All that glitters is not gold, and
that true for costume jewelry. Costume jewelry is jewelry of less valuable
materials – its materials includes the likes of base metals, glass,
plastic, and synthetic stones in place of more costly ones such as gems
and precious metals. The substances are more or less inexpensive and
Costume jewelry, formerly "paste", took its name from its use, back when
theatrical jewels were "pasted" into stage costumes – it is now mainly
used for fashion purposes. It takes different forms – as hair accessory,
bracelet, pendant, or ring – each with its own vintage rhinestone or
imitation stone. Precious jewelry, meanwhile, exists predominantly as part
of a collection, keepsake, or investment.
Costume jewelry can also be crafted from cubic zirconia, high-end
lab-created and simulated gemstones. Semi-precious stones and even wood
can be foundations in crafting costume jewelry.
Costume jewelry was then called cocktail jewelry, and it was through
Lalique's mass produced quality glass jewelry that the 20s got a taste of
it. With the great influence of fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa
Schiaparelli, clients were encouraged to blend costume jewelry with
already-owned authentic pieces. Both designers are famed for their stylish
blend of fun and imagination, and are often seen sporting fabulous faux
The late 30s saw Napier of USA at the forefront of costume jewelry
manufacture. Napier still produces
first-rate contemporary pieces.
By the 40s and 50s American culture was predominant in Europe. Movies and
their stars dictate the trend – clothes,
hairstyles, make-up, and even
manners. Outfits and jewelry worn by the people's screen idols are
mimicked – it was widely held that Tinseltown glamour would rub off on you
if you had the style and the looks.
World War II in Europe stopped production when metals were controlled.
High-grade costume jewelry
already thriving in USA became much more
accepted as an alternative to fine jewelry in Europe.
The 60s produced more extraordinary costume jewelry, as modern plastics
and ethnic pieces were incorporated. Kenneth Jay Lane had since been known
for creating such pieces for Audrey Hepburn, Diana Vreeland, Elizabeth
Taylor, and Jackie Onassis. He is best known for his three-strand faux
pearl necklace, worn by Barbara Bush to her husband's inaugural ball. It
is also widely held that the Duchess of Windsor
was buried in Lane's jeweled belt.
The 80s saw the costume jewelry experiencing a renaissance under the watch
of the huge soap opera hit Dynasty and Dallas. The glitz and glamour
program, avidly watched by 250 million viewers worldwide, left impressions
of lavish and opulent pieces and made diamante by day the norm. The
availability of cubic zirconia and the rise of smart enamel pieces
contrasted the glitz of diamante.
Less is more became the latest trend for the 90s. As soon as it was
declared dead, costume jewelry is again revived in the 21st century. It is
currently enjoying renewed interest from the fashionable set who wishes to
enliven a wardrobe and achieve that perfectly unique look.