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.
Palmette: A stylized palm leaf which is a common motif in Greek and Persian art.
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.
Paste: In the context of jewelry, "paste" is a glass-based substance used to simulate gemstones. It has become a slang term for all fake gemstones.
Pastille burners: A form of incense burners popular from 1820-1850 in the form of cottages, churches, or summer houses, with detachable lids.
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.
Pavilion: The pointed section of a cut gemstone just below the girdle ending in the culet.
Pavilion Height: The distance from the girdle to the culet of a cut gemstone.
Pear Cut: A fancy shape of gem cutting which somewhat resembles a teardrop; rounded on one end and pointed on the other. See Fancy Cut.
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.
Pearlescent: A term used to describe a surface with lustrous cloudy rainbow-like colors like one might see in an oil slick or mother of pearl. Synonymous with Iridescent.
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.
Pendant: An ornament or charm that hangs from a cord or chain worn around the neck.
Pennyweight: see dwt.
Peridot: Another name for chrysolite and olivine. Peridot is the birthstone for August. See Peridot Rings and Peridot earrings.
Perfumed Beads: Beads that release a scent when warmed by the body.
Periclase: See Magnesia.
Petit Point: A stone shaped to a fine point which is usually somewhat larger than needle point and is characterized by being round, oval, or having one rounded end.
Pewter: An alloy of 90% tin mixed with lead, antimony, and a bit of silver or copper.
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.
Phosphate: A salt composed of the most highly oxidized acid of phosphorus, and forms an important and extensive series of compounds.
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.
Picture Jasper: An opaque tan colored variety of jasper with medium and dark brown patches that make the "pictures."
Pierced: A hole punched completely through an object.
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.
Pigeon's-Blood: A deep red-violet shade of ruby which is the most desirable color of ruby.
Pins: Jewelry attached to clothing by means of a small metal rod with a sharp point.
Pinchbeck: A type of imitation gold composed of an alloy of copper and zinc invented by Christopher Pinchbeck in the 18th century.
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.
Plain: An object with one plain uniform color and no decorations of any kind.
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.
Plique-A-Jour: A form of enameling popular in Art Nouveau jewelry similar to cloisonné, but where the transparent enamels are held in place by wires on the edges rather than on a metal plate.
Poesy: A ring or other piece of jewelry with a short love poem inscribed on it. Popular in the medieval period.
Point: The smallest unit of weight used for gemstones, equal to 1/100th of a carat. Another term for a 1/4 carat diamond is a 25 point diamond.
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.
Poison Pendant: A small box worn as a pendant that could conceivably be used to hold poison. See also Prayer pendant.
Polish: The process of rubbing an object to make it smooth and shiny and reduce the appearance of flaws.
Polychrome: Literally meaning "many colored", in the context of jewelry it simply refers to a decoration that uses three or more colors.
Polypropylene: A hard, tough polymer of propylene used as a thermoplastic molding material.
Polyurethane: A polymer containing urethane used as plastic, adhesive, paint, rubber, or to form a tough, resistant coating.
Poppy Jasper: An opaque variety of jasper with colors such as brick red, white, brown, and blacks.
Porosity: Areas of the mold that absorbed some of the casting material leaving the cast object with a rough, granular surface.
Post: The pin that sticks out the back of a stud earring. The post goes through the pierced ear and is secured in place with a catch that slides onto it behind the earlobe.
Posy: An alternate spelling of poesy
Pot Metal: Any alloys which do not have gold, silver, or platinum as a component. Also called White Metal
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.
Prase: A translucent leek-green variety of chalcedony varying in color from light green or light grayish-green.
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.
Prayer Pendant: A small box worn as a pendant that could be used to hold a small piece of paper with a prayer written on it. See also Poison pendant.
Precious Gemstone: Gemstones that are highly valuable for their hardness and rarity. There are only four precious gemstones: diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
Precious metal: Metals valued for their color, malleability, and rarity. There are only three precious metals: gold, silver and platinum.
Precious stone: See Precious Gemstone.
Princess cut: A relatively new fancy cut for gemstones based on the multi-faceted square cut. It is square when viewed from the top
Prong setting: A gemstone held in place by small finger-like wires attached to the bezel and bend over the edges of the stone.
Prystal: Trade name for a glass substitute invented in Italy made of plastic.
Punches: Pointed tools used for stamping a design on a surface.
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.
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