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Glinda's Glossary

Glinda and I have put together this glossary of terms used to describe costume jewelry.   We hope this ongoing project will be helpful to you.

Use the letter links below for quick access to that section.


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N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  XYZ



Art Deco

A design style popular in the 1920s to late 1930s that featured linear, angular and architectural lines with very few curves.

Art Nouveau

A decorative style prominent from 1890-1915 and characterized by soft, flowing lines and the use of natural motifs, especially female figures.


Connected by flexible joints or segments so that the jewelry piece has movement or drapes for fit.

aurora borealis

An iridescent rhinestone effect produced by a treatment with metals.



A rectangular cut stone with narrow proportions, usually faceted but may also be an unfaceted cabochon.


A phenolic resin patented in 1909 by Leo. H. Baekeland.  Popular in the 1920s-1940s, it was used for whimsical designs in a variety of bright colors.

bezel setting

A setting in which a strip of the metal is shaped over the edge of the stone to secure it.  May be used with a channel setting.

bib necklace

A necklace with multiple strands or designed to cover from the neckline down several inches similar to a bib.



An unfaceted stone with a flat back, typically round or oval.


A stone, coral or shell carved to create a raised, often figural design.  Molded stones in lucite or glass with figural designs are also commonly referred to as cameos.


Decorative technique using metal wire twisted into intricate designs, frequently rosettes or spirals for a raised design; popular in the 19th century.


Enameling in the sections created by carving or cutting into the metal base.

channel setting

A row of stones, square or baguette, set into a continuous channel or groove.


Two brooches or clips with connecting chains.  Originally, a decorative brooch worn at the waist and to which the lady of the manor attached useful items such as keys, watch, coin purse, etc.


Round rhinestone cut with 9 to 12 facets surrounding the table and a pointed back.


A necklace that fits close to the neck, usually about 15" in length.


Enamel application where the sections between decorative wire framing is filled with the enameling glass.

cold enamel

Painted enamel applied to the metal findings in jewelry to resemble true enameling.

collet setting

A setting in which the stone is held in a circular flange of metal.


A surface finish found in glass or beads with a texture created by the application of tiny glass balls.



French for "registered" and marked on jewelry from, or imported into, France.

dog collar

A wide necklace worn tightly around the neck, often composed of multiple strands of beads or rhinestones.

dress clip

A piece of jewelry which is like a brooch but with a hinged, usually triangular, clasp on the back.  Popular in the 1920s-1930s, they were worn at the neckline.


A suspended stone or ornament.  Also used to describe the width of a dangling necklace at the center front.


A combination piece with two dress clips attached to a brooch frame so they may be worn as a brooch or separately as clips.  The name originated from Coro Duette pieces but has come to be used generically.



See repoussé.


Glass, transparent or opaque, applied to metal and fused with high heat. 


Decorated by cutting or etching a design into the metal.



From the French:  false or simulated.


The functional metal parts of jewelry including settings, clasps, rings, etc.


A jewelry piece depicting natural fauna such as a person, animal or bird, as opposed to a floral or abstract theme.


Lacy, intricate and open decorative work created by twisted metal scroll work.

Florentine finish

Metal finish featuring a textured, brushed surface.

French jet

Black glass stones used to simulate genuine jet.

fruit salad

Descriptive term for stones or jewelry containing stones which are molded in the shapes of fruit and/or leaves.  These pieces simulate the carved stone pieces introduced by Cartier in the late 1930s and feature gemstone colors such as emerald green, ruby red, sapphire blue or moonstone.

fur clip

A large decorative brooch used to hold a fur stole together and featuring a spring clasp and either two sharp prongs or large sharp teeth to secure it to the pelt.



Rhinestone effect in which a section or swirl of opaque color, usually white, is contained in the transparent stone.

gold filled

Base metal sandwiched between layers of gold.  In the US the gold layer must be at least 1/20th of the total weight and is marked: g.f.

gold wash

A thin coating of gold over base metal.


Translucent enameling over an engraved design on the underlying metal.


Description of a metal finish that is a dark bluish gray color.



The mark stamped on the back of jewelry indicating the fineness or purity of the metal content. e.g. 925 for sterling silver.



An engraved stone, the opposite of a cameo, with a recessed design carved into the surface.

invisible setting

Technique by which stones, real or simulated, are attached from the back so they appear to have no mounting.



Black enameled finish of the metal findings of a piece.

jelly belly

Description of jewelry containing a large unfaceted stone made of Lucite.  Popular in the 1940s, many of these pieces were whimsical creatures with the stone forming the belly of the figure.


Fossilized coal used in Victorian mourning jewelry in the late 1800s.



Rhinestones with a trapezoid shape; a tapered baguette with one end longer than the other.  (Named for the keystone blocks used in arches in masonry.)



A long necklace without a clasp that is knotted, looped or held together with a ring.


A necklace with a single design element or pendant suspended on a chain.  Popular in the early 1900s.


An acrylic thermoplastic patented by DuPont in 1937.



Iron pyrite crystal cut to look like diamonds.  They were popular in the 1920s-1930s, usually set in sterling silver.


A combination of elements in one piece of jewelry where the components are from different sources, not as originally made.

molded glass

Stones created in a mold to give a fancy shape, e.g. moon rock, fruit salad or flower petal.   Molded stones are then set into the jewelry findings with prongs or glue.



An oval rhinestone with pointed ends, known as a marquise cut in gemstones.


A necklace with two pendant drops suspended unevenly.


See trembler.


open backed

Describes a setting with no backing, allowing light to pass through the stone.



A matched set or suite of three or more pieces of jewelry such as necklace, bracelet and earrings.


A change in color of a metal surface through exposure to air over a period of time, especially seen with silver, copper and bronze.


The setting of many small stones so that the piece is literally paved in stones.


Fired enameling technique resulting in the piece having translucent enamel in a framework resembling stained glass.

pot metal

A silvertone alloy of tin, cadmium, lead and zinc, also known as base metal or white metal.

poured glass

Molten glass is actually poured into the jewelry finding or frame itself to create the stone.  You can often see a bit of slop over on the back of the piece, indicating it was directly poured rather than molded and then set.

prong set

Method of setting stones using claw-like prongs.



Decorative element having four lobes.



Design in metal created in relief by hand using a punch or hammer from the back.


Simulated gemstone made of glass or crystal, often with a foiled backing for increased reflectivity.


A silvery gray metal of the platinum family.  It's durability and luster make it desirable for plating costume jewelry settings.

rolled gold

Gold plating that is laminated or rolled onto a base metal.



A long necklace of beads or chains often ending in a tassel.  Popular in the 1920s.


Earring mechanism with an adjustable screw to tighten it to the ear lobe.


An alloy of silver that is 925 parts pure silver and 75 parts copper, thereby increasing the strength of the silver.


Construction technique using small rivets to join metal components.



The top facet or surface of a cut gemstone or rhinestone.


A necklace with multiple strands of beads twisted together.


A design element which is attached to the piece on a tiny spring so that it trembles with movement.  From the French tremblant; also known as "nodders".



unfoiled stone

Rhinestone with no foil backing, usually used in an open setting.



Green corrosion deposited on metals such as copper, brass or bronze.


Sterling silver plated with gold, also called silver gilt.  Used in the 1940s when base metals were not available for jewelry making.



watch pin

A small brooch with a hook at the bottom for suspending a small watch.

white metal

A silvertone alloy of tin, cadmium, lead and zinc, also known as base metal or pot metal.


Twisted wire decoration applied to metal ground.




Stepped triangle or pyramid shape.



Costume Jewelry (3rd Ed)
   Harrice Simons Miller

Costume Jewelry (Collector's Guide)
   Judith Miller

Signed Beauties of Costume Jewelry
   Marcia Brown

Warman's Jewelry (2nd Ed)
   Christie Romero


Collectible Silver Jewelry
   Fred Rezazadeh

Collectible Costume Jewelry
   Cherri Simonds

Unsigned Beauties of Costume Jewelry
   Marcia Brown

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

And, of course, years of personal experience.


Glinda brooch image courtesy of Wendy Gell.



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