Sterling silver, also called fine silver, is a beautifully lustrous cool-toned precious metal favored in fine jewelry among other products. The most reflective of all metals (excluding mercury), sterling silver looks stunning by itself and brings out the best hues in an array of colorful gemstones.
Sterling silver can be polished to a higher sheen than platinum. In fact, Ag, the chemical symbol for silver, comes from a word that means “white and shining.” The surface of silver can boast that shiny, polished appearance, or can be brushed, satin, matte, sandblasted, antiqued or oxidized (chemically blackened).
In order to be called sterling silver, a metal must be made up of a minimum of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy (meaning other metals), including but not limited to copper and nickel. The alloy is added to pure silver to make the metal more durable, tougher and harder. Sterling silver is designated a fineness of “925.” Pieces with sterling silver may be marked “sterling.”
Minimize scratches on sterling silver by storing it in its own compartment in your jewelry box or in a cloth pouch. Sterling silver may also be stored in sealed polyethylene bags.
Analog-Digital Display (ana-digi): Watch that shows the time by means of hour and minute hands (analog display) as well as by numbers (digital display).
Arabic Numerals: Popular counterpart to Roman numerals consisting of 1,2,3, etc; Became popular during the 18th century and typically allow for more space on the dial for complications.
ATM: Commonly used measurement in water resistance; Stands for "atmospheres" or the amount of pressure a watch can withstand before leaking; One atmosphere is equal to 10 meters of water pressure.
Automatic Movement: Type of movement where the mainspring is wound via the movement of one’s own arm; Movement of the arm causes the rotor to rotate, which in turn winds the mainspring; Similar to mechanical movements, except winding is not manual.
Bezel: Retaining ring surrounding the case and securing the crystal; Sometimes incorporates unidirectional or ratcheting movements, as well as additional benefits such as chapter markers.
Case: Timepiece’s container; Protects the movement from dust, dampness and injury; Common case shapes are round, tonneau, rectangular and square.
Chronograph: Timepiece capable of both timekeeping and stopwatch functions; Chronographs are a unique and valued complication due to their ability to measure increments of time.
Chronometer: High-precision timepiece that has been tested and is certified to meet precision standards; Chronometer watches often come with certificates indicating their certified status.
Complication: Any feature added to the timepiece that does not indicate hours, minutes or seconds. Popular complications include chronographs, tachymeters, date windows and exhibition backs.
Crown: Small, cap-like device located on the side of a case that allows the user to set time or manually wind watch.
Crystal: Transparent cover on a watch face that gives view of the dial; Sapphire and mineral are the most common crystals used today.
Date Window: Reveals the numeric day of a given month.
Deployant: Type of clasp that keeps the closing mechanism hidden, creating an uninterrupted look for your bracelet or strap.
Dial: Plate beneath the crystal showcasing the timepiece’s features; Sometimes referred to as the face of a timepiece, the dial indicates hours, minutes and seconds, as well as complications such as date windows and sub-dials.
Dual Deployant: Similar to a deployant clasp, except it uses two hinges to fasten or open, as opposed to one.
Dual Time Zone: Timepiece that simultaneously gives time in two time zones.
Exhibition case: Unique complication wherein a crystal is implemented into the case back, allowing view of the timepiece's movement.
Greenwich Mean Time: Refers to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England where mean time is kept; Located at the prime meridian of the world, GMT is thought of as "the world's time".
Jewels: International term referring to the rubies, sapphires or other gemstones used as bearings in a watch movement; These bearings are set to reduce friction in a movement and help the delicate parts of the movement work smoothly and with great precision.
Mechanical Movement: Type of movement where the winding crown is used to power the movement; Needs to be manually wound after an elapsed period of time; Sometimes accompanied by a exhibition back to display its old-fashioned sensibilities.
Mineral Crystal: Technical term for glass; Standard crystal used in timepieces today.
Minute Repeater: Timepiece that sounds hours, quarters and minutes as requested.
Moon Phase: Complication on a timepiece that displays the various stages of the moon; Stages include new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter.
Mother-of-Pearl: Dial material that has been cultivated from the inside of certain shells; Provides an iridescent surface and gives timepieces a rich aesthetic.
Movement: Assembly making up the principal elements and mechanisms of a watch or clock; Includes the winding and setting mechanism, the mainspring, the train, the escapement and the regulating elements.
Perpetual Calendar: Complication that exhibits the days in a Gregorian calendar, the most common calendar used today; Automatically adjusts to months with different amounts of days in them.
Power Reserve: Time a watch will continue running based on the movement's residual winding of its mainspring; In quartz and digital watches, this can also refer to the amount of energy left in the battery.
