Jewelry 101 
A Quick Guide & Glossary


Minerals, Rocks, Crystals, & Gemstones: Synonymous or Not?


Minerals, Rocks, Crystals, & Gemstones: Synonymous or Not?

All of our jewelry is made with high quality gemstones, also known as crystals. We use over 30 different types of crystals in different shapes, cuts, & colors. These incredible, naturally made stones have deep history behind them. Ancient cultures have constructed lore & stories about them & they are well known for their use in holistic medicine. As you can tell these gems have an extensive background! We put together a short guide to introduce you to the different stones we use, the history & mythical stories behind them, & the healing powers they possess ✩☽

What is a crystal?

By definition, a crystal is any special kind of solid material where the molecules fit together in a repeating pattern.

They are formed underground from three-dimensional patterns of atoms!

These fantastic patterns are the reason why crystals are found in many different unique shapes of all sizes!

They are formed by a process crystallization.

Crystallization happens when liquids change their state by cooling down & hardening. As the molecules in the liquid begin to become stable, specific molecules will gather together in a uniform & repeating pattern. & voila! A crystal is formed.

When volcanoes erupt hot lava spews out of them. Once the magma meets the outer surface of the volcano it will begin to cool. The process of liquid rock hardening by cooling is an awesome example of crystallization. Diamonds, rubies, & emeralds are only a few of the valuable crystals that are created this way. 

This isn't the only way crystals are formed! When water evaporates from a mixture, the material left over can crystallize. You will see this happen when the water evaporates from a saline mixture (salt + water) & you are left with salt crystals.

What is the difference between a mineral, a rock, a crystal, & a gemstone?

All of these words are commonly used interchangeably, but what is the difference between them?

A mineral is a naturally present inorganic element, whereas a rock is a structure made up of 2+ minerals formed together.

Crystallization refers to a mineral's crystalline structure - there are many different types of different crystals

Rocks, minerals, & crystals all pertain to inorganic stones, however, they each have distinct characteristics that set them apart. 

Minerals are what both crystals & rocks are made of.

Minerals, themselves, are made of a crystalline atomic structure. This highly organized structure is what gives minerals their chemical & physical characterizations.

There are 2,000+ known minerals on Earth & each one has a different crystalline structure.

Color, luster, streak, fracture, cleavage, hardness, & crystal form are all words to describe a mineral's characteristics.

All crystals are minerals, but not all minerals are crystals.

Crystals & rocks are both made from minerals, however ...

Rocks are composites of minerals with a less uniform, non-specific structure.

Rocks are minerals that are part of an aggregated solid.

Crystals are minerals formed into a highly organized crystalline structure. 

Crystals are minerals that are not part of aggregated solid. Crystals are minerals that stand alone.

You can find crystals formed within rocks - a vein of quartz found inside an igneous rock, for example.

A mineral must have monetary & aesthetic value to be considered a gemstone.

A gemstone is a pieces of mineral crystal in its cut & polished form used to make jewelry or other adornments. 

The most common misconception about gemstones is that they are incredibly rare. At one point in time Amethyst was thought to be scarce, but that isn't the case currently. 

The price of the once rare & expensive Amethyst dropped due to how common the crystal turned out to be.

& there you have it, folks.
Although the words should not be used synonymously, they play parts within each others definitions.



The connector at the top of the pendant, which allows the pendant to hang from a chain or jump ring.


A setting for a stone, that has a collar instead of prongs, in order to secure the stone.


A gemstone that is symbolically associated with the month of one's birth.

Book Chain

A Victorian style of chain that is made in solid gold or sterling silver, in which each link is a rectangular folded piece of metal resembling a book.

Box Setting

A stone, enclosed in a box shaped setting with metal edges that are pressed down to hold the stone in place.


A jewelry design element in which multiple strands of an often precious metal appear to be woven together.


An alloy made up of roughly half copper & half zinc, which has a nice yellow color.


The intensity & amount of light reflecting from inside a diamond or gemstone.


