What Is Fashion Jewelry? – Detailed Definition, Pros and Cons

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Fashion jewelry is one of the most common types of jewelry because it is the cheapest option and easily accessible to jewelry lovers worldwide.

But it is important to know the differences between fashion and fine jewelry.

This article guides you into everything you need to know about fashion jewelry.

So, let’s get into it.


What is considered fashion jewelry?

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Fashion jewelry, also known as costume jewelry, refers to all jewelry made of cheaper materials like simulated stones and metal alloys or base metals. The common materials used to make fashion jewelry include brass, copper, and aluminum.

These are cheap metals overall. There is one catch, though, that these metals are not the most durable options and are prone to tarnishing and bending.

In addition to the cheaper metals, fashion jewelry also refers to all the different jewelry options that are made of materials like textiles, base metal alloys, leather, as well as metals that are plated with a very thin layer of gold like silver and gold.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

They are also made of simulated stones like cubic zirconia, Swarovski crystals, and even plastic and stones.

Note that fashion or costume jewelry may also be made of base essence or even the simulated monuments.

And thanks to the use of cheap and often fragile, lower-quality materials, fashion jewelry has a much smaller shelf life, and the pieces don’t last as long as they may get tarnished, rusted, or even come apart too soon after purchase.

I guess you get what you pay for, and this is the case with fashion jewelry options that are mostly made of.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Despite the use of lower-quality materials, fashion jewelry pieces are decorated jewelry items that have been designed to look exactly like fine jewelry or real jewelry.

So, while they are made of cheaper, lower-quality materials, they look just as good as the more expensive jewelry options, meaning that anyone looking for that expensive look but they cannot afford it gets to wear such good quality-looking jewelry options for much less.

The only catch is that some fashion jewelry options are not made that well, meaning that the fashion jewelry pieces often break apart or look old too soon after purchase.


Fashion jewelry examples

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Examples of fashion jewelry include gold-plated (brass and copper), stainless steel jewelry, silver-plated (brass) jewelry, brass, bronze, and copper pieces.

Fashion jewelry is also made of semi-precious gems, including cubic zirconia crystals, simulated diamonds, and other high-end types of crystals like Swarovski crystals.

Fashion jewelry price range

Fashion jewelry is made up of some of the cheapest kinds of jewelry, and they go for as low as $5 to as much as $100 or even more, depending on the jewelry’s design features, materials, and the era they are from.


What metals are used in making fashion jewelry?

What Is Fashion Jewelry

But there is more to it. Fashion jewelry options also fall into different categories, the most common being semi-fine jewelry varieties – these are, more or less, advanced versions of costume jewelry.

Semi-fine jewelry is often made of gold vermeil, and there also are gold-filled jewelry options. These semi-fine jewelry options, which are also considered fashion jewelry options, are often made of real gemstones like opals, topaz, and morganite stones.

So, overall, thanks to the use of the more affordable metals and semi-precious stones, these jewelry options are significantly cheaper. Note, however, that some of the real semi-precious gemstones are heat or chemical-treated, so they often look much clearer and flawless.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

According to experts sites like Amazon’s site for sellers, SellersCentral, fashion jewelry is jewelry that is not made of precious metals but non-precious and semi-precious materials that also include pearls.

Many types of jewelry varieties fall in the fashion-jewelry category, and these all include jewelry options made of cheaper materials. Other than the metals listed above, other metals that makeup fashion jewelry include the pieces made of titanium, stainless steel, tungsten, iron pyrite, cobalt, and brass, among others.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

There also are many alloys that are used for fashion jewelry, and these include jewelry made of Argentium-plated options, black-rhodium-plated varieties, gold-plated options, platinum-plated, rhodium—plated, rose-gold plated, silver-plated, and yellow-gold plated varieties, among others.

Other than these metals, fashion jewelry is also made of non- and semi-precious stones and gems like amber, amazonite, and aventurine. Agate, amblygonite, azurite, onyx, obsidian, topaz, and several other lab-created gemstone varieties.

Alternative materials used in fashion jewelry include bone, coral, ceramic, bamboo, crystal, fabric, enamel, leather, resin, plastic, horn, glass, epoxy, rubber, rhinestone, wood, and shell.


Fashion jewelry history

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Fashion jewelry is one of the oldest jewelry styles, representing one of the oldest forms of human expression.

But to understand the different types of fashion jewelry, it is important to go back to the periods or eras that the jewelry date back to.

These eras help in the identification of fashion jewelry, and we’ll break down the different periods of fashion jewelry’s history.


Art Deco Period, between the 1920s and 1930s

What Is Fashion Jewelry

The Art Deco movement was one of the most profound periods in the world, overall, but more particularly in the fashion scene.

This is the case because the Art Deco period was characterized by the harshness of jewelry’s production in mass, combined with flourishing art and design scenes that can only be said to be sensitive.

This was an impressive period in the history of fashion because it was also the period when Coco Chanel created and introduced costume jewelry in their jewelry lines to complete the costumes that the brand designer was creating.  

What Is Fashion Jewelry

However, the Art Deco movement didn’t last long, and it died when the Great Depression kicked in and also at the start of World War II.

  • Schiffer notes that the characteristics of Art Deco jewelry from the period include the replacement of the free-flowing curves from the older periods (Edwardian and Victorian) with largely geometric and symmetric designs for the jewelry made. The Art Deco era was, therefore, characterized by bangle bracelets, long pendants, cocktail rings, and even more elaborate jewelry varieties like holders and cigarette cases.

