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JEWELRY GLOSSARY

Metals

Alloying – the process of adding other metals together to change the purity and/or color of a material. Gold can be alloyed to any karat, but 18K and 14K are the most common gold types to be used. Gold colors and karat can range depending on how it is alloyed. Yellows, whites, and rose gold are the most common colors.

Gold-filled – also known as "gold overlay" is made up of a solid layer of gold, which is pressure and heat bonded to a base metal such as brass. It is just below solid gold when it comes to quality and value. It has the look of solid gold without the large price tag and is a good option to avoid tarnishing and allergy problems. To be legally considered "gold-filled" it must have a gold content of at least 5% of the item's total weight. The layer of gold typically comes in 18K or 14K. It is easy to care for and will maintain its golden shine.

Fineness Marking Systems

  • Karat System – a system used to describe the measure of purity of gold. Twenty-four karat (24K) is 99% pure, 18K is 75% pure, and 14K is 58.3% pure. Pure elemental gold is considered 24K, and is too soft to use in most jewelry.

  • Silver Standards – Silver in its pure form is very soft and therefore must be alloyed with other metals to add strength and durability. The proportion of silver to copper (or other metals) is described as its fineness or silver standard. Pure silver contains 99.9% (look for .999 marking) silver. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver (look for .925 marking) and 7.5% copper or other metals.

Plating – refers to the process of adding a very thin film 0.05% of solid gold or sterling silver by electroplating it to a base metal. It can chip, fade or tarnish much faster than gold-filled or solid gold jewelry exposing the alloy beneath and therefore its price tag is lower. No resale or scrap value.

Vermeil (vehr-MAY) – has a thicker level of gold plating over sterling silver rather than a base metal. To truly qualify as Vermeil, the plating should be a minimum of 2.5 microns thick and always over sterling silver. It is more valuable than plated jewelry. 

Jewelry Settings

Bezel – strip of metal bent into the shape and size of the gemstone and then soldered to the piece of jewelry. Then the stone is inserted into the bezel and the metal rubbed over the stone, holding it in place. This method works well for either the cabochon or faceted stones.

Pavé ("pa-vay") – refers to a setting consisting of many small gemstones attached to the jewelry by droplets of metal. 

Prong – common setting which uses the least amount of metal to hold the gemstone. They usually have 4 to 6 prongs that are bent over the girdle of the gemstone or diamond. The stone receives maximum exposure with this setting.

Gemstones

Black Spinel – a rare gemstone, one of the rarest from the Spinel family, is a true gemstone often confused with black tourmaline. It is made up of hard vitreous magnesium aluminum oxide or magnesium aluminate. It is durable with a natural black color. No other gemstone can come close to the spinel's deep, dark color. Black diamonds are similar, but have to be color enhanced.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) – a synthesized material that is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless (though it may be made in a variety of colors). They are durable, relatively harder than most gemstones, and represent a close visual likeness to diamonds at a lower cost.

Diamond – a precious stone consisting of a clear and typically colorless crystalline form of pure carbon, the hardest naturally occurring substance. It is known for its brilliance as it has a relatively high optical dispersion. Colors in diamonds stem from lattice defects and impurities. 

Moissanite – naturally occurring mineral form of silicon carbide. Incredibly rare in its natural form, so the moissanite today is created in a laboratory. It is one of the hardest substances known, but below the hardness of a diamond. They exhibit a heightened brilliance to diamonds and are much less expensive. Their durability is suitable for everyday wear. They are dramatically lower in price than diamonds and almost as hard.

Topaz – gemstone which naturally forms in a wide variety of colors and intensities.

Patina

Oxidized Sterling Silver – sterling silver is purposefully exposed to sulfides (not oxygen) to speed up the natural tarnishing process. It creates a matte, gunmetal black appearance. It will wear over time if not protected, but can be restored easily. It should only be cleaned with dishwashing soap and warm water.

Throwing Stars Jewelry is mainly made using 14K gold-filled, sterling silver, and/or 14k gold metals. Some of our jewelry uses gold plated or silver plated metals. We have composed the list of glossary terms below as you will see them throughout our store descriptions and may be curious as to their meanings.