A pear-shaped, faceted stone.


A very dense, heavy alloy of 60% copper & 40% tin.


Either a large pin, or an ornamental piece of jewelry with a pin & clasp to be attached to clothing.

Brushed Finish

A texturing technique used on metals, where a series of tiny parallel lines are scratched onto the surface with a wire brush or polishing tool.



Dome-shaped stone, without facets.


A unit of weight for diamonds & other gemstones.


A garnet cut en cabochon


A transluscent red or orange variety of calcedony, sometimes banded in red & orange design, similar to agate.


A jewelry pendant or trinket, often worn on a necklace or bracelet to ward off evil or ensure good fortune.


A short necklace; generally chokers are less than 14 inches, however, our chokers (at Saul & Saul Designs) are closer to 15 inches (between 14.75" & 15.5")


A variation of quartz, citrine can take on many colors, ranging from light yellow to brilliant orange, which may sometimes be confused with fine imperial topaz


A term used to measure the degree to which a gemstone is free from flaws


A form of Calcium Carbonate, secreted in long chains by coral polyps who live in colonies un Der the ocean.


The facets or portions of a gemstone, located above the girdle


A term which refers to the geometric proportions that dictate the reflection & refraction of light within a stone.



A piece marked by delicate or diminutive beauty, form, or grace.


An earring style that includes a focal point which drops below the earlobe & is intentionally flexible so as to dangle to & fro.


An earring style that includes a focal point which drops below the earlobe, often attached by a simple or adorned chain.



An ornament for the ear, most commonly worn in the earlobe.


The process of applying metal, most often gold, to adhere to the surface of another metal, using an electrical current.


A gemstone of the beryl family

Emerald Cut

A type of shape & cut, emphasizing long parallel step cuts with clipped corders to create an octagon shaped.


A glass powder or paste that is applied to metal, then fired in an annealing oven to bake the glass into the metal.


The period of time between a proposal & marriage

Engagement Ring

A ring given in betrothal 


The process of decorating metal by etching a design into its surface


The removal of part of a metal surface, by acid, for a decorative effect



A plain, polished surface on a stone


An internal flaw (inclusion) that has a feathery appearance


Findings is a broad term that applies to a number of different types of components used to create a piece of jewelry. These materials include, but are not limited to, clasps, hooks, headpins, ear wires, jump rings, crimp beads, etc.


A term used to describe the polish or texture applied to metal


A general term used to refer to internal or external characteristics of a gemstone (i.e.: inclusion, fracture, etc.)


A term used to describe a gemstone that lacks discernible internal or external blemishes when viewed by a gemologist using no less than 10 x magnification


A general term for jewelry design elements which depict flowers, leaves, vines, or plant-like shapes


A luminescence that appears when certain diamonds are exposed to ultraviolet light

Flush Setting

A jewelry setting in which a stone is set within a metal hole & metal is applied above the girdle


A material used in soldering


The reflective coating added to the back of a gemstone or rhinestones to increase brilliance & depth of color


A general term for cracks, feathers, or chips in a gemstone

French Cut

A square or rectangular, multifaceted stone

Freshwater Pearls

An irregular pearl of various colors produced by freshwater mollusks such as mussels & clams



A family of stones having many varieties in color & their constituents


A gemstone specialist trained in gemstone identification, grading, & appraising


The science & study of gemstones


A general term which includes diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, chalcedony, agates, heliotropes, onyx, tourmaline, chrysolite, rubies, spinel, topaz, turquoise, zircon, & more.


Small, long pendant beads


An object decorated with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf, or gold foil


Gold or something resembling gold & luxury


A yellow, metallic element that occurs naturally in pure form & is used especially in jewelry


A term for a piece made up of a base metal, coated in a thick layer of gold (at least 10k & 1/20th of the total weight of the piece) bonded to its surface


A term for a piece made up of a base metal, bonded with a thin layer of gold (at least 1/20th of the total weight of the piece.


