Jewelry Terms Decoded: Aurora Borealis (AB)

February 15, 2011
By Tiffany White

"Use an AB finish when you want that extra WOW factor!"

Jewelry makers have a language all of their own. We talk in gauges, and millimeters and shapes that only we understand. We don’t even realize we do it, but we do. Try asking a non-jewelry maker if they know what a briolette is or if they prefer half hard or dead soft wire. You will surely be met with looks of confusion!

Over the years, I have slowly caught on to this language, learning vocabulary here and there. I wouldn’t say that I am fluent in “Jewelry Lingo” quite yet, but I am definitely able to speak at a conversational level. In an effort to continue my jewelry education, I thought it would be nice to define some jewelry terms from time to time.

Aurora Borealis in the Alaskan sky

The term I have chosen for today is Aurora Borealis, or simply AB for short. This is a term mostly seen with crystals and glass beads. In astronomy, Aurora Borealis refers to a magical sight that occurs in the sky during the Northern Lights, where magnetically charged particles collide creating a colorful, ethereal cloud in the night sky.

Costume Jewelry with a beautiful AB Finish!

In the jewelry world, this term also indicates a spectacle of color. In fact, the jewelry term was named after the previously discussed atmospheric phenomenon, in 1955. Aurora Borealis refers to the thin metallic coating that is sprayed onto crystals, creating a beautiful iridescent sheen. The finish is meant to pick up and reflect the colors around it.

Beautiful new AB Rhinestone Balls sold at Rings & Things!

Beautiful new AB rhinestone balls sold at Rings & Things!

Originally this finish was famous for it’s use in elaborate costume jewelry. Today, Swarovski continues to make beautiful crystals of all shapes and sizes with AB finish. Czech glass beads and Chinese sparkly glass beads also use this classic AB finish now. So if you come across a bead that has an AB listed after the color, just know it means extra sparkly and iridescent!

Here are some examples of jewelry made by our in house design team using AB crystals and glass beads.

"Starlight" Earrings by Mollie Valente

"Sterlina Sparkle Spirits" Bracelet by Sondra Barrington

"Ice Plumage" Earrings by Tiffany White

See more design ideas using Aurora Borealis finish. We have hundreds of items with AB finish, from rhinestone head pins to Swarovski crystal cubes, so go to and search for “Aurora Borealis” to browse a complete list.

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