Have you ever been admiring a piece of jewelry only to have them state that it is in fact 'fine jewelry'? Did it throw you for a loop? I'm never sure how to respond because my brain can't seem to hold onto the differences between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. I don't hesitate to tell you that I've had this situation occur more than once. Should I tell them that it looks nice regardless? Look surprised? Maybe I should just turn my nose up and walk away? Only one of those answers are technically correct. Which one would you do?
The difference between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry is easy enough to remember, it's the words themselves that tend to get twisted in my brain because they sound so similar. Today we will go over what specific factors determine if a piece of jewelry can be called fine jewelry or fashion jewelry, and some pointers to remember which is which. These tips to remember don't work for me, but maybe your brain is more absorbent than mine! Whichever one is which, you'll want to keep that jewelry shining to the best of your ability.
Whether you're wearing fashion jewelry or fine jewelry, it doesn't hurt to have it looking on point. Our ultrasonic jewelry cleaner will clean every crack and crevice, it's so thorough in fact that you might want to use in on compromised gems or softer stones. You can read up regarding that in another blog, Which Stones Are Safe In An Ultrasonic Cleaner And Why to clear things up. If your fine or fashion jewelry contains one or more of those stones it might be best to clean by hand with our gentle jewelry cleaner solution.
With all that out of the way, let's finally jump into it:
What's The Difference Between Fine Jewelry vs. Fashion Jewelry?
The answer to this question is simple enough to be summed up in two words. "Metal hallmark". If your jewelry is made of precious metals such as gold, silver, or platinum then it is fine jewelry. Anything else falls under the umbrella of fashion jewelry. Fashion jewelry has such a wide range of materials that it's much easier to say what it isn't rather than what it is but we'll touch on a few of the more common materials used in fashion jewelry for just a moment.
Materials Used In Fashion Jewelry
Anything that isn't precious metal qualifies as fashion jewelry. Metals such as aluminum, copper, brass, or bronze. Some fashion jewelry utilizes non-metals such as leather, wood, or acrylics. If your jewelry is plated with a precious metal, it still counts as fashion jewelry.
While wearing fashion jewelry isn't a jewelry faux pa in most social circles as long as it looks decent, it's always good to know exactly what you're looking at when shopping through a store or your wardrobe. If a piece of fashion jewelry has a designer label behind it, the price can still be a bit lofty so before accusing anyone of overstating their pricing it's good to do the homework and know exactly what it is you're looking at.
What About The Gems Used?
Unfortunately the gems don't make much of a difference when determining fashion jewelry vs. fine jewelry. You can take the most amazing pearl and place it into a 14kt gold ring and it will rightly be called fine jewelry, but take that same pearl and set it in gold-plated brass and it transforms into fashion jewelry. While I'd consider it a real shame to fit a gorgeous gem into brass jewelry it does happen, and since the determining factor in fashion jewelry or fine jewelry is the metal hallmark it will still be considered fashion jewelry even if it's decorated with the finest diamonds or rubies or sapphires on the market.
How About Costume Jewelry?
Costume jewelry is a term I sometimes hear thrown around, but it has largely gone out of style. This phrase was commonly used in the 1990s, when there was a lot of cheap fashion jewelry coming out of places like Taiwan. These pieces were mostly made out of plastic or metals with a high lead content. To be frank, it was largely garbage and not many pieces survived to present day. When I do hear it used these days it is said VERY disparagingly, so you'll never want to refer to anything that you're wearing as 'costume jewelry'.
When it comes to the differences between fashion jewelry and fine jewelry I try to remember that fashion jewelry is worn for that sole purpose. Fine jewelry is evergreen and will absolutely stand the test of time. Not just because of the quality, but also because fine jewelry never really goes out of style. There is nothing wrong with rocking a piece of fashion jewelry in the right setting, but keep in mind that styles change quickly and some fashion jewelry will find itself left by the wayside.
The nice thing about fashion jewelry is that it won't drive you crazy if it ends up misplaced or somehow destroyed. There is not a single piece of fashion jewelry I've owned that has lasted more than a few years. Very rarely I've had replating done to stretch them out to a decade or more, but overall fashion jewelry is far more disposable than fine jewelry. Some fashion jewelry can garner fairly high prices, but we'll talk about that in an upcoming article so check back with us soon!