For the benefit of the reader who is unaccustomed to the special vocabulary
which has developed to fit the needs of jewelry and its many counterparts, a few
of the more useful terms have been selected and defined. Some of these
expressions are used throughout the work and are expounded upon here to provide
the reader with a more complete knowledge.
Acus - a roman hairpin, or the pin of ancient brooches or buckles.
Aiglets, aglets or aigulets - tags or sheaths for the ends of ribbon, used in
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Amulets - objects attributed with magical powers; used to ward off evil
spirits or attract beneficial ones.
Aventurine glass - glass with glittering flashes, basically a brownish color.
This was a trade secret of the Venetians.
Bristows or bristol diamonds - a type of crystal.
Bracteates - thin gold copies of coins or jewels, buried with the dead by the
Greeks and antiquities.
Cire perdu - a lost wax process introduced in Egypt during the twelfth
dynasty. Used in renaissance period for enameled jewels.
Damascening - work of inlaid gold or silver using an inferior metal, usually
Enamels - glass that has been pulverized, mixed with gum until it formas a
paste which may be applied with a brush and then hardened by firing. The varying
champleve - metal is scooped out, leaving a design of cells. The enamel is
then poured into these areas.
cloisonne - thin strips of metal are formed to make a design and enamel is
used to fill the cells, or cloisons.
basse taille - design is carved at the bottom of a sunken space and shows
through the transparent coat of enamel.
filigree enamel - the containing wires are twisted and the surface is not
painted enamels - paintings on enamel ground with china colors.
plique a jour - cloisonné without a metal base.
Enseigne - a jewel worn on the hat, popular during the renaissance. Had a
symbolic or emblematic meaning. They were sewn into place, so they are not
Fillet - an ornamental band worn on the head.
Fibula - an archaeological term for a
brooch of antiquity.
Ferroniere - a small jewel hanging by a narrow ribbon in the middle of the
forehead. Worn in the renaissance and part of a nineteenth century revival.
Girdle hangers - Anglo-Saxon fasteners of a bag or purse.
Morse - a brooch or clasp to hold a cape in place.
Mosaic gold - an alloy similar to brass and pinchbeck. Used for mounting in
the early nineteenth century.
Nef jewel - an ornament in the form of a ship. A favorite during the
renaissance. The best known commemorate the armada.
Niello - a metallic composition of silver, lead and sulfur. This has been known
since the earliest times. It resembles black enamel, but with a metallic
Ouch, owche, nouche or nowche - a late medieval term for a brooch that
fastens a garment in front.
Pomander - a case hung from the girdle in which perfume was placed. It had
several parts hinged together, each containing a different scent.
Repousse work - a method of ornamenting sheet metal by using punches and
other various tools to make holes and designs in the metal.
Sevigne - a brooch popular in the seventeenth century, consisting of an
open-work bow, set with small diamonds and enamels.
Shot work - a large grain of metal placed in the middle of a silver coil. It
is characteristic of many countries, including India and Scandinavia.
Torc or torque - a neck let found in several forms throughout the Celtic race.
Bronze was most usually used, but gold can be fund.
Verre eglmise - used by early Christians and continued through the Byzantine era and the middle ages. This method used glass decorated by a design on the
back in gold and colors.