A guide to common components
Want to know the difference between a fishhook clasp and a fishhook? An illusion setting and an invisible setting?
If so, you’re in the right place. Below and on the following pages you’ll find definitions and descriptions of a wide range of component parts. The next time you contact your supplier, make sure you have this guide ready, so you can make sure you’re both speaking the same language, and your order for 200 14k fishhook clasps doesn’t become a shipment of 200 14k French wires—a.k.a., "fishhooks."
Bail: An oval-, teardrop-, or D-shaped metal component used to connect pendants to a chain. It is meant to slide onto the chain rather than to be soldered to it.
Baguette Setting: A low setting designed to hold a baguette-cut stone, straight or tapered. Ends of the setting terminate with either a bar or prongs.
Bar Pin: See "Pin Back."
Barrel Nut: A barrel-shaped clutch with a rubber-type insert that grips a pin; generally used for stickpins or earrings.
Basket Setting: An open-sided setting in which the lower portion of a stone is visible.
Bead: 1.) A hollow metal form that is swaged from spinning seamless tubing or flat stock, then separated and rolled into its final shape. It generally has two holes. 2.) Any small or rounded component, made from a variety of materials, with a hole through it; to be strung singly or with others in a sequence.
Bead Clasp: Typically, a clasp mechanism that is hidden in a bead or pearl. Also, a round or patterned clasp used as a closure for pearl or bead strands.
Bead Tip: A concave metal piece, attached to a metal loop, used to attach thread to a clasp. A knot sits inside the concave piece, and the curved loop hooks to the clasp.
Belcher Setting: A ring mounting in which the claws for the setting are formed from the shank of the ring.
Bezel: Generally, a type of solid-wall setting into which a continuous seat has been cut to fit to hold a faceted stone. The metal above the groove is burnished over the edge of the stone to secure it.
Bezel Cup: A type of setting designed to hold flat-backed cabochon stones in which the top of the setting is burnished over the stone to secure it in place. Generally available in plain edge, serrated edge or rolled edge styles. Rolled edge styles require the stone to be glued in place.
Bezel Wire: See "Channel Wire."
Box Catch: A catch used for flat chains and bracelets. Formed from flat sheet stock into a box shape, with a snap-plate front to accommodate a separate tongue. May be a fully shaped box or an open-top box, depending upon the application.
Button Hook: A flat, stamped, round covering for a shirt button. It slips over the button and is attached to a chain using a jump ring.
Brooch Back: A complete brooch pin, hinge, and backing to which an element can be attached. No mechanical assembly required.
Brooch Pin: A length of hardened wire with one flat end containing a hole and the other end sharpened to a point.
Box Setting: A square or rectangular walled setting, grooved inside and generally used for mounting a stone on a ring or pendant. The top edges of the groove are swaged over to secure the stone.
Breloque: A small item, such as a charm, designed to be suspended from a chain.
Brooch: Any piece of jewelry that may be pinned to clothing.
Bullet Clutch: A barrel-shaped clutch with a rubber or mechanical insert that grips a friction earring post.
Bunch Rings: Inexpensive rings with small center mountings for inexpensive stones. Generally sold in bunches intended to be worn together. Also known as stack rings or stackable rings.
Buttercup Setting: Typically used for pendants and earrings, this deep, six-prong setting is shaped vaguely like the buttercup flower. The prongs are distinctly flared at the base, which has a scalloped outline when viewed from the top. Available in closed-back or open-back form. Also called a scallop setting.
Butterfly Clutch: A clutch that grips a grooved post. It has two wings that are squeezed to release it from the post. Also called a grip fastener or a military grip.
Catch: In brooches, a piece of hardware designed to accept and lock a top wire or a pin-stem; see also " Joint, Catch, and Pin-Stem." In necklaces and bracelets, it is the locking or closing mechanism; see also "Clasp."
Cathedral Setting: Usually a very tall, slender setting. The name references the height of the setting.
Chain Tag: A flat metal piece, usually a small square or rectangle, with a hole in each end. Its specific function is to carry the quality stamp or trademark of the manufacturer, and to provide an easily handled attachment point for spring rings. Also known as a quality tag or a plaque.
