Alarm: A device that sounds a signal at a pre-set time.
Altimeter: A device that determines altitude by responding to changes in barometric pressure.
Anadigi Display: A display that shows the time both by means of hour and minute hands (an analog display) and by numbers (a digital display).
Analog Display: A display that shows the time by means of hands and a dial.
Analog Watch: A watch with a dial, hands, and numbers or markers that present a total display of 12-hour time span. Analog digital refers to a watch that has both a digital display and hands of a conventional watch.
Aperture: Small opening. The dials of some watches (in French: montres Ã guichet) have apertures in which certain indications are given (e.g. the date, the hour, etc).
Assembling: Process of fitting together the components of a movement. This was formerly done entirely by hand, but the operations have now been largely automated. Nevertheless, the human element is still primordial, especially for inspection and testing.
Automatic Movement: A mechanical movement that requires no winding because the rotor, part of the automatic mechanism, winds the mainspring every time you move your hand. The first automatic movement was invented in Switzerland by Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the Eighteenth century. When fully wound and left to sit, most automatics have up to 36 hours of reserve power. Mechanical movements are accurate within one minute each day. Automatic movements have gained in popularity the last few years especially with watch connoisseurs and are considered to be Switzerland’s mechanical answer to the popularity of the no-winding-needed quartz movements that are standard in Japanese watches.
Auto Repeat Countdown Timer: A countdown timer that resets itself as soon as the preset time has elapsed and starts the countdown again. It repeats the countdown continuously until the wearer pushes the stop button.
Automatic Watch: A watch whose mainspring is wound by the movements or accelerations of the wearer’s arm. On the basis of the principle of terrestrial attraction, a rotor turns and transmits its energy to the spring by means of an appropriate mechanism. The system was invented in Switzerland by Abraham-Louis Perrelet in the 18th century.
Automatic Winding: (also called “self-winding”): Winding that occurs through the motion of the wearer’s arm rather than through turning the winding stem. It works by means of a rotor that turns in response to motion, thereby winding up the watch’s mainspring. An automatic watch that is not worn for a day or two will wind down and need to be wound by hand to get it started again.
Balance Spring: A very fine spring (also called a “hair spring”) in a mechanical watch that returns the balance wheel back to a neutral position.
Balance Wheel: The part of a mechanical watch movement that oscillates, dividing time into equal segments.
Barrel: Thin cylindrical box containing the mainspring of a watch. The toothed rim of the barrel drives the train.
Battery Reserve Indicator: See “power reserve indicator”.
Bezel: The ring, usually made of gold, gold plate or steel, that surrounds the watch face.
Bi-directional Rotating Bezel: A bezel that can be moved either clockwise or counterclockwise. These are used for mathematical calculations or for keeping track of elapsed time.
Bracelet: A type of watch band made of elements that resemble links.
Bridge: Complementary part fixed to the main plate to form the frame of a watch movement. The other parts are mounted inside the frame
Cabochon: Decorative stone which has been carved into a round shape.
Calendar: A feature that shows the day of the month, and often the day of the week and the year. There are several types of calendar watches.
Caliber: A term often used by Swiss watchmakers to denote a particular model type, such as Caliber 48 meaning model 48. More commonly, the term is used to indicate the movement’s shape, layout, or size.
Cambered: Often used in referring to a curved or arched dial or bezel.
Case: The metal housing of a watch’s parts. Stainless steel is the most typical metal used but titanium, gold, silver, and platinum can also be used. Less expensive watches are usually made of brass and plated with gold or silver.
Caseback: The reverse side of a watch case that lies against the skin. May be transparent to allow viewing of the inner workings of the watch or be solid. Most manufacturers engrave casebacks with their name, water and shock resistance, case metal content and other details.
Chime: The bell-like sound made when a clock strikes on the hour, half hour, etc. Two familiar chimes traditionally found in clocks are the Westminster chime made by the famous Big Ben in London, and the bim bam, a two note chime.
Chronograph: A stopwatch, i.e., a timer that can be started and stopped to time an event. There are many variations on the chronograph. Some operate with a center seconds hand which keeps time on the watch’s main dial. Others use subdials to elapsed hours, minutes and seconds. Still others show elapsed time on a digital display on the watch face. When a chronograph is used in conjunction with specialized scales on the watch face, it can perform many different functions, such as determining speed or distance. Some chronographs can time more than one event at a time. Do not confuse the term “chronograph” with “chronometer”. The latter refers to a timepiece, which may or may not have a chronograph function that has met certain high standards of accuracy set by an official watch institute in Switzerland. Watches that include the chronograph function are themselves called “chronographs”.
Chronometer: This term refers to a precision watch that is tested in various temperatures and positions, thus meeting the accuracy standards set by an official institute in Switzerland. Most watch companies provide a certificate with your chronometer purchase.
Complication: A watch with other functions besides timekeeping. For example, a chronograph is a watch complication. Other complications coveted by watch collectors include: minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, or split second chronograph.
