Certain pieces of costume jewelry can be hard to differentiate from fine jewelry, if construction is good and fine. The visual appearance of precious metal can be seen on the surface of costume jewelry in the form of plating, dipping, filling, and rolling in both gold and silver metals. However, coatings of precious metals can be easily scratched off, which will reveal copper, nickel, or a number of other metals that do not fit into the category of precious metals. Additionally, there are costume pieces that are referred to as gold or silver tone, which means the coatings on these pieces are equitable to a gold or silver paint.
The difference between fine jewelry and costume jewelry is the quality of the metal used in the jewelry and the authenticity of the stones set into the pieces.
Fine jewelry consists of gold, platinum, silver and gemstones.
Additionally, fine jewelry can last for generations, and it is often considered an investment or something worth collecting and passing down to family members. There are a few guidelines that can help consumers to understand the difference between fine jewelry and costume jewelry. Items considered to be fine jewelry are constructed of gold, sterling silver, or platinum. Both yellow and white gold must be at least 10 karats or higher to be classified as fine jewelry. Generally, yellow and white gold are offered to consumers in 10, 14, and 24 karats. When examining yellow gold, its appearance will become a deeper gold color in the higher karats. White gold looks just about the same in all choices of karats. Gold in higher karats will tend to be softer, and it will scratch more easily than the lower karats.
Stones used in fine jewelry must be natural gemstones, which possess all the visual, chemical, and physical properties of mined gemstones to be categorized as fine jewelry. All pearls that are naturally formed are categorized as fine jewelry.
Costume jewelry is generally plated pieces with silver / gold / platinum with bronze / copper as base metal. Sometime, these jewelry pieces are studded with non-precious stones, quartz, plastic, glass, crystal or semi-precious stones. Wearing costume jewelry was a way to embellish a costume or an outfit. When the term costume jewelry is used today, it is sometimes interchanged with the term fashion jewelry. Both have become synonymous with one another. The term is generally dependent on the place where the jewelry was purchased. These terms are used to describe jewelry that is usually constructed of inexpensive mass produced materials. For consumers, the biggest difference between costume and fine jewelry is the price. High-quality craftsmanship and metals command a much higher price. Designers who are well-known and popular design jewelry that is not classified as fine jewelry,
Most costume jewelry is constructed with plated metal. There is only a thin coat of metal over other, less expensive metals. Brass is a base metal often used for this purpose. Some costume pieces have no precious metal at all, and they are painted over a less expensive metal to resemble gold, silver, or platinum. Jewelry considered to be costume also includes authentic gold, silver, or platinum settings that are set with manufactured stones. If the stones are natural, but the settings are plated, the piece is categorized as costume jewelry. If the main stone in the piece is natural, but the surrounding stones are manufactured, the piece will be classified as costume jewelry. The same is true if the surrounding stones are natural and the main stone is manufactured. Mixing natural gemstones with manufactured gemstones in a precious metal setting may significantly lower the value of the piece in the retail market.
The methods used to tell the difference between fine jewelry and costume jewelry are simple.
Fashion or custom jewelry is not made of precious metals, natural gemstones, natural pearls, or diamonds. There are some exceptions with precious metal pieces. These include precious metal settings that feature a main stone as a natural stone, but the surrounding stones are manufactured. The opposite is also true. When the main stone is manufactured and the surrounding stones are natural, the jewelry will be classified as costume jewelry. The term costume jewelry is generally interchangeable with the term fashion jewelry.