Alloy: a mixture of 2 or more base metals combined to create a new metal, usually for the purpose of adding strength and durability.
Anodized Aluminum: aluminum that has undergone the process of having a color coating applied to its surface via an electric current. Vibrant colors can result, but the color can be easily scratched off when using sharp metal tools.
Base Metal: a common, non-precious, more easily accessed (& therefore, less expensive) metal such as iron, brass, nickel, copper, nickel, tin, lead, zinc & aluminum. These metals will undergo varying measures of corrosion & oxidation when exposed to moist air.
Beads: small, decorative objects that are formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of a material such as stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood or pearl and with a small hole for stringing.
Bead Weaving: a technique whereby various types of beads are woven [sewn] together using special needles & threads that result in a flexible, decorative (& surprisingly strong) “fabric”. Specific patterns may be followed, or a more free-form, organic approach may be used.
Bronze: an alloy composed of mostly copper and some tin which creates a metal with a dark golden-brown color.
Brass: an alloy of copper and zinc which creates a metal with a bright gold-like color.
Chainmaille: originally a type of battle armor composed of small metal rings linked (woven) together in various specific patterns to form a mesh sheet or chains. Today, we can use the weaving techniques for the peaceful purpose of creating beautiful mesh & chain jewelry.
Crimp [Bead & Tube]: a tiny, metal, collapsible finding used to secure (block off or clamp) the ends of bead stringing wire so that the beads don’t slip off during the design process. Crimp Beads are rounded & look like tiny metal beads, except they’re hollow. Crimp Tubes are simply tiny metal tubes. Both work by having the stringing wire put through them, then the crimps are flattened either with Crimping Pliers or Chain Nose Pliers.
Crochet: the process of creating fabric by interlocking loops of a chosen textile (such as yarn & thread), or also leather & wire, using a crochet hook.
Crochet Hook: (or crochet needle) is an implement used to make loops in thread or yarn and to interlock them into crochet stitches. It is basically a round shaft pointed on one end, with a lateral groove behind it. The point eases the insertion of the hook through the material being crocheted and the groove makes it possible to pull a loop back through the material.
Drape: to hang, fall, lay or become arranged in a softly flowing manner or style.
Draw Plate: a type of mold made from a hardened steel plate [for industrial use] or hardened plastic [for non-industrial use]. The plate has various sized holes in it through which wire is pulled to make it thinner. A typical industrial draw plate will have 20-30 holes in it giving it a broad range of diameters to choose from. Plates & their holes come in varying sizes & shapes to accommodate different shapes of wire such as round, square, oval, half-round & hexagonal.
Finding: a jewelry-making term for any metal component used to connect and/or assemble jewelry.
Gauge (Wire): the measurement of the thickness of wire or metal sheet: the higher the number, the thinner the metal.
Gold-Filled: Gold-filled [wire/sheet] is created when gold (usually 14K gold) is mechanically bonded to the surface of a base metal such as brass. In the US, by law, G.F. must contain at least 5% gold on the exterior of the item. G.F. jewelry contains 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry which makes it a very durable metal. G.F. jewelry can be cleaned by dipping it in jewelry cleaning solution, or buffing with a polishing cloth.
Jump Ring: a piece of wire formed into a loop, usually round, and used to connect together jewelry components. Jump rings are sometimes offered in other shapes besides round, including oval, triangle, square and more. They are the primary components of chainmaille weaving.
Kerf: the gap (space) between the cut ends of a jump ring that indicate the width of the saw blade used to cut the jump rings.
Loom: traditionally, a large, hand-operated or power-driven apparatus used for weaving textiles. While the operating principle is the same, much smaller looms are used for bead weaving.
Luster (also Lustre): the state or quality of shining by reflecting light; glitter, sparkle. sheen or gloss.
Macrame: the art of hand knotting natural, synthetic or leather fiber using specific techniques which results in elaborately patterned, lace-like webbing that is used for decorative, utilitarian or adornment purposes.
Memory Wire: a steel wire which holds (or “remembers”) its preformed circular shape. Available in multiple sizes to make necklaces, bracelets and rings. Memory wire jewelry does not require a clasp; the wire tension & a simple loop formed on each end will keep components in place on the wire. However, there are findings available that are specifically made for memory wire ends.
Memory Wire Cutters: shears made specifically to easily cut hard wires such as steel memory wire and precious metals. They create a straight, flat cutoff and work just as effectively for headpins as well. Using any other type of wire cutters on memory wire will ruin the cutters.
Metal, Noble*: the term “noble” is a term used in chemistry to describe metals that are resistant to corrosion & oxidation in the presence of moist air, unlike base metals. The most commonly recognized of these types of metal are silver, gold & platinum. Others are ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium & iridium.
Metal, Precious*: this type of “metallic chemical element” [metal] is naturally occurring, but rare (not easily accessed), which accounts for the high economic value placed on it. The outstanding physical characteristics of these metals that contributes to their appeal is that they’re bright & shiny. The most commonly recognized precious metals are gold & silver, also known as the “coinage metals”.