COSC: The official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute that puts every chronometer watch through a rigorous, 15-day testing procedure to verify the watch’s precision.
Countdown Timer: A function that lets the wearer keep track of how much of a pre-set period of time has elapsed. Some countdown timers sound a warning signal a few seconds before time runs out — these are useful in events such as yacht races, where the sailor must maneuver the boat into position before the start of a race.
Crown: Button on the outside of the case that is used to set the time and the calendar, and, in the mechanical watches, to wind the mainspring.
Crystal: The transparent cover on the watch face made of glass crystal, synthetic sapphire or plastic.
Day/Date Watch: A watch that indicates not only the date but also the day of the week.
Day/Night Indicator: A colored or shaded band on a world time that shows which time zones are in daylight and which in darkness.
Deployment Buckle: A type of buckle that pops open and fastens using hinged, often adjustable, extenders. Though more expensive than a belt-buckle like closure, a deployment buckle is easier to put on and remove and is more comfortable on the wrist.
Depth Alarm: An alarm on a diver’s watch that sounds when the wearer exceeds a pre-set depth. In most watches it stops sounding when the diver ascends above that depth.
Dial: The watch face. In high-end watches the numerals, indices and surface designs are applied as separate elements. In less expensive watches, they may be simply printed on the dial.
Digital watch: A watch that shows the time through digits rather than through a dial and hands display.
Direct-drive: A function that allows the second-hand to advance in intervals rather than a smooth sweep for more precise timekeeping. The French term for a direct-drive second hand is a trotteuse.
Dual Timer: A watch that measures current local time as well as at least one other time zone. The additional time element may come from a twin dial, extra hand, subdials, or other means.
Elapsed Time Rotating Bezel: A graduated rotating bezel used to keep track of periods of time. The bezel can be turned so the wearer can align the zero on the bezel with the watch’s seconds or minutes hand. He/she can then read the elapsed time off the bezel. This saves him/her having to perform the subtraction that would be necessary if he used the watch’s regular dial.
Engine Turning: Decorative engraving, usually on the watch face.
Escapement: Device in a mechanical movement that controls the rotation of the wheels and thus the motion of the hands.
ETA: One of the leading manufacturers of watch movements based in Switzerland. ETA movements are used by many major Swiss watch brands.
Face: The visible side of the watch where the dial is contained. Most faces are marked with Arabic or Roman numerals to indicate the hours. Interestingly, when Roman numerals are used, it is traditional to use IIII, rather than IV, to indicate the 4 o’clock position.
Flyback hand: A seconds hand on the chronograph that can be used to time laps or to determine finishing times for several competitors in race.
Gasket: Most water resistant watches are equipped with gaskets to seal the case back, crystal, and crown to protect against water infiltration during normal wear. It is important to have the gaskets checked every two years to maintain the water resistance of the watch.
Gear Train: The system of gears which transmits power from the mainspring to the escapement.
GMT-Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) -There are 25 integer World Time Zones from -12 through 0 (GMT) to +12. Each one is 15Â° of Longitude as measured East and West from the Prime Meridian of the World at Greenwich, England. Universal time is simply the number of hours, minutes, and seconds which have elapsed since midnight in the Greenwich time zone.
Gold Plating: A layer of gold that has been electro-deposited onto a metal; its thickness is measured in microns.
Grande Sonnerie: A type of repeater that sounds the hours and quarter hours when the wearer pushes the button.
Guilloche: A style of intricate engraving that is popular on watch dials, usually very thin lines interwoven to create a surface texture.
Hard Metal: A scratch resistant metal comprised of binding several materials, including titanium and tungsten carbide, which are then pressed into an extremely hard metal and polished with diamond powder to add brilliance.
High-Tech Ceramic: Used as a protective shield for spacecraft reentering the earth’s atmosphere, high-tech ceramic is polished with diamond dust to create a highly polished finish. Because the ceramic can be injection molded, pieces can be contoured. It has a very smooth surface and is usually found in black, but can be produced in a spectrum of colors.
Horology: The science of time measurement, including the art of designing and constructing the timepieces.
Index: An hour indicator on an analog watch dial, used instead of numerals.
Integrated Bracelet: A watch bracelet that is integrated into the design of the case.
Jewels: Synthetic sapphires or rubies that acts as bearings for gears in the mechanical watch, reducing friction.
Jump Hour Indicator: A jump hour indicator takes the place of an hour hand. It usually shows the hours by means of a numeral in a window.
Lap Memory: The ability, in some quartz sport watches, to preserve in the watch’s memory the times of laps in a race that have been determined by the lap timer. The wearer can recall these times on a digital display by pushing a button.
Lap Timer: A chronograph function that lets the wearer time segments of a race. At the end of a lap, he/she stops the timer, which then returns to zero to begin timing the next lap.
Limited Editions: A watch style manufactured in a specific amount, often numbered, and available in limited quantities. Limited editions are available from most fine watch manufacturers and may be highly prized by collectors.
