A glossary of ethnic jewellery terms


A tagelmust (also known as cheich or cheche) is an indigo dyed cotton garment with the appearance of both a veil and a turban. The cloth may exceed ten meters in length. It is worn mostly by Tuareg men, but is sometimes used by men in other neighbouring ethnic groups, such as the Hausa or…Continue Reading

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Taouka is a techinique of silverwork found in Early Jewish silversmithing of Moroccan fibulae. The word Taouka means wormhole. Tiny tubes of silver are joined parrallel to each other to form delicate panels within jewellery. Photo – ethnicjewels.ning.com    Continue Reading


The Toucouleurs or Tukulor (or Haalpulaar’en) are a group distinct from but related to the Fula. Unlike the Fulbe, the Tukulor are a sedentary, agricultural people, who live primarily in West Africa: the north of Senegal (where they constitute 15% of the population) in the Senegal River valley, and Mauritania is their background, but on…Continue Reading


Old silver Ethiopian telsum pendants.  These pieces are usually worn in combinations of sizes and shapes and are intended to ward off evil spirits. Photo – www.vividvault.com  Continue Reading

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The Tuareg (also spelled Twareg or Touareg; endonym Imuhagh) are a Berber people with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. They are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa.  Continue Reading


The Thaler (or Taler or Talir) was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. The Maria Theresa thaler (MTT) is a silver bullion coin that has been used in world trade continuously since they were first minted in 1741, at that time using the then Reichsthaler standard of 9 thalers to…Continue Reading


Translucent materials allow light to pass through them, but the light is diffused (scattered). Some translucent stones include moonstones, opals, and carnelian. Lucite and other plastics can also be translucent.Continue Reading

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Thermoset plastic

Thermoset plastic (also known as thermoplastic) is a hard, non-rigid synthetic substance that cannot be melted by reheating. Thermoset plastic is formed under high heat or pressure by a process known as polycondensation. Bakelite is a thermoset plastic.Continue Reading

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To temper is to strengthen or harden metal (or glass) by heating it or by heating then cooling it. Harder tempers are stronger, more spring-like, and brittler (when they are bent, they may break). Softer tempers are weaker but bend easily.Continue Reading


Turquoise is a non-translucent, porous semi-precious stone (it is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum) that is usually cut as a cabochon. Turquoise was believed to have been first found in Turkey, hence its name (Turquie is the French word for Turkey). The oldest turquoise mines are located in Alimersai Mountain in Persia (Iran)…Continue Reading

Troy weight

Precious metals (like gold, platinum, and silver) are measured in troy weight, which has units of pennyweights, ounces, and pounds. Troy ounces and pounds are different from everyday measures.Continue Reading

Tortoise shell

Tortoise shell is the shell of a tortoise. It was used in the 1800’s for jewelry, hair combs, and other ornaments but is banned today. Tortoise shell inlaid with precious metals is called pique. Tortoise shell will burn easily, and smells like burning hair. It is easily imitated by plastic, but its smell when burnt…Continue Reading

Tiffany setting

The Tiffany setting is a ring with a high, six-pronged solitaire diamond on a simple circular band. This design was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886. photo – serendipity diamonds  Continue Reading


Taxco is a town in the State of Guerrero in Mexico, that is famous for its silver jewelry production. The American silversmith William Spratling, set up shop in Taxco in 1929, and many other silversmiths followed. Early Taxco jewelry is avidly collected. Modern pieces are distinguished by a registration mark of two letters followed by…Continue Reading

Kitab / Tuareg

Kitab is the Arabic word for Book. It also describes a particular type of hollow pendant which contains religious or protective writings. the example shown is of Bella origin ( Sahara)  Continue Reading

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Tuareg Hoggar

The Tuaregs of Algeria are part of a larger group of Berber-speaking Tuaregs. They are nomads who raise cattle and live in an area that stretches across North Africa. This territory extends from Western Sahara to the northern portion of Western Sudan. Although the origin and early history of the Tuaregs are cloudy, these tribal…Continue Reading


Turkmen are one of Central Asia’s major people groups, their herdsmen supply world markets with prized Karakul sheep pelts and magnificent wool carpets from their renowned weavers. More than utilitarian or even an art form, carpet weaving is integral to Turkmen culture.Continue Reading


Afghanistan boasts the largest  population outside their homeland to the north in Tajikistan. Comprising over one-quarter of the Afghan population, they are the second largest group in the country.Continue Reading