Definitions of the terms given in this glossary indicate their use in this publication.  Several of the given definitions are paraphrased from those in one or more of the references listed at the end of this glossary. 

annuli [plural of annulus]: Ringlike features such as the growth rings on fish scales.

barb: one of the filaments, typically parallel to each other, that project from the main shaft of a feather.

barbule: one of the small projections that fringe the edges of the barbs of feathers.

braintan: deer skin processed into leather using  a Native American technique that involves working a solution of brains into the raw hide.  "This type of leather is favored for quillwork because it does not break up the fibers of the hide, as modern tanning processes do, and it will therefore hold tiny surface stitches.  (In most Native-style quillwork, the thread does not pass all the way through the leather, just through the surface.) " (Jessee J. Smith, personal communication,  April, 2006;  see also

[plural of calculus] generic term for concretions formed within an animal -- e.g., human. Calculi usually are named on the basis of the part of the body in which they occur -- e.g.,  gall stones (in the bladder) and kidney or renal stones (in the kidneys) -- and/or on the basis of their composition -- e.g., uric acid  stone or calculus.

carapace: hard shell-like layer -- either bony or chitinous -- that constitutes such things as armadillo plates and dorsal plates of tortoises.

cementum: thin layer of  mineralized -- i.e., hydroxyapatite --bonelike tissue that covers the dentin(e) of the necks and roots of a teeth.

a relatively tough transparent to translucent horny substance that is the chief component of such things as the hard outer integument of insects, arachnids and crustaceans;  it is generally considered to be largely a nitrogen-containing polysaccharide that is structurally similar to cellulose except that the repeating unit is derived from acetylglucosamine instead of glucose.

cholesterol: a pearly, fatlike steroid alcohol (C27H45OH) that crystallizes as leaflets etc. from dilute alcohol and is found in for example gallstones.

collagen: the fibrous protein that is the chief organic constituent of bone, cartilage etc.
conchiolin: a protein substance that constitutes the organic part -- e.g., the periostracum -- of mollusc shells.

conchite: name given to a supposed new polymorph of CaCO3 that was found as a chief component of certain shells, but later was shown to be aragonite (see. Palache, Berman and Frondel, 1951, p.191).

cystine: a white amino acid salt  that  occurs in keratin  (~C6H12N2O4S2).

dentin(e): the main part of teeth;  it lies directly beneath the enamel and is cementum-encased in the neck and root portions of  teeth;  it consists chiefly of hydroxyapatite (+  some calcium and/or magnesium carbonate and/or some fluoride) and up to about 20 per cent chiefly collagenous organic material beneath the enamel.

enamel: the hard exposed surface of  teeth;  it consists of about 90 percent hydroxyapatite, ~ 7 percent calcium and magnesium carbonate plus some calcium fluoride with a protein-rich organic matrix.

a calculus consisting of cholesterol and bile salts -- i.e., salts of bile acids such as taurocholate(q.v.) and glycocholate(q.v.) -- formed in the gall bladder.

gastrolith: a stone-like mass ingested into the digestive tract of a vertebrate (especially certain reptiles and birds) that aids its digestion of food, usually by helping grind it.
gizzard: a muscular, typically second, stomach in, for example, birds in which ingested food is ground up (i.e., macerated) usually after having been softened in the animal's esophagus (gullet) and/or glandular stomach (crop). 

golden ratio: 1/x = (√5 + 1)/2 = 1.6180339887498948482... (I learned it as "if you break a stick, and the length of the longer piece is to the length of the smaller as the original would have been to the longer").  Synonyms: golden mean, golden number, golden section, divine proportion, ø (phi), ...

glycocholate: a salt, such as sodium glycocholate, of glycocholic acid.

H. (hardness): resistance to scratching or abrasion.

The numbers -- 1 to 10 -- used in this book, and widely by mineralogists throughout the world, refer to the scale based on relative hardness of common minerals that was devised by Friedrich Mohs (1773-1839), a German crystallographer. In this scale, the minerals are ranked in a sequence of relative hardness based on their ability to scratch or be scratched by one another.  That is to say, minerals (etc.) scratch minerals (etc.) with lesser hardnesses and can be scratched by materials of greater hardnesses. Thus, for example, a mineral with a hardness of 7½ would scratch quartz (or any softer material) but be scratched by topaz (or any harder material)...