Liquid-Crystal Display: A digital watch display that shows the time electronically by means of the liquid held in a thin layer between two transparent plates.
Lugs: Projection on the watch face to which the watch band/bracelet is attached.
Main Plate: Base plate on which all the other parts of a watch movement are mounted.
Mainspring: The driving spring of a watch or clock, contained in the barrel.
Marine Chronometer: Highly accurate mechanical or electronic timekeeper enclosed in a box (hence the term box chronometer), used for determining the longitude on board ship. Marine chronometers with mechanical movements are mounted on gimbals so that they remain in the horizontal position is necessary for their precision.
Measurement Conversion: A feature, usually consisting of a graduated scale on the watch’s bezel, that lets the wearer translate one type of measurement into another — miles into kilometers, for instance, or pounds into kilograms.
Mechanical Movement: A movement based on a mainspring which is wound by hand; when wound, it slowly unwinds the spring in an even motion. An automatic mechanical requires no winding because of the rotor, which winds the mainspring every time you move your wrist.
Micron: Unit of measurement of the thickness of the gold-coating. 1 micron = 1/1000mm.
Military or 24-hour time: When time is measured in 24-hour segments. To convert 12-hour time into 24-hour, simple add 12 to any p.m. time. To convert 24-hour time into 12-hour time, subtract 12 from any time 13 to 24.
Moon-phase: A window in a watch face that shows which phase the moon is.
Mother-of-Pearl: Iridescent milky interior shell of the freshwater mollusk that is sliced thin and used on watch dials. While most have a milky white luster, mother-of-pearl also comes in other colors such as silvery gray, gray blue, pink and salmon.
Movement: The inner mechanism of watch that keeps time and moves the watch’s hand, calendar, etc. Movements are either mechanical or quartz.
Mystery Watch: A patented invention of watchmaker Vincent Calabrese and produced by Jean Marcel, a Swiss manufacturer, the Mystery automatic mechanical watch uses no hands to indicate hours, minutes or seconds. Rather a jumping hour window moves clockwise around a minute scale while a second indicator, an arrow, also ticks around. Gently breathing on the crystal causes the word “mystery” to appear.
Pedometer: A device that counts the number of strides taken by the wearer by responding to the impact of the wearer’s steps.
Perpetual Calendar: A calendar that automatically adjusts for the months’ varying length and for leap year. Perpetual calendars, which can be powered by quartz or mechanical movements, are programmed to be accurate until the year 2100. Many watch collectors suggest storing mechanical versions in motorized winding boxes when they aren’t being worn in order to maintain the calendar countdown.
Platinum: One of the rarest of precious metals, platinum also is one of the strongest and heaviest, making it a popular choice for setting gemstone jewelry and watches. It has a rich, white luster, and an understated look. Platinum is hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Platinum used in jewelry and watches is at least 85 to 95 percent pure. Many platinum watches are produced in limited editions due to the expense and rarity of the metal.
Power Reserve: The amount of energy reserve stored up to keep a watch running until it stops. The remaining power is sometimes indicated by a small gauge on the dial.
Power Reserve Indicator: A feature of a mechanical watch that shows how much longer the watch will operate before it must be wound again.
Pulsimeter: A scale on a chronograph watch for measuring the pulse rate.
Push-piece: Button that is pressed to work a mechanism. (The push-pieces on chronographs, striking watches, alarms, etc.)
Quartz Crystal: A tiny piece of synthetic quartz that oscillates at the rate of 32.768 times a second, dividing time into equal segments.
Quartz Movement: A movement which allows a watch to keep time without being wound. This technology employs the vibrations of a tiny crystal to maintain timing accuracy. The power comes from a battery that must be replaced about every 1.5 years. In recent years, new quartz technology enables the watch to recharge itself without battery replacement. This power is generated via body motion similar to an automatic mechanical watch, or powered by light through a solar cell, or even by body heat. A digital quartz watch has no mechanical parts. Most quartz movements are made in Hong Kong, Japan or Switzerland.
Repeater: A device that chimes the time when the wearer pushes a button.
Rose (or pink) Gold: A softly hued gold that contains the same metals as yellow gold but with a higher concentration of copper in the alloy. A popular color in Europe, rose gold in watches is often seen in retro styling or in tricolor gold versions. Some 18k red gold watches achieve their color from additional copper in the alloy.
Rotating Bezel: A bezel (the ring surrounding the watch face) that can be turned. Different types of rotating bezels perform different timekeeping and mathematical functions.
Rotor: The part of an automatic watch that winds the movement’s main spring.
Sapphire Crystal: A crystal (the cover that protects the watch face) made of synthetic sapphire, a transparent shatter-resistant, scratch-resistant substance.
Screw-Lock Crown: A crown that can be screwed into the case to make the watch watertight.
Second Time-Zone Indicator: An additional dial that can be set to the time in another time zone. It lets the wearer keep track of local time and the time in another country simultaneously.
Shock Absorber: Resilient bearing which, in a watch, is intended to take up the shocks received by the balance staff and thus protects its delicate pivots from damage.
