Sard: A deep orange-red to brownish-red variety of chalcedony.
Sardonyx: A variety of onyx consisting of alternating layers of sard and white chalcedony.
Satin finish: A series of tiny parallel lines scratched onto a surface with a wire brush or polishing tool to produce texture
Saturation: A measure of the intensity of color inherent in a gemstone. Stones that are well saturated with color are more valuable.
Sautoir: (Soh-TWAH) A long rope style necklace popularized in the Edwardian era because Queen Alexandra often wore them. They were usually decorated with seed pearls and had a tassel as a pendant.
Scalenohedral: A fancy shape gemstone made up of 12 facets, each shaped like a scalene triangle. Crystal points with triangular facets are said to be scalenohedral.
Scalloped: An ornamental border consisting of a series of curved projections.
Scarab: An ancient Egyptian fertility symbol based on a common dung beetle found in Egypt. It was often carried as an amulet cast from gold or carved from semiprecious stones. The flat underside could have a design carved into it that could be used as a signet.
Scatter Pin: A small pin, usually featuring flowers, birds and insects, that is intended to be worn in a group with many other scatter pins.
Scepter: A symbol of spiritual and worldly power used as a part of royal insignia. A scepter is really nothing more than a simple staff, but the ones used in ceremony are usually highly decorated with precious metals and gemstones. The topping of a scepter varied in different countries and in different periods. In the Middle Ages two forms were distinguished: a long staff (baculum), otherwise called rod, and a short one (sceptrum), although their meaning was identical. The long staff, topped with a globe, is a typical attribute of God in Carolingian painting. A scepter could be crowned with three leaves or a lily, a globe, a bird, etc.
Schorl: Black Tourmaline.
Scintillation: See Sparkle.
Screw back: A type of earring attachment for non-pierced ears where the earring is tightened against the earlobe by means of a screw with a flat padded end.
Scrimshaw: A type of folk art dating from at least the 17th century in which whale teeth, whale bones and walrus tusks are engraved or lightly carved with a picture or design. It was a way for sailors on long whaling voyages to pass time but has become very collectible.
Seashell: Any of a number of shells of marine creatures such as mollusks or gastropods which can be used as jewelry. See cowrie shell, olivelia shell, abalone, ammolite, etc.
Sedimentary: Rock formed by layers of material that has accumulated and hardened over time.
Seed bead: (also seed-bead, seedbead). Mass produced tiny glass or plastic beads made by slicing tubes into tiny evenly spaced pieces. This makes them oblong in shape, rather than round, and flat on the ends. Seed beads can be strung together to make a necklace or bracelet, but are commonly used as spacers for larger beads. They can also be strung on a loom to make beaded bands and belts.
Seed Pearl: A very small pearl or imitation pearl popular during the Victorian period as accents set into gold jewelry or woven into long fringed necklaces called sautoirs.
Semi-Mount/Semi-Mounting: A finished piece of jewelry already embellished with gemstones and/or engraving that is simply waiting for the center stone. Pieces are sold this way to allow the buyer to add a center stone of their own choosing.
Semiprecious: Any gemstones valued for their beauty but which are not one of the four "precious stones", (emerald, diamond, ruby or sapphire). Some examples of semiprecious stones are amethyst, aventurine, carnelian, garnet, opal, peridot, rose quartz, etc.
Serpentine chain: A series of small, flat, s-shaped links set very closely together and held in place by a second set of small, flat, s-shaped links set very closely together underneath them.
Setting: The part of the jewelry into which stones are set. Also refers to the mechanism used to hold the stones in place, such as the bezel, pave', channel, and prong settings.
Shank: The part of a ring that encircles the finger, does not include the setting.
Shoulder: The part of a ring between the shank and the center of the setting.
Shekel: A Hebrew unit equal to about a half ounce. A common estimate makes the shekel equal in weight to about 130 grains for gold, 224 grains for silver, and 450 grains for copper. A shekel is also a gold or silver coin equal in weight to one of these units, especially the chief silver coin of the ancient Hebrews. The approximate values of the coins are (gold) $5.00, (silver) 60 cents, and (copper half shekel), one and one half cents.
