Our jewellery glossary below is filled with handy definitions of key terms you might come across in a valuation report.

Information kindly provided in association with Doerr Dallas Valuations.

A mixture of metals or a metal and another element.

A process used to determine the purity of precious metals and to test that precious metals have been created to the specific purity they are stated to have.

A faceted gemstone with a rectangular cut which is more complex than an emerald cut.

A cultured or natural pearl with an irregular shape. Can be smooth egg or teardrop shapes or be more lumpy and have complex shapes.

A gemstone setting usually used for cabochon gemstones. A rim of metal is pushed and/or rubbed over the edge of the gemstone to hold it in place.

A specific gemstone(s) linked to a month of birth. Thought to have been worn since circa.16th or 17th century. Different countries associate different stones with months.

 A clasp which has a circular shape. It has a tiny spring inside which is connected to a bolt which you can operate with a fingernail or fingertip to open before it springs closed.

A type of cut used for diamonds. Usually round in shape and have 58 facets.

A pear-shaped gemstone usually faceted for extra sparkle. Beads can have holes drilled through to be attached to jewellery.

A gemstone cut that has a flat back and rounded top. Most often have a smooth, highly polished surface but can also be faceted on top in what is known as a rose cut design.

A measure of purity. Spelt 'karat' in the USA and some other countries. The higher the number, the purer the gold, maximum 24 (pure gold). Gold alloyed with other metals (lower carats) are more suitable for jewellery. Jewellers use 'ct', 'kt' or 'K’.

Refers to the mass (or weight) of the stones: the higher the number, the greater the weight. In this case, the spelling is the same worldwide.

Number of flaws in a gemstone. The greater the clarity, generally the higher the value. However, lab-grown gems often have perfect clarity but are still relatively inexpensive.

A type of design where smaller gemstones are set around a larger stone as a focal point.

Usually has a relatively large focal point that sits on top of, or at the centre of the band to make a statement.

Generally, jewellery not made with precious metals or gemstones. Traditionally created with cheaper materials e.g. rhinestones, nickel, brass or pewter. Modern items feature a wider array of materials such as simulated gemstones, glass, plastic and shell.

Pearls created under controlled conditions with the help of farmers - using either freshwater river molluscs or traditional saltwater pearl oysters.

Relatively minimalist cut is square or rectangular and generally used for large and transparent gemstones.

Jewellery with a coloured, relatively thick decorative coating. Made from glass powder fused to metal using high temperatures, usually in a kiln.

The highly skilled process of cutting an often highly detailed design or text into the surface of metal using specialised tools known as gravers.

The process of making designs on metal by using an acid to corrode away the part of the design you want removed. Less crisp finish than engraving but has a beauty of its own.

The flat surfaces created on a cut stone or glass. They can also form in nature.

Has cut surfaces to help it catch the light and sparkle - the most common is a diamond shape. The top has multiple facets and the back ends at a point in the centre. Is usually set in a claw or prong setting.

A highly ornamental type of jewellery making where precious metal wire is twisted to form delicate tracework patterns.

Technically, pure silver has a silver content of at least 99.9%. Although it tarnishes less than sterling silver, it has limited use in jewellery-making due to being very soft and pliable. Most jewellery is made in the alloy sterling silver.

Cultivated in molluscs which live in freshwater rather than oysters which live in saltwater. Can be created in all sorts of shapes and are less expensive than saltwater pearls.

An ornamental design which is intricately cut into metal (or traditionally wood) with a fretsaw or jeweller's piercing saw so that parts of the design are removed.

A mineral crystal which is cut and polished in order to be used in jewellery or other decorative items. Precious gemstones are diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

A decorative technique for applying fine gold leaf, foil or powder to a surface. Gilded finishes should be treated with care as they are delicate.

Mark or stamp indicating purity and sometimes provenance, used with gold and silver items, including jewellery. In Europe, there are strong laws around the use of hallmarks.

Visible flaws which can be seen inside a gemstone, e.g. foreign objects and fractures. Generally, the more inclusions, the lower the value, but they can also make the gemstone unique. Some like moss agate, are valued because of their inclusions.

Made in laboratories rather than being found in nature and mined. Often quicker, less expensive and less damaging.

A gemstone cut that has an oval shape with two pointed ends on its longest axis.

A scale of 1 to 10 used to measure the hardness of gemstones. Diamonds have a hardness of 10, making them one of the hardest materials.

An iridescent coating formed on the inside of oyster shells. It is used to create beads and pendants. Also known as nacre.

A chemical applied to silver or sterling silver to blacken it as a decorative effect. A form of patination. Often the recessed pattern is blackened and the raised areas are shiny silver.

A gemstone which is cut into a teardrop shape.

A metal is deposited on a conductive surface, e.g. gold plating to brass, or silver plating to nickel. Flash plating is very thin so less hardwearing than thick vermeil plating. All plating will wear through eventually, so care should be taken with such designs.

A naturally occurring heavy and white metal and generally non-corroding. It is difficult to work and is more expensive than gold, making its use in jewellery relatively rare.

A faceted gemstone that has a square cut. It may also be known as a quadrillion or squarillion.

A variation of a cabochon gemstone cut which has a flat bottom and a dome-shaped top. The top of a rose-cut gem has several facets cut into it (anywhere from 3 to 24).

An alloy of gold and copper, also known as pink gold and red gold. The higher the copper content, the stronger the red colouration.

Not one of the 4 'precious gemstones' (see above), including those that can be more valuable and those that are in the same families as the precious stones (for example, emerald is a type of beryl, as is aquamarine, but only emeralds are considered precious).

A soft, white, lustrous precious metal found in nature. It has the highest reflectivity of any metal and is frequently used to make high-value jewellery and other decorative items.

This is a ring that features a single diamond or other gemstone as the main feature. You may also see it used in relation to pendants with a single diamond.

A form of steel with a high percentage of chromium. Very hard and resistant to corrosion by some acids and atmospheric oxidation, unlike most other forms of steel.

‘925’ is the purity stamp indicating that a piece is 92.5% pure silver. An alloy of 92.5% pure silver with 7.5% copper. It will tarnish but is easy to remove.

A naturally occurring metal which is hard, very light weight and exhibits a wide array of beautiful colours when heated.

Gold alloyed with other metals (for example, manganese, nickel or palladium) to have a colour closer to silver than typical yellow gold.