Evaluation & results assigned by independent gemologists that allow sellers to assign pricing to diamonds & gemstones, achieved from comparison with master stones


Half-Moon Cut

A gemstone cut that resembles an oval or circle which has been cut in half


A mark stamped on jewelry throughout much of the world to attest to the purity of the metal after assay


A setting that encircles a center gemstone with diamonds or gemstones

Hammered Finish

A jewelry finish in which the piece is hammered to create many tiny lanes, before polishing the result

Hand Engraving

A jewelry technique in which designs are artfully etched into a piece using hand-held tools (scraper, spit stick, scooper, graver), rather than a laser, casting machine, or chemicals


The resistance of a substance to being scratched


The portion of a jewelry item that holds the stone

Head Pin

One of the most frequently used jewelry finings; a piece of wire with a "head" (stopes) at one end that stops beads from sliding off

Heart Cut

A diamond cut shaped like a heart, with two rounded obtrusions at the top & a point at the bottom


An iron ore consisting of ferric oxide in crystalline form


A circular earring design that resembles a ring & passes through the ear lobe


A substance often used as a substitute for tortoiseshell


A rock formed by solidification of magma or lava


A general term used to refer to internal or external characteristics of a gemstone (i. e. inclusion, fracture, etc.)


A visible internal flaw in a gemstone, including: fractures, crystalline, abnormalities, & foreign objects


The first letters of a group of names, often a person's first & last names


Decorated with a material set into a surface


A decorative technique, in which part of the surface of a piece of jewelry or ceramic is cut away & a stone, mother of pearl, or some other substance is embedded into the hollowed-out area so that it is level with the surface of the piece.


A wedding set that has multiple piece which securely lock into place with one another


A pair or group of bands that overlap each other


A display of lustrous rainbow-like colors


Treatment performed on gemstones or pearls to enhance color


A hard, smooth, yellowish-white substance made from the tusks of elephants & walruses



An opaque, semiprecious gemstone which is usually found in shades of green, but can also be found in lavender & rose shades, among others


An opaque, impure, Polycrystalline variety of Quartz that may be red, yellow, green, blue, or brown

Jump Ring

A small, oval or round wire ring used to link charms or pendants onto a chain



A unit of fineness for gold, equal to 1 part of gold in an alloy


A jewelry design element which includes multiple carved, waxy, metal pieces which are loosely interlaced & soldered together



A general term which is used for the cutting, shaping, polishing, & creation of jewelry from precious to semi-precious stones


A chain from which an ornament or gemstone hangs in the center

Lever Back

An earring back that uses a clasp

Liquid Silver

The term given to strands of small silver beads which were made by carefully slicing tubes of Sterling silver into pieces & stringing them together


A hinged case, usually in the shape of an oval or heart, which can be opened or closed & usually contains a photograph or memento

London Blue Topaz

A popular variation of topaz with a vivid, dark blue green color


The appearance of a material's surface, as determined by the quantity & quality of light reflected


Marquis Cut

A faceted, elongated, oval stone which tapers to a point at both ends

Marquise Cut

A diamond cut that is elongated like an oval, but has a point at either end


A term used to describe a set of jewelry pieces with bathing elements such as style & color


A finish created by using either a chemical process or an abrasive material to scratch the top layer of the piece, creating a dull & non-reflective surface

Memento Mori

A jewel that is a reminder of death

Memorial Jewel

A jewel that is made in memory of a loved one, often containing hair from that person & frequently decorated with enamel


A rock that has been affected by pressure, heat, & water, resulting in a more compact & highly crystalline condition


Small particles of matter in the solar system, projected towards earth, that reach the surface without being completely vaporized.

Micro Mosaic

A mosaic of very small, colored glass pieces (tesserae) inlaid in glass or hard stone

Micro Pave

A set of tiny gemstones set very close together, traditionally in three or more rows

Milanese Chain

A chain consisting of interwoven rows of small links, forming a mesh


Tiny beads of metal used to decorate jewelry, often adding a vintage aesthetic


A jewelry design which is simple & sparing