Fine Jewelry Versus Fashion Jewelry Smackdown!

Fine Jewelry Versus Fashion Jewelry Smackdown! 

Do you know the difference between "fine jewelry" and "fashion jewelry?" Which is a better buy? What is "Costume Jewelry?" What are the pros and cons of each type of jewelry? Learn the answers in our Fine Jewelry Versus Fashion Jewelry Smackdown! 


Fine Jewelry

For beauty, durability, and quality, nothing can compete with fine jewelry. It has a warmth, luster, and allure that cannot be duplicated by imitation materials. 

Fine Jewelry Materials

Fine jewelry is always made from precious metals. These can include platinum, gold, and silver and/or combinations of precious metals. The gemstones are real. The diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, aquamarine, and other gems are all authentic. They are not imitations. 

Metal Authentication

All fine jewelry is stamped with a special "mark" to show the percentage of the metal's purity.

Sterling Silver - 925 or .925

Gold - K or k, prefixed with a number indicating the percentage of gold in the metal.

24k = 99.9% gold (the purest gold available.)

18k = 75% pure gold (most popular)

14k = 58.5% gold

10k = 42% gold. In the USA, 42% is the lowest percentage to be legally labeled as "gold." 

Palladium - PD or PALL

Platinum - Platinum (the word),  950 (95% pure),  or 850PT for 85% pure. 

Fine Jewelry Quality and Style

Fine jewelry is meant to last for decades. It must meet a much higher standard of quality and materials than fashion jewelry.

Fine jewelry designs range from classic styles to bolder, cutting-edge creations. Designers often create one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as custom jewelry designs. 


Fine jewelry requires experienced jewelers and designers with a keen eye for detail and design. Fine jewelry is made from precious metals and natural gems. It is much more expensive than fashion jewelry. We often want immediate gratification, and fashion jewelry is easy to buy spontaneously.

Here's something to think about. Take the cost of a piece of fine jewelry you would love to have. Amortize that price over all the years you will wear it. Keep in mind that it will retain some or all of your investment. In the end, "real" jewelry is often a better buy. 



Fashion jewelry styles are usually mass produced knock-offs (copies) of fine jewelry designs. Fashion pieces are manufactured from inexpensive base metals such as copper, lead, and nickel and often decorated with imitation gems.

The term "Costume Jewelry" originated in the 1930's by theatre prop departments. Costume designers started using inexpensive replicas of fine jewelry to create lavish costumes without concerns for cost, damage, or theft.

Faux jewelry became popular among the masses for similar reasons. It was cheap. Women could have different jewelry sets to go with each of their outfits. Even women on a limited budget could accessorize with flare. 

Fashion Jewelry Materials

Fashion Jewelry is made from brass, copper, nickel, bronze, aluminum, and other base metals. Acrylic and other made-made materials are often used. Often fashion jewelry is electroplated with precious metals over a base metal, but the core of the item is always a non-precious metal. Gold electroplated jewelry is marked with “HGE.” This jewelry will tarnish.

PLEASE NOTE! This is not to be confused with rhodium plating over white gold. Rhodium is a precious metal!

Metal Authentication

Most fashion jewelry does not list the materials used.

Gold-filled jewelry, however, will be marked as 1/20 12GF or 1/40GF. The shows the percentage of gold. Gold filled jewelry has a thicker amount of gold over a base metal than electroplating. This jewelry will eventually wear through to the base metal. Gold electroplated will often indicate the Gold karat weight (14k, 18k) and how many microns thick is gold plating. 

Fashion Jewelry Quality & Style

While fine jewelry has been created to last, fashion jewelry is all about Now. It does not have the quality to be long-lasting.

Fashion jewelry can be a quick, relatively inexpensive way to bring some zip to a wardrobe. It can be fun when added to a trendy new outfit. Today's trend, however, quickly turns into yesterday's style.  Fashion jewelry does not retain its value. 


Fine Jewelry compared to Fashion Jewelry

Fashion jewelry is meant to be worn as an accessory for short-lived fashion trends. You can make a big statement for a much lower price with fashion jewelry.

Fashion jewelry, however, will never match the brilliance and beauty of the "real thing." The lustre of pearls, the rich color of gold, and the brilliance of diamonds can not be duplicated. There is also an emotional connection with fine jewelry that is uncommon with fashion accessories.

Prices for some of the better known fashion jewelry brands continue to rise. It isn't unusual to find pieces that are five-hundred dollars or more.  Instead of Consider saving your money to purchase some fine jewelry. Until you have a basic fine jewelry wardrobe, consider investing in fewer pieces of quality jewelry, instead of here-today-gone-tomorrow fashion accessory jewelry.

When is it appropriate to wear fashion jewelry? Fashion jewelry is great with casual outfits, for an extra punch of color, during activities where fine jewelry could be lost or damaged, and when you want a big look for a short term. 

Fine jeweler is always in style. It should be worn for all important events. Fine jewelry is appropriate for special social engagements, job interviews, and elegant dining and dancing. When you aren't sure what type of jewelry to wear, always default to your fine jewelry wardrobe. 

Turley Jewelers Miami, FL

When you are in the Miami, Florida area, please visit us! Turley Jewelers is a family owned business, and we have proudly served the Miami area for over fifteen years. We carry the highest quality jewelry and vintage/pre-owned luxury watches. We will be happy to answer any of your questions about jewelry and watches.

If you want something very special, our  Master Jeweler, Eddie De Paula,  can create a custom piece just for you