It’s no wonder that custom jewelry holds so much value in the eyes of its owners. Trends may come and go, but jewelry with personal meaning and story behind it lasts forever.
Making the decision to build your own piece, whether it be a necklace or an engagement ring, can seem daunting at first. Should you buy gold or silver? What diamond cut is most appropriate? What do jewelers even mean when they refer to a diamond’s cut?
To help make the process of designing your piece easier, Lisa Kotchey, the leading custom jewelry consultant in Pittsburgh, created a comprehensive list of jewelry terms to know as well as advice on picking out the perfect gems and metals for your custom piece. We will specifically cover:
The basics: cut, karats, purity levels, etc.
Birthstones and metals
Back to the Basics
For the first lesson, we will examine the terminology that will inevitably be used when designing an engagement ring—a popular piece that couples often like to customize themselves.
The Anatomy of an Engagement Ring
When designing a ring, couples often focus on the cut and shape of the stone first.
Cut: the stone’s facet arrangement, which affects its ability to reflect light
Facet: flat surface cut on a gemstone
Shape: the stone’s silhouette
Carat: the unit used to measure the weight of a diamond
Channel: mounting upon which a gemstone is placed
Clarity: internal or external impurities found on a diamond
Color: the natural amount of light able to pass through a diamond, which affects the amount of color visible inside it
Karat: the measure of purity in gold; pure gold has 24 karats
Bracelets, Pendants, and Earrings
If you are thinking about designing any of the above pieces of jewelry, it will probably be helpful to familiarize yourself with these terms when examining different options for gem cuts.
Briolette: pear-shaped gemstone cut in triangular facets that is often used as a bead
Cabochon: a stone that has been polished, but not cut into facets
Pave: setting in which small gemstones are attached to a piece of jewelry in a way that makes it appear that the piece’s surface is literally paved with stones
Gemstones and Metals
Birthstones are a popular gem to purchase. Here is a comprehensive list of all of the gemstones and their corresponding months.
The following are metals that are usually used in jewelry.
Gold: the most popular metal choice, it usually comes in yellow, white, and rose gold and has varying karat sizes; people interested in engagement rings usually try to find 14Kt or 18Kt for their durability
Platinum: a naturally white metal that is heavy, dense, and long-wearing; more expensive than gold due to its rarity and higher density
Palladium: a metal that remains tarnish-free, is more precious than silver, and is lighter than platinum; is beginning to grow in popularity due to the rising prices of gold and platinum
Silver-Sterling: a metal that is softer and less expensive than gold, titanium, and platinum and is the most popular metal for jewelry such as earrings, bracelets, and necklaces; because it is prone to oxidation, it may turn black over time
Titanium: it is 100% hypo-allergenic, more resistant to bending and scratching, than gold, silver, or platinum, and offers a wider color selection than them; unfortunately, they cannot be resized if needed
Tips for Creating Your Masterpiece
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to consider what choices, gold vs. silver, or, emerald vs. topaz, will match both your style and the occasion for which you are designing it.
If your style is elegant and classic…
Pearls or diamonds are your go-to gemstones if you are looking to add a simple, understated touch to your jewelry, whether it is a necklace or pair of earrings. To maintain a sense of elegance, consider using gold or palladium metal.
If your style is fun and playful…
Don’t be afraid to add bold gemstones such as amethyst or sapphire to your piece. Aim for a titanium metal to ensure durability.
If your style is flashy and glamorous...
Large cuts of gemstones are sure to turn heads. Go for an eye-catching gem like ruby paired with a sturdy titanium band.