A glossary of ethnic jewellery terms

Songhia / Sonrai

The Songhai (also Songhay or Sonrai) are west Africans who speak Songhai languages, the lingua franca of the Songhai Empire which dominated the western Sahel in the 15th and 16th century. Photo – ethnicjewels.ning.comContinue Reading

Serouchen / Seghrouchen

The Ait Seghrouchen (Berber: Ayt Seɣruccen) are a Berber tribe of east-central Morocco. They are divided into two geographically separated groups, one on the south side of the Middle Atlas and one on the north side of the High Atlas. They speak a Zenati Berber dialect, Ait Seghrouchen Berber, sometimes grouped with Central Atlas Tamazight.…Continue Reading


Striations are  lines formed within a substance. Stiations can exist in different forms in different materials. For example the striations in bone a re straight and parrallel, whereas the striations in Ivory are in a diamond formation. an understanding of striation patterns can be very useful when determining the materials used in the creation of…Continue Reading

Sterling silver

Sterling is silver with a fineness of 925, that is, sterling is 925 parts per thousand (or 92.5%) silver and 75 parts per thousand (or 7.5%) copper (the copper increases the silver’s hardness). Sterling is quite malleable.Continue Reading


Silver is a fine, silver-white metal often used in jewelry. Pure silver has a hardness of 2.5. Other metals are alloyed with silver (usually copper) for silver used in jewelry making. Silver tarnishes after exposure to air (a thin layer of silver-oxide forms on the surface). Silver often occurs near copper lodes. Sterling is silver…Continue Reading

Signet ring

A signet ring is a ring that was used as a means of identification for relatively important people. The signet ring was engraved with a symbol (a coat of arms or initials) identifying a particular person. Some signet rings also had intaglio-carved seals. The earliest-known signet rings date from ancient Egypt, thousands of years ago.…Continue Reading


A setting is a method of securing a stone (or other ornament) in a piece of jewelry (or other object). There are many different types of settings, including the collet (a strip of metal surrounding the stone), the claw setting (in which prongs of metal hold the stone in place), Tiffany (a high,six-pronged setting), the…Continue Reading


Serpentine is a green stone; there are two types of serpentine, bowenite and hydrated magnesium silicate. Bowenite is a jade-like stone (green to black) that is sometimes used in jewelry. The softer variety, hydrated magnesium silicate, is translucent serpentine has a hardness of 4 () – 5.5 (bowenite) and a specific gravity of 2.5 to…Continue Reading

Seed pearl

Seed pearls are tiny, round pearls that are less than 2 mm in diameter and weigh under 1/4 grain. Seed pearl jewelry was popular from the mid- to late-Victorian era, when the tiny pearls were strung on horsehair to form intricate designs and were also used as accents on other jewelry.  Continue Reading


Seals were once extensively used as a means of identification; they were only owned and used by relatively important people. Seals were usually mounted in rings or hung on a chain. Seals are carved in hard stones (like sard or jasper) using intaglio. Picture – Fellows auction houseContinue Reading


Scrimshaw is intricate carving or engraving done on the bones, teeth, and tusks of marine mammals like whales (especially sperm whales) and walruses.Continue Reading


A scarab is a type of beetle. The ancient Egyptians used stones carved in the shape of scarabs extensively in their jewelry and other decorations. In the 1920s, after the tomb of King Tut was discovered in Egypt, Egyptian style jewelry became fashionable in the West, including scarab braclets and necklaces.Continue Reading


A sautoir (also known as a rope) is a long necklace (longer than opera-length), often with an ornament (a tassel or pendant) at the end. Sautoirs were common during the Edwardian era.Continue Reading


Originally, the Saharawi were desert nomads who traveled from place to place with their camels. Today, they can be found in the desert in southern Morocco, in the Western Sahara region, in the North of Mauritania, in Algerian refugee camps, and in the Canary Islands. A sub-group of the Moors, they are of mixed Berber,…Continue Reading


The Sindhi of Afghanistan are part of a much larger Sindhi people group. This larger group is the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan. The Sindhi, named after the Sindhu (Indus) River, are also said to be one of the oldest people groups in Pakistan. Most of them have lived there for centuries and call…Continue Reading