Jewellery Shopping: 5 Categories to Know
Fashion jewellery... designer and costume jewellery... fine or high jewellery?
You've probably seen these terms before without knowing exactly what they mean. So, what are these different types of jewellery and how exactly do you decide which is best for you? I'm here to help! Let's dive in...
Often referred to as costume jewellery, fashion jewellery is frequently made of fake gems or lower quality (cheaper) real gems, plastic beads and base metals like copper and brass.
Though the names are used interchangeably, costume jewellery actually dates back to the 1930s while fashion jewellery is a more recent term first used in the 1980s. They both can look fashionable and cool but are not of particularly good quality. And so, don't form a real investment piece if that's what you're after.
Another note-worthy difference is that fashion jewellery can be more trendy while costume jewellery can have more of an antique feel to it... but if you're looking for something to make a bold statement at a low cost, either fashion or costume jewellery will do the trick.
Some designers actually make low-quality fashion jewellery with a higher price tag simply because of the association with their brand name.
However, most of these designer brands produce high-quality pieces with genuine gemstones and precious metals.
Learn the differences between real and fake gemstones so you can confidently shop for your next jewellery piece.
The difference in quality between fashion jewellery and fine jewellery is so great that many enthusiasts believe in a middle tier called semi-fine or 'demi-fine' jewellery.
The most common designer jewellery brands will often fall into this semi-fine group and they possess aspects of both fashion and fine jewellery.
Younger women (20s and early 30s) often opt for semi-fine jewellery to accessorise rather than making an investment in a higher quality piece.
While before it was more about the "it-handbag" or "statement-shoe", the trend has now shifted to semi-luxury jewellery as noted in this great article by Business of Fashion.
Semi-fine jewellery allows you to get used to a higher price-point and quality, while developing your taste and preference for when you're ready for fine jewellery.
This is why I also love to make fine jewellery more accessible by showing that there are other coloured stones out there: which, yes, are fine-quality and higher in price-point but also last for generations and come in stunning fashion-forward colours, such as mint green, glamorous grey, hot pink, lavender blue or juicy yellow...
When you move up into the world of fine jewellery, you'll discover pieces made of solid gold, precious metals and rare, natural gemstones.
Common colour stones, such as amethyst, may still be found in fine jewellery but will normally be higher in carat count and quality and should also be natural when set in fine jewellery pieces.
The higher price point of these collections is well worth it due to the value that will be retained over generations with proper care and storage.
Fine jewellery is a beautiful way to elevate your jewellery collection for special occasions or as an investment. Most of us stop here. At the fine jewellery level. Many forget you can still go one step higher...
The ultimate category of high jewellery (or "haute joaillerie" for the fashion lovers out there ) is reserved for the tailor-made or one-of-a-kind pieces which mostly come from world famous jewellery houses.
Just as what "haute couture" is to "prêt-à-porter or ready-to-wear", high jewellery is to fine jewellery.
For instance, the fashion brands of Prada, Gucci or Chloé, which are not cheap brands, are still regarded as ready-to-wear and can be seen as the fashion equivalent of fine jewellery.
There are only a few jewellery brands in the world who even have the skills and historical craftsmanship to make high jewellery. A few names are Christian Dior Haute Joaillerie, Louis Vuitton Haute Joaillerie, Chaumet, Bulgari, Chopard or Harry Winston.
Most of these brands also have a fine jewellery line (which is what you see mostly in their stores).
Their high jewellery collections are often hidden away because of the rarity of the stones and intricate designs... mostly, these pieces make an appearance on the red carpet only for which they may be specifically designed.
The stores where you can find these high jewellery pieces on public display are usually to be found in the capitals around the world... like famous works of art.
And like art, the skill-level and sometimes ground-breaking aesthetics are the determining factors that decide if a piece will be considered high jewellery.
To sum it up, a fine jewellery piece is a sound and mostly steep investment for any jewellery collector.
When shopping fine jewellery, you will find only high quality metals and gemstones and you will take home a piece that will hold value over many generations.
If you're looking for the rarest and most exclusive jewellery pieces in the business, however, you can give Monsieur Chaumet or Dior a call...
If you'd love to explore fine jewellery pieces and high quality gemstones for your next custom piece, do reach out to me below so we can find a lovely piece for you.
Thanks to my time living in Bangkok, I was able to build relationships with some of the world's best gem dealers which gave me rare access to gemstones which are usually only reserved for the high jewellery houses.
We've done the hard work so you don't have to!