Palette: A palette is a board which artists apply paint to when they are preparing to make a painting. In regards to any medium outside of painting, the palette simply refers to the group of colors chosen by a particular factory or decorator.
Palladium: A charcoal gray form of platinum found in Russia, South Africa and North America. Palladium has many of the same properties as platinum such as its resistance to corrosion and versatile applications in jewelry designs. Pieces made with Palladium bear the hallmarks of Pd950 or Pd500.
Panther link: A flat chain in which each link resembles three bricks stacked on top of each other with the center brick offset one half-step to the side. The offset brick is then connected to the space left by the offset brick of the next link in the chain by means of a pin. These bricks are commonly rectangular, but may also be shaped like the diamond in a deck of cards.
Parure: Term for a set of jewelry popular through the 19th century which consisted of several pieces of matching jewelry. In times, a complete parure consisted of two matching bracelets, necklace, earrings and a brooch. See also demi-parure.
Patina: The change in an object's surface resulting from natural aging due to wear and oxidation. Antique jewelry is expected to have this patina and the value of the piece may decrease if it is cleaned off.
Pave': (pah-VAY) A kind of setting in which small gemstones are set very close together resembling the paving done with bricks.
Pearl: An organic gem grown within oysters and other mollusks when they produce nacre as a reaction to an irritant. A good sized pearl can take between five to eight years to form, which is usually the entire life of the oyster or mollusk. Pearls are most valuable when they are perfectly round. Fine natural pearls are much more expensive and rare to find than cultured pearls. Never dip jewelry with pearls into a jewelry cleaning solution unless it specifically says that it is safe for pearls. If the solution is not intended for pearls, it will dull the luster on the pearl and cause them to look cloudy. Pearl is the birthstone for June. See also awabi pearl, cultured pearl, oriental pearl, freshwater pearl, blister pearl, mabe', nacre, and baroque.
Penannular brooch: "Penannular" means "almost circular". A penannular brooch is a circle of metal with a small gap in it. A pin attached to a tube can slide along the circle of metal. The pin is threaded through material and the gap in the circle. The circle is then twisted so that the pin rests on the circle, thus securing the material. It is most commonly used as a cloak clasp.
Pennyweight: see dwt.
Peridot: Another name for chrysolite and olivine. Peridot is the birthstone for August.
Perfumed Beads: Beads that release a scent when warmed by the body.
Periclase: See Magnesia.
Phenacite: A glassy, colorless mineral occuring in rhombohedral crystals composed of beryllium silicate. From the Greek for imposter, deceiver, phenacite is a silicate of glucina, and receives its name from its deceptive similarity to quartz. It is sometimes used as a gemstone.
Phosphorus: A highly reactive, poisonous, nonmetallic element occurring naturally in phosphates, especially apatite, which is found as a white, or yellowish, translucent waxy substance, having a characteristic disagreeable smell and a faint glow.
Pierced earrings: Earrings that are attached to an ear by means of a wire or post that is inserted through a hole pierced in the ear.
Pierced-Work: See Open Work.
Pietra Dura: An inlaying technique usually associated with workshops in Florence, Italy, used to describe sculptural or decorative use of hard stones to decorate furniture, cameos, vases, and panels with various stones such as malachite, lapis lazuli, and jasper.
Piqué: (pee-kay). A decorative style popular in the 18th and 19th centuries of inlaying tortoise shell with a pattern of gold and silver. Tortoise shell melts like plastic when exposed to heat. Piqué is produced by pressing a heated rod of precious metal into the shell, melting it slightly. When the shell cools it hardens around the precious metal.
Plagioclase: Another name for Oligoclase.
Platinum: One of the three "precious metals" along with gold and silver, platinum is the rarest of them all. It is harder than the other precious metals and has a higher melting point, making it difficult to alloy and work with. Platinum is silvery-white in color, almost never causes allergic reactions and is resistant to tarnish. The standard of platinum in the US and most western countries is 95% pure and is usually marked PLAT. That name comes from "platina", a Spanish word meaning "little silver", which is what the Spaniards called it when they first encountered it in South America in the 18th century. See also Iridium, Palladium, and Rhodium.
Poison Ring: A small hinged box secured to a ring which is made to resemble a normal setting, but can be opened to reveal a small space which could conceivably be used to hold poison. See also Prayer ring.
Posy: An alternate spelling of poesy
Potash: Any compound containing potassium.
Potassium: A common soft, silver-white, alkali metal element that is only found in nature as a compound with other elements. It is obtained by electrolysis of its common hydroxide, oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts violently with water, and is used in glass making, soap making, in fertilizers, and in many drugs and chemicals.
Prayer Ring: A small hinged box secured to a ring which is made to resemble a normal setting, but can be opened to reveal a small space which could be used to hold a small piece of paper with a prayer written on it. See also Poison ring.
Precious stone: See Precious Gemstone.
Prong setting: A gemstone held in place by small finger-like wires attached to the bezel and bend over the edges of the stone.
Pyralin: See French Ivory.
Pyrite: A common mineral composed of iron disulphide with a pale brass-yellow color used as an iron ore and in the production of sulfur dioxide for sulfuric acid. Also called Fool's gold and Iron pyrite.
Pyrolusite: The most common ore of manganese composed of manganese dioxide. It is a soft, iron-black to dark-steel-gray colored mineral and is used extensively in creating brown and green tints of glass.
Pyrope Garnet: A poppy or blood-red colored garnet composed of alumina magnesia. It is used as a gem. Sometimes called an "American Ruby", "Australian Ruby", "Arizona Ruby", or "Bohemian garnet". See also Rhodolite.
Pyroxene: Any of a group of crystalline minerals common in igneous rocks containing two metallic oxides . Pyroxene is a silicate of lime and magnesia with sometimes alumina and iron. Though it was named after the Greek words for "fire" and "stranger" because it was supposed to be a rare occurence in igneous rocks, it is actually quite common. It varies in color from white to dark green and black.