Push Button Dual Deployant: Similar to deployant clasps, with the addition of two small hidden push buttons that spring your clasp open.
Quartz Movement: Most common type of movement used in modern timepieces; Vibrating at a high frequency and placed under an electric current, quartz movements provide accurate time without the need to wind.
Repeater: Complex watch mechanism that sounds hours, quarters or minutes, or repeats them on request; Originally designed to help the wearer to tell the time in the dark.
Retrograde: Hour, minute, second or calendar hand that moves across a scale and resets to zero at the end of its cycle.
Sapphire Crystal: High-end crystal that adds greater value to a timepiece; The only natural substance able to harm a sapphire crystal is a diamond.
Skeletonization: Cutting away unnecessary metal from the movement to allow the wearer to actually see through the movement; Any part that is not needed is carved out, leaving only the movement's skeleton.
Subdial: Smaller dials located on the main dial of a timepiece; Used to measure seconds, minutes or days.
Tachymeter: Popular complication that measures distance based on speed; Typically located along the outer rim of a dial.
Water resistant: Watches described as simply "water resistant" can handle light moisture, such as a rainstorm or splashes from a sink, but they should not be completely submerged in water for any length of time; A commonly used measurement in water resistance is ATM, which stands for "atmospheres" or the amount of pressure a watch can withstand before leaking.
One of the oldest known gems, turquoise has been prized for thousands of years. The Egyptians believed it had powerful mystical properties, and turquoise jewelry has been found interred with 7,500-year-old mummies. Ancient manuscripts from Persia, India, Afghanistan and Arabia say that the health of a person wearing turquoise could be assessed by variations in the color of the stone. Montezuma’s treasure, now displayed in the British Museum, includes a carved serpent covered by a mosaic of turquoise.
Turquoise was especially revered by the Native American culture, an association that dates back to the Aztec empire more than 700 years ago. For the Aztecs, turquoise was reserved for the gods and mere mortals were forbidden to wear it. They believed it to be a gem of good fortune and a commodity more valuable than gold. Native Americans believed turquoise protected people from demons and they even placed turquoise in tombs to guard the dead. The stone’s colors were thought to be symbolically blue for the heavens and green for the earth. Often warriors tied turquoise to their bows to ensure accurate shots.
Today, turquoise is still believed to provide protection and bring luck. It is said to also promote prosperity, love, healing, courage and friendship. The stone is thought to relax the mind and ease mental tension.
The gem’s opaque turquoise color varies from shades of greenish blue to deep cobalt to sky blue. Some varieties display white or brown matrixes, which are streaks of the mother stone from which they came, while others have veins of color called “spiderwebs” running through them. Generally, the bluer the blue, the more highly valued the stone. A clear, even texture without mottling or veins is also preferred. The most rare and valuable color is an intense azure, but the most common is the mild to medium sky blue. Sometimes imitated by minerals such as chrysocolla, turquoise stones are often dyed or colored with coatings of various resins.
In the 13th century, turquoise was mistakenly believed to have come from the country of Turkey. Hence, its name came from the French word for Turkey, “Turquie.” The stone was actually brought to Europe from Persia (now Iran), via Turkey. It is a mineral usually found in association with copper deposits and is sometimes mined as a by-product of copper mining.
Although turquoise is found in desert regions worldwide, the finest and most valuable comes from Iran. Iranian turquoise is a pure robin’s egg blue that is free of green overtones, matrix or black veins. Perhaps the most famous turquoise today, however, comes from the southwestern United States. The occurrence in Arizona and New Mexico produces greener shades of the stone with matrix streaks of various colors.
While only ranking between 5.0 and 6.0 on the Mohs Scale of hardness, turquoise remains quite popular for jewelry. In Europe, turquoise rings are given as forget-me-not gifts, while in the United States, the stone is given as traditional 5th and 11th wedding anniversary gifts. It has even become a modern consideration for the December birthstone. When wearing turquoise over the years, the stone will absorb oil from a person’s skin, causing a slight change to the color of turquoise.
Turquoise is commonly treated in various fashions to ensure its durability and visual appeal, especially when set in jewelry. If a stone has been treated, the type of process will be noted. Stabilized turquoise is enhanced through a process of coating the genuine gemstone with colorless acrylics or resin to fill porous gaps, harden the stone and maintain the stone’s color. Reconstituted turquoise is enhanced through a process in which genuine gemstone fragments are powdered and bonded with resin to reinforce the stone. Impregnated turquoise is enhanced through a process in which the genuine gemstone is infused with oil, wax or resin to reinforce the stone.