Shock Resistance: As defined by the US government regulation, a watch’s ability to withstand an impact equal to that of being dropped onto wood floor from a height of 3 feet.
Skeleton Case: A case with a transparent front or back that allows the wearer to view the watch’s movement.
Slide Rule: A device, consisting of logarithmic or other scale on the outer edge of ther watch face , that can be used to do mathematical calculations.
Solar Compass: A compass that lets the wearer determine the geographical poles by means of a rotating bezel. The wearer places the watch so that the hour hand faces the sun. He then takes half the distance between the position and 12 o’clock, and turns the bezel until its “south” marker is at that halfway point. Some quartz watches have solar compasses that show directions on an LCD display.
Solar Powered Batteries: Batteries in a quartz watch that are recharged via solar panels on the watch face.
Split Seconds Hand: Actually two hands, one a flyback hand the other a regular chronograph hand. When the wearer starts the chronograph, both hands move together. To time laps or different finishing times, the wearer can stop the flyback hand independently while the regular chronograph hand keeps moving, in effect”splitting” the hand(s) in two.
Stainless Steel: An extremely durable metal alloy (chromium is a main ingredient) that is virtually immune to rust, discoloration and corrosion; it can be highly polished, thus representing a precious metal. Due to this and the importance of white metal jewelry, steel has become a popular setting for diamonds. Because of its strength, stainless steel is often used even on casebacks of watches made of other metals.
Stepping Motor: The part of a quartz movement that moves the gear train, which in turn moves the watch’s hands.
Sterling Silver: A white and highly reflective precious metal. Sterling silver refers to silver that is 92.5 percent pure, which should be stamped on the metal, sometimes accompanied by the initials of the designer or the country of origin as a hallmark. Although less durable than stainless steel and other precious metals, sterling silver is often employed in watches that coordinate or look like sterling silver jewelry. A protective coating may be added to prevent tarnishing.
Stopwatch: A watch with a seconds hand that measures intervals of time. When a stopwatch is incorporated into a standard watch, both the stopwatch function and the timepiece are referred to as a “chronograph”.
Subdial: A small dial on the watch face used for any of several purposes, such as keeping track of elapsed minutes or hours on the chronograph or indicating the date.
Swiss Made: A watch is considered Swiss if its movement was assembled, started, adjusted and controlled by the manufacturer in Switzerland.
Swiss A.O.S.C. (Certificate of Origin): A mark identifying a watch that is assembled in Switzerland with components of Swiss origin.
Sweep Seconds-Hand: A seconds-hand that is mounted in the center of the watch dial.
Tachymeter: A device on the chronograph watch that measure the speed at which the wearer has traveled over a measured distance.
Tank Watch: A rectangular watch designed by Louis Cartier. The bars along the sides of the watch were inspired by the tracks of tanks used in World War I.
Telemeter: A telemeter determines the distance of an object from the observer by measuring how long it takes sound to travel that distance. Like a tachymeter, it consists of a stopwatch, or chronograph, and a special scale, usually on the outermost edge of the watch face.
Timer: Instrument used for registering intervals of time (durations, brief times), without any indication of the time of day.
Titanium: The “space age” metal, often used with a silver-gray appearance. Because it is 30 percent stronger and nearly 50 percent lighter than steel it has been increasingly used in watchmaking, especially sport watch styles. Its resistance to salt water corrosion makes it particularly useful in diver’s watches. Since it can be scratched fairly easy, some manufacturers use a patented-coating to resist scratching. Hypoallergenic.
Tonneau Watch: A watch shaped like a barrel, with two convex sides.
Totalizer: A mechanism that keeps track of elapsed time and display it, usually on a subdial.
Tourbillon: A device in a mechanical watch that eliminates timekeeping errors cause by the slight difference in the rates at which a watch runs in the horizontal and vertical positions. The tourbillon consist of round carriage, or cage, holding the escapement and the balance. It rotates continuously at the rate of once per minute.
Tritium: An isotope of hydrogen that is used to activate the luminous dots or indices on a watch dial. The radioactivity released in this process is too slight to pose a health risk.
Two Tone: A watch that combines two metals, usually yellow gold and stainless steel in the case of fine watches.
Uni-directional Rotating Bezel: An elapsed time rotating bezel, often found on divers’ watches, that moves only in a counterclockwise direction. It is designed to prevent a diver who has unwittingly knocked the bezel off its original position from overestimating his remaining air supply. Because the bezel moves in only one direction, the diver can error only on the side of safety when timing his dive. Many divers’ watches are ratcheted, so that they lock into place for greater safety.
Vibration: Movement of a pendulum or other oscillating element, limited by two consecutive extreme positions. The balance of a mechanical watch generally makes five or six vibrations per second (i.e. 18,000 or 21,600 per hour), but that of a high-frequency watch may make seven, eight or even ten vibrations per second (i.e. 25,200, 28,800 or 36, 000 per hour).
Waterproof: An illegal and misused term. No watch is fully 100 percent waterproof.
