| MABE' (Or Mobe')
A Japanese term for cultured pearls which are cultured against the
shell so that only half a pearl is formed resembling a half-sphere.
Mabe pearls are large, hemispherical cultured pearls that grow attached
to the inside shells of oysters. Mabe pearls are used in earrings,
pins, and rings.
Machine stamping (also known as die-stamping) is a process in which
sheet metal is cut and shaped between two dies, forming a pattern
in relief. Two steel dies are used, the male die has the design
in cameo (protruding); the female die has the design hollowed out.
The male die is put on top of the metal, the female die is put on
the underside of the metal. The press is forcefully brought down
onto the dies and metal, forcing the metal into the shape of the
mold. Many medallions and mass-produced jewelry findings are made
Also called periclase, magnesia is a light, solid, white earthy
mineral composed of magnesium oxide. It is a source of magnesium
and is used as a laxative. It takes its name from Magnesia, an ancient
city of Asia Minor, and is a mineral ingredient of the philosophers'
A light, silvery-white, moderately hard, malleable, ductile, metallic
element which only occurs in nature as a compound with other elements,
as found in magnesite, spinel and olivine. In ribbon or powder form
magnesium burns with a brilliant white flame, (the so-called magnesium
light), which is used in signaling, pyrotechnics, incendiary bombs,
or in photography where a strong actinic illuminant is required.
Mahogany Obsidian (also called Apache tears) is brownish obsidian.
This glassy, lustrous mineral is found in lava flows, and obsidian
stones can be massive. Obsidian is formed when viscous lava (from
volcanos) cools rapidly. Most obsidian is 70 percent silica. Obsidian
has a hardness of 5 and a specific gravity of 2.35. The pin above
is Mahogany (brown) obsidian.
Malachite is an opaque semi-precious stone with layers of deep green
and light green. It is usually found in copper mines; malachite
is about 57% copper. Malachite was used as jewelry thousands of
years ago by the ancients Egyptians. Malachite is usually cabochon
set in silver. Russian malachite carvings were done in miniature
and in large scale; malachite was also inlaid in furniture. Malachite
has a hardness of 4 and a specific gravity of 3.80. It is monoclinic;
it has one two-fold axis of symmetry. Malachite is sometimes coated
with colorless wax, oil, or hardening agents to increase its durability
and enhance its appearance.
Malleable metals are easily worked with a hammer or a roller. gold
and sterling silver are very malleable metals.
Maltese cross is a cross whose four equal-length arms get larger
the farther they get from the center. The Maltese cross brooch above
is by Weiss; it has red paste stones and a Japanned finish.
A mandrel is a metal rod used to coil molten glass in order to make
A gray-white or silvery brittle, metallic, element which resembles
iron but is not magnetic. It is found abundantly in the ores pyrolusite,
manganite, and rhodochrosite and in nodules on the ocean floor.
Manganese is alloyed with iron to form ferromanganese, which is
used to increase strength, hardness, and wear resistance of steel.
Steel-gray or iron-black crystals composed of manganese oxide. Used
as a source of manganese.
A metamorphic rock composed of calcium carbonate, (like aragonite
or coral), or carbonate of lime, (limestone or dolomite, a variety
of calcite), which is swirled or clouded with color. It is most
often used for architectural and ornamental purposes. The most common
variety is white, but it can also be yellow, red, or green.
A stone, or other object, with two or more colors swirled together.
Marboux is a mark of the Marcel Boucher costume jewelry company.
Other Boucher marks include "Marcel Boucher" and "Boucher."
Marcasite is a shiny, metallic semi-precious stone. It is actually
iron pyrite. Marcasite is generally faceted. The Czech guilloche
pin above is studded with marcasites.
A chain composed of small, round, diamond cut links that are designed
to lie flat like a curb link chain, but are set very close together.
A chain link resembling a flat oval with a flat bar in
the middle of the ring. A figogucci chain is a variant form.
Marquise cut stones have a shape like an oval with two pointed ends.
Marvella is a costume jewelry brand that was founded by Sol E. Weinreich,
who began business in January, 1906 in New York, New York. They
were bought by Trifari in 1982. It is now owned by the Monet Group,
Inc. This company has been called the Weirich Brothers Company,
Marvella, Inc., and Marvella Pearls, Inc. Marvella created costume
jewelry, many featuring simulated pearls and faceted beads. For
more information on Marvella, click here.
