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Junkbox Treasures Collectibles and Antiques

An ever growing dictionary of terms used in the discussion of antique and vintage jewelry. Jump to the beginning letter below or browse through the list.

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Alpaca Silver Necklace

Alpaca silver contains no silver but refers to the color of the metal. The most common formulation for Alpaca Silver is 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc.

Alpaca does not tarnish like sterling does. It is sometimes also referred to as nickel silver, German Silver, or New Silver.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Brooch

Pronounced: art nu-voe
A style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in western Europe and the US from about 1890 until World War I and characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.

Aurora Borealis

aurora borealis rhinestones

Created by Swarovski in 1956. It is a thin layer of metallic coating applied to the surface of the bead or stone which gives it an iridescent effect.

Often referred to as AB rhinestones.


bakelite amber bangle

Pronounced: bake-lite
Plastic used in the 1920s and 1930s to create jewelry. Can also be carved and painted.

Bi-Color Stone

Bi-color Glass Stone

A generic term that covers any stone that has two colors. These types of stone often have other names such as Sabrina Stones or Cuba Stones.

Bidri Work

bidri work bangles

Pronounced: buy-dry
A base black metal alloy, cast from zince and copper is engraved with intricate designs over the surface of the piece. The artisan then taps thin sheets of copper or silver into the thin grooves of the etching.


victorian c clasp

Pronounced: see-clasp
Early clasp used on brooches to secure the pinback. Consisted of a C shaped loop with the opening on the side closest to the brooch.


blue cabochon

Pronounced: kab-uh-shawn
A stone that is shaped so that the stone has a smooth dome top (no facets) and a flat bottom. It has no discernable girdle.

Camphor Glass

Vintage Camphor Glass Pendant

Pronounced: kam-for
clear glass that has been treated with hydrofluoric acid vapors to give it a frosted whitish appearance. Often it had a star appearance where the treatment was done on the backside of the piece.


Cannetille Brooch

Pronounced: kan-i-teel
Similar to filligree work but Cannetille is 3 dimensional with tendrils, scrolls, coils, beehives and spider-like rosette ornaments.
For a more indepth explanation and history of cannetille, visit Antique Jewelry University
Also, an article explaining the different between Cannetille and Filligree work.


Raised plaque with makers mark

Pronounced: kahr-toosh
Traditionally the word has been associated with an Egyptian plaque that contained a name. It also refers to a raised plaque with the maker's mark.


celluloid brooch

Generally considered to be the first of what we refer to as thermoset plastics. It was first registered in 1870 and in the early 1900s, made its way into the world of costume jewelry.


Chaton Stone

Pronounced: sha-tawn
A Chaton stone's most common form is an 8 sided stone; either with a pointed back or a flat. It also does come in a 12 sided stone. What makes it a Chaton is that the cuts go all the way to the girdle of the stone. There are no additional triangles cut. It is also considered to be foiled.


Cloisonne Beads

Pronounced: cloi-son-nay
A technique in which flattened wires are placed in a pattern on a base metal sheet. These wires form compartments and they are either soldered on the plate or glued with a gum.

The compartments are then filled with prepared fondants of different colors. As different condants require different kiln temperatures, one stars with the ones that need the highest firing temperatures.

Coin Silver

Coin silver Bracelet

Coin Silver is 90.0% silver (900). This is the purity of silver used in coins in the United States. Coins such as quarters, dimes, half dollars and silver dollars were made of coin silver before 1965.

Cuba Stones

Cuba Stone

Bi-color stones are sometimes called Cuba stones or Kreol Stones.

Cut Steel

Cut Steel Jewelry

Cut steel jewelry was popular in the 1800s prior to the time when rhinestones became readily available. Cut steel jewelry are faceted stones that are cut from steel and then attached to the base metal.
More on Cut Steel Jewelry



As it pertains to jewelry, the word Damascene is a process whereby non precious metals are decorated with 18-24K gold in decorative patterns.  The procedure is for artisans to cover the surface of an object with fine grooves, using sharp cutting tools.   Figures are then drawn on the  scored surfaces.  Then gold wires are pressed into these grooves with a steel punch and hammer.  Figures are then drawn on the scored surfaces. The whole item is then blued to produce a black background by a total oxidation of the surfaces which are not damasked.



A keyword that is often used to describe jewelry that includes a hanging part that is free to swing and sway.

Dichroic Glass

Dichroic Glass Beads

Very thing clear film on glass that bends light such as a prism would thereby creating additional colors within the glass.

Dog Tooth Prongs

Dog Tooth Prong Setting

A dog tooth setting has a multitude of prongs all around the stone. Often they are very stylized.

The normal setting has 4 or 6 whereas the dog tooth has many.

Dragon's Breath

Dragon's Breath

Dragon's Breath is a glass that was made to resemble a Mexican fire opal. It is made by adding metal to the molten glass. This is what gives it the electric blue and purple flashes or ripples inside the stone. The stone is usually seen in an oval or round cabochon shape (rounded and smooth top), but you will see other shapes. The stone is un-foiled and transparent. The colors have a mixture of orange, red, yellow, and sometimes even a rose tint. Then depending on the angle that you view it, there is an inner fire of beautiful streaks of electric blues and purples that seem to just levitate inside the glass.



Pronounced: du - ette
Two dress clips that fit together within a frame so they can be worn as a brooch or used seperately as clips.


Etruscan Jewelry

An aluminum alloy very popular in W Germany between the 1950s and the 70s. Light weight, will not tarnish, and does not show wear.

Used to imitate marcasite or stamped steel jewelry.


Etruscan Jewelry

A style of jewellery, popular in the 19th century, that drew inspiration from the archeological discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii. Often made in gold.


faceted stone

Pronounced: fas-set-ed
Facets are the flat, polished surfaces of a finished gemstone.


filigree brooch

Pronounced: fill-a-gree
It is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork, usually of gold and silver, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination. Filigree work can be open metalwork or the design attached to a gold or silver surface.

A good way to remember what filigree is, is to think 'lace'. Very similar and often confused with Cannetille, the main difference is that filigree lies flat while Cannetille is more 3 dimensional.

Fred Harvey Era

Fred Harvey Era Southwestern Jewelry

No organization had a greater impact on the American southwest as the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company. In fact, these companies practically “invented” the image of the southwest that Americans have today. The Fred Harvey Company promoted a “kinder-gentler” image of skilled artisans and colorful, peaceful, Indian cultures, instead of wild Indians, cowboys, and buffalos of the 19th century. Read More

Galilith Beads

Jakob Bengel Galilith Necklace

Pronounced: Gal-a-lith
Also called Casein or French Bakelite, it's made of casein or milk protein. Galalith cannot be molded. Therefore it was producted in sheets or tubes and worked by hand into jewelry designs.

It was invented in 1898 and used widely in Europe, especially in France, through the early part of the 20th century. It was used to imitate wood, tortoise shell, horn, ivory and other more expensive organic materials. It could be colored because of its porosity.

As a note, Galilith did not 'come in' clear. Neither should there be any mold marks.

It is also my understanding at this time that Galilith will fail the Simichrome or 409 test.

German Silver

German Silver Necklace

German Silver refers to the color of the base metal, not its contents. Just like Alpaca, it is a silver-white metal with a mixture of copper, zinc, and nickell


girdle of faceted stone

It is the wides part of a faceted stone.


Givre Stones

Pronounced: sheer-ray
The term is French and means frost or ice. There is a lot of different definitions that mix Sabrina Stones with Givrè stone. A Givrè stone would also be considered a bi-color stone which makes it more confusing.

In a nutshell, Givrè Stones have a pale frosty opaque color within a transparent color. There are no hard edges to the the frosty color. Think ice. Think cold. Think pale.

Gold Filled

Gold Filled Jewelry Mark

A base metal that is covered in a thin layer of gold. Normally the abbreviation is GF.


Graduated Bead Necklace

This term is usually used in reference to beads where the size of the beads go from small at the nape of the neck to gradually larger as they move outward towards the front of the necklace.


Guilloche Ring Aksel Holmsen

Pronounced: gee-o-shay
This is not a type of enameling but the process. Using what is called a Rose Engine, repetitive patterns are carved into the base metal. It is then enameled.

Gutta Percha

Gutta Percha high relief cameo

Pronounced: gut-tah pur-chah
Black or near-black resin used in mourning jewelry in the 1800s. Almost always molded, this resin was from trees in South East Asia.

Hubbell Bead

Czech Hubbell Bead
Click to Enlarge

Hubbell Beads are glass beads that simulate turquoise. Supposedly it is the last known bead made for Native American trade was the Hubbell bead. This bead was supposedly made for Lorenzo Hubbell owner of the Hubbell Trading Post in Gavado, Arizona.  First made in Czechoslovakia between 1915 and 1920, this bead is still being made today. The Hubbell bead came in a variety of sizes, shapes, and shades to imitate a semi-precious  stone...Turquoise. Records at the Hubble trading post do not support any connection with this bead.


Japanned Finish Vintage Jewelry

The metal is coated in a shiny black coating, normally this is finished with a lustrous, black lacquer. The technique in Europe uses varnish with a resin base, which is applied in heat dried layers and then polished to give a glossy finish.

Very popular in the 1800s.


