If diamonds are a girl’s best friends, then rhinestones, pearls and glittering costume jewelry must run a close second! While at a holiday party recently I wondered when faux gemstones and other types of costume jewelry first became popular. It seems that in the past few decades these fabulous fakes have become a large part of the fashion vocabulary. Since then, I set out on a quest to find out a few facts about the fakes and thought I’d share them with you here. Now, on your next trip to the Goodwill Store & Donation Center nearby you can peruse the jewelry display cases with a more informed opinion when it comes to those shiny eye catchers.
Costume jewelry, which is also known as junk jewelry, or as I prefer, fashion jewelry, was first manufactured in the early part of the 20th century as a cheap and literally, disposable article. This was in direct opposition to the jewelry made of fine gemstones and precious metals that were considered a keepsake. In many cases fine jewelry was the ONLY jewelry owned by the vast majority of the middle and upper classes around the world. While its poor sister, costume jewelry, was deemed “low class”. These cheap pieces, during the great depression were what the simple folks who longed for the styles of the stars, could afford. So, initially, fashion jewelry was more of a marketing ploy to get people to purchase multiple items of jewelry to go with a lot of different outfits. Thus came the term “costume jewelry,” or in other words jewelry that complemented a specific “costume.”
Invariably this kind of jewelry was always made of low quality materials such as base metals, glass, plastic, and synthetic stones, instead of gold and diamonds. Just like the fashions it was meant to accessorize, these inexpensive items were meant to go out of style, creating another reason for the consumer to buy another new piece. That has worked to our advantage as shoppers however; as people filter through the costume jewelry collection they own in a given lifetime, and pass on the pieces they no longer wear to charities just like Goodwill and others.
The vintage glamour look has never been more popular than it is today. Like the famous saying goes “everything old is new again.” Pearls, rhinestones, pins, cuffs, charm bracelets, lockets, chokers, cocktail rings, etc., they’re all fair game in today’s fashion world. In fact as seen on the couture catwalks around the world, the more is the merrier! You can try pinning a sparkly brooch to another necklace to create a layered look. Another way to layer it on is to take metallic chains, pearls, and stones to go for an over the top runway look.
If you are in the market for some new accessories, might I point you toward this trend? You could start by raiding your mother or grandmother’s jewelry box and see if there is something there that could bring new life to some of your holiday attire. If not, there’s always Goodwill nearby. You never know just what you’re going to find, so keep an open mind, and look for new ways to access this “old” trend!