Jewellery comes in all shapes, sizes and metals. Whether you're after a meaningful piece, a gift or something on trend, knowing simple jewellery terminology can help you find affordable, longlasting pieces.
A Quick Guide
What is costume jewellery?
Costume jewellery is defined as jewellery that doesn't contain precious stones or metals. For example, fine jewellery may contain solid gold, emeralds, diamonds or other precious stones whereas costume jewellery would use plated metals, cubic zirconia and other replacements.
What does 925 mean in jewellery?
The 925 often found stamped on silver jewellery indicates that the piece is made from sterling silver. The 925 symbolises 92.5%, indicating how much real silver is in a piece.
What is a gold hallmark?
A gold hallmark is can be found on real gold jewellery. It serves as a way to prove the piece of jewellery contains as much of the precious metal and it's supposed to. Read more here on gold hallmarks.
Before you do anything...
Firstly, a word to the wise.
Just because jewellery has a higher price point does not mean it's demi/fine jewellery. Costume jewellery can still be sold with extremely high mark ups to lure customers into thinking it's better quality than it is.
Knowing this can be the different between paying £30 and £300 for similar necklaces.
A Guide to Costume Jewellery
1. Gauge the price
As mentioned above, pricing can be deceptive. But that doesn't mean you should disregard it completely.
If you have a budget, by all means, use the built in filters to narrow down your options. Your best bet for pricing up costume jewellery usually lies between £30 and £100, depending on the piece.
2. Read the small print
Secondly, another telltale sign that the price is higher than it should be is hidden descriptions. Websites will often included 'pieces to pair with...' or a background about the design, but often the composition of metals and stones is tucked away under a drop down list.
This is where you will find the most valuable information.
Using the clear example here is a great way to establish what you should be looking for.
3. Know your metals
Thirdly, alloys such as brass, copper, zinc and even sterling silver will tarnish over time. Although, with sterling silver [otherwise known as 925] you can polish it back to full shine. Zinc, brass and copper will leave your skin green and will never return to the intended tone.
Costume jewellery made from gold vermeil [gold plated sterling silver] will tarnish, but again can be polished, although the top layer of gold will wear off over time.
I look for non-tarnishing metals such as titanium steel, stainless steel or aluminium, such as these. The price points are low and the longevity of the pieces is high.
4. Don't be fooled by clever wording
Finally words such a 'demi-fine', 'crystals' and '18k gold plating' are thrown around incorrectly in almost every costume jewellery shop, they exist to confuse and persuade shoppers into buying pieces worth 1/20th of their price.
By using the tips 1 - 3 you can separate the wheat from the chaff [or the brass from the gold!].
Just because you don't have the budget for solid gold jewellery doesn't mean you have to settle for green fingers or poor quality pieces. By following this guide to costume jewellery you'll know exactly what to look for!
If you're not convinced costume jewellery is for you, have a look through my store at the large range of designs that can be found for under £100!