Is Costume Jewelry Tacky?Should You buy One?

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Imagine how dull it would be if we didn’t have jewelry to accessorize our clothes with. Whether it’s a simple necklace, chunky earrings, or a cocktail ring, jewelry serves to complete and compliment your outfit, by adding that extra touch of glamor. The problem is, fine jewelry is expensive and not everyone has the deep pockets to afford it. Lucky, you have costume jewelry as an alternative.

The biggest issue most people have with costume jewelry is that most aren’t built to last. What if it starts fading and you end up looking tacky and cheap?

In this post, we’re going to guide you on the important things to know about costume jewelry. What qualifies as costume jewelry, the pros and cons, and tips on how to wear and maintain them.


What Jewelry Considered As Costume Jewelry?

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky

Costume jewelry is simply a cheaper alternative to fine jewelry. The reason is, costume jewelry is designed to imitate fine jewelry but is made using cheaper materials. The idea can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Around that time, the Europeans’ appetite for fine jewelry had grown immensely leading to jewelers looking for more cost-effective alternatives. As a result, they began experimenting with glass and other cheaper materials.

By the 20th century, costume jewelry gained wide acceptance and popularity thanks to jewelry designers like Coco Channel. This was when the term Costume Jewelry was coined, where the costume was used to mean ‘outfit’. This type of jewelry was the kind women bought to go with specific outfits/costumes or in other words what they were wearing. Given their inexpensive designs, costume jewelry was common in the market and used for daily wear. This was opposed to “real jewelry” which were treated as investments, heirlooms, and keepsakes.

Even today, costume jewelry is still referred to as pieces made with inexpensive material and designed to imitate finer pieces. They can also be referred to as fashion jewelry, although fashion jewelry refers more to the designs that are currently trending. While costume jewelry is cheaper alternatives, there are some high-end costume pieces as well, although even these are still a slight fraction cheaper than the real jewelry.


What Jewelry Metals Or Materials Used In Costume Jewelry?

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky

The beauty about costume jewelry is that being mimics of fine jewelry, it can be difficult to tell them apart especially for the untrained eye. As we have mentioned before, the materials used to make costume jewelry are cheaper and of lower quality. These pieces are therefore not built for everyday use, otherwise, they may end up breaking or fading away. Therefore, the biggest difference between the two types of jewelry is the kind of materials used to make them.

On one hand, fine jewelry is made using precious gemstones, crystals, and metal. These include gold, platinum, and diamonds among others. On the other hand, costume jewelry uses simulated gemstones and crystals like rhinestones, cubic zirconia, and Lucite. Other materials used include glass, plastic, leather, animal ivory, wood, or acrylics.

I term of metal pieces, during the world war II era, the main metal used for costume jewelry was sterling silver. Today other cheap non-precious metals are also used including brass, lead, copper, iron, even nickel. In most cases these non-precious metals are used as based metals and coated with more valuable metal, to mimic fine jewelry. The coating is done through, plating, filling, vermeil, dipping, or rolling a thin layer of valuable metal over the base. Some of the common metals used for coating include gold, platinum, rhodium, and sometimes silver.

Although the materials used in costume jewelry are not as durable, if made right and maintained properly they can last for a long time. That way, people can look stunning in their jewelry for half the price it would cost them for finer jewelry.


Pros And Cons Of Costume Jewelry.

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky


While costume jewelry may be referred to fake jewelry by some people, they aren’t all that bad. There are some advantages to owning costume jewelry just as there are some disadvantages. The following are some of the main pros and cons of costume jewelry:


It is pocket-friendly. Given that the materials used are inexpensive, the price of costume jewelry is significantly affordable. Also, since it’s designed to mimic fine jewelry, you get to look stunning without breaking your bank or surpassing your budget.

Readily available. Given that the cost of production is cheap and the materials used aren’t hard to come by, there is a wide variety of costume jewelry. There are many stunning designs to choose from.

