Fashion Forward: Demystifying Fine Jewelry, Fashion Jewelry & Costume Jewelry

Fashion Forward: Demystifying Fine Jewelry, Fashion Jewelry & Costume Jewelry

In your search for the perfect piece of jewelry, you will undoubtedly come across the terms “fashion jewelry” and “fine jewelry.” Fine jewelry is crafted from valuable/pricey materials, while fashion jewelry is not; both types can be stunning. And whether jewelry is made with sterling silver charms or pearls, we tend to admire every piece of well-designed and well-crafted jewelry. That’s our special relationship with things of beauty!

Here at Xinar, we believe it is equally crucial to learn about the quality of the materials used in jewelry before making a purchase. Some jewelers are too quick to classify jewelry as “fine” even though the quality does not warrant it. If you know the difference between costume and fine jewelry, you may shop more confidently and get precisely what you want.

What’s Fashion Jewelry All About?

Base metals (such as copper and brass), leather, or plastic are used to create fashion jewelry, which may also have synthetic stones manufactured of plastic, glass, or crystal. Gold- or silver-plated jewelry created from cheaper metals is also included here. However, it is not considered “real” jewelry because it lacks precious or semiprecious stones.

Fashion jewelry is frequently made to look like expensive pieces. This is because it has a lower price tag without sacrificing appeal. However, the quality is drastically reduced to achieve a lower price. In addition, fashion jewelry is fragile and can discolor or even turn your skin green due to the metals used in its construction. Fashion jewelry isn’t built to endure forever, but it’s simple to replace if you lose or damage it.

What Does “Costume Jewelry” Mean?

Fashion jewelry, known as “costume jewelry,” gained widespread attention in the early 20th century. Plastic, glass, or resin are common materials for this. Fashion and costume jewelry are often used interchangeably, but the latter is more commonly associated with a more artistic, fashionable, and whimsical aesthetic. Because of the designer and the level of craftsmanship put into it, the price may be pretty costly. In the early 20th century, many well-known fashion designers, including Coco Chanel, created and popularized costume jewelry. Since then, celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Madonna have been spotted wearing it. Unfortunately, good examples of vintage costume jewelry are becoming difficult to come by, making them a hot commodity among collectors.

Costume jewelry is an affordable alternative to fine jewelry made from nonprecious materials. The history of these inexpensive yet nonetheless fashionable items is rich and varied. The rise of costume jewelry is examined from its early European roots in the 18th century to its meteoric rise in popularity courtesy to Coco Chanel. The concept of costume jewelry dates back to the 18th century, although the first examples of what we now call “costume jewelry” did not appear until the early 20th century.

The ever-increasing demand for diamonds and other precious stones in European fine jewelry prompted the search for a more affordable option. Georges Fréderic Strass, a French jeweler, invented a type of leaded glass in 1724 that mimicked the brilliant sparkle and shine of natural diamonds when cut with metal powder. The fashion elite of Paris quickly embraced Strass’s affordable glass diamante jewelry.

Austrian jeweler Daniel Swarovski created his rhinestones in 1892, utilizing high-lead-content glass with a foil backing to flawlessly mimic the sheen and brilliance of brilliant gemstones like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Swarovski also used innovative glass-cutting equipment that could fit glass faster and more precisely than any human. This enabled Swarovski to mass-produce their aforementioned cheap “Swarovski Crystals.”

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, costume jewelry was made to seem like antique pieces and worn as a status symbol despite its low cost. Costume jewelry was also looked down upon because it was thought that only women who could not afford genuine gemstones would wear it. Coco Chanel, however, is often regarded as the key influence behind the transition from fine jewelry to bold, bright costume jewelry. Ropes of long pearls, enamel bangles, and glittering C&C logo earrings were just a few of the oversized pieces she produced and made famous in contrast to her austere ready-to-wear collections.

Concurrently, the Art Deco style influenced not just jewelry but also fashion, transportation, furniture, and architecture.

This style fused the geometric principles of the Cubism art movement with vivid colors, delicate and exotic materials, and allusions to the era’s booming industrial and technological sectors.

Art Deco’s bold symmetrical patterns and lines eventually became popular in the jewelry industry. Flappers even took to stacking bangles on their arms. Leather, wood, and gold-plated brass were just some odd and inexpensive materials used to create costume jewelry.

What, Then, is Fine Jewelry?

Sapphire, garnet, ruby, emeralds, and diamonds are just a few of the valuable jewels and metals used to craft fine jewelry. Value is in the materials themselves, not in the finished jewelry. Fine jewelry is durable and may be easily repaired by a jeweler, making it an ideal heritage. Unfortunately, the price of jewelry manufactured from such precious metals and stones can be relatively high.

The quality of the metal and the gemstone’s cut, color, clarity, and carat determine the final cost. Because they are alloys with a higher percentage of other metals, sterling silver, and 14-karat gold are less expensive than 18-karat gold and platinum. 

Fine jewelry may have its origins in the golden artifacts that the Pharaohs took into the afterlife, but the jewelry of Medieval Europe showed a love of earthly opulence.

Renaissance gems adopted new and advanced stone-cutting processes to create spectacular dazzle, in contrast to the religious themes that dominated Medieval jewelry. Nevertheless, gold’s popularity persisted because it was a striking contrast to the period’s dark fashions and symbolized riches.

The British monarchs, not the French court, wore the most ostentatious jewelry. Countless items, such as collars set with diamonds and pearls, were owned by Henry VIII personally. Elizabeth I, his daughter, shared his passion for expensive jewelry and acquired more than two thousand garments adorned with pearls and jewels.

Louis XVI, unable to be outdone, had the renowned Hope Diamond set into a magnificent necklace for his wife, Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately, the ‘French Blue’ was stolen, but it ended up in the hands of legendary New York jeweler Harry Winston, who sent it first class to the Smithsonian.

Bring the tale of fine jewelry to the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. The flowing and organic lines of Art Nouveau jewelry ushered in a new era of style that persisted long into the 1920s and beyond. In place of jewels, Rene Lalique favored enamel and glass.

Art Deco jewelry was characterized by its heavy use of jewels and its frequently angular, geometric shapes, reflecting the machine era’s influence.

What’s Semi-Fine Jewelry?

The term “semi-fine jewelry” was used to describe pieces that are fine in quality and design but aren’t crafted exclusively from precious metals and diamonds. Some may classify this jewelry as acceptable, while others may classify it as semi-fine; however, it is noticeably more outstanding than most fashion jewelry and hence merits its category.

Compared to fine jewelry, semi-fine jewelry lasts long and doesn’t break the bank. It is often plated in high-quality metals, such as 18-karat gold over sterling silver or rhodium over silver, and features semiprecious gemstones.

As jewelry designers, rhodium and vermeil plating are two of our favorite materials. These superior metals serve to shield the silver and enhance its luster. In addition, since sterling silver is not as rare or expensive as gold or platinum, some jewelers may list it as semi-fine.

Fine Jewelry Versus Fashion Jewelry: A Showdown?

Fine jewelry is primarily crafted from precious metals and precious stones, while fashion jewelry is manufactured from mostly lower-quality artificial materials. However, remember that fashion jewelry is more popular and widespread among the messes because these pieces are always less expensive.

However, they don’t last as long as fine jewelry because of the limitations of the materials used to craft them.

Both costumes and expensive jewelry are aesthetically pleasing. If you’re in the market for some new jewelry, it’s essential to consider a few factors before making a purchase. Purchasing fine jewelry is a wise financial decision that will benefit future generations.

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