A matinee-length necklace is a single strand that is from 22 to
23 inches (56 to 58 cm) long. Matinee-length generally refers to
a string of pearls that hangs to the top of the cleavage.
Matisse is a line of enameled copper jewelry from the "Renoir
of California" jewelry company. The enameled copper leaf pin
above is marked Matisse.
With jewelry which has a matte finish the designer uses either a
chemical process or an abrasive material to scratch the top layers
of the piece creating a dull and non-reflective surface. Also referred
to as having a "brushed finish.".
A matte finish on a metal's surface is a soft, lustrous finish that
reduces the metal's reflectivity.
Maw-sit-sit is a rare green gemstone that has dark-green to black
veining; it sometimes has white spots. The stone is opaque to translucent.
Maw-sit-sit has a hardness of 6.0; the specific gravity is 2.5 to
3.5. This stone is found in Maw-sit-sit, Myanmar (Burma), and is
often found neat jadeite, but maw-sit-sit is not a type of jade.
Maw-sit-sit was first identified in 1963 by the Swiss Gemologist
Eduard Gübelin; the local called the stone maw-sit-sit, and
the name was retained. Although its exact composition is still unknown,
Maw-sit-sit is composed of chromite, ureyite, chrome jadeite, symplektite,
chrome amphibole, and other lighter minerals.
(Mazer (or Jomaz) is a costume jewelry mark used by the Joseph J.
Mazer company (founded in NY, NY in 1927). Early pieces are marked
"Mazer Bros;" later pieces are marked JOMAZ or MAZER.
They went out of business in 1970's. Mazer made high-quality jewelry
like the gold-plated earring above with pearl and paste accents.
McClelland Barclay was a costume jewelry company that made very
high quality pieces, often gold plated with colored rhinestones
and a geometric design. He also made jewelry pieces in sterling
silver and trays in anodized aluminum and bronze. McClelland Barclay
(1891-1943) was an artist who was an illustrator, sculptor, painter,
and jewelry designer. McClelland Barclay jewelry is not the same
A common black variety of garnet composed of iron lime.
A melee is a small diamond, under .20 carat.
Memory wire is a tough, stiff wire that retains its shape. It is
often used for necklaces and bracelets.
A sheet of fabric-like woven fine wire, similar to the kind used
for screen doors.
The quality used to describe a gem with a luster similar to metal.
Hematite, pyrite, stibnite, silver topaz and Gibeon Meteorites are
some gems which display a metallic luster.
Mexican diamond is a misleading term for rock crystal, and not a
diamond at all.
Mexican jade is a misleading term for dyed stalagmitic calcite;
it is not jade.
MFA stands for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusett,
USA. They produce reproductions of their museum pieces (and other
Mica is a soft, lightweight, transparent mineral that cleaves into
thin, elastic sheets (it has a single perfect cleavage direction).
It is used for lampshades and electrical insulators. There are about
30 different types of micas, ranging in color from yellow to green
to gray to violet to white to brown. Mica has a hardness of 2.5
and a specific density of about 3. Tiny mica particles give the
shimmer to aventurine (goldstone).
Microcrystalline is a type of mineral structure in which the crystals
are so small that they can only be seen using a microscope.
Micromosaics are pictures or decorations that are made out of extremely
small pieces (tiles) of stone, glass or other materials. Italian
micromosaics were common souvenirs. Older examples are much more
intricate, have smaller mosaic tiles, and generally have better
A micron is a unit of length equal to 0.001 mm (millimeter).
Milanese mesh (also known as Milanese work or Milanese chain) is
a an intricate mesh made from spiral wires braided together. Milanese
mesh is used to make necklaces and bracelets.
A raised, beaded edge on a ring done with a special engraver's tool;
resembling the edge of a coin.
A milgrain design engraved into the edge of the metal securing a
stone in place.
Milk And Honey Fffect
The milk and honey effect is one in which the apparent coloring
of a stone changes (from milky to the color of honey) as the angle
of the light changes. When a light is shined on the stone, one side
of the stone is the color of milk and the other is the color of
honey. When the light changes direction, the color effect also shifts.
Cat's-eye chrysoberyl can exhibit this milk and honey phenomenon.
Millefiori (meaning "thousand flowers" in Italian) is
glass that is formed from multiple canes of colored glass that are
fused together and cut crosswise. Millefiori glass can also be made
A millegrain (or millegrain setting) is a setting in which
the stone is secured by tiny beads [grains] of metal or a band of
metal that is decorated with tiny beads of metal.