The best alternative for designer jewelry. Like we’ve mentioned, not everyone can afford expensive jewelry. That doesn’t mean that you should miss out on designer looks. When done right, you can’t tell the difference. That means you can enjoy expensive-looking jewelry for half the price.

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky


It isn’t durable. The materials used aren’t strong and durable. They can easily break and the plating done on them fades over time, causing the jewelry to lose its appeal.

It isn’t valuable. Costume jewelry uses inexpensive materials so that the pieces can be bought at more affordable prices. The resale value however is very low. It’s therefore not the best option if you’re looking at jewelry as an investment.

It is not hypoallergenic. The base metals used in costume jewelry are likely highly reactive metals or contain traces of such metal as nickel. This makes them unsafe for individuals with metal sensitivity or sensitive skin.

Require a lot of maintenance. You may need to constantly keep polishing or replating costume jewelry to maintain its luster and appeal. You also need to be careful about how you wear them and where your store them because they could be easily damaged.


Is Costume Jewelry Tacky?

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky

Costume jewelry is technically not “authentic” rather mimics expensive designer jewelry. As such many people are often afraid that wearing costume jewelry would make them look cheap or tacky. This is however not always the case. When it comes to looking good in your jewelry, it isn’t always a sure thing even when wearing designer pieces.

Most costume jewelry is made extremely well that it would be difficult for someone to know. There is however some costume jewelry that screams under $100, based on how poorly they’ve been made. Whether or not costume jewelry looks tacky will depend on two things; what you’re wearing and how you’re wearing it.

For starters when picking out costume jewelry, keep an eye out for the materials used and the quality of the finishing. For metal pieces, avoid the kind that has flimsy coatings you can easily scratch out. These are bound to look cheap when you put them on. You should rather opt for a metal piece that has been electroplated and have a higher quality finish. As for the gems and crystals, although they may not be the real thing, pick pieces that closely resemble the authentic stones. Also, ensure that the gems are not glued on but in proper and secure settings. You wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by your “diamond” falling off your ring, pendant, or earrings.

Getting the best quality costume jewelry is, however, not enough. How you wear the pieces also matter. The safest rule is to keep it simple. In terms of size, especially, keep it small and tasteful. Unless you’re filthy rich or from royalty, wearing a ridiculously sized diamond, is an obvious tell and also not a classy look.


Tips For Wearing Costume Jewelry.

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky

To ensure you effortlessly pull of wearing costume jewelry, here are a few tips you should keep in mind while wearing these pieces:

Try fun trends.

Jewelry keeps evolving with each passing day. New trends like mismatching earrings and stacking necklaces keep coming up. While it may not seem like it at first, some of these trends can be impractical. The beauty of costume jewelry, however, is that they are inexpensive. That means you wouldn’t have incurred a huge loss should you hop on a trend and happen to hate it.

Play around with color.

Simulated gemstones can come in many colors, which is another beautiful thing about costume jewelry. Even the metals coating vary from silvery white to rose or yellow gold. This is your chance to experiment and play with color. You don’t have to stick to the boring clear diamond on white gold or yellow gold neckpieces.

Is Costume Jewelry Tacky

Experiment with different materials.

Costume jewelry isn’t just made with metal and gemstones. You also have the options of wood, leather, ivory, or beaded pieces. They each have a different appeal and they are all affordable. Try them and see what you like.

Match the outfit with the jewelry.

Remember costume jewelry was created to match your outfit. To avoid looking tacky, match your jewelry with the right outfit. If you wearing casual clothes, pair them with casual jewelry as opposed to fancy ones. While some people can pull of sweats and a fancy set of jewelry, it is not a look for everyone, so just stay on the safer side.



Costume jewelry is designed to mimic designer pieces, and to the untrained eye, it may be indistinguishable. Given how popular they are today, there is nothing wrong with wearing costume jewelry. A lot of the jewelry people own in the world today is costume jewelry. It also doesn’t look tacky, it’s just a matter of what you wear and how you wear it.

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