What Is Considered Costume Jewelry? What is costume jewelry made of? What is the difference between costume jewelry and fine jewelry? You can find all the answers in this post!
If you are looking for affordable jewelry, your research into the best jewelry options on the market for you might have included costume jewelry.
But what exactly is this class of jewelry, and what features make jewelry that is regarded as costume jewelry?
What is considered costume jewelry?
Well, costume jewelry is also known as fashion jewelry. It is also reed to as trinkets, imitated jewelry, junk jewelry, fallalery, or fake jewelry. The term costume jewelry dates way back to the early 20th century, and it is used to reflect the use of the word costume, which means outfit in the fashion world today. At this time where the term ‘Costume’ jewelry came to be, ladies used to buy jewelry to match/ go with specific costumes (read outfits), which is where the name came from – basically, the name was used to mean jewelry for the specific clothes they were wearing.
This kind of jewelry refers to the class of jewelry that is often made with certain base metals like copper, brass, or even aluminum, and they also feature simulated stones.
Costume jewelry is quite common in the jewelry market, and it includes a wide range of jewelry from the decorative jewelry pieces which are worn for personal adornment; these are the ones that are manufactured inexpensively, rather than the expensive fine “real” jewelry often regarded as keepsakes, collectibles, or even investments.
Thanks to the inexpensive design of the costume jewelry, it is the most common type of jewelry that people wear today, and you shouldn’t be one to judge because most of us cannot afford to pop into a jewelry store then walk out with a new solid 14K or 18k or even 20K gold jewelry. Costume jewelry is an excellent alternative for most people – besides being affordable, costume jewelry looks really good, and there is a huge range of the best kinds of costume jewelry.
Note that despite the notion that makes us believe that the best of costume fashion is the cheapest of jewelry, the truth is that there are high-end costume jewelry designs that are made out of high quality rose gold, gold, or silver.
As a result, the high-end costume jewelry is often almost indistinguishable from the genuine pieces of jewelry made of the same material. These high-end pieces are, however, still affordable, and they are priced at only a fraction of the cost of the genuine pieces.
What is costume jewelry made of?
Think of costume jewelry as the typical kind of jewelry that looks great as going out jewelry, although it isn’t always the best jewelry for everyday use.
This inexpensive jewelry is made of simulated gemstones like lucite and rhinestones set in silver, brass, pewter, or nickel. It should be noted that during the depression years, the rhinestones were degraded significantly as manufacturers grappled with meeting production costs.
During the era of World War II, sterling silver was incorporated into most of the costume jewelry designs. The main reason for the use of sterling silver in costume jewelry had to do with the fact that the components that were required as base metals for military applications were in higher demand, and there was a ban on the use of the base metals in all other applications in the private industry.
There is also the fact that the base metal that was originally popular and commonly used for costume jewelry had that platinum color, and sterling silver was essential to the process as it fulfilled the same role.
With the use of sterling silver as the new base metal for costume jewelry, sterling silver slowly turned into one of the staple metals used in costume jewelry. Today, some of the sterling silver jewelry that was produced then is the vintage jewelry you see around.
Note that most of the costume jewelry on the market today is designed from a wide range of materials, including high-end crystals, the cubic zirconia (simulated) diamonds, as well as precious stones now used in place of the stones used in the past. Some of the most common metals used today include silver and gold-plated, sterling silver, and there is also the use of vermeil. These low-priced jewelry articles are also made of gold-plated pewter, brass, or even nickel, among other metals. And for the costume jewelry made in the US, you won’t be surprised to find that a large number of the costume jewelry contains lead, even as other articles are made of wood, leather, acrylic, or plastic.
The good news is that the manufacturers always share the details about the design and the materials that are used to make the jewelry, and a sterling-silver-plated piece of jewelry will have this information made available.
What is the difference between costume jewelry and fine jewelry?
As you shop for jewelry, you need to keep in mind that there is a huge difference between fine jewelry and costume jewelry.