Signet: A carved design, like an intaglio, which was usually worn on a ring. It was pressed into soft wax to authenticate a document. The design was usually a coat of arms, family crest, or some other type of insignia or monogram unique to the person using it.
Silicate: Any of a large group of minerals, forming over 90 percent of the earth's crust, that consist of silicon, oxygen, and one or more metals, (and sometimes hydrogen).
Silicon: A nonmetallic element which is only found as a compound with other elements in nature. When artificially extracted, silicon appears as a dark brown amorphous powder, or as a dark crystalline substance with a metallic luster. This substance is used in combination with other materials in glass, semiconducting devices, concrete, brick, refractories, pottery, and silicones. Its oxide is silica, or common quartz, and in this form, or as silicates, it is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, next to oxygen, making up 25.7% of it by weight.
Singapore chain: A style of chain wherein each link is composed of a series of flat, diamond-cut, interwoven concentric loops.
Single-cut Diamonds: Genuine diamonds, commonly used in watchcases, that contain only 18 facets.
Silver: One of the three "precious metals" along with gold and platinum which has been used to make jewelry for thousands of years. Silver has a lustrous white color but needs polishing occasionally because silver reacts with sulfur in the air to cause tarnishing. It is harder than gold and much more plentiful, but still too soft in its natural state to be of much use as jewelry without being alloyed with a harder metal. (see Sterling Silver). Silver has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of the metals and is widely used in coinage, photography, dental and soldering alloys, electrical contacts, and printed circuits.
Silver Jewelry: see Sterling Silver
Silver tone: Jewelry finished with a silver color with very little appreciable measurement of weight in silver.
Silvery finish: Jewelry that has the look of silver but no actual silver content.
Simulated stones: Any natural or synthetic substance which is meant to resemble a gemstone. cubic zirconia, for example, is a simulated diamond.
Simulated tortoise: A synthetic material resembling the mottled brown and yellow color found on tortoise shells.
Slate: A smooth, solid gray fine-grained rock that can be split into thin layers.
Sliced: A bracelet that is the same thickness all the way around and does not taper at the edges; as though it were simply sliced off the end of a cylinder.
Slide: An ornament with a tube on the back. A cord or necklace can then be threaded through the tube allowing the ornament to slide along the length of the cord or necklace. See Bolo.
Smoky quartz: A variety of quartz that ranges in color from cloudy brown to a dark root beer shade with a smoky appearance.
Smoky topaz: see Smoky Quartz.
Snap bar closure: The hinged bar on the back of a lever back or omega back earring.
Snake chain: Unlike most chains which are a series of linked rings, a snake chain is made up of round wavy metal rings joined side by side forming a flexible tube with a smooth scaly texture like snake skin.
Snow Quartz: see White Quartz.
Soda: Any of various forms of sodium carbonate used in making soap, powders, glass, and paper.
Sodalite: An opaque blue-white silicate of alumina and soda with some chlorine, (sodium aluminum silicate and sodium chloride). It looks similar to Lapis, and is a component of Lapis, occurring in massive dodecahedrons and found in igneous rocks. It has varying degrees of white veins of calcite and an occasional speck of pyrite.
Sodium: A common soft, waxy, light, extremely malleable silver-white unstable metallic element of the alkali group. It is always found as a compound with other elements in nature, such as common salt, albite, etc. Sodium burns with a yellow flame, and is so readily oxidized that it combines violently with water and to be preserved must be kept under petroleum or some similar liquid.
Soldering: A technique used in making and repairing jewelry whereby two pieces of metal are joined by applying a molten metal which has a lower melting point than the two metals being joined.
Solitaire: A single, (solitary), gemstone mounted in a simple setting, often found in a ring or pendant.
Sparkle: A measure of the light reflected out by a diamond or stone as it is viewed from different angles.
Spessartite: A red to brownish-red garnet composed of alumina manganese.
Spinel: Probably named from the Latin word "spina", (meaning "thorn"), for its pointed crystals, spinel is a hard mineral with octahedral crystals occurring in igneous and carbonate rocks. It consists essentially of alumina and magnesia, but commonly contains iron and sometimes also chromium. It is found in a variety of colors including blue, green, brown, black, and the valuable red variety which resembles a ruby. It was popular in medieval jewelry.
