etc.

Setting: Setting refers to the mechanism by which a stone is held by precious metal into a mounting. Common settings include bezel, pave’, channel, and prong. Setting can also refer to the part of jewelry in which one or more stones are set.

Setting: The part of the jewelry into which stones are set. Also refers to the mechanism used to hold the stones in place, such as the bezel, pave', channel, and prong settings.

Shank: The part of a ring that encircles the finger, does not include the setting.

Shoulder: The part of a ring between the shank and the center of the setting

Shank: The shank is the round body of the ring, and encircles the finger, but the shank does not include the setting

Signet: A private seal once impressed into wax to authenticate a document was often formed into a finger ring with the seal forming the bezel of the ring. Known since Egyptian times where the seal would be on the reverse of a scarab. The seal would usually be in reverse, so the impression in the wax would be right reading

Single-cut Diamonds: Genuine diamonds, commonly used in watchcases, that contain only 18 facets

Silvertone: Jewelry finished with a silver color that has the look of sterling, but no actual sterling silver content.

Simulated stones: Any natural or synthetic substance which is meant to resemble a gemstone; cubic zirconia, for example, is a simulated diamond.

Simulated tortoise: A synthetic material resembling the mottled brown and yellow color found in genuine tortoise shell.

Smoky quartz: A variety of quartz that ranges in color from cloudy brown to a dark root beer shade with a smoky appearance (see also "Quartz").

Smoky Topaz: see "Quartz"

Snake chain: Unlike most chains which are a series of linked rings, a snake chain is made up of round wavy metal rings joined side by side forming a flexible tube with a smooth, scaly texture like snake skin.

Soldering: A technique used in making and repairing jewelry whereby two pieces of metal are joined by applying a molten metal which has a lower melting point than the two metals being joined.

Spray Brooch: A type of brooch, usually worn at the shoulder, which is characterized by floral themes featuring long stemmed, jeweled flowers and leaves.

Spring Ring: A very common kind of clasp used for joining two ends of a necklace. The clasp itself consists of a hollow metal tube in a circle shape with a gap in the side. The hollow tube contains a small wire held in place by a spring inside the tube behind the wire. The wire can be pulled back by means of a small knob which slides along the outer edge of the circular tube. Releasing the knob allows the spring to push the wire forward closing the gap. The other end of the necklace terminates in a small ring. By using the knob on the spring ring to open the gap in the hollow circular tube, one can then place the small ring through the gap and close the wire through the ring securing it in place and closing the necklace.

Square cut: A style of gem cutting resembling the emerald cut.

Squash Blossom Necklace: A traditional piece of Navajo jewelry based on an old and favored Spanish-Mexican ornament which was actually not a squash, but a stylized version of the pomegranate. A shape that the Spanish Conquistadors used as buttons on their trousers, and also as ornaments on their horses' bridles and saddles. The squash blossom necklace is comprised of beads resembling squash blossoms placed at regular intervals with a "naja", (crescent shaped pendant), at the center.

Stabilized Turquoise: Turquoise is very porous by nature which allows it to absorb any pollutants that it comes in contact with, including oils from the skin. Stabilized turquoise has been treated by various methods to reduce the porosity, thus making less changeable over time.

Stamping: Using a punch or die to cut or emboss metal with a mark

Step cut: See "Emerald Cut". 
Sterling Silver: A silver alloy made up of at least 92.5% pure silver. This is the standard fineness for silver, usually designated ".925". The commonest British standard of silver purity, dating back to the currency in use in England in the 14th century, comprising 92.5% pure silver and the balance of copper and other traces. Now widely accepted as an international standard. 

Synthetic stone: Synthetic stones are man made gemstones, usually produced in a laboratory, which imitate the characteristics of naturally occurring gems. Often they are difficult to distinguish from natural stones, and synthetic gems are almost always created with little or no imperfections.

Strass (or "Strasse"): A brilliant glass with high light refraction and exceptional iridescence, (essentially consisting of a complex borosilicate of lead and potassium), used to manufacture artificial gemstones. Named after its inventor, a German jeweler, F. Stras. See also "Paste" and "Rhinestone".

Synthetic: Gemstones produced in a laboratory rather than found in nature. Synthetic gemstones are not "fake", since they have exactly the same chemical characteristics as the natural stone, but they are usually flawless and much cheaper than the real thing. The most common synthetic gems are emeralds, rubies, sapphires and opals.