Glossary




Aigrette

A head ornament characterised by a vertical centrepiece typically in the form of a feather or floral spray.

Albert chain

A double or single watch chain, in varying lengths and links featuring a T-bar which is used to attach to a buttonhole. This style of chain was popularised by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria and was therefore named after him. These chains are now regularly worn as necklaces.

Antique

An item, article or object which was created over one hundred years ago.

Art Deco

The name given to a artistic movement that was derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes which took place in Paris, France. This incredible exhibition showcased the new modern style that had already started to win favour in stylish European cities.

Coined the 'Art Deco' or 'Deco' period shortened from the French Arts Décoratifs, the era spanned the 1920s and 1930s. The style included geometric patterns, symmetrical motifs and parallel lines. These decorative symbols would go on to influence a wide variety of visual arts including architecture, paintings, sculpture, fashion and of course jewellery.

Jewellery items made during the Art Deco period stand out due to the quality of craftsmanship, the unique design, the pairing of unusal gemstones and the use of platinum. 

Art Nouveau

Inspired by free-floating forms in the natural world.

Baguette cut

A long narrow rectangular shaped gemstone cut with straight parallel facets in a step pattern. The word baguette comes from the French translating to 'rod'. The often slender and tapering shapes of these reflective cuts lend themselves well as highlights or secondary gemstones to a centrepiece. 

Due to their angular shape the baguette cut is most often seen in Art Deco jewellery.

Bangle

An ornament worn around the wrist, with little or no flexibility. Some are hinged to allow the wearer easy removal, others known as slave bangles are a continuous rigid band which must be forced on and off manually.

Bas-relief

The relief or projection of the design from the surface is low or shallow.

Base metal

Any non-precious metal that is used in jewellery is often referred to as base metal.

Bodkin

A long hairpin, usually gold or silver set with an array of gems, these ornamental pins were fashionable in the Renaissance for fastening hair.

Buff-top

A gemstone which is cut with a rounded non-faceted top and a fully faceted pavilion.

Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire, also known in history as Byzantium or even the East Roman Empire was founded by Constantine I circa 330AD. The name Byzantine is said to have derived from the original name of the capital city Byzantium which was renamed Constantinople. Over the centuries this empire included a vast land mass which at times included modern day Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Turkey and Northern Africa. Although influenced by the traditions of the territories encompassed within the kingdom, the conversion of Emperor Constantine I to Christianity made any other form of worship void. 

Spanning from 330AD to 1453AD, at the height of its power Byzantium is said to have housed the richest, most lavish and most important christian city in the world, its capital Constantinople. 

Jewellery from this era is often found in high carat yellow gold and silver, granulation and wirework in relief are used as decoration, whilst christian motifs such as crosses, saints and other heavenly symbols are staples in the jewels found from this era.

 

Carbuncle

Almandine garnet cut as a hollowed out cabochon.

Chaumet

Parisian jewellery firm founded by Etienne Nitot in the 1780s. The first recorded location for this firm was a small jewellery store in the Rue St Honoré. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the firm was gaining Napoleon I as a client, which supposedly happened after Nitot rescued the Emperor from an accident involving his carriage. In 1802 Chaumet became the French Emperor's official jeweller and went on to create bespoke pieces for both of the Emperor's weddings, the Coronation Crown and even the hilt of his sword.

The business continued to be run by Nitot family until the fall of the Empire in 1815 when it was purchased by Jean Baptiste Fossin. The Fossin family continued in the tradition of creating fine jewels for the elite in society. Amongst their important clientele included Louis-Phillippe, King of France and Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. With such a prestigious list of clients, Chaumet was expanded abroad and the Fossin's opened a boutique in London entrusted to Jean-Valentin Morel and his son Prosper Morel.

Soon their wares were celebrated by Queen Victoria and they recieved the much coveted Royal Warrant. The control of the firm continued in the hands of the Morel family. In 1889 Chaumet fell into the hands of Prosper's son-in-law Joseph Chaumet and stayed in the Chaumet family until it was sold in 1987 by Investcorp and eventually LVMH in 1999.

Through the Art Deco period Chaumet were recognised as trendsetters of the new style, showcasing at the famed 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Their use of quality gemstones and unusual designs make them a formidable and historic jewellery house.

Chenier

A tube of metal fashioned and cut to use as a decorative finish, usually seen set in the cross section of open shoulders of rings and galleries.

Diamond

Created in the mantle of the earth, diamonds are gemstones created from crystalised carbon that has formed under intense pressure and heat. Due to their compouned cubic crystal structure these gemstones are incredibly hard and durable. Used anciently as tools for engraving, the word diamond comes from the Greek 'adamas' which translated means 'unconquerable'.

Guilloché enamel

A style of translucent enamel with a mechanically engraved background (often engine turned).

Plique-à-jour enamel

Vermeil

Thick gold plated sterling silver.

Vintage

An item, article or object that is over twenty years old, but under one hundred years old.