Costume Jewellery vs. Fine Jewellery: What You Should Know


When manufactured just right, it can be difficult to distinguish which jewellery is costume and which one is fine. When it comes to costume jewellery, the coating of precious metals will easily come off, leaving behind nickel, copper and other metals that don’t fall into the precious metals category. And, there are some costume pieces that have a silver or gold tone to them, meaning the coatings are equal to silver or gold paint.

What You Didn’t Know About Costume jewellery and Fine jewellery

You know the fine jewellery you see in stores today goes all the way back to 19th century times. And, they are made up of gemstones, platinum and gold. Key jewellery styles usually followed the times’ artistic styles. During the period of 1910 and 1920, the Art Nouveau style was extremely popular. The Art Nouveau style was noted by the use of flowers, butterflies, flowing lines, abstractions and women depicted onto carved surfaces.


During this time period, enamel jewellery grew to become extremely popular. Designers used the method to ornate cheaper metals, ensuring that costume jewellery’s popularity rose for people who really liked the style but couldn’t afford to pay the prices being asked for the precious metals. While the style is similar, the pieces have a life of their own. They weren’t valuable because they were not considered as fine jewellery.

The Retro period happened during the 1940s – lush styling, large brooches, pink gold, etc.

Most of the 1920s enameled costume pieces produced a new market that imitated the fine jewellery styles of the Retro period. Throughout World War II, most women were unable to purchase jewellery comprised of precious metals. This led to an increase market on costume jewellery. If they had a fashion budget, most women would buy costume jewellery to garnish their clothing.

While it’s not known what the historians of today will say about modern-day jewellery, experts believe it’s be known for its diversity. There are all kinds of influences in today’s designs. These designs are influenced by previous decades; a reflection of a person’s taste in clients and designers.  Costume jewellery is certainly one aspect of modern-day styles but there are several notable differences between fine jewellery and costume jewellery.

How To Know The Differences In jewellery Types

How do you know if you’re buying fine jewellery or costume jewellery? You need to look at the metal quality and the stones’ authenticities. Fine jewellery will last for years, and normally seen as an investment and worth passing down from generation to generation.  How can you know if you’re buying fine jewellery and not costume jewellery?

  • Pieces that are made up of gold, platinum or sterling silver are regarded as fine jewellery.
  • White and yellow gold need to be a minimum of 10 karats or more – usually offered in 10, 14 and 24
  • Yellow gold should go deeper in its gold color the higher the karats are.
  • White gold will stay the same throughout all karat choices.
  • Gold in the higher karats are often softer and will scratch easily than lower karats.


What To Consider With Diamonds, Pearls and Stones

Natural diamonds are thought of as fine jewellery. Stones that have been manufactured are not genuine diamonds and not listed in the fine jewellery category. Some highly recognizable synthetic stones include:

  • Cubic zirconium
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Quartz
  • Rhinestone


diamonds jewellery

When dealing with diamonds, you want ones that have pure carbon in them. Lab-developed diamonds have similar chemical properties to them as natural diamonds. The difference though is that lab-created diamonds must be noted as being lab-created. The price on these types of diamonds is also much less than natural diamonds. Most folks like these diamonds since they cost much less than naturally mined diamonds. The only difference is their value if being sold down the road. They are regarded as alternatives to mined diamonds.


Authentic pearls

Authentic pearls

When talking about pearls, they need to be naturally formed to be thought of as fine jewellery. Many people are confused when it comes to pearls because they’re not sure if cultured pearls are real. Here’s what you need to know: cultured pearls are indeed natural pearls. They come from oysters and used to make pearls. And, because they’re natural, they’re listed as fine jewellery.


real gemstones

real gemstones

In order for stones to be considered natural gemstones and listed in the fine jewellery category, they must have all the chemical, physical and visual properties mined gemstones have.


What About Costume jewellery

fashion jewellery

fashion jewellery

The first appearance of costume jewellery was during the 1930s. This kind of jewellery was used to embellish an outfit. Many people will interchange the word costume jewellery with fashion jewellery. The kicker? They both mean the same thing. The only difference is where they are bought, as they describe the pieces are being mass produced using cheap materials.

People buying costume and fine jewellery are going to notice the difference in price. Higher-quality metals and craftsmanship significantly increases the price. Well-known designers and popular design jewellery may not be listed as fine jewellery but people may still search for them, and this leads to higher prices too. Many people learn of designers through their costume jewellery designs, which leads to their pieces doing extremely well in the market.

The majority of these jewellery pieces are made with plated metal, meaning just a thin layer of metal covers the cheaper metals. Brass is often used as a base metal. There are some costume jewellery pieces that contain no precious metal, usually painted to look like it is and cover the cheaper metal.

yoko's custome jewellery

Costume jewellery can include authentic platinum, silver or gold settings with manufactured stones. Should the stones be real and the settings plated, the jewellery is listed as costume. If the surrounding stones of the main stone are manufactured, the jewellery is regarded as being costume. The same is true for the main stone being manufactured while the surrounding stones are real. jewellery that’s got a mixture of natural and manufactured gems tend to have a lower appraised value.

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