Glossary of Terms

Alloy – A mixture of two or more metals.

Art deco – A movement of art of the 1920s characterized by strong geometric shapes and curvilinear lines, as well as bold colors.

Assay – The testing of a metal to determine its purity.

Candelabrum (pl. candelabra) – A large candle holder that branches out to hold more than one candle.

Coin silver – Silver of a fineness of 90 percent, or 900 out of 1000 parts, which was the standard for U.S. silver coins before 1965. Coins before 1965 were composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Silver coins were a major source for the silver supply before the discovery of the Comstock lode in Nevada in the nineteenth century.

Cutlery – Knives, forks, and spoons for eating food.

Fineness – The ratio of a precious metal by weight relative to other metals or substances in an object.

Flagon – A large container for serving drink, especially one with a handle and spout.

Hallmark – A mark stamped on precious metals to confirm their purity.

Hollowware – Dishes and accessories, often made of silver, that are hollow or concave.

Jigger – A small cup holding 1.5 ounces of liquid for drinking whiskey or cocktail.

Julep cup – A silver cup traditionally used for drinking mint julep, a cocktail with mint.

Lode – A vein of metal ore in the earth.

Luster – The shine on a surface of a mineral.

Monogram – An initial or set of initials on a silver piece usually representing the name of an owner.

Niello – A black coloring derived by mixing copper, silver, and lead sulphides to decorate a metal.

Ore – A rock or mineral from which a metal is mined or extracted.

PolishA chemical or abrasive used to remove tarnish from the outer layer of a silver piece.

Repoussé – Relief created on a metal by hammering it from the reverse side.

Silver – A lustrous white metal with an atomic number of 47 with many industrial and non-industrial uses.

Silver has an atomic number of 47.

Silverplate – An item thinly coated with silver.

Silversmith – A person who makes silver objects.

Silverware – Tableware that may or may not be made of silver, such as dishes and and cutlery.

Sterling silver – Silver that is .925 fine, or 92.5 percent pure, with the remainder usually copper.

Tarnish – The loss of the luster of silver due to exposure to air or chemicals.

Troy ounce – A unit of weight for precious metals that equals 31.1035 grams.

Tumbler – A drinking glass with no handle.

Vermeil – Silver with a gold wash or exterior layer. Also, this can be referred to as “gilded.”

Weighted silver – Silver with a composite material inside of it to add to its weight and thus stability.