What is the difference between costume and fashion jewelry? Is there really a difference or we the words interchangeably? Perhaps a better question is should we use the words interchangeably? To find an answer, we must first go back in time a bit and review of the history of jewelry.
Although the use of materials, or specifically gold, to decorate the body easily dates back to Egypt in 3000 b.c. as evidenced by in graves as the Tut ank hamen, should we move forward on the 13th century in medieval Europe and England were determined when Sumptuary laws, to see the beginning of the "fake" jewelry. Ordinary people, or yeomen and artisans, were prohibited from wearing of gold, silver, pearls or precious stones. As gemstones and pearls were very much appreciated, developed a market for good glass imitations. The Italians, especially those of the glass, creating areas of Venice and Murano, began to make impersonation glass gems and pearls that were of very high quality.
From the 17th century, was clothing very ornamental with the help of jewelry pieces called dress ornaments on the stomacher, or front, sleeves and skirts. It was for wearing fake jewelry per day and fine or real jewelry by night acceptable. Pearls were worn in abundance and during this era, Jaquin of Paris a process for making false pearls patented. About the same time, a composition of white lead oxide and potash, called paste, was developed and was widely used to create false gems. These false gems were in theatrical costumes, so becoming known as costume jewelry pasted.
Towards the late 1800 's, jewelry production began to go to America and Australia, and resulted in lower quality standards. Resistance against the lesser quality pieces asked Jewelers like to start making very high quality fine jewelry Tiffany. By the beginning of 1900, we began to see recognizable names affect the mass-produced jewelry industry. Designers such as Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Rene Lalique and Napier created fake or faux jewelry cute and trendy. This faux jewelry is more commonly known as cocktail jewelry, or costume jewelry, so the popularizing the term.
The second World War saw fine jewelry dwindle in production since metals were rationed. Quality costume jewelry flourished, and the post-war 1950 Art Deco period signaled the acceptance of the more extravagant costume jewelry. Some of these quality pieces have vintage status making them of interest to collectors. The 1980s and 1990s saw the influence of TV shows, movies, and celebrity sponsorship, make costume jewelry fashionable. And the term fashion jewelry in vogue came and began to refer to each piece of jewelry that no fine was deemed or real jewels.
The use of the terms costume and fashion jewellery analog and removable become, and is often based on tradition and place. Anything of a lesser value and materials of lesser quality than fine gold, silver or diamond jewelry is now referred to as costume or fashion. In contemporary usage, while costume jewellery generally thinks less expensive than fashion jewelry, many elements common to both. Costume jewelry will have often gold plating on pewter, nickel or even lead and beads or gems made of plastic or acrylic can hold. Fashion jewelry usually one step higher in quality, using electroplated gold or silver on brass, gold, silver, or even sterling silver as the metal base and can be accented with high-end crystals, simulated gemstones, CZ, semi-precious stones or other natural materials. Styling in fashion jewelry will often imitate real or fine jewelry designs.
So to answer the original question, what is the difference between costume and fashion jewelry, we have a very fine line of distinction. Looking at the quality, materials, design and price should help clarify the terminology consistent with the situation. Either is correct; Neither is wrong! But personally, I prefer the term fashion jewelry as I want to be fashionable, not dressed in a costume!
Barbara Borchert is sales and Marketing Manager for jewelry by Park Lane, a direct sales company selling high quality fashion jewelry since 1955. She has an MBA in Marketing Management from DePaul University and has an extensive background in buying retail and field sales. http://jewelsbyparklane.com/