Split Ring: Most commonly used for key-rings, a split ring is simply a metal ring with a "split" around its circumference. The split has an opening to the side of the ring at each end to allow a key or other small ring to slide into the slit and be pulled around the circumference of the ring until it reaches opening at the other end of the split.
Spray Brooch: A type of brooch, usually worn at the shoulder, which is characterized by floral themes featuring long stemmed jeweled flowers and long leaves.
Spring ring clasp: A very common kind of clasp used for joining two ends of a necklace. The clasp itself consists of a hollow metal tube in a circle shape with a gap in the side. The hollow tube contains a small wire held in place by a spring inside the tube behind the wire. The wire can be pulled back by means of a small knob which slides along the outer edge of the circular tube. Releasing the knob allows the spring to push the wire forward closing the gap. The other end of the necklace terminates in a small ring. By using the knob on the spring ring to open the gap in the hollow circular tube, one can then place the small ring through the gap and close the wire through the ring securing it in place and closing the necklace.
Square cut: A style of gem cutting resembling the emerald cut.
Square setting: A square shaped setting with a prong at each corner.
Squash Blossom Necklace: A traditional piece of Navajo jewelry based on an old and favored Spanish-Mexican ornament which was actually not a squash, but a stylized version of the pomegranate. A shape that the Spanish Conquistadores used as buttons on their trousers. The squash blossom necklace is composed of beads resembling squash blossoms placed at regular intervals with a naja, (crescent shaped pendant), at the center.
Stabilized Turquoise: Turquoise is very porous by nature which allows it to absorb any pollutants that it comes in contact with, including oils from the skin. Stabilized turquoise has been treated by various methods to reduce the porosity, thus making less changeable over time.
Stack rings: Two or more rings that are designed to be stacked on the same finger at the same time.
Stainless steel: An extremely durable alloy of steel and chromium which can be polished to resemble a precious metal and is virtually immune to rust, discoloration and corrosion.
Stamping: Using a punch or die to cut or emboss a sheet of metal with a mark.
Star garnets: Almandines that exhibit an asterism.
Star Sapphires: Natural sapphires that exhibit an asterism. These can be quite valuable if the star is centered and well-defined.
Stater: A silver coin from ancient Greece.
Step cut: See Emerald Cut.
Sterling Silver: Like gold, silver can be alloyed with other metals to improve its durability. Sterling silver is the industry standard containing 925 parts silver and 75 parts of another metal, usually copper. Pieces made from sterling silver are marked 925 to assure silver content. Sterling silver can be used to plate other metals.
Sterling Silver Jewelry: See Sterling Silver
Stick Pin: A pin with an ornament on the top worn vertically on a scarf, tie, or lapel. Also called a "tie pin" or "lapel pin"
Stippled finish: A texture formed by a series of pricks made with a steel punch.
Strass: A brilliant glass with high light refraction and exceptional iridescence, (essentially consisting of a complex borosilicate of lead and potassium), used to manufacture artificial gemstones. Named after its inventor, a German jeweler, F. Stras. See also Rhinestone.
Stud: A simple style of earring for pierced ears that has a single stone (such as a pearl) or metal ball on a straight post with no dangling parts. (See also Button earring).
Sulfate: A salt containing sulfur dioxide.
Sulfur: An abundant, pale yellow, nonmetallic element used in black gunpowder, rubber vulcanization, the manufacture of insecticides and pharmaceuticals, and in the preparation of sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfuric acid.
Sulphur: A variant spelling of sulfur.
Sunstone: A variety of oligoclase which can be transparent or translucent and varies in color from golden to orange to red-brown. Sunstone glitters due to hematite or goethite crystals suspended in the stone. It can be found in Canada, Oregon, India, Norway, and Russia. Sunstone is brittle and has a hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale.
Symmetry: How similar one side of an object is to the other side. The lengths and angles on each side of a faceted gemstone are closely compared. The more uniform the cut, the higher the value of the stone.
Synthetic: Gemstones produced in a laboratory rather than found in nature. Synthetic gemstones are not "fake", since they have exactly the same chemical characteristics as the natural stone, but they are usually flawless and much cheaper than the real thing. The most common synthetic gems are emeralds, rubies, sapphires and opals.