Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do you know the three types of jewelry!

Do you know what class this piece falls into? It's made of sterling silver, rhodonite and hematine (man-made version of hematite).

First of all, there is fine jewelry. Traditionally made from gold at puirty levels of at least 14k, often 18k or the solid gold 24k. Also platinum and sometimes titanium are used if a silver color is desired. I suggest you avoid white gold ... the silver color wears away over time and the piece needs to be redipped.

Fine jewelry also uses the precious gemstones, the crystal clear, non-occluded stones that are expertly cut to catch and refract light in a blazing display. Quality diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, topaz ... these are the glittering rocks that makes our hearts thump a little harder.

Fine jewelry usually costs in the $1,000s and $10,000s and will last many lifetimes. They are generally designed to stand the test of time, being fashionable in any season at any time in any era.

Then there's costume jewelry. Costume jewelry is made from base metal, generally nickel and alloys such as pewter and brass (these days without lead). The baubles are made from glass, paste, acryllic and plastics of all sorts.

Costume jewelry came to its own during the Depression Era, being designed and marked with a seal of approval by none other than the Grande Dame of fashion, Coco Chanel. While glass and paste of been used for centuries to make copies of precious pieces so the royals and the rich could wear their ornaments daily without concern of loss, Ms. Chanel catapulted the costume pieces into the forefront of fashion and made them entirely acceptable to wear with flair. Costume pieces are trendy ... they go with the fashions of the day. Which means they are outdated within a year. But that's OK, they usually cost well under $100 and eventually if they are cared for, they'll make a comeback. If they haven't fallen apart, that is!

Finally, there's bridge jewelry; so named because that is exactly what it is ... the "bridge" between fine and costume. Bridge jewelry is traditionally made with all the materials we label "semi-precious" such as sterling silver, 14k gold-fill, gemstones with occlusions (imperfections), quality glass, ceramic and crystals.

Bridge jewelry is designed to follow the trends, but has a tendency to keep its fashionability over several seasons, especially since it is made from better material than costume. With proper care, your bridge pieces should last you a lifetime, even though they are not classed as heirloom in quality. Prices run a wide range from the $10s to the $100s depending on material and workmanship.

Most of my pieces generally fall on the bridge. But I have to admit, with the economy headed in the direction its going, I've recently purchased components that will put some pieces square into the costume category, but what the hey ... we still want to look gorgeous no matter what the dollar is doing! Besides, if the price of crude keeps rising, plastic is going to become very precious.

1 comment:

kml said...

Most of mine is on the bridge too. I do have a white gold ring - I should inspect it more closely - I didn't realize they were dipped.

Love the way you arranged the jewelry on the bird bath!
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