Water Resistance: A water resistant watch can handle light moisture, such as a rain or sink splashes, but should not be worn swimming or diving. If the watch can be submerged in water, it must state at what depth it maintains water resistance, i.e. 50 meters or more on most sport watches. Below 200 meters, the watch may be used for skin diving and even scuba diving depending upon the indicated depths.
White Gold: Created from yellow gold by incorporating either nickel or palladium to the alloy to achieve a white color. Most watches made of white gold will be 18k.
Winding: Operation consisting in tightening the mainspring of a watch. This can be done by hand (by means of the crown) or automatically (by means of a rotor, which is caused to swing by the movements of the wearer’s arm).
Winding Stem: The button on the right side of the watch case used to wind the mainspring. Also called a “crown”.
World Time Dial: A dial, usually on the outer edge of the watch face, that tells the time up to 24 time zones around the world. The time zones are represented by the names of cities printed on the bezel or dial. The wearer reads the hour in a particular time zone by looking at the scale next to the city that the hour hand is pointing to. The minutes are read as normal. Watches with this feature are called “world timers”.
Yacht Timer: A countdown timer that sounds warning signals during the countdown to a boat race.
Yellow Gold: The traditionally popular gold used in all gold, gold and stainless steel, or other precious metal combinations. Yellow gold watches may be found in 14k or, as found from most European manufacturers, 18k.
Alloy: A mixture of two or more metallic metals combined for to give the alloy strength and structure.. For example: Gold in its pure state (24K) is way too soft for any practical jewellery uses, but when combinined with small amounts of harder metals such as copper, nickel or silver a more durable and useable materialis produced.
Anneal: The process of heating work-hardened metal to restore malleability. To do this the metal is heated to a specific temperature for a set period of time. The temperature and timescale is dependant on the substance and the intended application. The metal is then cooled slowly to toughen it and reduce brittleness. Small pieces can be heated with a torch. Larger items are generally annealed in either a kiln or an annealing oven.
Anodize: To produce controlled oxidation of a metal’s surface by means of a chemical (acid) bath. The positive end or “anode” of an electrical current is passed through the bath, creating a thin protective film on the surface, caused by the change in the molecular structure of the top layer only. Anodization gives the metal a lustrous sheen, or even changes the surface colour. This process is widely used for “coloring” titanium and niobium metal. Different voltage settings creates different colors on the metals.
Aqua Regia: A mixture of three parts hydrochloric acid and one part nitric acid which is used to test the purity of gold and platinum. The mixture is one of the few chemicals that can dissolve those metals.
Assay: A test of purity for an alloy, designed to determine the percentage of precious metal content.
Aurora Borealis (AB): Named after the Northern Lights, aurora borealis is a term for crystal stones that have a highly iridescent surface. The effect is achieved by vapor blasting the facets of the lower part of the crystals with an invisible, micro thin metal sheet. This stone was created by Swarovski® in 1955 in collaboration with Christian Dior. Also known as AB, the term now refers to any highly iridescent surface.
Bale: The metal loop that attaches a chain or cord to a pendant.
Bakelite: The trade-marked name for synthetic resins and plastics developed by a US chemist. Jewellery pieces made of Bakelite, especially with animal and fruit motifs, were extremely popular in the US in the 1930s and are now considered collectors items. Bakelite has had something of a renaissance in this country in recent years.
Baroque Pearl: An irregularly-shaped pearl.
Base Metal: Any metal other than a precious metal. Lead, bismuth, tin, antimony, copper andso on are base metals.. Alloys of non-precious metals are also referred to as base metals. Findings made of base metal (silver or gold colored) are the cheapest to buy and are perfect for those beginning to do wire work and beading. Once you have honed your skills you may decide to use better quality findings and beads.
Base metal findings: are usually made of a nickel alloy material that can cause allergic reactions in some people, especially when used in body piercings. People who are sensitive to nickel alloys should wear a minimum of 14 K gold found in quality gold-filled findings, Surgical grade stainless steel findings – usually referred to as Hypoallergenic. Most nickel-sensitive people can also tolerate sterling silver with no problems.
Bezel: A strip of wire that surrounds and secures a stone or other object. Bezel can be made or bought in various standard calibrated sizes for cabochons. Wire workers create their own bezel using the half hard square wire.
Biwa: A cultured pearl originally non-nucleated, grown in a freshwater mussel from Lake Biwa in Japan. Only those actually produced there should be called Biwas; others are simply called freshwater, cultured pearls.
Briolette: A briolette is an elongated, pear-shaped stone covered with bands of triangular or rectangular facets, usually with a pointed end and without a girdle.
Bronze: An alloy containing at least 60% copper plus tin and sometimes other metals.
Brushed Finish: Created by using a stiff metal brush along the surface of metallic jewellery. This adds texture and produces a less reflective surface with the matte finish that has become very popular.
Cameo: A carved gem, such as agate or shell, in which the design (often a head or flower) stands out against a background of a different color.
