Jewelry is generally divided into three main categories: fine jewelry and fashion jewelry but there are a few others. Since the first two are more a bit more common, we’re going to focus on them for the purpose of this quick guide.
Understanding how these categories differ makes it easier to find pieces that are appropriate for any occasion. Some of the key differences between these two jewelry styles are outlined below.
Most pieces that fall into the fine jewelry category are made out of gold, silver, platinum, or other high-end metals. The designs may also include gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds, or rubies. Materials like these are highly valued, which is why fine jewelry tends to cost a lot more than fashion or costume jewelry. To illustrate the difference, the upper left image is considered a fine jewelry bracelet while the image on the right is one that falls into the fashion category.
Pieces in this category are usually heirloom-quality and made of 14k gold, meaning that they can be passed down through multiple generations. As long as they are well cared for, this type of jewelry generally won’t tarnish or show signs of wear. Instead, high-end pieces like these continue looking as beautiful as the day that they were made far into the future.
Fashion jewelry, on the other hand, is usually made out of much lower-quality materials. Base metals like nickel or brass are commonly used in place of precious metals. Any stones that are used in costume jewelry are usually fake, although natural stones like quartz, agate, and amethyst can be used on pieces in this category. Some fashion jewelry is even made out of plastic or other types of man-made materials.
Since fine jewelry is made using much higher quality materials, it also costs a lot more. Many pieces in this category cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, making them a major investment.
Fashion jewelry, on the other hand, is much more affordable. While some pieces can be a little bit expensive, most of them require little more than pocket change to purchase. This makes it easier to build a large jewelry wardrobe without having to spend a fortune in the process.
Care And Maintenance
Every type of jewelry needs to be properly cared for to keep it in good shape. As a general rule of thumb, however, fine jewelry is easier to care for than fashion jewelry. Precious metals are less likely to tarnish, rust, or deteriorate than base metals. They also are a lot easier to clean.
Repairs are another issue to consider. Fine jewelry can almost always be repaired since the metal used to create it is malleable and can be resized, soldered, or bent into shape.
Fashion jewelry, on the other hand, is much more difficult to fix if it breaks. The metal tends to be brittle, which means that it is a lot more challenging to bend, resize, or reshape without causing further damage. Stones and other embellishments are often glued into place using inexpensive adhesives.
That means that they can easily come loose or get lost, which can permanently ruin the look of the jewelry.
Fine jewelry is ideal for formal or semi-formal occasions. Its high-end look can dress up any outfit, adding a sophisticated touch. It also can be worn daily without irritating the skin. This is in contrast to lower quality jewelry that is made using base metals, which can sometimes cause the skin to become red, itchy, or irritated in sensitive individuals.
Fashion jewelry, on the other hand, is best for informal occasions. It can be used to dress up outfits for casual activities like going to work, shopping, or meeting friends for lunch. Things like statement necklaces or Claddagh rings are perfect for everyday wear.
This quick guide outlines the differences between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. The primary way these two types of jewelry differ is in their quality.
Fine jewelry is made using gemstones and precious metals, while fashion jewelry is made out of base metals, artificial stones, plastic, and other inexpensive materials.