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Resources-Glossary/Terms

About African Trade Beads

We carry an eclectic (and diminishing) variety of African beads, both old trade beads, and newer beads made or strung in Africa for the world-wide bead trade. Trade beads are old and/or used beads, and will show varying amounts of wear. Newly-made African beads are generally handmade in small communities. Style and availability vary. Rings & Things founder, Russ Nobbs, loved trade beads and African Art. For many decades, he purchased trade beads from African traders -- for sale as well as for his personal collection. Since he passed away, we have slowed down on our trade bead purchasing, but we continue to research the beads he stashed away, and we periodically are able to add another batch of cool vintage beads from his personal collection to our website. Plus we can't resist an occasional purchase of Christmas beads, pretty colors of recycled glass beads, or other fun finds. Some of the glass trade beads you're likely to find on our website or in our Showroom:

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Metals

Learn more about elements, alloys, base metals, platings, allergies, and precious metals: Metals can be elements or alloys. Examples of elements: Oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, iron (Fe), copper (Cu) and niobium (Nb). Alloys are mixtures of various elements. Alloys can be a "base" (less costly) metal, like brass, or a "precious" (more costly) metal, like sterling silver or karat gold. Jewelers and engineers create alloys to change the color, melting temperature, and/or strength of elements. For example, solid gold is too soft for most applications. To make it stronger, it is alloyed (mixed) with other elements.

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Nickel-Free Metals

The term "nickel free" can be confusing since jewelry marked nickel free is still allowed to contain a very small amount of nickel... but it is such a tiny amount that it takes extremely sensitive instruments to measure it. The European Union's (EU) Nickel Directive limits the amount of nickel that may be released onto the skin from jewelry and other products. This type of measurement is distinct from measuring the percentage of nickel that exists in an alloy's composition. There is not yet a US standard for allowable amounts of nickel in jewelry, but if/when there is one, it will probably be similar to the European standard.

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Spanish-English Jewelry Glossary

Many of us sell to, or buy from, Spanish-speaking countries and people. It can be hard to track down the specialized words for beads, findings and other jewelry-related terms, so we thought we'd share this glossary with you. Additions and questions are always welcome! Hay muchos de nosotros que venden a los países y a la gente de habla hispana, o que compran de ellos. A veces es difícil rastrear las palabras especializadas para los granos y otros términos relacionados a la joyería y bisutería. Por eso pensamos en compartir este glosario con ustedes.

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Nickel-Free Metals Information

The term "nickel free" can be confusing since jewelry marked nickel free is still allowed to contain a very small amount of nickel ... but it is such a tiny amount that it takes extremely sensitive instruments to measure it.

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Glossary of Jewelry-Making Terms

Definitions: Antiqued, Aurora Borealis (AB), Ghost, Iris, Matte, Opaque, Ozidation, Plating (barrel plating, basket plating, rack plating), Translucent, Transparent. (Links fixed / updated April 2022)

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Units of Measure

Definitions and explanations of common units of measure used at Rings & Things and in the jewelry industry.

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Jewelry-Making Materials

We strive to provide you with clear, honest information, in a complicated and ever-changing world of jewelry-making materials. Our products are made of over 500 different materials (various semi-precious gemstones are over 200 of these), and our website has been growing and changing since 1996 -- so it can be a challenge to keep this all updated and easy to find! The materials defined below account for approximately 80% of the items in our website, and we're adding more all the time! If the material you are looking for is not yet on this page...

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Teach Yourself American (For the British Beader)

British to American                 American to British
Sometimes we're separated by a common language! Here are a few jewellery-related terms that we've found may differ from one side of the Atlantic to the other. This list is mostly for fun. Rest assured, many jewellery and crafts terms are the same in both countries!
British to American
Aikoseed beads / Toho
catchesclasps / clutches
bolt-ringspring ring
bouillonbullion
brooch/broach backspin backs
calottesclamshell / fold-over
cataloguecatalog
centrecenter
colourcolor
cross-drilledcorner-drilled
despatch / dispatchshipment / shipping
dropteardrop
earnuts / scrollsearring backs / earring nuts / butterfly nuts
earstudsposts / post earrings
fanbib
fish-hook ear wireFrench hook ear wire
fob clasptoggle clasp
galvanisedgalvanized
gilt-linedgold-lined / gold-luster lined
hair gripbobby pin
hair slidebarrette
jewelleryjewelry
Kirby gripbobby pin
lobsterclawlobster
lustrealso luster
mattmatte
Miyukiseed beads / Toho
mobile phonecell phone
moukaitemookaite
parrot clasplobster clasp
polythene (sometimes)plastic
ring basesdisk rings
rocaillesalso seed beads
shepherds crook ear wireFrench hook ear wire
spectacle endseyeglass holders
stationspendants
string (of beads)strand
thongingcord (single-strand)
torque (torq/torc)neck ring
trigger clasplobster clasp / spring ring
American to British
barrettehair slide
bibfan
bobby pinhair grip, Kirby grip
bullionbouillon
butterfly nutsscrolls / earnuts
catalogcatalogue
cell phonemobile phone
centercentre
fold-overcalottes
clasps / clutchescatches
colorcolour
cord (single-strand)thonging
corner-drilledcross-drilled
disk ringsring bases
earring backs / earring nutsearnuts
eyeglass holdersspectacle ends
fold-overcalottes
French hook ear wirefish-hook or shepherds crook ear wire
galvanizedgalvanised
gold-lined / gold-luster linedgilt-lined
jewelryjewellery
lobsterlobsterclaw
lobster claspsparrot clasp / trigger clasp
lusteralso lustre
mattematt
mookaitemoukaite
neck ringtorque (torq/torc)
pendantsstations
pin backsbrooch / broach backs
plasticpolythene (sometimes)
posts / post earringsearstuds
seed beads / TohoAiko / Miyuki / rocailles
shipment / shippingdespatch / dispatch
spring ringbolt-ring / parrot clasp
strandstring (of beads)
teardropdrop
toggle claspfob clasp
Tohosee Aiko / Miyuki

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Jewelry Safety: Lead Content Classifications

Information on this page covers the basics you need to know to comply with California law. Even if you don't live in California, you might need to follow these guidelines. Do you participate in California arts-&-crafts shows? Do you sell your jewelry, gifts or accessories online and ever ship to California? If you answered yes to either of these, you sell retail to California!

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