Casting: A process for making metal items that has been used for thousands of years. Molten metal is poured into a mould. There are different methods of casting including centrifugal (or investment), sand casting and the little-used wax process.
Chain Mail or Chainmaille: This technique has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last couple of years. The process involves joining metal rings of predetermined sizes together, creating a flexible metal “fabric” in a variety of different items. Chain mail was used in medieval times to provide flexible armour and jewellery. Patterns available for modern chain mail and jewellery are amazing in their complexity and beauty.
Chalcedony: Various types of colored quartz, including carnelian, agate, cat’s eye and jasper, often with a milky appearance,
Chasing: A process involving the use of a hammer and steel tools to recess and/or reshape metal from the front. This technique is used to add texture to the surface of metal with hammers leaving a pattern engraved in the head. For use on such items as washers, metal strips, etc.
Chromium: A hard, shiny, grey-white metal that resists corrosion quite well. Sometimes used in costume jewelry as a coating over other metals.
Cloisonné: Enamel with surface decorations set in hollows formed by strips of wire welded to a metal plate. Artisans of China are well known for their cloisonné creations.
Cubic Zirconia (CZ): A synthetic gemstone developed in 1977 to simulate a diamond. These days “cz’s” come in a wide range of colors and styles and can add enormous “bling” to your creations.
Drawplate: In metalsmithing, particularly wire jewelry applications, a drawplate is a die plate through which wire is pulled to reduce its diameter. A drawplate is used in Viking Knit and even crocheted wire jewelry to reduce and tighten the weave of the finished piece. Making your own drawplate is quite simple, using an inch-thick block of hardwood, and drilling a series of holes at least ¼” apart, from 1.5mm to 10mm in diameter in .5 increments. By passing the length of finished woven wire through each drilled hole you reduce the size of the woven wire to the size you want.
Ductible: A substance is “ductile” if it is easily pulled into a thin wire. The most ductile metal is gold and it is the easiest wire to pull through a drawplate to reduce the diameter.
DWT: The abbreviation for Penny Weight in the Troy System of Weights.
Electroplate: (See Plating) Rings, ear hooks or wires, and crimp beads.
Embossing: The process of raising a domed design on the front of a piece of metal by beating it from behind with punches and a hammer.
Finding: Manufactured components used to create jewellery. Findings include jump rings, clasps, bails, headpins, ear wires, and charms, to name a few. Generally, findings provide the structure with the gems, beads or other providing the decoration.
Fineness: Usually expressed in parts per thousand, fineness is the proportion of silver or gold in a metal alloy. For example, Sterling Silver is 925. In other words, 925 parts per 1000 are silver. . Gold fineness is measured in Karats.
Foil: A thin leaf of metal placed behind a gem or paste stone to heighten its color or brilliance. Foil was first added to the back of genuine gems in the 1800’s to enhance the colors of faceted stones.
Gauge: The measurement of the thickness of an object, particularly wire and sheet metals. Wire gauges for jewelry applications range from a very thick 4g to a very fine 34g. NB, The smaller the gauge, the larger the diameter of the wire.
German Silver: Also known as NICKEL SILVER. This alloy is approximately 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc. If around 5% of tin is also present in this alloy, it is called Alpaca. There is no silver in German Silver, which is why German silver wire is very inexpensive and frequently used in costume jewelry. It should be noted that about 1 person in every 10 has a metal allergy to nickel.
Gold: Gold is one of the most visually attractive of all metals and because of its unique composition and rarity, it is considered the “most precious” metal. It is also one of the heaviest metals, is resistance to tarnish or corrosion, and is very durable. One of the first metals used by early man, gold’s durability has been confirmed by the discovery of elaborately crafted artifacts of gold which have remained in near-perfect condition from the ancient Egyptian, Etruscan and Assyrian cultures.
Gold occurs in nature in almost pure form, and is the most malleable and ductile of the metals. It is a good conductor of heat and electrical current, and in its pure state is very soft. One troy ounce of gold (the size of a sugar cube and equal to about 31 grams) can be hammered into a sheet (called gold leaf) covering 108 square feet or pulled into a thread fifty miles long. Gold jewellery, isn’t pure gold. The purity or fineness of gold in the jewelry is designated by its karat number. 24-karat (24K or 24 Kt) gold is as pure as gold for jewelry gets. 24K gold is also called fine gold and it is greater than 99.7% pure gold. Proof gold is even finer, having a rating of over 99.95% purity, but it is only used for standardization purposes and is not available for jewelry.
Gold-filled (GF): A gold alloy plate made by soldering, brazing, welding or other means. The plate must be a minimum of 10Kt fineness and the plating must be at least 1/20th of the weight of total metal in the article. The term must be preceded by the karat fineness of the plating eg. 14Kt Gold-Filled. When using the term gold overlay, manufacturers are permitted to use a layer of gold that is less than 1/20th the weight of the entire piece, but they must stamp the proportion of the gold layer on the jewelry.
