Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations You Really Should Know

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The world of jewelry is wide and, unless you are something of an expert, you are bound to come across many terms and abbreviations that may sound foreign to you.

The truth is, the said terms and abbreviations are very many, and it may not be possible for us to outline and define them all in one sitting.

So, we have picked some of the most common and most important to help you navigate the jewelry sector without much fuss. Here goes.


Common Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations and What they Mean

Carats or Karats (Ct or K)

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

This is one of the most common terms when it comes to measuring the purity of Gold. In some places, this unit of measurement is referred to as Carats and is abbreviated as ‘Ct’ while elsewhere, it is referred to as Karats and is abbreviated as ‘K’.

You may, in certain instances, see ‘kt’ as it is sometimes used in place of ‘K’ for karats. The higher the number of carats, the more pure the gold is.

The purest form of gold comes in 24K, and this type is almost completely made up of solid gold and has very few impurities in the form of other metals.

Bear in mind, however, that the purer it gets, the weaker it becomes. (So, we talk about this topic here: why is 24k gold not used for making jewelry?)

Carats, as a unit of measure, are also used to measure the weight or mass of precious stones such as diamonds and rubies.

The higher the number of carats, the heavier and more valuable the stone is.

Do note, however, that when referring to stones, only Carats (Ct) are used, and other spellings do not apply.


Gold-filled or Gold Rolled (GF)

These two terms often refer to a method of mixing gold with other metals to reduce the total cost of jewelry. When a ring is gold-filled or gold rolled, you would hardly know that there are other metals involved.

As a rule of thumb, the total amount of gold used must be at least a twentieth (1/20) of the total weight of the finished ring.

The most common gold-filled or gold-rolled rings are 14 Karats, and they are a lot stronger than 24 Karat rings.

They also wear pretty well, and regular polishing allows them to maintain their luster.


Inclusions (I1, I2)

Inclusions are used to indicate any flaws in a gemstone that can actually be detected by the eye.

They can range from anything between crystal abnormalities, fractures and scratches, and foreign objects inside the stone.

While some inclusions add to the beauty and character of certain stones such as moss agate, others, in stones such as diamonds, rubies and amethysts, tend to lower the value of the stones.


Stone cuts

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

When it comes to stone cuts, it is important to identify what different cuts mean, as each one produces a different shape from the others.

Below is an outline of some common cut abbreviations and what they mean.

● BE – Baguette

Stones that are baguette-cut are long and rectangular. They are step-cut to make them look as though they have many layers beneath their surface. The cut is used for both accent and side stones, and on stones that can be seen through such as diamonds and emeralds.

● BF – Buff Top

Buff top cut stones feature the combination of two main cuts; the cabochon cut at the top, and the step-cut on the pavilion. This cut gives stones a lot more depth.

● CN – Cushion Cut

This is one of the most common stone cuts. Cushion cut stones have a square shape that has rounded off edges. These stones feature a whopping 58 facets at the bottom.

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

● OV – Oval Cut

Stones with this cut feature an elongated round shape, but the cut is more brilliant. Oval-cut stones also have many facets at the base.

● PS – Pear Shape

This cut combines the classic round cut and a marquise shape so that one end is round and the other appears tapered.

Other common cuts include the princess or square cut (SQ), round-cut (RD), checkerboard-cut (CB), button (BN), and marquise cut (MQ) gemstones. Each one has its own unique characteristic.


Nickel or German Silver

The most interesting bit about this type of silver is that it is not silver at all. German silver and nickel silver do not, in fact, contain any form of silver.

Nickel silver is made from nickel and copper alloy while German silver may, in addition to the two, also contains zinc.

You should, however, know that there are many health risks associated with wearing items that contain nickel, and we strongly recommend against it.



Gold Plating

This refers to a method of ‘coating’ a regular metal such as steel with more precious and expensive metal.

For instance, many steel or silver rings are plated with white or yellow gold so they look like they are actually made of gold.

There are many types of plating, but the most effective one is electroplating as it delivers a high degree of coverage, and allows the ring to last a long time.

Properly plated rings are cheaper, but they can last a significant length of time, especially if they are well cared for.

If you want to read more about gold-plated jewelry, this detailed post is for you!


925 Silver/ Sterling Silver

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations
925 Silver

This is a strong metal that incorporates 7.5% copper and 92.5% silver. The alloy is a lot stronger than the purest form of silver, and it makes for long-lasting pieces of jewelry.

When you see 925 silver, it simply means that the piece of jewelry contains 92.5% silver. 

This type of jewelry wears faster than pure silver, but it is easy to polish and is less prone to bending and breakage. Contrary to popular belief, sterling silver is actual silver.

If you want to know more about 925 silver, please read this post!


Metal abbreviations

There are many metals used in making jewelry, and they are all identified using varying abbreviations. Some of the most common include;

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

  • Plat – Platinum
  • Pall – Palladium
  • RGF – Rose Gold Finish
  • RGP – Rose Gold Plated
  • SC – Silver Colored
  • SS – Sterling Silver



This process involves making a detailed text or design on the surface of the metal using special tools called gravers. Engraving requires loads of skill and is done by only a few.

It takes time to learn the craft, and serious jewelers have a master engraver on hand to make sure that their rings have the highest quality of engraving.

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations


This is slightly different than engraving, and this process uses chemicals instead of gravers.

Oftentimes, acid is used to corrode or remove part of the metal to create a certain pattern or image.

Even though it is not as fine as engraving, etching has a unique beauty to it, and also takes time to learn.



This term is thrown around ever too often, and it is used to describe a mixture of two or more metals or a mixture of metals and other elements.

For the most part, alloys make stronger metals than their individual components alone, and they also bring down the price of certain pieces of jewelry that would have otherwise been very expensive had precious metals been used on their own. If you want to know about more alloy jewelry, read this topic!

Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

Extended Service Plans (ESP)

These are, as indicated, service plans that offer clients access to certain services after they have purchased their jewelry.

ESPs offer protection to your jewelry, and they can cover such things as polishing, future adjustments, refinishing, and resetting gemstones.

Most of these are free, but many jewelers come with their own detailed ESPs.



This characteristic is specific to diamonds, and it is used to describe how bright a diamond is. It also describes the contrast in the stone.

The brighter a diamond is, the more contrast it has. This is to mean that it must able to return an intense amount of light from the environment to the observer to be declared brilliant.



Jewelry Terms and Abbreviations

This refers to the method by which a precious or semi-precious stone is secured on a ring, necklace, or crown.

There are many types of settings, and they are largely determined by the cut of the stone.

There are claw or prong settings that are used for faceted stones, cluster settings that are excellent for smaller stones, especially around a larger focal stone, channel setting that is used to secure stones along a strip, especially in rings, and bezel setting that is used for cabochon cut stones.


Custom made

This refers to jewelry that is specially made for a particular client.

It is not limited to any design, metal, stone, or cost since the customer decides everything from the size of the item to the metal used, the stones and their cuts, and even the setting they prefer.

Needless to say, custom jewelry does not come cheap. They make some of the most unique pieces.



As earlier mentioned, the world of jewelry is as detailed as it is diverse. There are many terminologies and abbreviations that go with different elements, and it can be very easy to get them confused.

In case you are looking to purchase expensive jewelry, it is advisable to go to a professional jeweler so they can break down everything you need to know so you end up with your very own masterpiece.

Read more fashion jewelry knowledge here or here

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