Chain End: A flat, stamped, double-ended tapered shape bent into a U and soldered on each side to the end of a flat chain. A clasp hooks onto it. The chain end can carry the karat quality stamp of an item.
Channel Setting: A setting in which the stones are fitted into grooves in two parallel walls, as opposed to being held separately by prongs.
Channel Wire: Narrow flat stock that has been formed into a channel. Also known as bezel wire, eyeglass wire, and U-wire.
Charm: A miniature object designed to be attached to a chain bracelet. Charms can depict figures, sports, occupations, numbers, and letters, among the many representations available. Generally designed for bracelets, charms may also be used as pendants, or hung from brooches and watch chains.
Chaton: A foil-backed glass or man-made stone.
Clamp: A metal prong or claw on a gemstone setting. Also called a cramp.
Clam Shell: See "Bead Tip."
Clasp: A fastening device, such as a catch or hook, used to hold two or more objects or parts together, as with chains.
Claws: see "Prongs."
Click-in Lever Back: a specialized lever back mechanism. The lever snaps over a formed ear wire, capturing the ear and securing the mechanism with a clear "click" sound.
Clip: A two-part piece attached to the back of an earring. The two pieces close around the earlobe, using mechanical pressure to hold the earring in place.
Cluster Setting: A metal form, generally circular, for setting multiple stones close together.
Clutch: See "Ear Nut" or "Butterfly Clutch."
Clutch and Bar: A tie tack clutch with a small chain attached to a bar. The bar is designed to pass through a buttonhole to secure a necktie.
Clutch Back: See "Ear Nut" or "Butterfly Clutch."
Collets: British term. See "Setting."
Comfort Disc: A plastic disc that fits over the post of a pierced earring for greater comfort.
Comfort Back: A small foam pad that slides over a clip back or Omega clip, cushioning the ear from the metal.
Corrugated Bead: A hollow metal sphere, with two holes, made from corrugated tubing. Twist-corrugated beads have corrugations that spiral around the bead horizontally instead of vertically.
Crimp Bead: A very small piece of cut tubing used to finish off a strand of beads. The cord goes through the crimp, through the clasp, and back through the crimp, which is then flattened with crimping pliers or needle nosed pliers to secure the cord. Also called "Crimps."
Crown: see "Setting."
Cuff link: A jewelry item designed to close button less shirt cuffs (French cuffs). It consists of two decorative pieces connected by a bar or chain that fits through the buttonhole and swivels to lock the cuffs together.
Dome: Any convex decoration. It can be made manually with a dapping block and a dapping punch, or by using a power press.
Doublet: Any stone made of two component parts, frequently genuine stones combined with glass, plastics, or synthetic stones.
Drop: A small ornament suspended from a piece of jewelry.
Ear Back: See "Ear Nut."
Ear Clip: See "Clip."
Ear Clip: An earring with a front, a yoke, and a lower hinge that secures a stamped clip. The yoke accommodates the clip, and tension is created through the hinge to hold the clip closed.
Ear Nut: A clutch with a hole through which an earring post is attached to secure the earring to the earlobe. The friction version has two curved wings that grasp a grooved post. Also referred to as earring back, clutch, push back, or clutch back.
Ear Post: See "Post."
Ear Screw: A U-shaped earring with a front pad and rear pad, as well as a parallel, built-in threaded mechanism. When turned, the mechanism moves the rear pad toward the front of the earring, applying pressure to the ear until the earring is secure. Also referred to as a "French Earring."
Ear Wire: A bow of wire, looped to fasten an earring to a pierced ear. It is generally made of precious metal or hypoallergenic surgical steel. See also "French Wire", "Kidney Wire."
Earring Back: See "Ear Nut."
Earring Clutch: See "Ear Nut."
Earring Jacket: A separate decorative component that can be added to an earring (or interchanged with other components) by the wearer to create different looks. For example, various beads that can be attached to an earring and changed.
Enhancer: A bail-like finding that may be opened to fit over a strand of pearls or beads and then locked closed. Also known as a pearl enhancer.
Etching: See "Metal Etching."
Euro wire: See "Lever back."