Jugendstil Art Nouveau Jewelry Fahrner

Pronounced: ju-gend-stil
Jugendstil, artistic style that arose in Germany about the mid-1890s and continued through the first decade of the 20th century, deriving its name from the Munich magazine Die Jugend (“Youth”), which featured Art Nouveau designs. Two phases can be discerned in Jugendstil: an early one, before 1900, that is mainly floral in character, rooted in English Art Nouveau and Japanese applied arts and prints; and a later, more abstract phase, growing out of the Viennese work of the Belgian-born architect and designer Henry van de Velde.

It was really the German Art Nouveau Movement.

Lampwork Beads

Handmade Lampwork Beads

Lampwork beads are handmade. Lampworking is a type of glasswork where a torch or lamp is primarily used to melt the glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements.

Maltese Cross

Vintage Maltese Cross

Pronounced: maul-tees cross
The Maltese Cross is the cross symbol associated with the Knights Hospitaller (the Knights of Malta) and by extension with the island of Malta. It dates back to the mid 1500s.


Marcastie in Sterling

Pronounced: mar-ka-site
Although there is a mineral called Marcasite, that is not what is used in jewelry. It is actually pyrite and it was created to imitate high end jewelry and was made for the masses.

Marcasite is individual stones that are either glued or prong set. Marcasite is not magnetic. Almost all the time, Marcasite jewelry is sterling.

Read More About Marcasite

Micro Mosaic

Murano Micro Mosaic Brooch

Pronounced: my-crow mo-say-ik
Focusing here on late 19th and 20th Century Micro Mosaic jewelry. Around 1860, the esteemed glass artisans of Murano developed their own style of micro mosaic jewelry, employing small bits of colored glass and multi-colored glass rods. These pieces have a distinct look that makes them easy to distinguish from the other two styles.


Millefiori Bead Necklace

Pronounced: mil-e-fee-ori
A kind of ornamental glass in which a number of glass rods of different sizes and colors are fused together and cut into sections that form various patterns, typically embedded in colorless transparent glass

Mine Cut Diamonds

Mine Cut Diamond
Old mine cut diamonds date back to the 1830's and were common up until the turn of the century. They are the earliest form of the modern brilliant cut


Leaf motif necklace earrings

Pronounced: mō-tēf
Decorative design or pattern. A distinctive feature or dominant design. The sample picture is jewelry done in a leaf motif.

Nickel Silver

Nickel Silver Bracelet

See Alpaca


Niello Siam Sterling Bracelet

Pronounced: nee-low
Niello is a process as well as a material. Designs are mapped out and the background around the figures is removed. It is then filled with a formula of lead, silver, and copper which is then mixed with sulphur.


Opaque Stone

Pronounced: oh-pake
Light does not pass through so whether a bead or a stone or enameling, it is solid.


Vintage Pavè Rhinestone Brooch

Pronounced: paw-vay
Pave settings are made up of lots of small rhinestones or gemstones, set closely together. The gems are separated and held in place by little beads of the setting metal. The result is what looks like a continuous surface of diamonds or other gems.


Parure Set in Malachite

Pronounced: per-rur
Originally a parure was a suite of jewelry to be worn together. This was totally aimed at royalty. In today's times, it is considered to be at least three items in the set. An example would be bracelet, necklace, and earrings or brooch, bracelet, and earrings, etc.

Interesting enough though is that a parure may also consist of two different earrings that match the same necklace although normally most would not call that a parure.


Gem Stone Pavilion and Girdle

Pronounced: pa-vil-yin
The part of the faceted stone that is below the girdle.

Pearl Grain


It is a unit of measurement/weight for pearls. One grain equals 0.25 carat


Pendaloque Earring 1800s

Pronounced: pon-der-lok
A type of pear shaped or tear drop gemstone faceted as a brilliant cut and suspended from a smaller stone which is usually separated by a bow or other motif


Brooch Pinback

Refers to the entire assembly for attaching a brooch. It includes the hinge and the clasp (or catch) as well as pin itself.

It can be all one piece or seperate pieces.



A form of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles gold in appearance. It was invented in the 18th century by Christopher Pinchbeck, a London clockmaker.

Rarely used after the mid 1800s.

Plique à Jour

Plique a Jour Brooch

Pronounced: pleak-we-a-shuar
It's origins are from the 1400s but it is mainly associated with the Art Nouveau movement.

It is a vitreous enameling technique where the enamel is applied in cells, similar to cloisonné, but with no backing in the final product so that light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel.

In Japan the technique is known as shotal-jippo (shotai shippo) and is found from the 19th century on.

Prong Set

Prong Setting

To create a prong setting, a gem is inserted into three or more metal prongs that form a basket-like base. The ends of the prongs are bent over and shaped so that they rest against the gem to hold it snugly in place.

The visible prong ends are often rounded, but they can be shaped into ovals, points, V-shapes, left flat or even formed into decorative shapes.


Repousse Brooch

Pronounced: rep-o-zay
a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.

Keep in mind that we use this term all the time but in fact many pieces are pressed, not hammered. Newer pieces post 1920s are often pressed such as the example here. Even though pressed instead of handmade with the Repousse process, it is still acceptable to use the work to describe or in your keywords.


Vintage Rhinestone Brooches

Pronounced: rine-stone
Imitation gemstone made from glass, paste, or crystal. They are often foil backed although not always. They are also sometimes treated to create AB Rhinestones.

They can come in round, square, rectangle, navette, pear, triangle, etc.

Rolled Gold

Rolled gold Victorian locket

A thin layer of gold that's mechanically bonded or heat-fused to one or both sides of a base metal (often brass or copper), then rolled out into sheets to create jewelry. The thickness of the gold layer can vary, but is generally at least 5% of the total metal weight (vs. gold-plated, which uses a thinner sheet of gold).

It was patented in England in 1817, it became a prime source for semi-precious and better-quality costume jewelry in the Victorian era; saw a renewed surge of popularity in 1920s and 1930s, especially in utilitarian objects such as watches and fountain pens

Rose Cut

Rose Cut

The basic rose cut has a flat base (no pavilion) and a crown composed of triangular facets (usually 12 or 24) in symmetrical arrangement, which rise to form a point. They are usually circular in outline; variations include: the briolette (oval); Antwerp rose (hexagonal); and double Dutch rose (resembling two rose cuts united back-to-back).

Rose cuts are seldom seen nowadays, except in antique jewelry. Like the older style brilliants and step cuts, there is a growing demand for rose cuts for the purpose of repairing or reproducing antique pieces.

Sabrina Stone

Sabrina Stone

A translucent stone is infused with color.


Regency Saphiret Stone Brooch

Saphiret is an early glass used in jewelry making and was made during the late 1800s to mid 1900s. It was made in various countries, including Czechoslovakia and Germany during the mid 19th century. The glass was made by adding real gold to sapphire colored molten glass. This created an amazing color combination. The base color ranged from a mocha or pinkish brown to a brick red color, but the amazing part is when light strikes the stone, the glass reflects the light as a soft blue glow.  The stone is opaque to semi-opaque.

In the mid 1900s Germany produced a Saphiret that was used by vintage era jewelry designers such as Florenza, Kramer, Regency, Weiss, and Whiting & Davis.


Sautoir Necklace

Pronounced: so-twore
A very long chain or beaded necklace, often terminating in tassels dangling from each end or sometimes a single, detachable pendant. Similar to a lavalier but much longer and more substantial.

Originally developed around the turn of the 19th century originally fashioned after military braids or chains. It is frequently looped around the neck and worn scarf-like over one shoulder or down the back.

Experienced a revival in the early 1900s and continued to be popular through the 1920s with "flapper" necklaces.

Seed Pearl

Amethyst and Seed Pearl Vintage Ring

A very small pearl weighing less that 1/4 of a pearl grain. Seed pearls are most often used to highlight a larger stone. It is often used for trim in brooches, necklaces, and rings.

Stamped Steel

Stamp Steel Shoe Clips

It can look similar very similar to cut steel jewelry, popular in the 1800s. There are two ways to tell the different. Cut steel stones are riveted to the base piece so on the backside you will see a series of rivets.

Secondly all the stones in stamped steel will be point exactly the same way and basically, be perfect. The stones are not separate from the base piece but a part of the die.

The sample shows a mixture of cut steel beads and stamped steel. All the beading around the edges is stamped.


Table of a faceted stone

The table is the flat top of a faceted stone.

Toledo Ware

Toledo ware bracelet

See Damascene


Torsade Necklace

Pronounced: tawr-sahd
From the Latin word torquēre which means to twist. Although a Bayadere necklace is also a Torsade, not all Torsades are Bayadere since Bayadere is always done with pearls.

That being said, the Torsade is made up of multiple strands. Those strands can be small beads or a mixture of different types of beads or even a mixture of beads and chain or ribbon that are twisted together. What is the important characteristic of the Torsade necklace is the twist.


Translucent vintage bangle

Pronounced: trans-lu-sent
Semi-transparent. If referring to a stone, the light will pass thru the stone but will be diffused. It is halfway between being opaque and transparent.

Some examples of materials that tend to be translucent are amber, lucite, and some bakelite.

Trombone Clasp

Antique Trombone Clasp

A jewelry safety clasp that was from the mid 1800s thru about the 1940s. It is made with a tube and a pin. The pinback slides into the tube and the pin pushes in to secure it.

Tube Hinge

Victorian Tube Hinge

The tube hinge was the type of hinge used on the pinback in the 1800s. The closer to 1900 the narrower the tube hinges became.

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