Harden: The process of manipulating malleable wire so that it will retain its shape and design and will also be strong enough to bear the weight of other components in an item. The three most frequent methods of hardening jewellery wire are drawing, manipulating and striking. Simply working soft wire back and forth with the hands will create some hardness, as will working with nylon jaw pliers. The term “Drawing” refers to pulling wire through a smaller hole in a wood plate to reduce its diameter. To harden and flatten a shaped item, it is put between two pieces of leather which are then placed between two jeweller’s blocks. The blocks are then struck by a hammer. A leather mallet can also be used to strike the item, which should be laid on a protected surface that will not mar the metal.
Hardness: A measurement of the malleability or temper of a substance. When purchasing raw materials for wire-work, you will find that wire comes in several different levels of hardness, only a few of which are commonly used by jewellers.
In jewelry wire, hardness or malleability is graded “soft” or “dead soft”, “quarter hard”, “half-hard”, “full hard” and “spring hard”. You may also encounter wire or sheet metal hardness that is designated numerically, rather than by name. The numbering system goes from zero to 10 or more, and is based on the number of times wire has been drawn though progressively smaller holes in a drawplate. Each jump in the number designates a doubling of the preceding number. Soft or dead soft has the number zero, since it isn’t drawn through a plate. Quarter hard is drawn through once, half-hard has been drawn twice and hard has been drawn through four times. Spring wire has been drawn through successively smaller holes eight times The best hardness to use for an application will depend on the intended use of the wire, as detailed below:
Dead Soft Wire is extremely malleable and can be bent easily into a myriad of shapes by using the hands. It does not hold its shape in stress situations, such as clasps, until it is hardened. You would use dead soft if the application has several loops and swirls, which are more perfectly done with bare hands.
Half-Hard Wire is malleable, but most people will need to use tools or jigs to bend it into shape. Half hard will; however, maintain a fairly intricate shape under moderate stress, after it has been work hardened. It is very useful for light weight-bearing parts of wire-wrapped jewelry.
Hard or Full Hard Wire holds its shape for wire-wrapping jewelry and for making clasps and other findings that will likely be stressed. Tools are recommended when bending or manipulating hard wire.
The gauge, or thickness, of wire will affect its hardness. For example, a piece of 12 gauge wire is relatively thick. Even at dead soft hardness it will not bend as easily as 18 gauge wire of the same hardness.
To test for sheet metal hardness, the Vickers Hardness test (designated HV) is very precise and calculates hardness from the size of the indentation a diamond-shaped pyramid produces under measured pressure. The Knoop Hardness test (HK) is based on the same principle as the Vickers test, but it is used on brittle materials such as glass and ceramics and uses lower pressures. The Mohs Scale of Hardness is a rating system for minerals based on their resistance to scratching by other minerals. On a scale of one to ten, Mohs uses ten minerals to determine the degree of hardness, ranking the softest (Talc) as #1 and the hardest (diamond) #10.
Intaglio: A decoration made by carving or engraving a design into a gem or other hard material. Intaglio is the opposite of cameo.
Iron: This metal is very seldom used in jewellery because of its lack of lustre and because it is so brittle.
Karat: The fineness of gold, equal to one part of 24 in gold alloys. (See Gold)
Karatclad: A trademark for a very thick gold electroplating process which is approximately 14 times thicker than standard electroplating.
Malleable: This term indicates that a metal or alloy is easily worked by hand or other tools.
Millefiori: Created by fusion of several glass rods arranged so that the cross-section creates a flower or pattern with a mosaic-like appearance.
Memory Wire: A hardened steel wire that will retain its original shape even after repeated use. Available in a standard and “Cadmium” (silver-colored and rust proof) finish and in diameters suitable for rings, bracelets and chokers.
Milling: The process of cutting metal with symmetrical shapes and patterns while it is spinning, usually on a lathe,
Mokume-Gane: A Japanese metalsmithing technique that results in a wood-like finish by alternating layers of thin, colored metals and laminated together. Designs or patterns are then punched, filed away or hammered into the laminate, producing unique and delicate patterns.
Nickel Silver: This alloy was first used in the mid- 1800s by the Germans as a silver substitute. However, apart from its colour, it is not silver at all. Indeed, it is mostly copper (about 60%), with equal parts of nickel and zinc added. If a small percentage of tin is added the alloy is then called Alpaca.
Niobium: A lightweight, tough, hypo-allergenic refractory metal, usually anodized to produce vivid colors for costume jewelry. Marks easily and cannot be soldered. After manufacturing into the desired shape, such as ear wires, headpins, eyepins or jumprings, the naturally grey base metal Niobium is anodized to create six signature colors. Most people who are metal-sensitive can comfortably wear Niobium.
Palladium: Palladium (puh-ley-dee-um) is a dense and lustrous, precious white/silver metal. Discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston, it is named palladium after the renowned asteroid Pallas, which is named after Athena, the ancient Greek Goddess of Wisdom. A cousin of the platinum metal group, this rare metal is popular for fine metal jewelry, findings and beads.
