Glossary of Terms

This is a glossary of jewelry and royalty terms that are useful when appreciating fine jewels and royals!



ABSOLUTE MONARCHY: a monarchical form of government in which the monarch has absolute power among his or her people. An absolute monarch wields unrestricted political power over the sovereign state and its people.

AIGRETTE: a jewelled hair ornament in the shape of a curved feather. From the french word for a tuft of feathers.

ART DECO: an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France after World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

ART NOUVEAU: (modern style),  is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that was most popular during 1890–1910. It has been described as, "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip."

ASSAY: the testing of a metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality.

BAGUETTE: long narrow rectangular cut of stone with flat top; used interchangeably with "baton" and "stick."

BANGLE: an inflexible round bracelet.

BAR BROOCH: a long narrow brooch usually worn horizontally.

BAROQUE: often thought of as a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. The style began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe.

BAROQUE PEARL: a large pearl of irregular shape.

BELLE ÉPOQUE (Beautiful Era, 1871-1914), a period characterized by optimism, peace at home and in Europe, new technology and scientific discoveries; essentially the "golden age" before global war hit the world.

BEZEL: a setting for a stone, which is a general term for a setting holding the stone in place using a raised surrounding for the stone with a lip encircling and overlapping the edges of the stone, thus holding it in place.

BORDURE: a wide jewelled border used to outline a bodice.

BRILLIANT (MODERN): diamonds (usually circular) with 58 facets, cut in a pattern perfected around 1920.

BRILLIANT (OLD CUT): diamonds with a flat top or table, in a variety of shapes, sometimes almost square, and without the mathematically precise faceting of the modern brilliant-cut diamond (the standard cut for most nineteenth- and early twentieth-century jewellery).

BRIOLETTE: an oval or drop-shaped stone, faceted all over and often pierced at the top.

CABOCHON: polished but unfaceted stone, normally rounded.

CARAT: weight measurement for precious stones. "Old" carat (fractions from a quarter to a 64th) used until 1914 in the UK, when superseded by metric carats.

CHANDELIER: a style of earrings with swinging pendants.

CHOKER: a necklace, often with a number of strands, worn high round the throat, also known as a dog collar or collier.

CIRCA: (from Latin, meaning "around, about"), means "approximately"

CLIP: a brooch attached by a hinged clasp instead of a pin.

CLOISONNÉ: colored enamel used to cover the surface of a jewel.

CLUSTER: a group of stones with one central gem.

COLLET: a plain band (normally of silver, gold or platinum) framing an individual stone; often open-backed, to allow maximum translucency.

COLLIER RÉSILLE: necklace of delicate net-like construction.

CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY: a form of monarchy where the governing powers of the monarch are restricted by the terms of a constitution.

CORSAGE BROOCH: a large ornamental brooch pinned centrally on the bodice.

CUFF: usually, a rigid bracelet with a gap in the material, where the opening lets the wearer easily slip the bracelet over the wrist.

CROSS-PATÉE: the name for the specific shape of the crosses traditionally used on royal crowns.

DEMI-PARURE: Three matching pieces of jewellery, usually a brooch, earrings and a necklace.

DIADEM: originally the helmet band worn by a military commander, it later referred to a plain gold band denoting high office. In jewellery terms it is usually used to describe an especially high or impressively jewelled tiara.

DRESS SET: a set of jewelry for men, usually consisting of cufflinks, studs, and sometimes buttons or button covers.

DROP OR PENDANT: a style of earrings with one single hanging stone.

EMERALD CUT: rectangular stone with chamfered corners (that is, octagonal in outline), faceted sloping sides and flat top or table.

ETERNITY RING: a ring set all round with a continuous row of small stones.

FACET: the surface of a stone cut to reflect and refract light to the maximum degree.

FESTOON: a curved loop between two points.

FILIGREE: very fine lace-like ornamental wire work.

FLORET: a small, flower shape with individual stones representing the petals. From the French word for a little flower.

FOLIATE: decorated with leaves or leaf-like motifs.

FRINGE: a necklace or tiara consisting of graduated hanging or upright spikes. From the Latin word for border.

GIRANDOLE: a style of earrings with three pendant stones hanging from one large central stones. It can also refer to a brooch that has a central stones with others hanging from it.

GUILLOCHÉ: a decorative engraving technique in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern or design is mechanically engraved into an underlying material. Enamel can be applied over the top of the metal, creating a guilloché moiré effect.