Milling is a process in which wood or metal is cut while it either
the material or the tool is spinning. Symmetrical shapes and patterns
are cut into the material.
Mine cut stones have a cushion-shaped girdle. This type of cut was
popular in the late 1800's.
Any inorganic substance; i.e. anything that is not a plant or an
Ming's of Honolulu (Hawaii) was a fine jewelry company that sold
high-quality jewelry (both gold and silver), often using pearls,
jade, coral, and ivory (often dyed). The designs often used Hawaiian
and Asian motifs. Ming's also produced hand-carved figurals depicting
exotic leaves (like banana leaves), flowers (like hibiscus, anthurium,
pikake, bird of paradise, and orchids) and other natural objects.
Some older, unmarked Ming's pieces have a distinctive leaf-shaped
clasp. The artist Wook Moon began Ming's in 1940 and the store soon
expanded over the Hawaii islands, and to San Francisco, New York
City, Miami, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, and Atlanta. The last of the
Ming's stores (in Honolulu) closed in October, 1999.
Miracle makes Celtic or "Scottish" jewelry, jewelry using
ancient Celtic designs and stones such as agate. The Miracle pin
pictured above is made with agate stones.
A piece of jewelry having no signs of wear whatsoever, including
no discolored stones. A piece that is in Mint Condition is in virtually
the same condition as it was when it left the manufacturer. Considering
that vintage jewelry is usually 50 or more years old, and that it
likely has been worn, it is obviously quite rare to find a piece
that is truly in Mint Condition.
A mixed cut in one in which the style of the facets above and below
the girdle are different. A standard mixed cut is brilliant cut
above and step cut below.
These Indian emeralds were owned by Indian moguls (like Shah Jahan,
the builder of the Taj Mahal) and were inscribed with sacred blessings.
The Mohs Scale of Hardness measures a substance's hardness, that
is, how resistant it is to being scratched. In the Mohs scale, which
ranges from 1 to 10, one substance is harder than another if it
can scratch it. For example, a diamond (hardness = 10) will scratch
garnet (hardness = 6.5-7.5), but not the other way around, so a
diamond is harder than garnet. This scale was invented by Austrian
mineralogist Friedrich Mohs (1773-1839).
Iradj Moini is a modern jewelry designer who produces exquisite,
imaginative, handmade pieces. Moini's jewelry is highly collectible
and is usually figural and studded with brightly-colored stones.
Moini designs for Oscar de la Renta, but he has also produced pieces
for Bill Blass, Scaas and Herrera.
Moissanite is a very hard mineral that was discovered by Dr. Ferdinand
Henri Moissan (1852-1907), a French chemist and Nobel Prize winner
(Moissan did work on synthesizing diamonds and discovered carborundum
in 1891). He found tiny amounts of Moissanite in the iron meteorite
that was found at Diablo Canyon (also called Meteor Crater) in Arizona,
USA. Moissanite ranges in color from colorless to blue to green
to yellow. Its chemical makeup is Silicon Carbide (SiC); it is also
called Carborundum. Moisannite crystals are transparent to translucent.
Moissanite has a hardness of 9.25 (this is almost as hard as diamond)
and a specific gravity of 3.1 - 3.2. Laboratory-grown Moissanite
is sold as a gemstone.
A Japanese metal-smithing technique which results in a wood-like
finish. Alternating layers of thin, colored metals are laminated
together. Patterns are punched in the laminate, filed away or hammered.
This technique produces unique and delicate patterns.
Moldavite is a rare, glassy, translucent, dark green gemstone. Moldavite
is a silica-based tektite, a mineral formed when a meteorite (a
rock from space) struck the Earth's surface and melted and fused
the surrounding rock. Moldavite is only found in Bohemia (the Czech
Republic) in the Ries Crater in the Moldau River valley (which it
was named for). Moldavite was discovered in the late 1800's; the
meteorite from which it formed hit the Earth about 14.7 million
years ago. Moldavite has a hardness of 5.5-6.6. Inclusions of gas
bubbles and iron/nickel spherules are common. This natural glass
has been used for jewelry, religious articles, and decorative objects
since prehistoric times.
Molded cameos are cameos that are made by the molding process and
not by carving the material (as traditional cameos are). Molded
cameos are usually made from plastic, glass, or porcelain that is
formed in a mold. Often, two colors of material are used, one for
the relief pattern (often depicting a person or scene) and another
for the background. The molded cameo above is a Jasper ware porcelain
cameo made by the Wedgewood Company.