After Art Deco came the Retro Period


Retro Period (Dates back to between 1935 – 1950)

What Is Fashion Jewelry

With many changes in style and design features of jewelry, and as the world was at war, then after, a new style of jewelry came to life.

Jewelry from the Retro period came to life when jewelry designers struggled to deal with the whole issue of mass jewelry production versus honoring the sensitivity of art. So, in this period, jewelry was made of made using natural materials that were merged with plastic.

They also were American-made options that looked distinctly American. But then, with the war raging in Europe and most jewelry designers forcefully shutting down, many of the jewelry designers from European countries emigrated into the US as the economy was recovering then.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

As a result, the features of the jewelry from the Retro Period stood out with different features outlined below:

  • Elegance, glamour, and sophistication
  • Bows, flowers, plus sunburst jewelry designs, all with a great feel of that Hollywood flair.
  • Retro-era jewelry was also made using different alternate materials such as moonstones, and they featured horse motifs, ballerinas, and a feel of military influence.
  • The jewelry options also featured the use of bakelite, and there also were several varieties of plastic jewelry options from the era.


Art Modern Period (Dates from 1945 – 1960)

What Is Fashion Jewelry

After WWII, the Art Modern period was born. Despite the name, the jewelry designs from this era were quite traditional and also understated.

The era included replacing the big and bold jewelry options with more tailored jewelry styles from the 50s and 60s. And so, the jewelry types from the Art Modern Period featured these characteristics;

  • Bold and lavish designs
  • Significant use of rhinestones
  • Large and chunky bracelets and charm bracelets made of citrine, opal/jade, and topaz.
  • They also feature poodle pins, Christmas tree pins, and other kinds of Christmas jewelry

As individuals learn more about the history of fashion jewelry, it is now clear that the jewelry from this era gave rise to body jewelry, especially the Kim Craftsmen jewelry of the 1990s by Carl Schimel.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Now, while fashion jewelry options from these three periods are particularly prominent, it is worth noting that costume jewelry dates back more than 300 years to the 17th century, when jewelers started making jewelry using inexpensive glass.

Then in the 19th century, costume jewelry became even more popular with the use of semi-precious materials. The jewels used were also affordable, and it is this affordability that led to the popularity of fashion jewelry.

However, the real golden era of fashion jewelry started mid-20th century when the new middle-class population sought more beauty and affordable jewelry options.

There was also a rise in demand for fashion jewelry, which coincided with the industrial revolution and the machine age, with the revolution making possible the production of carefully-detailed jewelry replicas that then made possible the creation of high-quality heirloom jewelry pieces.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

This was followed by the class structure across America and the measurement of real wealth, which led women of the working class to wear and own costume jewelry options.

Mass jewelry production was also common, and by the mid-20th century, costume jewelry was the market’s most popular type of jewelry.

These were adopted by pretty much all the high-end jewelry designers, from Dior and Coventry to Chanel and Monet, among others. Hollywood movies also played a role in the popularization of costume jewelry.


What is the difference between fine and fashion jewelry?

What Is Fashion Jewelry

While fashion jewelry is made of cheaper metals and materials considered semi-precious and non-precious, fine jewelry options are made of high-quality materials, often precious metals and stones.

So, while fashion jewelry is made of (white, rose gold, and yellow) gold-plated brass or copper, titanium, stainless steel, or even tungsten; fine jewelry is made of much more expensive and valuable metals and gems like 14k and 18k white/ yellow, and rose gold, sterling silver, platinum, palladium, paired with gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, among other valuable materials.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

Fine jewelry options often include designer jewelry options, and these are some of the most expensive varieties of jewelry.

They are all well-built, and you don’t have to worry about the jewelry breaking or tarnishing within weeks of purchase. Most of the fine jewelry varieties also last a long time, and in many cases, they last forever.


Pros and cons of Fashion jewelry

What Is Fashion Jewelry


  • Fashion jewelry is quite affordable
  • There are thousands of designs for you to choose from and wear
  • The jewelry designs and options are quite affordable and accessible to people of all budgets
  • The gold-plated jewelry options look just as good as the precious metal varieties.
  • They are worth investing in if your style preferences are always changing


  • They wear off
  • And they do not last too long


Fashion jewelry business and industry

What Is Fashion Jewelry

While the fashion jewelry scene is considered more of a discreet jewelry category featuring fashion accessories, especially in an industry that is regarded as self-contained, the fashion or costume jewelry scene is fast-growing, with manufacturers located all over the world but concentrated more in India and China.

In these parts of the world, entire economies are dominated and run by fashion jewelry industries. That said, there has been a great deal of controversy in the US and elsewhere because of the absence of regulations for fashion jewelry in these manufacturing countries.

The controversy is brought about by issues like human rights violations, environmental harm, and the use of toxic materials, among other issues.

What Is Fashion Jewelry

However, Indian, Korean, Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian jewelry manufacturers remain the biggest creators of fashion jewelry.

There are smaller manufacturers in other parts of the world, including America, and the biggest market for fashion jewelry today is Etsy.

Today, the demand for fashion jewelry is even higher at 85% because of the increased gold prices and also the demand for cheaper jewelry varieties.



You probably own at least a pair or piece of fashion jewelry, and that is because the jewelry options are affordable and available in versatile design options for everyone.

Just remember that these options will not last forever.

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