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.
For thousands of years, ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It is called the “King of Gemstones” and known as the stone of love. The gem is the red variety of the mineral corundum, and while any other color of corundum is denominated as “sapphire,” only red corundum may be called “ruby.” Pure corundum is colorless, but slight traces of elements are responsible for ruby’s purplish bluish-red to orange-red color. In fact, the name “ruby” was derived from the Latin word “rubens,” meaning “red.”
The finest rubies are an intensely saturated pure red with no overtones of brown or blue. They are readily available in sizes up to 2.00ct and have incredible durability, ranking a 9.0 on the Mohs Scale (second only to diamonds in hardness). Rubies may show very different shades of red depending on their origin, and the range of these reds is quite considerable. The gem’s intense color was once thought to come from an undying flame inside the stone, while other legends say each stone is a piece of the planet Mars.
Some rubies distinguish themselves with a wonderful silky shine, called the “silk” of the stone, which is created by fine rutile needles within the gem. The rutile mineral is also involved within very scarce “star” rubies. As can be found in sapphires, there is a translucent variety of ruby that displays a six-point star when cut into a smooth domed cabochon. Rutile is embedded in an asterisk-shape within the ruby, causing a captivating light effect called “asterism.” Six-ray stars appear to magically glide across the surface of the stones as they are moved. Star rubies are expensive rarities and should always display the stars exactly in the center of the gem. The star stone is said to be the home of each person’s angel, who lives there in contentment with the ruby’s spirit.
Rubies are found in many countries throughout the world, each location producing rubies of specific qualities and colors. Gemstone experts agree that the Burmese ruby is the most valuable and luxurious category of the stone. The former country of Burma, now Myanmar, is situated in a mountain valley surrounded by high summits. Rubies that are mined from this “Valley of Rubies” feature an exceptionally vivid red color with a slightly bluish hue. The stones display their unique brilliance in both natural and artificial light.
Rubies from Thailand, another classical supplier of the gem, are often dark red tending towards brown. This “Siam color” is considered almost as beautiful as the Burma color. Rare rubies from Ceylon are mainly light red, like ripe raspberries, while rubies of Vietnamese origin generally display a slightly purplish hue. Rubies are also produced in India, where relatively large ruby crystals have been discovered. These particular rubies, however, have many inclusions, but are excellently suited to be cut as beads or cabochons. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Russia have also produced occasional top-quality rubies, but the rough terrain in these areas has made mining difficult.
Top-quality rubies are quite rare and are often considered even more valuable than colorless diamonds, particularly in sizes above 5.00ct. High prices tend to reflect their tremendous value. In 1988, a 16.00ct ruby sold at auction for $227,301 at Sotheby's in Geneva, Switzerland. A 27.37ct Burmese ruby ring sold for $4 million at Sotheby's in 1995, which was an astounding $146,145 per carat.
It is possible that no other gemstone has been as prized as the ruby. Celebrated in the Bible and in ancient Sanskrit writings as the most precious of all gemstones, rubies have adorned emperors and kings throughout history. Until improvements in chemical testing in the 1800s, most red gem-quality stones were called rubies. Thus, many of the famous “rubies” in the crown jewels of Europe, including Britain’s “Black Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby,” have since been identified as red spinels or garnets. Today, rubies continue to decorate the insignia of many Royal Houses.
In the 13th century, traveler Marco Polo wrote that Kublai Kahn, the Mongol Emperor of China, once offered an entire city for a ruby the size of a man’s finger. In ancient Hindu writings, the ruby represents the sun power. In China, the stone was given as offerings to Buddha.
Rubies were also given as offerings to Krishna in India. For a long time, India was considered the classical country of rubies. Their literature offers a rich and varied knowledge of the stone that was collected and handed down for over two thousand years. In the Sanskrit language, ruby is called “ratnaraj,” which translates as “king of gemstones.” Whenever a spectacular ruby was found, the emperor would send out his notables to welcome the precious gemstone in an appropriate style fit for a king.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that a ruby could change color and grow darker to warn its owner that danger or illness was near. Thought to ward off misfortune, it was believed to chase away evil spirits and the spirits of the dead. The deep red color of rubies has been used for centuries as protection and to convey invulnerability. Soldiers wore them into battle to guard against wounds and promote healing if they received a wound. The color of blood, the stone is symbolic of courage and bravery. Warriors were said to have implanted rubies under their skin to bring them valor in battle, make them invincible against enemies and ensure victory.