Eye: A loop, made of wire or other material, used as a connector for chains, pendants, etc.
Eye Pin: A wire of varying length that has been manipulated at one end to form a loop to which decorative stones or beads can be attached.
Eyeglass Wire: See "Channel Wire."
Fancy Gallery: See "Gallery."
Ferrule: A metal band or cap that is fitted to the end of wire, thread, cord, wood, or other material to prevent fraying or to add decoration.
Festoon: A pendant with rings on both sides, through which chain or cord can be attached. It usually functions as the centerpiece of the necklace.
Figure-Eight Safety: A type of safety catch in which a figure-eight- or hour-glass-shaped hinged wire snaps over a pin. Used as a safety snap on a bracelet or box catch.
Filigree: Ornamental work formed of bent wire that is soldered into delicate and complex designs, somewhat reminiscent of lace patterns. It also may be stamped or cast.
Fishhook: A fishhook-shaped finding used to make earrings. The curved hook end passes through the pierced ear, while an ornament hangs from the other end. Also known as French wire or French ear wire.
Fishhook Clasp: A style of pearl clasp with a locking mechanism that resembles the shape of a fishhook.
Fob: A decorative charm or extension off of a chain or ribbon that is attached to a pocket watch. Used to pull the watch out of a pocket, or to attach the watch to clothing with a pin.
French Earring: See "Ear Screw."
French Clip: An alternative to a pierced earring, it incorporates a spring clip (tension on the ear is provided by a spring-loaded pad) and a pad-tipped screw, which adjusts the tension of the spring clip.
French Wire: See "Ear Wire."
Friction Post: See "Post."
Fusion Post: A post used in the fusion- or percussion-welding process. It resembles a normal post but has an "initiating nib" at the end. During assembly, when the positively charged post contacts the negatively charged base, an electric arc occurs that fuses the post to the jewelry item.
Gallery: A name for metal strips used to make settings for stones or used as a decorative design element in a piece of jewelry. A gallery is generally manufactured as a continuous strip with a repeated design. A highly decorated example is referred to as a fancy gallery.
Gallery Wire Setting: A setting made up of multiple wire work levels or galleries may be fabricated from metal or wax masters.
Grip Fastener: See "Butterfly Clutch."
Guard Chain: A small chain with one end attached next to the clasp of a necklace or bracelet, the other end to a loop or link on the opposite end of the piece. It is used as a fail-safe in case the clasp opens.
Head: See "Setting."
Headed Pin or Head Pin: A wire of varying length and diameter with a flat or domed end that is of slightly larger diameter than the rest of the wire. Used for stringing or attaching beads, in which the bead is seated on the flat or dome of the head pin.
Heishi Beads: Small shell or other disc beads, usually white, of American Indian origin.
Hidden Screw Clasp: A necklace fastener consisting of two short barrels with screws that connect. The clasp is partially buried in the bead or pearl, giving the necklace a clasp less look when screwed together.
Hollow Wire: Tubular stock used for making beads, bracelets, or chain. May be solder-filled.
Hoop Wires: Short, shaped ear wires that are used at the top of a hoop earring. Usually, they have a loop or hole at one end so they can be riveted into a matching joint..
Hoop: Metal wire or tubing that has been formed into individual rings. Used for earrings, bracelets, or necklace segments.
Hoop Wire: See "Top Wire."
I.D. Bracelet: Usually a link-type bracelet with a curved center plate on which a monogram is engraved.
Illusion Setting: A type of prong setting containing a faceted metal plate that surrounds the girdle of a diamond, thus making the diamond appear larger.
Invisible Setting: A variation of the pavé look, this type of setting applies only to multi-stone arrangements. It is designed to hide all metal around the stone. Rather than having beads of metal hold the stone in place, the stones are cut in a way that allows them to snap into each other.
Jacket: See "Earring Jacket."
Joint: The U-shaped part of a hinge mechanism that is affixed to jewelry and to which another part is riveted into place, allowing for movement of the component part. The rivet may be designed into the joint as one complete part. Commonly used for brooches and earrings.
