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If a piece of jewelry contains some kind of precious metal, it is generally considered fine jewelry. A gold chain is definitely considered fine as well as a sterling silver one. If a piece of jewelry contains a precious stone it is also considered fine.
Some of the precious gemstones are: diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire. Rarity plays its part in the classification of precious stones. Many people considered amethyst a precious stone before it was discovered in mass quantities. Now because of its low price, it is found less and less in upper end fine pieces and more in commonplace designs.
Some of the semi-precious stones are: jade, jasper, garnet, onyx, amethyst, amber, turquoise and lapis lazuli.
Semi-precious stones are in a sort of grey area. You can find sterling silver with semi-precious stones which are considered fine, but semi-precious gems with base metal might not be thought of as such.
So is a twenty dollar silver chain with a silver heart pendant on the same level as a 24 carat chain with a platinum pendant studded with diamonds? Of course not. There is as diverse a range of quality as there are personalities.
The term ‘costume jewelry’ is a strange one considering the connotations of the word ‘costume’. It provokes feelings of extreme dressing up, when in fact costume jewelry basically encompasses anything that doesn’t fit into the fine jewelry category.
Beaded jewelry, base metal jewelry, or jewelry with wooden or glass pieces all fall under this category.
In reality, costume jewelry is probably one of the most worn types of jewelry today. Everyday pieces to match outfits or to match our personalities are sought after. Fine jewelry is too prohibitively expensive for most people to buy on a regular occasion. Most fine jewelry these days is worn for special events or evening wear. But women (and some men) want adornments to express their personality which can be mixed and matched without breaking the bank.
Department stores have whole sections dedicated to costume jewelry. Many high end brand names have huge lines of costume necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Both types of jewelry have their place, and both types will be around for decades to come.
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