Costume Jewelry

Why Costume Jewelry Is a Good Idea

In our mercantile age, costume jewelry is often equated with cheap knockoffs: tawdry glass and plastic items that fall apart after a few uses. However, it doesn't have to be this way; costume jewelry can serve several important uses besides offering the vulgarity that we now call "bling." Some costume jewelry pieces, both modern and antique, are artworks of collectible value, and a few go for rather high prices.

Traditional costume jewelry, while often made to mimic more expensive pieces, is not intended to as serve inexpensive substitutes to real elegance -- although in fact it often serves this purpose. Not only do good costume pieces allow an individual of limited means to look elegant, they often "sit in" for pieces that are so expensive and valuable that they're rarely worn. The best costume jewelry is that which was made to double for more expensive pieces. In most situations, the costume jewels are worn for show, while the actual items stay locked in the family vault. Only on truly special occasions does the good stuff come out.

Portable pieces of art

Some of the finest antique costume jewelry originates from the Art Nouveau era (1890-1915). Fake diamond rings were an Art Nouveau specialty. At that time, there was no cubic zirconia or moissanite available to closely mimic diamonds, so jewelers had to make do with glass, paste, or even quartz. None of these, however, caught or scattered the light the way even the drabbest diamond could. For that reason, Art Nouveau jewelers attempted to distract attention away from their duller stones by creating ornate designs in gold and silver, resulting in portable little masterpieces that fetch significant prices today. Cubic zirconia was unavailable in significant quantities until Soviet scientists began producing it in the early 1970s, and moissanite, its lesser-known counterpart, was not widely used until after 1998. Now both appear consistently in costume rings, necklaces, and bracelets, and no one's the wiser unless they have a jeweler's loupe and years of experience in distinguishing the stones.

Acceptable alternatives

Nothing replaces the sparkle of a real gemstone or the mellow gleam of gold, but most of us live in the real world, and can't afford to overindulge in fine jewelry. Therefore, costume jewelry (a.k.a. fashion jewelry) is a reasonable alternative. Just because it's costume jewelry doesn't mean it has to be cheap, at least in the negative sense of the word -- that is, you needn't suffer green skin just to save money. Costume jewelry may not contain precious stones and metals, but some of it's beautiful and fun, and in fact you can get it in a wider range of materials than fine jewelry: bakelite, plastic, rubber, steel, ceramics -- it's all there for you to try. Even if you decide not to wear it, some costume jewelry, especially the antique varieties (e.g., anything made before 1950), is highly collectible and a joy to search out.

Bookmark Page (CTL + D)
©2020 FatNewt LLC, All Rights Reserved     Contact Us     User Agreement     Privacy Policy     Become a Writer     Sitemap