After reviewing the Wearables department of Dogbotz Boneyard, Claire wanted to know what exactly constitutes “costume jewelry.” In her e-mail she asked, “Isn’t any cheap jewelry made from the 1930s on referred to as costume jewelry in today’s market?” And my response is, “Well, no, not exactly!” To genuinely appreciate what constitutes costume jewelry, you need to understand the three major categories of jewelry: fine, bridge and costume.
When I think of fine jewelry, my mind automatically turns to the renowned French designer of classic jewelry and watches, Cartier. And, if I consider the works of Cartier, I note that what makes them excellent examples of fine jewelry is that his pieces are all made with precious metals such as platinum and karated gold. In addition, his jewelry is often set with precious gemstones — be they diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires. So, fine jewelry is made, in essence, of precious metals and precious gemstones
Bridge jewelry, on the other hand, is exactly what its name implies — a transitional style between fine and costume jewelry. Like its more flashy cousin, bridge jewelry is also composed of previous metals, most frequently silver; however, semi-precious gemstones such as amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, grant, opal and topaz are used instead. How do you know if a gemstone is semi-precious or not? Simple: If it’s not one of the four gemstones listed in fine jewelry, it’s deemed “semi-precious.”
Examples of bridge jewelry sold through Dogbotz Boneyard include the pieces made by jewelry designer Darlene Soyka.
Movie producer Cecil B. DeMille first coined the term costume jewelry in the 1930s to describe non-precious jewelry. Following the logical progression of the first two types of jewelry, one can easily conclude that costume jewelry made with base metals that are gold-, rhodium- or silver-plated (often called “gold tone” or “silver tone”) and set with “artificial” faceted-glass stones such as rhinestones or crystals. Think the brand name Swarovski here.
Numerous sub-categories of costume jewelry exist. For example cloisonné refers to costume jewelry that has enamel divided by sections of metal, whereas as diamante means “set with rhinestones” In addition, as it uses non-precious materials, costume jewelry has been made from a great gamut of materials, including papier-mâché, celluloid and Bakelite.
But, beware: Just because costume jewelry is not composed of precious metals or precious or semi-precious gemstones, it isn’t necessarily “cheap.” In fact, collectors of vintage costume jewelry have paid up to $5,000 and more for a single piece of jewelry. For example, a high quality piece of Bakelite jewelry in excellent condition may cost well into the thousands. On the opposite side of the costume jewelry spectrum, the necklaces, earrings and bracelets made by contemporary jewelry designers such as Kenneth Jay Lane and Napier are reasonably priced and available through large department stores.
Here are some wonderful and diverse examples of bridge (the first three images) and costume jewelry (the final six) that Dogbotz Boneyard offers:
Finally, only jewelry that catches your eye and pleases you is truly worth buying and collecting!
Continue to sparkle,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC