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Glossary of Jewelry Terms: A

Aigrette: A hair ornament consisting of a feather plume, or a spray of glitter, often accentuated by either a jewel or a buckle. Worn in the hair or attached to a head band, aigrettes were popular in the 1920’s through the early 1930’s.

Alloy: Combination of metals fused together. A base metal mixed with a precious ore to make it workable, to harden it, or to change its color.

Amethyst: Ranked among the most precious stones, until the eighteenth century when a large South American deposit was found in 1760. Its purple color is thought to be caused by iron and is still very popular. For more information about the history of amethysts, visit Fabulous Facets Gem History (use your browser's "back" key to return here)

Anneal (verb): The process of hardening glass, pottery, or metal by alternately heating and pounding it

Anodized: An "anode" is the positive end of an electrical circuit. In the anodization process, a metal object is placed in an acid bath and an electrical current is passed through the tank. The process causes oxygen atoms to bond to the surface of the metal giving it a thin protective film and a lustrous sheen. Aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and tantalum are often anodized.

Antique: Any object that is 100 years or more old.

Antiquing: A process of darkening the recessed areas of gold or silver jewelry to enhance the visibility of the engraving, thus lending the look of age or natural patination. Platinum cannot be antiqued.

Arabesque: Flowing scroll work, epitomized by curlicues in low relief

Articulated: Jewelry constructed with hinges to make it flexible; jewelry with moveable parts

Art Deco: Originally a French movement in the 1920s reacting against the ornate Art Nouveau style which preceded WWI. Popular in the US the style laid emphasis on bold geometric patterns and abstract forms.

Art Nouveau: Art movement widespread throughout Europe from around 1880-1910 particularly in the decorative and applied arts characterized by sinuous, organic forms and elaborately curving lines

Assay: The process of establishing the standards of purity of gold, silver and other alloys. After successful assay the article is hallmarked outside the US. Assaying finished pieces to ensure standards are maintained though is not a legal requirement in the US

Asscher Cut Diamond Shape: The "Asscher cut diamond" was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is a stepped square cut, often called the "square emerald cut" and like an emerald cut has cropped corners. Until recently very few stores carried Asscher cut diamonds. It gre in poularity after celebs and TV stars started receiving them in engagement rings.

Art Moderne (1935-1945): Also known as Streamline Moderne was a late version of Art Deco design. It emphazised curves, long horizontal lines and sometimes used nautcial elements.

Art Nouveau: Art movement widespread throughout Europe from around 1880-1910 particularly in the decorative and applied arts characterized by sinuous, organic forms and elaborately curving lines

Arts and Crafts: An artistic design movement that began in the late 1800s by jewelry designers who felt that their work should look handmade. Although some pieces were made of gold, silver was more commonly used to emphasize the craftsmanship of the piece rather than the intrinsic value of the components. Pieces purposely look hand-made, incorporating hammer marks and using less expensive stones like moonstone, mother of pearl, agates, or amber in simple cabochon settings. The Arts and Crafts movement also revived the art of enamel work.

Aurora Borealis: The term "aurora borealis" is Latin and means "Northern Lights". Aurora borealis rhinestones are glass stones that have a special iridescent coating that shines with a rainbow of colors.

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