GRAND DUCHY: a territory whose head of state is a monarch, either a grand duke or grand duchess.

HEIR APPARENT: a person, male or female, who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person.

HEIR PRESUMPTIVE: someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir.

HM: His or Her Majesty, a title used exclusively by sovereigns and sometimes also by their consorts.

HRH: His or Her Royal Highness, used by royalty when they reach the age of 18.

HSH: His or Her Serene Highness, used by princes or princesses who are members of ruling Princely families (such as the princely families of Monaco or Lichtenstein).

JABOT PIN: In the late 19th century a jabot would be a cambric or lace bib, for decorating women's clothing. It would be held in place at the neck with a sewn-on neckband or a brooch, hence the term "jabot pin."

LARIAT: A type of necklace involving a single chain or strand of material twisted together on the wearer's front as opposed to clipped together on the wearer's back.

LOVER'S KNOT: a popular motif in jewellery, Lover's Knot is a name which has been used for many distinct knots. The association of knots with the symbolism of love, friendship, and affection dates back to antiquity.

MABÉ PEARL: a cultured pearl that is essentially hemispherical in form.

MARQUISE: narrow, faceted oval with pointed ends; used interchangeably with navette.

MILLEGRAIN: granular or beaded setting formed by pressure from a beaded wheel.

MOIRÉ: presenting a watery or wavelike appearance.

MONTURE : a frame or setting especially for a jewel.

MORGANATIC MARRIAGE:In the context of royalty, a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.

NAVETTE: see Marquise.

NEGLIGÉ PENDANT: two drops of uneven length on a necklace or brooch.

ORIENTAL PEARL: a natural pearl of teardrop shape, although the term "pear pearl" is most often used today.

PAMPILLES: articulated gem-set chain pendants.

PARURE: a matching set of jewellery, consisting of a tiara, necklace, brooch, bracelet and earrings.

PASTE: heavy, very transparent flint glass that simulates the fire and brilliance of gemstones because it has relatively high indices of refraction and strong dispersion (separation of white light into its component colours).

PAVÉ: setting giving the appearance of a solid "pavement" of stones.

PEAR-SHAPED: a stone cut in the shape of a teardrop.

PEARL BOUTON: large round pearl, set button-like in a jewelled surround.

PENDANT: any hanging object, but usually refers to a jewel or other small ornament hanging from a chain worn around the neck.

PLIQUE-À-JOUR: (French for "letting in daylight") is a vitreous enamelling technique where the enamel is applied in cells, similar to cloisonné, but with no backing in the final product, so light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel.

PRINCESS CUTThe face-up shape of the princess cut is square or rectangular and the profile or side-on shape is similar to that of an inverted pyramid with four beveled sides. The princess cut is a relatively new diamond cut, having been created in the 1960s.

PRINCIPALITY:  a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the term prince.

RIVIÈRE: literally river; a row of stones (normally equal-sized collets) forming a single-strand necklace.

ROSE CUT: a diamond with 24 facets and a flat base rising to a point; a style of cutting generally reserved for smaller stones.

RUBELLITE: A red or pinkish-red variety of tourmaline.

SAUTOIR: a long neck-chain, usually of pearls or diamonds, especially in fashion in the 1920's and 1930's.

SHAHBANOU: "Lady of the Shah" in Persian. This is often misunderstood to mean '"Empress" in translation into English, but the true Persian meaning does not have the 'ruling' implication that the English word has. It was a title that was only conferred on the third royal consort of Mohammad Reza Shah, Farah Pahlavi, in 1967.

SOLITAIRE: single stone, usually set in a ring.

SOVEREIGN: the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.

SPINEL: a gemstone that can appear in a variety of colors.

STAR SAPPHIRE: a sapphire of such formation that when cut as a cabochon it displays a six-rayed star.

STOMACHER: an elaborate ornament covering the bodice of a dress from breast to waist.

STUD: a style of earrings set with a single stones and without either a pendant drop or the addition of other stones.

SUITE: a matching set of jewellery. See Parure.

TIARA: a formal headdress made of precious metal and set with stones, kept in place by its wire mount.

TRH: Their Royal Highnesses. 

*Definitions from: The Queen's Jewels, by Leslie Field; The Queen's Diamonds, by Hugh Roberts;,, and