Rubies have also been historically thought to bestow wisdom, wealth and love. In China and Europe during the 10th century, dragons and snakes were carved in the gems’ surfaces to increase the flow of money and power to their owners. A common belief was that dreaming of rubies meant the coming of success in business and money matters. Rubies were also used to capture a mate and light the passion of romance. The gem was believed to have the magical powers of sexual fire and success in love. It has also been said by ancient lore to be capable of reconciling lovers’ quarrels.
When combined with gold and worn on the body, it is said that rubies can cause the body to rejuvenate and absorb energy from the sun to heal all types of body sickness and skin afflictions. It is believed that it should be worn with gold to banish sadness and bring joy.
Given as a symbol of success, devotion and integrity, the ruby is July’s birthstone and the traditional gift for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. Rubies have symbolized passion and romance for centuries, so when placed in engagement rings, they express unbridled love and promise of the heart.
Most people think the coral used in jewelry comes from South Pacific coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. However, these coral reefs are formed by a different species than the coral that is traditionally used in jewelry. Most jewelry coral is found in the Mediterranean Sea or in the Pacific near Japan and Taiwan. It grows in ocean colonies of branches that look like underwater trees, and is found in a range of colors, including pale pink (called angelskin coral), orange, red (called noble coral), white and black. The most valued colors are deep red, black and pink. It is much softer than other gems, with a hardness of only 3.5 on the Mohs Scale. In jewelry-making, coral is often carved into beads or cameos, or can be left and polished in its natural branch-like form.
Among the most ancient of gem materials, coral has been used for adornment since prehistoric times. While coral inlays and ornaments have been found in Celtic tombs from the Iron Age, the gem also has a history of religious significance. It is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures, and coral rosaries are used by Tibetan Lamas.
Coral was long thought to be a powerful talisman that could stop bleeding, protect from evil spirits, and ward off hurricanes. Because it was believed that coral protected the wearer, it was a traditional gift to children. Coral was also believed to lose its powers once broken. Today, coral is the traditional 35th anniversary gift for married couples.
Stainless steel, also called corrosion resistant steel, is a steel alloy with added iron and chromium. The metal is low maintenance, rust-resistant, durable, highly lustrous and extremely hygienic, making it ideal for items such as cookware, knives, surgical instruments, jewelry and watches.
The nearly-indestructible and masculine nature of stainless steel is appealing for many jewelry styles. It has a similar appearance to platinum and polishes to a glistening sheen. Any scratches that may occur from day to day wear can be easily buffed away without endangering the piece. Unlike traditional gold, silver or platinum jewelry, stainless steel jewelry is not poured into molds, but is usually hand-cut from a solid piece of steel, leaving no seams or weak spots. With stainless steel, your jewelry will last a lifetime.
Stainless steel was first recognized in France in 1821 by metallurgist Pierre Berthier. He realized the iron-chromium alloys maintained resistance from acids and recommended their use in cutlery. After several corrosion-resistance related discoveries and patents in Europe and the United States, Harry Brearley in England discovered a modern blend of stainless steel alloy. When it was announced by The New York Times in January of 1915, he was officially credited with the invention of this impressive modern metal.
A selection of our jewelry is made of sterling palladium alloy. Palladium is a member of the platinum group of precious metals. By replacing a portion of the copper content used in standard sterling silver with palladium, this proprietary formula renders a precious metal with superior performance attributes. Sterling palladium is five times more tarnish-resistant than standard sterling silver and has strength similar to that of 14K gold.
Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939, originally as an alternative to platinum for making white gold. Its naturally white color requires no rhodium plating. Additionally, palladium is proportionally much lighter than platinum and is ideal for use in heavier gemstone jewelry. It is a more expensive alloy than nickel, but it seldom causes the allergic reactions that nickel alloy can.
To care for your plated jewelry items: