Jewelry has always been worn to demonstrate clan associations, marital status, wealth, social stature and fashion knowledge. When most people think of jewelry, they think of precious metals and gemstones. Costume jewelry, however, is a sign of times.
Bigger Is Better
Costume jewelry gained a foothold in fashion during World War II when metals were rationed. Instead of being an imitation of “real” jewelry, costume jewelry was designed to look like costume jewelry. Early in the twentieth century, fashion embraced manufacturing over traditional hand crafting. The promise of better living brought by manufacturing captured the imagination of artists, architects and designers of all kinds. The most fashionable women of the time wore jewelry that couldn’t be mistaken for real.
Jewelry in the Gay 90’s brought in less precious materials like lacquer. In the art deco age, aluminum was added to acceptable jewelry metals. Hollywood was an inspiration for the styles and, in fact, the term ”costume jewelry “ comes from the stage and movie costumes of the time. The 60’s and 70’s were about eschewing wealth. The costume jewelry of that era frankly looked like plastic. One could be covered in jewelry without a sign of precious metal anywhere. The pieces also featured bright colors that were not found in nature. In the 80’s, the opulence seen on television and in movies demanded large pieces of fabulous fakes. Jewelry of that time had gemstones too large to be real.
Safer Is Better
Real jewelry of precious metals and gem stones are an invitation to a criminal and a great source of income for the insurance company. Base metals with a coat of gold or silver and set with synthetic stones can make for beautiful, fashionable jewelry. This type of costume jewelry is sensible and can be worn to any kind of event. Who can afford an expensive piece of jewelry if they have to pay for a body guard, too?
Since the materials are often man-made, they can be part of any shape of color of jewelry. Instead of a gemstone that has to be faceted according to scientific formulas or the presence of flaws, synthetic gems can be made to fit the jewelry instead of the other way around. Gem colors can be manipulated according to market demands and current fashions.
Your jewelry can be part of the costume that reveals your character or allows you to put on a new character for a few hours. And that’s what makes costume jewelry so much fun.