10

Feb.

Fine Jewelry vs Costume Jewelry

By Calla Gold

Kenneth Jay Lane Triple Strand of Faux Pearls

Barbara Bush in Kenneth Jay Lane Triple Strand of Faux Pearls

There is a Huge Difference Between Fine Jewelry and Costume Jewelry

In this post I’ll talk about the difference between costume jewelry and fine jewelry.

Fine jewelry is made with valuable metal such as gold and platinum and is set with natural, precious gemstones. Funnily enough cultured pearls are considered a “gemstone.” Therefore they are part of the fine jewelry category.

Basically, costume jewelry can be made of any almost any material—including plastic. Manufacturers typically copy more expensive fine jewelry by substituting the expensive materials for less expensive ones. Often the pieces are highly stylized and fashionable. Many costume pieces, are quite artful and attractive and command high prices.

Demi Moore in Real Fresh Water Pearls, Layered and Gorgeous.

Demi Moore in Fine Cultured Fresh Water Pearls, Layered and Gorgeous.

Fine Jewelry and the Finer Things

The nicer materials count into it being called fine jewelry. Fine jewelry will always be more expensive than its imitative costume versions.

Fine jewelry included pearls and gemstone beads. Whether in necklaces or worked into pins it is their genuine status and not how they are used that makes them fine.

Cheap Costume vs Nice Costume Jewelry

Manufacturers often copy more expensive fine jewelry by substituting the expensive materials for less expensive ones. This is copy-type costume jewelry.

There are however jewelry designers designing specifically for the costume jewelry market. Often the pieces are highly stylized and fashionable. Many costume pieces are quite artful and attractive and command high prices.

Gorgeous Chanel Lumieres Byzantine Costume Jewelry

Gorgeous Chanel Lumieres Byzantine Costume Jewelry

The Idea of Costume Jewelry for Outfits

In the 1920′s Coco Chanel popularized the idea of buying “outfit” jewelry. A set of inexpensive accessories that matched the outfit and finished it up for a finished and fabulous look.

Hollywood movie stars took this trend from the screen into the mainstream.

Costume Jewelry for the Famous and the Masses

Kenneth Jay Lane was a famous costume jewelry designer in the 60′s. His most popular design was the three strand faux pearl necklace worn by Barbara Bush. Kenneth also designed unique pieces of costume jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Onassis.

Assorted Costume Jewelry. Many of These Pieces are Unfixable.

Assorted Broken Costume Jewelry. Many of These Pieces are Unfixable.

The Problem with Costume Jewelry

The problem with costume jewelry is that if it breaks, it can be next to impossible to repair. It may be completely unworkable to solder a post back onto a costume earring.

This is due to the fact that the heat generated from the soldering flame causes the thin gold coating to evaporate or blacken. Or the plastic to simply melt.Most costume pieces just can’t stand the heat!

Fine Metals Can Take Flame, Costume Metals and Plastics Cannot

Fine Metals Can Take Flame, Costume Metals and Plastics Cannot

Fine Jewelry Can be Repaired and Re-worked

On the other hand, fine karat gold and platinum jewelry can be soldered any number of times. This type of jewelry can be worked on again and again.

It can be passed on for generations and last for over a hundred years. I saw some amazing pieces of jewelry from the Egyptian tombs that were thousands of years old. They held their beauty and fascinating looks.

 Costume Jewelry as Gifts, Not Always a Good Choice

There’s nothing more maddening than a broken piece of jewelry that can’t be fixed and can never be worn again. It’s like being told your Corvette has to be junked because it has a flat tire and can’t be driven anymore.

That’s not right. Fortunately, Corvettes can be repaired. Not so, the plastic and gold tone Corvette earrings your boyfriend impulsively bought for you at the car show last month. He should have sprung for the solid gold ones instead!

Another Post About Costume Jewelry

See my blog post on taking a favorite piece of costume jewelry and replicating it as fine jewelry.  I’ve done this a number of times. Sometime if you can’t repair it, you just put your foot down and say, “I like that design.” We will make it up so it’ll last.

Calla Gold

 

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8 Responses to “Fine Jewelry vs Costume Jewelry”

Cindy February 14th, 2014 at 8:51 am


Great article.

I’ve always felt weird wearing fakies. I remember once, I had a synthetic diamond (that was a gift from a boyfriend) but every time I wore it, I felt like a fraud (I think it was 3 carats!)

I love the idea of turning a costume piece into the real thing; I never thought of that until now.

Thanks for the ‘food for thought’…

Calla Gold February 14th, 2014 at 9:33 am


Hi Cindy,
I know what you mean. I never felt comfortable wearing a big CZ. I’d rather wear a small diamond!
Thanks for liking the idea of turning a costume piece into the real thing. It’s always fun to put out food for thought!
Calla Gold

Lisa S. February 14th, 2014 at 9:34 am


So true about the notion of not being able to repair costume jewelry. I can’t tell you how many times I have enjoyed a necklace, ring or earrings for a time, only to have them break. Unfortunately, costume jewelry these days is made poorly and doesn’t last very long at all. I had a costume ring that adored and I wore until it broke. I kept the pieces for so long and finally discarded them about a year ago. IF I HAD ONLY THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING IT MADE INTO A “REAL” RING, I could have taken it to Calla Gold Jewelry and I’d be wearing it RIGHT NOW!!

Amy Marie Orozco February 15th, 2014 at 3:09 pm


I never thought about not being able to repair costume jewelry. Usually, I use broken pieces in a craft or art project.

Calla Gold February 15th, 2014 at 3:56 pm


Hi Lisa,
I’m so pleased you read this. I bet there will be a next time and I’ll be hear for you. I love how every single time I’ve turned a costume piece of jewelry into ‘real’ it has been a beloved favorite.
Calla Gold

Calla Gold February 15th, 2014 at 4:02 pm


Hi Amy Marie,
I like your idea of using broken costume pieces in crafts. Some of my clients ask me what they can do with old unwanted costume jewelry that is not collectible. I often recommend giving it to a thrift store so crafters and assemblage artists can find it.
I’m glad you brought that viewpoint to the conversation. Thanks!
Calla Gold

Lisa Darsonval March 2nd, 2014 at 2:15 pm


There’s nothing more frustrating that not being able to fix your favorite costume jewelry piece. But it’s good to know that if I like the design enough, I can count on you to help me find a solution to keep it. I never would have thought to turn it into a real, high quality piece of jewelry.

Calla Gold March 3rd, 2014 at 6:12 am


Hi Lisa,
I’m so pleased that turning costume jewelry into real is now on your jewelry loving radar. Just knowing it is a possibility might make a difference one day to you or to someone you know.
Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla

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