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This glossary explains common words and basic definitions for the frequently-used
beadwork and jewelry terms, that you may encounter as you shop beaded jewelry.
We understand, that our glossary is not full, and we suggest you to add terms.

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AB (Aurora Borealis)

The aurora is a bright glow observed in the night sky, usually in the polar zone. Aurora Borealis is a term for crystal stones that have a highly iridescent surface. As to beads, iridescent finish is achieved by placing a pastel multicolored coating on the surface of the bead.

Aurora Borealis

Lustering process using very small metallic particles.


Abalone is a mollusk whose shell is iridescent on the inside; abalone is a source of mother of pearl, which is used in jewelry making.


Acroite is a rare, colorless variety of tourmaline.

Acrylic Resin

Acrylic resins are transparent and opaque man-made resins of varied colors used in making molded plastics.

African Trade Beads

African Trade beads are usually large, cylindrical, and colorful. Trade beads were old glass beads mostly made in Venice 200-400 years ago, used for trade in Africa and the Orient.


Agate is a term applied not to a distinct mineral species, but to an aggregate of various forms of silica, chiefly chalcedony.
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An aigrette (meaning "egret" in French) is a feather-shaped piece of jewelry that is worn in the hair or on a hat.

Alabaster (opal glass)

Bead decorative process, that includes tiny particles, often crystals, that make opal glass opaque and alabaster glass semi-opaque.


Alexandrite is a mineral that appears to be different colors depending on whether it is viewed in natural or artificial light: to be red when seen in candle light and blue to green when seen in fluorescent light.

Alexandrite Effect

The "Alexandrite Effect" is a phenomenon in which a stone appears to be different colors depending upon the type of light it is viewed in.


An alloy is a combination of two or more metals. Common alloys used in jewelry are: gold under 24 Kt (mixed with silver, copper, and/or other metals), Sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper), brass (roughly half copper, half zinc), bronze (at least 60% copper with tin and perhaps other metals), and pewter (tin, lead, antimony, and a bit of silver or copper).


Almandine is a type of violet-tinged variety of garnet that ranges in color from deep red to reddish-brown.


Alpaca is an alloy consisting of mostly copper (roughly 60 percent), and approximately 20 percent nickel, about 20 percent zinc, and about 5 percent tin. This metal is a a silver substitute.


Amazonite is a mineral of limited occurrence, it is an iridescent stone that ranges in color from green to blue-green.
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Amber is the common name for translucent fossilized tree resin that is appreciated for its inherent beauty. Amber comes in many colors, including yellow, reddish, greenish, whitish, black, and blue. Amber is flammable.
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Amethyst is a form of the mineral quartz, and is a relatively common gemstone. Amethyst is usually purple, but can range in color from pale lavender to a very deep, reddish purple to a milky color to green. Deeper-colored amethysts are more highly valued.
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Ametrine is a variety of quartz, a mixture of amethyst and citrine. Ametrine is partially purple and partially orange-yellow.


Ammolite is a rare and valuable opal-like organic gemstone, it is made of the fossilized shells of ammonites, which in turn are composed primarily of aragonite, the same mineral that makes up nacreous pearls. Ammolite is also known as gem ammonite, calcentine, and korite.


Amorphous means without form. An amorphous gem, like jet, amber, or ivory, does not have a regular internal structure, like those gems that fall within the seven crystal systems.


An amulet is a protective charm that is worn in the hope of protecting the wearer from evil or illness or to bring the wearer good luck.


Faceted andalusite stones give a play of red, green, and yellow colors that resembles a muted form of iridescence. Andalusite belongs to the same family as kyanite and sillimanite.


An anklet, ankle chain, or ankle bracelet, is an ornament worn around the ankle.


Apatite is an abundant mineral found in many types of rock but most gem quality material is associated with pegmatites.


An ornamental object which was produced separately and then applied to a piece of jewelry.


Aquamarine is a gemstone-quality transparent variety of beryl, having a delicate blue or turquoise color, suggestive of the tint of seawater.
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Aragonite is a carbonate mineral. It is transparent to translucent and can range in color from honey-colored to pale reds, blues and greens to clear or white.
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An asterism is a star-like luminous effect that reflects light in some gemstones, like star sapphires and star garnets.

Atlas Beads

Pentagonal satin glass beads with corners ground off.


Golden glitter due to copper crystals suspended in or pressed into the surface of other materials. Aventurine glass is a shimmering glass.


Aventurine is a shimmering quartz stone that ranges in color from yellow to red to light green to blue to light brown. The shimmer is caused by tiny metallic particles within the stone. Because of golden glitter sometimes it is also called goldstone.
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Azurite is a soft, deep blue to pale blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits. It is often found in the same mineral deposits as malachite.
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