A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon

by Dan Day, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Every industry has its own jargon, special words or expressions that are used by the community that might not be familiar to people outside the know. Let's translate some of the more common jewelry-making jargon to ensure we're all speaking the same language.

Professionally finished/professional quality/professionally finished look

These phrases are often used interchangeably--but what do they really mean?

First, let's define "professional."

A professional is someone who uses specialized knowledge, skills and experience in their vocation or livelihood. The use of the word professional indicates conforming to an exacting set of standards of quality higher than typically reached by an amateur or novice. These professional standards can include techniques, tools, work conditions and quality control.

A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon

Professionally finished
Of the three terms listed, the highest level is "professionally finished." This means the work is done by, or supervised by, a professional to ensure the best results. The term is used quite often in the world of home improvement to describe work done on flooring, terraces, basements and more. In the world of jewelry-making, examples of professionally finished would include collections from name brands such as Crystal Passions® crystals, JBB Findings and TierraCast®.

Professional quality
"Professional quality" means using standards that should be achieved by professionals and can be aspired to and achieved by non-professionals. "Professional quality" does not necessarily indicate the end product was created by a professional. It says it has the quality that a professional would recognize and approve of. An example of professional quality is Accu-Flex Beading Wire.

Many designer-artists may not consider themselves professionals in the career sense of the term, yet they are proud of the professional-quality designs they produce using professional-quality tools and techniques.

Professionally finished look
Of the three terms, a professionally finished look is the easiest to be attained by a professional or non-professional. There is no indication of skill level, techniques or standard of quality that went into making the item. It simply indicates the final look of the product--that it appears to be of a professional quality. We sell many products that make it possible to attain a professionally finished look with a variety of findings such as crimp beads, bead caps, settings, terminators, connectors and more.


Handmade and handcrafted are used somewhat interchangeably but are not exactly the same thing.

Handmade means made by hand or with hand tools ---not by a machine. Handmade does not indicate quality; it just describes the means of production. The e-commerce website Etsy has many examples of handmade items. Some artisans or their customers may appreciate the variability from item to item that may occur with handmade items.

On the other hand, they may prefer the consistent size and shape produced by machines. A great example is smooth round metal beads that are inexpensive because they are mass produced by machines.

A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon Gold-Plated Brass Lobster Clasp

This deluxe gold-plated brass lobster clasp is precision made by machine for use in finer necklaces and bracelets.

Handcrafted items are indeed made by humans, but the term also indicates the application of skills or handiwork, uniqueness and professional quality. Examples of handcrafted components include those with intricate designs or made from lampworked glass, polymer clay, glazed ceramic, porcelain, painted wood and many more materials and techniques.

Although the components may be handmade or machine made, the final product is assembled by hand, typically in a country different from the country or countries where the components are made. This term is used to avoid misrepresenting the product as being handmade in the country where it is assembled: for example, "hand-assembled in the U.S.A." versus "handmade in the U.S.A."

Statement Jewelry

One dictionary's definition of "statement": an opinion, attitude, etc. you express through the things you do, the way you dress, etc. But it doesn't explain why one jewelry piece is a statement piece while another is not.

Statement jewelry is any kind of jewelry that allows the wearer to make a big, bold, distinctive, stylish declaration of their personality. It says that they are interesting, unique and command your attention.

A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon

Statement Necklace
A statement necklace can be either a bib-style or long necklace that is colorful and typically multi-strand or multi-layered. It may be of vintage, contemporary or avant-garde style but is quite often sophisticated.

Design Idea F32X Necklace A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon

Statement Earrings

Statement earrings can be chandelier-style, dangles or shoulder-dusters. These earrings may be bright in color and have large stones or something unique and attention-getting about them.

A Guide to Jewelry-Making Jargon

What other jewelry-making jargon do you commonly hear or use? We'd love to hear from you.

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