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The first plastic made from synthetic components; Bakelite was developed in the first decade of the twentieth century by Leo Baekeland. After initial practical applications, the product, which comes in many colors, found wide use in the design and manufacture of jewelry, game pieces, buttons, and kitchen appliances and other household items, such as radios. It replaced gutta-percha in many uses.

Bog oak:

Oak that has been buried in a peat bog for hundreds or sometimes thousands of years. The extremely low oxygen conditions of the bog protect the wood from normal decay, while the underlying peat provides acidic conditions where iron salts and other minerals react with the tannins in the wood, gradually giving it a distinct dark brown to almost black color.


The carat is a unit of mass equal to 200 milligrams (0.00705 oz.) used for measuring gemstones and pearls. The current definition was adopted in 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures, and soon afterwards in many countries around the world. The word derives from the Greek word for carob seed: it was (erroneously) believed carob seeds were uniform in their weight.

An enamel technique, or an object made by that process, in which troughs or cells are carved, etched, die struck, or cast into the surface of a metal object, and filled with vitreous enamel. The piece is then fired until the enamel fuses, and when cooled the surface of the object is polished. The uncarved/etched/cast portions of the original surface remain visible as a frame for the enamel designs. An ancient technique, champlevé is most often associated with objects from the Romanesque period.

“Around” in Latin, abbreviated “ca.” Used when exact dating of an object is not possible. “Ca. 1775”= “created around 1775.”

An enamel technique in which the decoration is formed by first adding compartments (cloisons in French) to a metal object by soldering or affixing silver or gold wires or thin strips placed on their edges, as opposed to champlevé, in which the “compartments” are etched into the surface of the object. These metallic ridges remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be fired in a kiln. First widely used in the Byzantine era, the technique spread, perhaps via the Islamic world, to the Far East: Chinese and Japanese cloisonné is widely produced to this day.

In publishing, a colophon is a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book, such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature. Colophons were formerly printed at the ends of books, but in modern works they are usually located at the verso of the title-leaf.

Gold [hall]marks]:
Gold hallmarks originated to show the purity of gold in a piece of jewelry and included the mark of the assaying office that certified the purity as well as the fineness (or caratage*) of the gold. Later, trademarks that showed which goldsmith had manufactured the product were added. The use of such marks goes back in various forms to Medieval Europe.

Caratage” should not be confused with “carat”: the former delineates the degree of purity in gold jewelry; the latter serves as a definition of weight in gemstones and pearls.


Gouache is a paint consisting of natural pigment, water, a binding agent (usually gum Arabic [also used in pastels and traditional watercolors] or dextrin, and sometimes additional inert material. This makes gouache heavier, with greater reflective qualities. Gouache has a considerable history, going back over 600 years. The term “gouache,” based on an Italian word meaning “mud,” became attached to the medium in eighteenth century France. The term, like pastel, can also be used to describe a finished work using the medium.

A rubber-like product produced from a Malayan tree, hard and durable gutta-percha was used to make furniture in the mid-19th century, as well as "mourning" jewelry, because it was dark in color and could be easily molded into beads or other shapes. It was also used in canes and walking sticks.

Hardstone is an unscientific term, mostly encountered in the decorative arts or archaeology, that has a similar meaning to semi-precious stones, or gemstones. Very hard building stones, such as granite, are not included in the term in this sense; only stones which are fairly hard and regarded as attractive—in effect ones which could be used in art & jewelry—are included in this category.  Frequently used hardstones include  jade, agate, onyx, rock crystal, sard or carnelian.. The term is derived as a literal translation of the Italian plural pietra dure = "hard stones", which in Italian covers all hardstone carving.

A compact velvet-black coal that takes a good polish and is often used for jewelry.

Mourning jewelry:
An ancient tradition of creating jewelry to memorialize the dead, mourning jewelry was especially favored in the Victorian era after the death of prince Albert, where its original iteration—usually as rings—morphed into many other forms, many of which might feature human hair, particular inscriptions, and the like. The nineteenth century versions often made use of jet or bog oak, among other appropriately dark materials.

The word has several meanings, among them
● a kind of dried paste made of pigments ground with chalk and compounded with gum Arabic dissolved in water.
● a chalk-like crayon made from such a paste; and
● the art of drawing with such crayons.

The result of such a drawing is also called “a pastel,” and the paler shades, typically associated with the range of pigments found in the pastel artist’s palette, are described as “pastel” colors—although brighter hues can also be found in these productions.

Plique-à-jour (French for "letting in daylight") is vitreous enameling technique where the enamel is applied in cells, similar to cloisonné, using a temporary backing that after firing is dissolved by acid or rubbed away, so light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel. It is in effect a miniature version of stained glass and is considered challenging technically. Very ancient in origin, it is also found in Japanese pieces called shotal-jippo.

Silver-Gilt: see Vermeil

Soapstone is an easily carved type of stone, composed primarily of talc, fused into a rock by extreme heat and pressure. Softer grades may feel similar to soap when touched, hence the name. Easy to carve, it is also durable, heat-resistant and has a high heat storage capacity. It has therefore been used for cooking and heating equipment for thousands of years—think foot warmers, pots and pans and the like—and in varied artistic ways—think Egyptian scarabs, bas-relief carvings, statues of varied dimensions, Chinese seals, and native American smoking pipes.

A general term describing the various forms of pottery and ceramics produced in Staffordshire in northeast England, especially in what is now the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Hundreds of companies produced all kinds of pottery, from tableware and decorative pieces to industrial items. The main pottery types of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain were all made in large quantities, and the Staffordshire industry was a major innovator in developing new varieties of ceramic bodies, such as bone china and jasperware, as well as pioneering transfer printing and other glazing and decorating techniques. Staffordshire potteries active in the nineteenth century include Spode, Aynsley, Burleigh, Doulton, Dudson, Mintons, Moorcroft, Davenport, Twyford and Wedgwood.

Sterling silver [hall]marks]:
A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver, the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other (optional) markings to indicate date of manufacture and additional information about the piece. In some countries, the testing of silver objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assayer's office. As with gold hallmarks, a regularized system of silver hallmarking dates back to the Middle Ages.
Sterling silver is an alloy consisting of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually copper.

Stoneware is a rather broad term for pottery or other ceramics fired at a relatively high temperature (nowadays between about 1,100°C [2,010°F] to 1,300°C [2,370°F]). A modern technical definition is a glassy or semi-glassy ceramic made primarily from stoneware clay. It is nonporous; it may or may not be glazed. Historically, across the world, it has been developed after earthenware (fired at a lower temperature) and before porcelain (fired at an even higher temperature) and has often been used for high-quality as well as utilitarian wares.

A term popularized in nineteenth century America for what is called elsewhere, including the United Kingdom, “silver-gilt” or “gilded/gilt silver.” It describes an object of silver—either pure or sterling—gilded with gold. It is both a very ancient technique—it is mentioned in the Iliad—and one found, in one form or another, around the world.