Joint, Catch, and Pin-Stem: An assembly used to affix jewelry items, such as brooches, to clothing. The joint serves as the fulcrum on which the pin-stem pivots. The catch is a hook into which the pin-stem fits when closed. (See also "Safety Catch.") The pin-stem is a sharply pointed pin (suitable for piercing clothing) with a base fashioned into a hole or T-shape to facilitate connection with the joint. See also "Pin Back."
Jump Ring: A plain wire ring of any size, usually round or oval in shape, used for attaching jewelry parts. In general, the ends of the wire are bent together, sometimes soldered.
Kidney Wire: An ear wire with a continual curved shape, so that the wire forms the front, top and closing mechanism. It is generally closed, as opposed to a shepherd hook or a fishhook, which remains open.
Lapped Border: The polished edge of an item achieved by using a non-yielding surface, such as a stiff felt wheel or a wood wheel. It gives the appearance of a rounded edge.
Lever Back: A mechanism comprising a hinged lever that is riveted into place on a yoke; the lever snaps shut against the yoke to secure it onto the earlobe. The term also describes a finished earring that contains the hinged-lever mechanism. Also called a Euro wire or German ear wire.
Link Connector: A finding attached to a decorative cufflink element, it is placed through the buttonhole and is then secured to lock cuff ends together. The most popular style of link connector is vertically inserted, the swiveled to a horizontal position, ensuring cufflink security. Also called airplane backs or wingbacks.
Lobster Claw: A clasp shaped somewhat like a lobster’s claw. The "pincer" arm is under tension by an internal spring mechanism that is opened and closed by a lever on its side.
Locket: A small, hollow, hinged pendant. The wearer can keep photos, locks of hair, or other mementos inside.
Locket Bail: An oval- or D-shaped metal component use to connect pendants, specifically lockets, to a chain. It is meant to slide onto the chain rather than to be soldered to it. Also called a clip-on bail.
Loop: See "Jump Ring."
Mechanical Back: An earring back containing a spring mechanism, which applies pressure to triggers that grip an earring post. Pressing the lever extensions releases the post from the mechanical back.
Melon Bead: A round bead with a large circumference that tapers at either end, similar to the shape of a melon.
Mesh: A finely woven metal fabric.
Metal Etching: A method of creating a design on metal using acid. Parts of the metal are covered and protected from the action of the acid, while the exposed parts are eaten away by the acid to form a design.
Metal Stamping: An ornamental stamped metal part generally formed by die-striking.
Milanese Mesh: A flexible mesh created by weaving interlocking wire spirals. It can be made into various shapes and forms, such as necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc.
Military Grip: See "Butterfly Clutch."
Mordant: An acid used to etch the surface of metal, glass, stone, etc.
Mounting: A piece of jewelry onto which a stone or stones will be set. It can take several forms, such as a ring, a pendant, a bracelet, or a necklace.
Navette: Term that describes a marquise shape.
Neck Chain: A chain that can be used to hang a variety of ornaments, such as lockets, crosses, and beads, around the neck. It varies in length and can be worn separately or in multiples.
No-Hole Ball: Either a hollow metal sphere swaged from seamless tubing or a solid metal sphere machined from rod. (Solid no-hole balls are generally brass, while hollow no-hole balls are available in both base and precious metals.) After swaging, the ball is separated and rolled into shape. Mostly used as ball earrings with posts.
Omega Clip: The name for a wire finding shaped like the Greek letter omega (Ω). Used as a clip earring finding, it consists of a lower yoke and a rear clip formed by smooth round or semi-flattened wire. Decorative elements are soldered to the front of the yoke portion.
One-Hole Ball: A hollow metal sphere with one hole. It is made by drawing flat stock into a cup, then rolling it until it forms a sphere, leaving a small opening or "hole."
Pad Insert: A molded rubber insert that fits into or over the clip portion of a clip earring for greater comfort.
Pavé Setting: A method of setting small stones as close together as possible, so that the piece literally looks "paved" with stones.
Pearl Cup: A cup designed to hold a pearl secured by adhesive. It sometimes has a small peg that fits into a hole in a partially drilled pearl for added security.
Pearl Shortener: A hinged ring that may be used to shorten an opera-length pearl strand. The strand is doubled and the two resulting loops are hooked into the shortener.
Peg Setting: (1) A peg, often set into a metal cup or hemisphere, that fits into a hole drilled into a pearl. The pearl is then fastened by cement or epoxy. (2) Any setting with a post or peg on the bottom that fits through a hole drilled or cast in a ring or plate, and which is the soldered in place to secure the setting.
Pelican Clasp: A clasp similar to a lobster claw in construction but narrower and slightly curved. See also "Lobster Claw."
Pendant: An ornament designed to be suspended from a chain or necklace.
Photo Etching: See "Metal Etching."
Pins: European term. See "Post."
Pin Back: A joint, catch, and pin-stem assembly that is pre-assembled on a metal plate (the ends of the plate are actually formed into the joint and catch). The entire unit may be attached to a piece of jewelry by soldering or gluing. Also called a bar pin. See also "Joint, Catch, and Pin-Stem.")
Pin-Stem: See "Joint, Catch, and Pin-Stem."
Plate: A decorative element-flat or domed, plain or fancy-that can be added to jewelry. May be set with a stone or contain a design.
Plaque: See "Chain Tag."
Post: A pin-like finding attached to an earring. It passes through the pierced earlobe and is usually secured by a clutch.
Prong: A claw or curved wire used to fasten and hold a stone in a setting. See also "Prong Setting."
Prong Setting: A setting consisting of a series of prongs (generally three, four, or six) that hold a stone.
Push Back: See "Ear Nut."
Quality Tag: See "Chain Tag."
Rabbit Ear Bail: See "V-Bail."
Ring Blank: A stamped finger ring of any style that has yet to go through the various finishing processes.
Rolled Bead: A cut metal bead that has been rolled. The term is applied only to round beads, not to oval or oddly shaped beads.
Rondelle: See "Roundel."
Round Setting: A round-shaped metal form that uses prongs, bezels, or any other means of clamping the stone securely.
Roundel: A doughnut-shaped bead of precious or base metal that is used as a spacer or an accent in stringing applications.
Rub-Over Setting: See "Bezel Setting."
Safety Catch: A small mechanism with a flat pad bottom and a rotating center that opens and closes a small jaw. It is used to secure a pin stem, and is affixed by soldering the flat pad bottom to a brooch. It comes in various configurations: top open, side open, or tube style.
Safety Chain: See "Guard Chain."
Scallop Setting: See "Buttercup Setting."
Screw Back: An ear nut or clutch that screws onto a threaded post.
Screw Back Ear Clip: An ear clip with a threaded screw that tightens an earring against a non-pierced earlobe for tension adjustment.
Screw Clasp: A necklace fastener consisting of two short barrels with screws that connect.
Screw Eye: A straight, short wire with a ring at one end. The straight end is inserted into a pearl with adhesive to convert it into a pearl drop.
Scrolls: Term used to describe friction earring back that is formed by rolling two lengths of material into curled scrolls toward a center hole. The scrolls apply inward pressure on the friction post to secure the back to it.
Semi-Mounting: A mounting that is only partially set. It usually has side stones, but no main or center stone.
Setting: A metal form into which a stone is set using prongs, a bezel, or any other means of holding the stone.
Shank: In a ring, the shank is the part that surrounds the finger. The shank and the setting in which a stone is to be set are collectively referred to as a ring mounting.
Shepherd Hook: A pierced earring wire shaped like a shepherd’s crook-similar to fishhook wire but with a longer shaft. See also "Ear Wire."
Shoulder: The part of a shank that is closest to the setting; it is usually tapered.
Snap Plate: A rectangular flat plate that is specially notched to accommodate a clasp tongue for a box style catch.
Sister Hook: Two overlapping metal hooks hinged to form a heart outline when open. Used as a clasp.
Slide Clasp: A clasp made of two tubes that slide into each other; the friction fit forms a lock. (Some slide locks have a magnetic security mechanism.) The clasp contains multiple rings, onto which strands of beads or pearls can be tied. Often used for multi-strand bracelets or necklaces. Also called a "tube clasp."
Solder-Flushed Finding: A type of finding that has a solder coating, facilitating assembly with quick heating.
