The jewelry world can feel rather expansive, but almost all types of jewelry boils down into just three categories: fashion jewelry, semi-fine jewelry, and fine jewelry.
These categories are differentiated primarily by the materials used and price point. Understanding the type of jewelry you’re looking to acquire or own already will help you make informed buying and selling decisions down the road.
You most likely own at least one piece of fashion jewelry. Also referred to as costume jewelry, this type is made with lower quality materials and often capitalizes on a specific trend. As the materials suggest, fashion jewelry is meant to be a fleeting style, and often the price of maintaining and repairing this jewelry is more than the original cost of the item.
Fashion jewelry is made with simulated or non-precious stones and base metals like brass, bronze, and copper. Think of a bold Swarovski crystal ring or a metallic bangle with rhinestones.
Fashion jewelry is not durable enough to withstand daily wear for long; however, it is a cost-effective way to try out fresh styles.
Semi-fine jewelry, as the name suggests, exists in the middle ground between fashion and fine jewelry. This is not a standard that experts and authenticators use to measure jewelry, but it is a term increasingly being utilized by jewelry designers to describe their pieces to consumers.
Semi-fine jewelry is typically gold plated or gold filled (for more on how those differ, head here). Fashion jewelry can also be gold plated, the difference being that semi-fine jewelry tends to be made with a stronger base metal, like sterling silver, that will stand the test of time better than copper or brass. Semi-fine jewelry also frequently uses genuine stones that are more affordable than something like a diamond, such as morganite, topaz, opal, etc.
Semi-fine jewelry is suitable for daily wear (so long as it’s properly cared for) and is more often worth the investment to repair if the item is beginning to look worn.
The crème de la crème of the jewelry world. Fine jewelry is the glitz and glam you imagine for special occasions like engagements or graduations.
Fine jewelry doesn’t mess with plating or filling. It’s always made from solid gold, sterling silver, platinum or other precious metals with real gemstones. Because it is made with a solid metal, fine jewelry is much stronger than fashion or even semi-fine jewelry and won’t tarnish with proper care and storage, even when worn every day.
High-quality, fine jewelry also depreciates at a much lower rate than its cheaper counterparts, making it a potentially good investment for selling down the line or passing on to your children or grandchildren.
All types of jewelry have their merits, and understanding the pros and cons of each will help you build a jewelry collection that works for your lifestyle.
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