                    Mohs Hardness scale:

                        1 talc

                        2 gypsum
                                   <fingernail (H. ~2½)
                        3 calcite
                                   <copper coin (H. ~ 3½)
                        4 fluorite
                        5 apatite
                                   <jackknife and window glass (H. ~ 5½)
                        6 feldspar

                        7 quartz

                        8 topaz

                        9 corundum

                     10 diamond

Attention is directed to the remarks in the INTRODUCTION to GEMROCKS about how hardness should be determined and cautions that should be observed when checking hardnesses of most materials used in jewelry and decorative pieces!

Haversian canals: the tiny longitudinal channels within bones through which blood vessels, nerve fibers and lymphatics pass;  these small vascular canals trend longitudinally through the central parts of bony tissue;   some people refer to these as Leeuwenhoek's canals.

hemage: substance that consists of ground up fish scales (like "essence d'orient") and oils that gives some pearl simulants, especially those produced on the Isle of Majorca, their pearl-like appearance.

hot-point test: "test" used to help identify certain materials wherey the heated point of a needle or pin is pressed on the material's surface (if possible, a hidden surface) to see if it is easily combustable, melts or emits a recognizable aura. (In my opinion, this often recorded test should not be used on fashioned pieces of anything!! --  It is a  destructive test, and, in any case, is not needed because other means of identification can be used.)

keratin: name given various relatively tough insoluble sulfur-containing fibrous proteins that are the chief component of, for example, feathers, hair, hooves and horns. 

kidney stone: an abnormal solid, crystalline concretion of mineral salts -- typically calcium oxalate, though cystine, phosphates and urates may also be present -- that are  formed in the kidneys;  sometimes referred to as  bladder stones or cystic calculi.

nacre: the pearl-like internal layer of certain mollusc shells;  also called mother-of-pearl.

netsuke: a small toggle, commonly carved ivory, that is suspended on a silk cord from a kimono sash.

otolith: fish ear bone. 

polysaccharide:  a nitrogen-containing polymer xxx?a class of carbohydrates, such cellulose, that consists of a number of monosaccharides joined by glycosidic bonds.?xxx.

prostatolith:  a prostatic calculus -- i.e., a concretion formed within the prostate gland;  usually composed largely of calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate or a salt of uric acid.

protein:  name given to any one of a rather large group of complex organic compounds that contain nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and commonly sulfur and are distributed widely in animals and plants;  presumably constructed from amino acid by polymerization.

rumen: the first one or more so-to-speak stomach compartments in ruminant animals -- e.g., cattle and deer.

scrimshaw: the art of engraving or shallowly carving designs on ivory or bones, especially those of  whales.

sectile: said of materials that can be cut or severed smoothly by a knife but cannot be pulverized easily. 

spicule: needlelike, commonly branched, structures, most of which are composed of calcium carbonate or hydrated silica, that support the soft tissues of certain invertebrates such as sponges.

taurocholate: salt of taurocholic acid -- e.g., sodium taurocholate.

thermoplastic:  said of substances that when heated to temperatures slightly above 100° Celsius are softened and can be compressed into larger masses;  in some cases, also applied to materials the small pieces of which can be so heated and then "welded" together to produce larger pieces.

triboluminescence: luminescence caused by striking -- e.g., the spark resulting with flint is struck with steel and the "sparking" when, for example, rock crystal is sawed.

uric acid: a common constituent -- either as the "free acid" or as a urate (e.g., C5H4N4O3) -- of kidney calculi, prostatoliths and "gouty concretions";  crystals of uric acid are apparently responsible for the iridescence exhibited by at least some butterfly wings.  (in the past sometimes called lithic acid because of its occurence in calculi.)



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Houghton Mifflin Company.  2002.  The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.  2002.  Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary

Oxford University Press, OED Online. 2005 <>  (accessed 22 November 2005)

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