Solitaire: Generally used to describe a ring with a single center stone, or the stone itself.
S-Hook: A clasp formed in the shape of an "S" with one closed curve and one open curve that interlock with each other.
Spacer Bar: Thin strip or bar with perforated holes, used to hold multiple strands of beads or pearls in place (the strands are threaded through the holes during stringing). May be decorative or plain.
Spring Hinge: A hinge that incorporates a spring in its construction to always keep a piece, such as a bangle bracelet made of two halves, in the closed position.
Spring Ring: A circular tube-just short of a complete circle-inside which a coiled spring presses on the inner end of a curved wire. The wire projects from the tube to complete the circle. By pressing on a small lip, the wire can be pushed back into the tube, forming an opening and allowing the ends of necklaces, bracelets, etc., to be attached.
Split Ring: An oval or round ring in which the metal spirals two turns and functions just like a split key ring. It provides a solderless solution for joining elements, as well as added security when attaching charms or ornaments to necklaces or bracelets.
Stamping: The process or operation by which a press is used to strike and form metal in a die. Generally feasible only when long runs are anticipated due to set-up time and tooling costs.
Stick Pin: Long piece of hardened round wire with a flat pad on one end and a tapered, sharpened end on the other. Used to add a decorative element to clothing, it is pushed through the material and secured on the end with a stopper protector.
Strips: A continuous line of settings, usually in a predetermined length. Also referred to as a "strip setting."
Stopper: A non-precious-metal cap end, usually containing a rubber or silicone core, that is pushed onto the sharpened end of a stick pin to secure it.
Swivel Clasp: Used to attached watches or other finished jewelry items to the end of a chain. Usually comprises an oversize metal loop on one end that can be opened and firmly closed. The size of the metal loop allows the jewelry piece to rotate freely 360 degrees while remaining secured.
Threaded Post: A screw post that requires the use of a threaded ear nut.
Threaded Post & Back: Earrings posts that have a length of the post finely threaded to accept a specialized ear nut with a complimentary thread configuration.
Tie Bar: A metal clip that uses spring tension to attach the mid-portion of the tie to the shirt.
Tie Tack: A short, sharpened pin with an ornamental top used to pin the tie to the shirt. Often secured by a butterfly clutch.
Tiffany Setting: Generally a taller, round, six- or four-prong setting in which the prongs flare out gracefully and rest over the stone to secure it in place.
Toggle Chain: A short piece of chain that connects two functioning parts, such as a key ring and a spring ring. It allows for flexibility between the parts.
Toggle Clasp: The method of attaching necklaces or bracelets whereby a rigid metal bar (plain or highly decorated) is inserted through a ring. When the bar is turned sideways, it is prevented from coming back through the ring, providing closure.
Toggle Set: A system in which two affixed rings, one smaller than the other, are partnered with a bar that is one and a half times the diameter of the larger ring. The toggle rings and the toggle bar are attached to opposite ends of a necklace, and the bar is fed into the larger ring to secure the system.
Top Wire: A straight or curved wire with a loop at one end that is riveted to a hinge. It is inserted into a pierced earlobe and snapped into a catch, securing a hoop or dangling earring.
Trigger Clasp: A teardrop-shaped tapered clasp with a loop and a trigger mechanism. The mechanism opens the jaws of the clasp to receive a jump ring.
Twist-Corrugated Bead: See "Corrugated Bead."
Tube Clasp: See "Slide Clasp."
U-Wire: See "Channel Wire."
Unit Cluster Setting: Any flat or domed plate drilled to accommodate melee.
V-Bail: A two-loop bail that looks like a "V" from the front. Also known as a rabbit ear bail.
Vermeil: A heavy gold electroplate (not less than 10k) over sterling. According to FTC standards, the minimum thickness of the plating must be equivalent to 100 millionths of an inch (2.5 microns) of fine gold.
Watch Bar: A bar-shaped length of metal that has a closed ring applied at the center of the bar. The watch bar is usually attached to a chain end and is fed through a button hole on clothing to hold the chain in place.
MJSA thanks Elizabeth Brehmer for serving as technical editor of this article.