Jewelry 101

Jewelry 101

Jewelry 101: The Basics

Welcome to DRD University, our guide to all things jewelry. Obviously, you're a lover of jewelry, but do you know the ins and outs of the industry? Do you feel comfortable using the standard terms? Sometimes it's nice to go back to basics and solidify your base of knowledge. Pay close attention, there's a quiz after! (kidding)

Jewelry Terms to Know

Karat: Karat is the term used to measure the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karat. 

Carat: Carat is the term used to designate the weight of a diamond or gemstone.

Precious Metal (vs. Base Metal): Precious metals are platinum, gold, silver, and palladium. They are rarer and more expensive than base metals, e.g., copper, nickel, zinc, etc. Precious metals do not breakdown or tarnish over time as base metals can. Precious metals in their pure form are also often hypoallergenic. 

Pavé: This term is often misused to describe a type of diamond but it is actually a setting style. A pavé setting is one in which rows of stones are set close together using minimal metal so the stones shine through. A piece of pavé set jewelry will appear as if it is "paved" in stones. 

Bezel: A bezel is a style of setting wherein a stone's girdle is entirely surrounded by metal. It is a very sleek, modern, and secure setting. 

Eternity: A style of jewelry, usually a ring, wherein a design, texture, or stone goes all the way around the piece. 

Types of Precious Metals

Fine jewelry is made only with precious metals. As we discussed earlier, pure gold is 24 karat but you'll be hard-pressed to find any jewelry on the market that is 24 karat (24k).

Gold: in its purest form is soft and malleable, as well as extremely expensive. Most fine jewelry on the market is 14 karat (14k) which means it is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other alloys. The other alloys aid in making the gold stronger and more suitable for everyday wear. These alloys also give us white and rose gold via the addition of white and pink-hued base metals, like nickel and copper, respectively. All Dana Rebecca Designs pieces are made of 14k gold so they are perfectly suited for everyday wear and will not tarnish or dull.

Platinum: (Plat, 950, or 999), unlike gold, is between 95-99% pure in fine jewelry. Platinum is rarer, heavier, and naturally white, which explains its heftier price tag. Platinum is durable but also quite malleable. Over time, Platinum can develop a grey hue, called patina, which gives it a vintage look. This can always be polished away if the wearer prefers a bright white gleam. While Dana Rebecca Designs pieces are not typically made of platinum, we often use the metal in our custom bridal designs. 

Sterling Silver: (SS or 925) is 92.5% pure silver. We do not make anything out of Sterling Silver at Dana Rebecca Designs, but we know it is a popular metal and most people have some silver pieces in their collections. Silver can tarnish over time and is much softer than gold and platinum. The tarnish can be removed easily with a silver polishing cloth or special cleaning solution. 
Pro Tip: When describing the color of silver-hued metal, the industry standard is to use the term "white" over "silver", as silver is a type of precious metal in and of itself.

Plated vs. Vermeil vs. Fine Jewelry

Plated: jewelry is made of base metal or sterling silver coated in a layer of gold.

Vermeil: refers specifically to pieces made of sterling silver plated with gold.

Lots of jewelry on the market is gold plated - it gives people the look and feel of gold at a fraction of the cost, however, it doesn't perform or have the same longevity as fine pieces. Gold plating wears off over time, and once the plating wears off the piece will likely tarnish. This is why we choose to work only in 14k gold at Dana Rebecca. We want to craft pieces to last a lifetime, pieces you never have to worry about tarnishing. 


Diamond and Gold Necklaces, Earrings, and RingsDIamond and Gold Bracelets, Earrings, Necklaces, and Rings
Jewelry being selected from a trayJewelry displayed on a tray

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