What Is Costume Jewelry?

Oftentimes we see costume jewelry as a segway to creative expression. Many fashion houses use costume jewelry to accentuate their textile designs. These pieces tend to be made of all kinds of materials and are usually created for the sole purpose of complementing an outfit or conveying a particular sentiment.


But what exactly is costume jewelry? And is there a difference between costume jewelry and fine jewelry?


Let’s start with the first question.


Costume jewelry is usually made with materials which aren’t considered valuable. This includes simulated stones, plastic, ceramic, and in some cases wood. Basically, any kind of material can be used to create costume jewelry. In fact, this is what started the costume jewelry trend. During periods of economic downturn it was harder to source luxury materials so people found more affordable ways to showcase their style and personality.


Miriam Haskell was one of the first female costume jewelry designers to make designs using alternative materials. She started her store in 1924 in New York City at the McAlpin Hotel with only $500. She would go on to design signature pieces for Joan Crawford and Lucille Ball, as well as by Gloria Vanderbilt, and some royalty. Her work was used in publicity shots and films, which made her designs all the more valuable after her death.


Costume jewelry tends to be different from fine jewelry for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that fine jewelry is made with real materials, such as gold and silver, and uses real gemstones, such as diamonds. While modern films tend to gravitate towards statement pieces that complement a movie star’s clothes, the jewelry is usually made with more valuable materials.


This leads us to believe that these two types of jewelry are starting to merge. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, famous necklaces in films, the kinds of jewelry being used in movie making has evolved. Now, instead of creating a costume necklace that merely looks like a yellow canary diamond. They are actually having fine jewelers make these designs or using designs that already exist in order to give the brand that created the piece more exposure.


By blurring the lines between these two types of jewelry, we are finding that it will now boil down to preference. For example, Swarovski is an Austrian based costume jewelry and housewares company that uses glass in their jewelry. For many budget and environmentally conscious buyers, this might be a better choice when buying jewelry solely for the purpose of matching with an outfit or to wear at a single event.


Overall, the only difference boils down to the kinds of materials that are being used. But, ultimately, it depends on your budget and consumer beliefs that will help you really determine what kind of jewelry is best for you.


Whatever kind of jewelry you decide on, the most important thing is that you’re comfortable. We think that comfort and style should be the cornerstones of picking the perfect pieces.


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