Rhodium: One white metal of the platinum family of precious metals. Rhodium is quite expensive, and is often used to plate both precious and base metals giving them a hard, platinum-like sheen.
Rose Gold: Rose Gold is a gold and copper alloy which is used for special affects in making jewelry due to its reddish color. Rose gold is also known as Pink Gold and Red Gold.
Rouge: An abrasive compound used with a buffing wheel to polish metals. Rouge is graded from very coarse to very fine by the size of the abrasive, from very course to very fine and each of the grades has different uses. Brown Rouge, also called Red Rouge, is used for cutting down a rough surface, or removing heavy oxidation. It is also considered a semi-aggressive primary compound because it contains large grains of abrasiveBrown Rouge is used for the first step in the polishing process for unfinished metal. Some metalsmiths only use Brown/Red rouge. Green Rouge is much finer and is sometimes used for a second polishing. White Rouge contains the very finest abrasive and is used for the final polishing to produce a very high shine.
Rolled Gold: A very thin sheet of gold is laminated to a lesser metal, such as brass, then heated under pressure to fuse them together. The fused metal is then rolled into a much thinner sheet and used to make jewelry or other objects, and is marked RGP for Rolled Gold Plate. The term ‘rolled gold’ is most often used in European countries and Australia. Rolled gold jewelry wears extremely well.
Rolling: In metallurgy, this is the most-used method of taking metal from a cast ingot to a sheet or bar – sheet metal being the most common product. Rolling can be done by using either a cold or hot method, however, the metal produced by the cold-rolled process will be stronger and have a much smoother surface. .
Russian Gold Finish: A finishing technique that produces matte, antique-look jewellery.
Ruthenium: Another precious metal from the platinum group. Usually abbreviated Ru or Ruth it is often added, in small amounts, to platinum alloys to strengthen and harden them.
Satin Finish: This method of finishing metal produces a semi-gloss finish that is between a matte finish and a shiney one. The effect is achieved by making minute, extremely shallow parallel lines on the surface of the metal, which reduces its reflectivity.
Setting: The base or section of a piece of jewellery that holds the stone or gem. If a setting has metal behind the stone, it is referred to as a closed setting. Where there is no metal behind the stone, the setting is considered “open.” There are many different styles and types of settings available to the jeweller.
Silver: A fine, naturally-occurring precious metal with an almost-white sheen. Pure silver is too soft to work with so it is usually alloyed with other metals, such as copper in the ratio fo 925 silver to every 1000 parts – hence 925 Sterling Silver, which is the highest quality to work with. Silver tarnishes after exposure to air, which forms a thin layer of silver-oxide on the surface. Silver often occurs near copper lodes.
Silver 800: Silver alloy which contains 800 parts per 1000 (80%) silver and 200 parts per thousand (20%) copper, and is used primarily for casting.
Sterling Silver: Silver with a fineness of 925 parts per 1000 (92.5%) silver and 75 parts per thousand (7.5%) copper, which increases the silver’s hardness. Sterling Silver is quite malleable and ductile.
Solder: A metal alloy used to join other metals. Heat is applied to melt the solder but not the metals being soldered. Available in gold and silver as well as base metal, solder also comes in different grades. Not all solder melts at the same temperature, so it is crucial that solder be of a grade that melts at lower temperature than the metals to be joined.
Steel: An alloy of iron and carbon where the content of the carbon ranges up to 2%. When the alloy contains more than 2% carbon, it is defined as cast iron. Steel is very seldom used for le.
Surgical or Surgical Stainless Steel: Any one of a family of low carbon alloy steels usually containing 10-30% chromium. The chromium provides exceptional resistance to corrosion and heat. Other elements may be added to increase corrosion resistance to specific environments, enhance oxidation resistance and impart special characteristics. Because it is hypo-allergenic, it is often used in findings for body piercings, such as ear wires or posts and navel jewellery.
Temper: The temper of wire is often referred to in terms of hardness or softness. The temper or hardness of the wire indicates the malleability of the wire to hold its shape and to bend fluidly. It can range from dead soft , which bends with no resistance, to extra spring hard.
Torsade: A necklace made from several strands twisted together.
Troy Weight: The system of units of mass customarily used for weighing precious metals and gemstones. Its name comes from the city of Troyes, France, which was an extremely important trading city in the Middle Ages. The system is based on the Troy pound of 5760 grains. The pound was divided into 12 ounces (480 grains) each containing 20 pennyweight (24 grains).
Vermeil: Gold-plated silver; or occasionally, gold-plated bronze. Vermeil has a very rich gold color, usually darker than high-karat gold.
Weld: A process using very high heat that joins two pieces of metal together. Rolled gold is formed in this way.
White Gold: Gold that has been alloyed with a mixture of copper, manganese, nickel, tin, zinc, and sometimes palladium. This give it the look of platinum. White gold was originally developed during WWII to imitate platinum, which was, at the time, considered a strategic material for military applications.
Yellow Gold: An alloy of gold with a mixture containing 50/50 copper and silver