March 23, 2012
Costume or Fine Jewelry?
Costume or Fine Jewelry? What kind of jewelry do you make? Is it costume jewelry, fashion jewelry, fine jewelry or jewelry by another name? If you create handmade jewelry is it fine?
A customer asked Magpie Gemstones about the term costume jewelry and we became curious. Yet, research on the topic didn’t net much information. Therefore, what follows is an educated opinion.
Costume jewelry became popular in the 1930s and was “meant to be worn with a specific outfit (Wikipedia).” What does the word costume mean to you? When I say “costume”, I think of the word temporary. For example, we see costumes on the stage in the theater and these are created for a specific show. I recall sewing costumes for my children when they had parts in theater productions. At the onset, I was advised that the costumes only needed to hold up for the production and didn’t require fine finishing for longevity.
It seems to me that costume jewelry is also made to last for an abbreviated length of time, not forever. Costume jewelry was and still is considered fashionable (Wikipedia), at least temporarily, whereas fine jewelry may be thought of as a keepsake or investment. This former type jewelry may be mass produced from less expensive materials such as synthetic stones, glass and plastic beads and base metals.
Fine jewelry, obviously, is made from gems and precious metals. Many jewelers advertise that they carry “fine jewelry.” Goldline Fine Jewelers, in particular, states that “fine jewelry is dedication to the highest possible standards, materials, quality and customer service.” Other “fine” jewelry stores advertise that they have an in-house jeweler who provides full service from that one-of-a-kind design to service and repairs. We wouldn’t expect this service and standard for costume jewelry.
This brings us back to the original query regarding what type of jewelry you make. My guess would be that most of us make a variety of types of jewelry. I enjoy creating some costume jewelry that I consider “faddish” and for which I use less expensive materials. Other pieces are made to show my personal design style and I mainly use fine materials. I also make keepsake pieces, like my daughter’s wedding necklace, and intend these to last as they are passed from one generation to another. Sometimes I design for a specific customer and often a piece is one-of-a-kind.
So, do I make costume jewelry or fine jewelry? I guess I think I’m somewhere in between. But at the very least, I want all my pieces to be composed with good technique and attention to quality. How about you? We’d like to know what you think, leave a comment below.
Karen Meador Dreamcatcher Designs