As mentioned above, costume jewelry is inexpensive and often made with low-quality materials, including plastic and wood. These jewelry designs are often made out of copies of the more expensive jewelry designs, and the created pieces are often very stylized and quite fashionable. The costume pieces designed are also quite attractive and artful, which is why some of the jewelry falls in the costume jewelry class are very expensive. This copy-pasting of designs leaves you with nice/ expensive costume jewelry. The nice costume jewelry is fashionable and attractive.
Fine jewelry, on the other hand, costs more, and this is primarily because the jewelry is made of valuable metals such as platinum or gold, and they are set on precious, natural gemstones that are more valuable. Interestingly enough, the cultured freshwater pearls are also considered gemstones, and they all in the organic gemstones and fine jewelry category. Therefore, it is safe to say that fine jewelry includes the pearls, as well as the gemstone beads that are incorporated into necklaces, rings, pins, bracelets, and other types of jewelry.
Now that we know the difference between costume and fine jewelry, why does costume jewelry come with a bad rep?
Well, the problem with costume jewelry is that they are not durable, and if the jewelry breaks, it cannot be repaired or fixed in any way –the jewelry is impossible to solder once it breaks. The reason why damage to costume jewelry is irreparable has to do with the fact that the jewelry isn’t made of the highest-quality materials and the use of heat when trying to solder the jewelry back together will cause either blackening or the evaporation of the thin gold coat that makes up most of the costume jewelry. If the jewelry is made of plastic, it will melt from the heat, obviously.
But then you have fine jewelry, which is often made of platinum or fine/ high karat gold.
In case your fine jewelry breaks, it can be soldered back to shape easily, and the best part is that the jewelry can be repaired numerous times because it’s made of genuine, high-quality metal that lasts really long.
The use of good quality or fine metal is also the reason why fine jewelry is easily passed from one generation to the next (especially if it’s well cared for), and the jewelry could last for up to 100 years. Think of the amazing jewelry pieces collected/ retrieved from the thousands of years old’ Egyptian tombs. These pieces have literally lasted lifetimes, and they have held their fascinating looks and overall beauty for all these years.
Fine jewelry also includes the beloved multi-layered rhinestone necklaces common in ballroom dances and competitions. These pieces are timeless, and though they may break, the jewelry can be put back together with expert eyes and tools.
Besides durability, uniqueness, timelessness, and the ease of repair, the other reason why the fine jewelry is better than costume jewelry is that the fine jewelry make excellent gifts.
Costume jewelry, though appear fancy, is poor quality pieces of jewelry, and they aren’t a good gift choice.
Is costume jewelry worth anything?
One of the most effective ways for you to tell whether costume jewelry is worth anything or not is by inspecting the prongs on the jewelry.
Some costume jewelry uses the same prongs as the ones used in fine jewelry, and these high-quality pieces of costume jewelry are worth something.
Unfortunately, the stones in these high-quality costume jewelry pieces often end up glued into space, and this affects/ lowers the value of the jewelry.
It is safe to say that only the high-quality, prong-set costume jewelry is valuable.
The pros and cons of costume jewelry?
- Nice update to your overall look
- Eye-catching designs
- Affordable designer jewelry looks
- Numerous options to choose from
- Easily available
- Poor quality and it changes color fast
- The designs are not original
- The sources are questionable
- Cannot be repaired
- Costs more in the long term
Should I buy costume jewelry?
Costume jewelry is remarkably affordable, and some of the high-quality costume jewelry pieces are made well and would last for some time.
So, if you cannot afford the expensive fine jewelry, costume jewelry would be a good option for you.
Of course, costume jewelry will not last long, but it’s a good option if you don’t want to break the bank.
Costume jewelry might not be the best quality jewelry money can buy, but it is good jewelry that will work well if you need to accessorize, but don’t mind throwing away the jewelry after some time because they will tarnish, rust, and be too ugly to be worn.
But if you’d rather have a few long-lasting pieces of jewelry that will last a lifetime, then you’d rather opt for fine jewelry.