Pliers, Chain Nose: available versions are long-nose, short-nose & curved/bent-nose styles. All are used to grip components at difficult angles; reach into tight places; open/close jump rings; bend wire & help to stabilize a design while working. Long-nose allows a further reach into tight spaces, while short-nose provides more strength & stability. Curved/bent-nose also provides strength & stability, but does so without obstructing one’s line of vision.
Pliers, Crimping: pliers that are designed with multiple grooved openings that will accommodate crimp beads & crimp tubes.
Pliers, Flat Nose: available in long-nose & short-nose versions, they are used to bend wire and hold beads & other components in place without damaging them. The jaws have a flat inside surface that’s useful for stabilizing jump rings, flattening wire & creating sharp corners for wire working. The long version gives greater reach, and the short version provides stability & strength.
Pliers, Needle Nose: similar to chain-nose styles, they have flat inner jaws and curved outer jaws. These pliers have a longer, thinner jaw that tapers to a point at the end. This shape difference makes them useful for gripping items in very small, difficult to reach spaces.
Pliers, Parallel Action: pliers used for compressing or bending when flattening wire and setting stone mountings. Their smooth jaws will not mar metal. Due to their strength, they are indispensable when using strong [VERY hard] metals such as stainless steel and bronze jump rings for chainmaille creations.
Pliers, Round Nose: primarily used to make various sized loops in wire work applications. They’re ideal for wire-wrapping and making head pins & eye pins.
Sequins: disk-shaped beads with a center hole that are used for decorative purposes. In earlier centuries, they were made from shiny metals. Today, sequins are most often made from plastic. They are available in a wide variety of colors and geometrical shapes. Sequins are commonly used on clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes and other accessories.
Silver, Argentium: a modern, patented** tarnish resistant silver alloy [mixture] made from recycled silver that comes in 2 grades: .932, made with 93.2% silver, and .960, made with 96% silver. The balance of metals that make up Argentium Silver are copper, germanium, zinc & boron. The addition of germanium makes the silver: the whitest metal in jewelry use; tarnish resistant; highly durable; needless of plating; antibacterial & hypoallergenic. Argentium Silver is more expensive than Sterling Silver because it’s a patented product, it’s made from recycled silver (NO SILVER MINING INVOLVED), the alloy itself is more valuable due to the addition of costly germanium, and it contains a higher percentage of silver.
Silver, Sterling: Sterling Silver (or .925 silver) refers to an alloy [mixture] of fine silver with another metal, usually copper. The addition of copper strengthens the metal and improves its durability. The value of .925 placed on Sterling Silver refers to the percent composition of 92.5% fine silver & 7.5% alloy. Silver darkens when it reacts with sulfur in the air or on surfaces it comes in contact with. Unlike silver-plated jewelry, Sterling Silver jewelry can be cleaned by dipping in a jewelry cleaner or using a polishing cloth. With regular, proper cleaning, Sterling Silver jewelry will last a lifetime.
Soldering: a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and putting a filler metal [solder] into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal.
Stainless Steel: a steel alloy composed primarily of iron and at least 10% – 11% chromium. Its resistance to staining and corrosion increases with increasing chromium content. The chromium content is also what helps stainless steel maintain its luster, thereby making it an ideal material for myriad applications, including jewelry making.
Statement Necklace: a necklace that makes a very bold & dramatic impression due to its size (usually large & eye-catching), its color(s), its components, or all of the above. It can be constructed of virtually any type of material(s), and fashioned with multiple layers. (In my opinion you’ll either love it or not; rarely is there much room for ambivalence.)
Textile: a type of material composed of natural or synthetic fibers suitable for weaving. Types of textiles include animal-based material such as wool or silk, plant-based material such as linen and cotton, and synthetic material such as polyester and rayon. Textiles are most often associated with the production of clothing.
Wire, Beading: composed of multiple strands of steel wire woven or twisted together to form a cable, then coated with a thin layer of nylon or plastic. It is produced in several levels of flexibility as determined by the number of wires twisted together. The standard range of the number of wires twisted into cable is 3, 7, 19, 21, & 49. A cable with a small amount of wires results in a very stiff drape. As more wires are used, the drape becomes more soft & flowing.
Wire, Craft: an inexpensive, easily manipulated type of wire used to make jewelry. The two most common types are colored plastic coated & colored enamel coated wire. While Craft Wire is generally sold without a defined level of hardness specified on the packaging, it is usually soft & malleable. Care must be exercised when handling Craft Wire because the plastic or enamel coating can be scratched off if the wire is handled carelessly. Also, the color coatings can change if exposed to ultraviolet light.
*NOTE: Despite these metals sharing 2 distinct categories, the terms “noble metal” & “precious metal” are NOT synonymous. Each term has a slightly different meaning based on the field of study in which it is used, & the specific applications of the metals themselves.
**NOTE: The Argentium Silver Company® in the UK holds the patent on this alloy. The metal is identified by a logo featuring a winged unicorn. The company states that there is “no such thing as ethical silver mining“, which is why it uses only recycled silver & guarantees that the silver used can be traced back to the source.