An invertebrate animal usually enclosed in a shell, such as an oyster,
mussel or clam.
MOMA stands for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York,
USA. They produce reproductions of their museum pieces (and other
Monet is a major, high-quality costume jewelry manufacturer. It
was founded as the Monocraft Products Company in 1927 by Jay and
Michael Chernow as a monogram manufacturer and began producing jewelry
under the name Monet in 1929. The mark "Monet" was begun
in September, 1937. Monet produced Yves Saint Laurent jewelry in
the 1980's. Monet developed the very comfortable "friction
ear clip" for non-pierced earrings and the "barrel clutch"
for pierced earrings. This company has been sold many times (its
owners have included General Mills and Crystal Brands Jewelry) and
is now called the Monet Group, Inc.; it is still located in East
Providence, Rhode Island. The Monet Group now distributes jewelry
under the names Monet, Trifari, Ciani, and Marvella.
Monoclinic minerals have a crystalline structure in which there
is one two-fold axis of symmetry. Jade, Malachite and moonstone
A "Montana ruby" is actually a pyrope garnet (and not
a ruby at all).
Moonstone (orthoclase) is a semi-translucent stone that is made
of albite and orthoclase feldspar. It is usually whitish-blue, but
can be colorless, yellow, orange, gray, or even reddish. Moonstone
is usually set as a cabochon. Moonstone was very popular early in
the 20th century and was extensively used in Art Nouveau jewelry.
Moonstone has a hardness of 6 and a specific gravity of 2.57. It
is monoclinic; it has one two-fold axis of symmetry. Adularia is
a common type of moonstone. Oligoclase is another type of moonstone;
Labradorite and albite are rare forms.
A transparent to translucent pink gemstone. It is a variety of beryl,
Be3Al2(Si6O18) that contains some manganese (giving the stone its
pink color). Morganite has a hardness of 7.5 - 8 and a specific
gravity of 2.71 - 2.90. It has poor cleavage and is brittle. Morganite
is often heat treated to give the stone a purer pink color (and
remove any yellow spots). Morganite was named for J. Pierpoint Morgan,
the American industrialist and gem collector. Morganite is found
in Brazil, Madagascar, Italy, Pakistan, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe,
and the USA (California, Maine, Connecticut, and North Carolina).
A clasp used by the clergy for fastening garments, such as a cape,
in front. It is usually very large, from 12.5 to 17.5 cm in diameter,
of various materials and shapes, and decorated in religious themes.
Mosaics are pictures or decorations that are made out of small pieces
(tiles) of stone, glass or other materials. Italian mosaics were
common souvenirs. Older examples are much more intricate, have smaller
mosaic tiles, and generally have better workmanship.
Moss agate (also called Mocha stone in Britain and the USA) is a
green variety of agate. It is chalcedony that has dendritic (tree-like)
inclusions of green (red or black) hornblende. The inclusions often
form beautiful patterns. Moss agate has a hardness of 6.5-7 and
a specific gravity of 2.6. Green moss agate is found in India, and
some other locations.
Mother-of-pearl is the iridescent coating on the inside of oyster
shells. Mother-of-pearl is used for jewelry, buttons, and other
A kind of "family jewelry", Mother's rings are rings personalized
with their children's birthstones or with birthstones and names.
Moukaite is a semi-precious gemstone, a variety of jasper from Australia.
The color of moukaite varies from red-browns to pinks, with gold
and white bands.
To place or fix a stone in the setting. See Mounting.
A piece of metal that holds a gem in place.
Mourning jewelry is a type of jewelry worn when one is mourning
the loss of a loved one. It is often black, subdued jewelry (often
made of jet or black glass and metal with a Japanned finish) or
jewelry that commemorates the dead (like hair jewelry or cameos).
After England's Queen Victoria's beloved husband (and cousin) Albert
died (in 1861), she went into an extended period of mourning. During
these years, she wore black clothing and mourning jewelry. English
fashion was greatly influenced by this, and mourning jewelry, especially
jet, became quite fashionable.
A long chain with a clasp used to suspend a lady’s fur muff.
Mya yay is the Burmese (Myanmar) name for the highest quality translucent
Mystic fire (also called mystic topaz or rainbow topaz) is topaz
that has been color enhanced by coating it with a fine layer of
metal atoms (in a process called vacuum deposition). This stone
has red, green, violet, and blue streaks. Mystic fire has a hardness