Knowing the Basic Language of Jewellery – Essential Jewellery Technical Terms Everyone Should Know

(Part 1 of a series of 5.)

Buying and Commissioning Jewellery Can Be More Complex Than it Seems

Every newcomer to wedding jewellery shopping I’ve spoken to seems to face the same problems:

  1. What do all these jewellery technical terms mean, and what key information should I be looking out for?
  2. How do I figure out my fiancee’s tastes, and how can I avoid getting it wrong?
  3. What should I spend, and what can I get for that money?
  4. If I get something made, how long should it take to get the ring ready?

To help answer these questions, I’ve created this series of articles as a guide for newcomers to the jewellery world, based on all of the best advice I’ve ever heard and received during my years as a professional jeweller, and also as a husband and best man. I hope that, by sharing my knowledge about how jewellery is made and sold, I can help allay all of those fears, and help you come out with something both you and your partner can be truly happy with for years to come.

It’s worth noting that this guide is intended for all genders and couples, straight or gay or non binary cisgender, regardless of the gender of the person buying the rings or proposing.

For this first article, I’ll focus on the basic language of jewellery:

Anatomy of a Ring

To start with, there are some essential jewellery terms every jeweller uses when they talk about certain parts of the ring:

essential jewellery terms for rings and stone settingsHead

The top part of the ring is the Head. This is where we most commonly find the main features of the ring, such as Stone Settings (or combinations of wires and sheet metal which hold the gemstones onto the piece).

The lower part of a stone setting underneath the girdle of the gemstone is called the Gallery. This comes in many decorative forms and shapes. The purpose of the gallery is to hold the claws together and keep the stone setting attached to the jewellery.

Shank

The band of the ring itself is commonly called the Shank.

Prong/Claw

When a gemstone is set with a Claw Setting, it means several small wires hold the stone down into position. These are called either Prongs or Claws. The terms are interchangeable.

There are almost an infinite number of variations on ways to hold a stone down. Indeed, much of jewellery design is concerned with finding new and inventive ways to hold the gemstones onto the body.

Pavé Setting

Pavé Setting or sometimes just Pavé (pah-VAY) comes from the French word “pavement”, and it refers to a field of stones laid down without gaps on a surface, set with tiny shared claws. This is a common feature in more expensive jewellery.

Sometimes the word pavé is also used to refer to a line of stones along a ring or narrow surface. The actual term for this is Bead Setting, but you can use either term and the jeweller will understand.

Anatomy of a Gemstone

When dealing with faceted stones, there are some common terms we use for the different parts of a diamond stone:

essential gemstone terms

Any Other Essential Jewellery Technical Terms?

This is of course only a start, and there are quite a few other essential jewellery terms relating to precious metals and gemstones, but I’ll be introducing them in subsequent articles. Read on when you’re ready.

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