Fine Jewellery… What is it?

Fine jewellery is a term used to define quality jewellery. Generally it is considered fine if it is made in precious metals such as yellow, rose (pink) or white golds of 14k and above, or platinum. It is debated whether or not 9 or 10k gold should be included in the category. I would consider that the more recently utilised white metal group metal, Palladium, to be included in this group. Much that I have read excludes silver from the fine jewellery category, although I would consider that excellent quality handmade silver jewellery containing gem-grade stones would still “make the grade”.

Often excellent quality, handmade two-tone jewellery set with gem-grade stones including fine make white diamonds, will be made using silver, particularly for its brilliant white colour (contrasted with 18k – 22k yellow gold). I have seen many exceptional pieces set with gem-quality stones, made solely in 9k or sterling silver that I would also consider to be fine jewellery.

It is debated which metals are to be included in this category but seems to be universally accepted that stones must be natural with little artificial treatment. Some argue that only “precious” stones be included in this category and that “semi-precious” stones be excluded.

I find the term “semi-precious” to be spurious at best. A very poor quality diamond is no match for a beautiful, flawless Alexandrite, a perfect, (certified) red beryl, or one of many gem-grade so-called “semi-precious” stones. Even the term “semi-precious” is questionable; is there such a thing? What about semi-pregnant??

This aside, I would only include natural stones of a certain quality; diamonds (an exceedingly common gem) for instance, should not have inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye. This aspect, to some degree should apply to stones such as sapphires and ruby also, although a minor amount of visible silking would be acceptable in an otherwise flawless sapphire, for example. A natural emerald will almost invariably carry a visible inclusion and this is considered a defining characteristic; a flawless emerald will nearly always be lab-created.

It is a pretty universal opinion that carrying a brand name does not constitute inclusion to the category. For example a mass produced, un-set piece of cast silver, branded “Tiffany” does not automatically elevate it to the status of “fine Jewellery”. A beautifully executed platinum ring set with a fine-make diamond, branded Tiffany would certainly make the grade!

The quality of metal (in regards to such things as porosity), symmetry of design (should symmetry be a design intention), stone setting, execution and finishing, should all be taken into consideration. Quality in all areas is desirable!

As you can see, there are a lot of variables and so the term is not absolute. And there are always exceptions to the rule! Common sense (if ever there was such a thing) should be used when applying this term.

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