Sterling Silver (SS) -  An alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The minimum millesimal fineness is 925.

Gold filled materials (GF) - We all know that gold is not inexpensive, and these days the spot price is going upwards of $450 an ounce. Gold filled by law has 1/20th by weight layer of 14 karat gold permanently bonded over a core of base metal. It has far more gold than the few microns coating of gold in gold plate, a hundred or more times the amount of gold, actually. Under normal wear with reasonable care that you would give any precious metal jewelry, 14KGF jewelry will not peel or flake and can be treasured as heirloom pieces. It is tarnish-resistant like solid 14 karat gold and is safe for most people with sensitive skin who can wear solid 14 karat gold jewelry. Caring for 14 Karat Gold Filled jewelry is as easy as caring for other precious metal jewelry, too.

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Vermeil - Gold plating over sterling silver; usually 18, 22 or 24kt

Fresh water pearls - A kind of pearl that comes from freshwater mussels. They are produced in Japan, China, and the United States, and were formerly produced in Scotland. Natural freshwater pearls are seldom perfectly round or even nearly round, more often than not they are baroque, slugs, or wings. Many pearls, both natural and cultured, have beautiful color and luster. Freshwater pearls are noted for their wide range of color, they can be found in white, silvery white, pink, salmon, red, copper, bronze, brown, lavender, purple, green, blue, cream, and yellow. Although white is the most common color, the most desirable are the pastel pinks, roses, lavenders, and purples. The different colors are a function of the mussel species, genetics, water quality, and the position of the pearl in the shell. Generally, pearls assume the color of the shell in which they form.

Swarovski crystal beads - The Luxury brand name for the range of precision-cut crystal glass products produced by companies owned by Swarovski AG of Feldmeilen, near Z�/FONT>, Switzerland.

Gemstones - A mineral, rock (such in the case of lapis lazuli), or petrified material that when cut or faceted and polished is collectible or can be used in jewelry. Others are organic (such as amber, which is fossilised tree resin, and jet, a form of coal). Some gemstones which may be generally considered precious or beautiful are too soft or too fragile to be used in jewelry (for example, single-crystal rhodochrosite) but are exhibited in museums and are sought by collectors.

Traditionally, common gemstones were classified into precious stones (cardinal gems) and semi-precious stones. The former category was largely determined by a history of ecclesiastical, devotional or ceremonial use and rarity. Only five types of gemstones were considered precious: diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, and amethyst. In current usage by gemologists, all gems are considered precious, although four of the five original "cardinalgems" (excluding the now-common amethyst) are usually�but not always�the most valuable.

Gemstone list

There are over 130 species of minerals that have been cut into gems with 50 species in common use. These include:

  • Agate
  • Alexandrite and other varieties of chrysoberyl
  • Amethyst (originally a "cardinal gem", but now no longer so, since huge quantities were discovered in Brazil and the price plummeted)
  • Aquamarine and other varieties of beryl
  • Chrysocolla
  • Chrysoprase
  • Diamond
  • Emerald
  • Feldspar (moonstone)
  • Garnet
  • Hematite
  • Jade - jadeite and nephrite
  • Jasper
  • Kunzite
  • Lapis lazuli
  • Malachite
  • Obsidian
  • Olivine (Peridot)
  • Opal (Girasol)
  • Pyrite
  • Quartz and its varieties, such as tiger's-eye, citrine, agate, and amethyst
  • Ruby
  • Sapphire
  • Spinel
  • Sugilite
  • Tanzanite and other varieties of zoisite
  • Topaz
  • Turquoise
  • Tourmaline
  • Zircon

There are a number of organic materials used as gems, including:

  • Amber
  • Bone
  • Coral
  • Ivory
  • Jet (lignite)
  • Mother of pearl
  • Ammolite- from fossils formed from the shells of extinct ammonites.
  • Pearl

See Gemstone Library for more information: