Abalone Shell A decorative shell from the South Seas with a wonderful range of colour in shades of blue and green.
Acrostic Jewellery Where there is a row of gemstones and the initial letters spell out a word. The best known is REGARD – ruby, emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond. The acrostic can be in a ring, brooch or bracelet. Other well known acrostics are DEAREST and the names of loved ones.
Aesthetic Design Decorative arts movement with a Japanese influence, which flourished in Britain from c.1870 to the later1880s. You can often find aesthetic design on silver jewellery of the time. Brooches, lockets and bangles can be found with leaf and bird designs which clearly have aesthetic influences.
Agate A variety of Quartz, a hardstone which polishes up to show the internal bands and structure often in varied colours. Agate was regularly set into Victorian Scottish or pebble jewellery.
Aigrette Hair or hat ornament, usually of gold or silver in shaped as a feather or as a holder for a feather. Aigrettes were fashionable in the 17th and 18th centuries and from the later 19th to early 20th Century
A Jour When a stone is set into jeweller so that you can see the light through the reverse as opposed to the closed back setting of the Georgian era.
Albert An Albert watch chain was named after Prince Albert. This chain could be made of any metal but they are normally seen in Gold or Silver. They would usually have a swivel dog clip at one end and a clip at the other to enable it to be attached to a waistcoat. The purpose was to attach a fob watch to the chain, a fob and watch key can also be attached depending upon the wearers preference. Albert’s come in single and double varieties
Albertina, a woman’s version of an Albert. These tend to be shorter than an Albert and have two or three strands of chain. The strands are often connected by a central ” Slider” . Albertina’s are popularly worn as bracelets these days.
Aluminium Very light silver coloured metal discovered in the early 1800s. From the 1850s it was occasionally used for figurines and plaques, and sometimes combined with gold for bracelets. Aluminium was back in fashion from the early 1920s onwards for Art Deco Jewellery but these pieces are quite rare.
Alloy A mixture of metals , for example 9ct gold is pure gold alloyed with other metals.
Amber The fossil resin of pine trees. It ranges in colour from yellow to red through to black. Amber is soft and so can be carved but is usually seen as a bead or a cabochon.
Amulet A piece of jewellery supposed to have the ability to ward off evil. This can be a ring, a pendant or a brooch. Amulets often have an inscription and may be carved in the shape of an animal or with symbols. Amulets were popular in the middle ages.
Amethyst Beautiful purple or violet gemstones. Amethyst are a variety of quartz. Amethysts can be polished as gemstones, be used as cabochons or polished up as beads. The amethyst is the birthstone for February.
Anchor Chain Copies the style of the chain used for anchors on ships, an oval link with a dividing bar through the middle.
Anniversary Jewellery given on a specific anniversary for example a 50Th anniversary is gold.
Antique Legally any object over 100 years old
Aquamarine a very pretty gemstone which varies in colour from a pale sky blue to a sea blue green. The aquamarine is a variety of the Beryl gemstone family and the colour is normally created by heat treating the raw stone. These are usually cut as brilliants or step cut.
Art Deco A decorative style originally in the 1920s and 1930s. Bold geometric design, bright primary colours and lots of angles. The associated shapes are angles, the colours are primary red, blue, black, white, green, yellow and orange. Gemstones and vintage jewellery materials are those in the same colours such as diamonds, emeralds, silver, black onyx, chrysoprase, coloured glass and Bakelite.
Articulated Where a piece of jewellery has movable parts often hinged. Many of my vintage charms are articulated and you can fin articulated earrings, brooches, and necklaces. Example : Articulated Teddy brooch
Art Nouveau The decorative fashion between the 1890s and circa 1910. The style had lots of curvaceous lines, flowing asymmetrical natural shapes. There are lots of natural motifs including ladies heads, butterflies, dragonflies and a Japanese influence. The gemstones popular include pearls, opals, moonstones. Enamelling on silver and cabochons rather than faceted stones.
Arts and Crafts Design movement popular circa 1890 to 1910 started by William Morris influenced by Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelite movement. The most famous producer of arts and crafts jewellery was C.R. Ashbee and is Guild and School of handicraft. Take a look at Ruskin set pieces of jewellery on AntiquesAvenue to see some Arts and crafts Jewellery
Assay This is the process of testing the purity of the metal, working out what % gold, silver or platinum is in the metal. The process that is carried out prior to hallmarking.
Aurora Borealis This is a type of thin metallic rainbow finish which can be given to glass and is found in necklaces, brooches, earrings and bracelets usually dating from the 1950s and 1960s. The finish gives a rainbow effect to the stones as in these aurora borealis earrings. Apparently this finish was developed By Christian Dior working with Swarovski. The term is often shortened to AB.