Defining the term ‘Fashion Jewellery’ and its prominence in the fashion industry is often as difficult as it is to distinguish the difference between Fashion Jewellery and Fine Jewellery. Fashion Jewellery can be also referred to as ‘Costume Jewellery’ defined as a decorative item made from inexpensive metals and semi-precious stones manufactured to essentially compliment a fashion garment or overall fashion look.
Jewellery is one of the oldest inventions created and has played a number of different roles in society. Originally jewellery held an important role in society; it was used mainly as a method of showing wealth and status, as a means of currency and also used symbolically throughout many religions. Back then jewellery was made from precious metals and stones manufactured purely as a piece on its own, a keepsake, collectable and an investment.
It is thought that Coco Chanel, birth mother of the powerhouse fashion brand ‘Chanel’ first introduced ‘Fashion Jewellery’ and the concept that jewellery can worn to complete and compliment a particular outfit and/or look, often wearing her own jewellery in such a way. Coco Chanel partnered with Duke Fulco di Verdura, an influential jeweller, to launch the House of Chanel Line. The fashion conscious and wealthy loved the House of Chanel pieces which became very successful, although usually the wealthy were the only people who could afford such creations. Coco Chanel paved the way for jewellery to become accessible to the rest of society with the statement, “it’s disgusting to walk around with millions around your neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewellery because it’s provocative.”
Through Coco Chanel’s influence and stance on jewellery as an accessory rather than a commodity as well as industrialisation, the ability to mass produce and the availability of cheaper materials jewellery has had the capacity to become more accessible to a larger demographic, more affordable and has been able to reflect and cater for many different styles, trends and tastes.
Fashion is a fast paced and ever changing industry with many insiders debating whether if at all ‘Fashion Jewellery’ is in fact considered or even a part of the fashion family. There is no question that there is a huge difference between the jewellery we wear to make a statement or to compliment an outfit and the fine jewellery often bought and worn for sentimental value, that is to last a lifetime. Fine jewellery is made from real gold and silver with precious stones and metals; a piece of fine jewellery can range from a simple gold chain to a stunning diamond necklace and typically these pieces are not considered fashionable or on trend. Fashion Jewellery allows accessories to compliment and to complete outfits to achieve and overall look, with a limited life span measure in seasonal trends. There is no real competition between the two, yes they are both worn as accessories adorned on our bodies but their relevance to fashion is as different as their price tags.
Nothing can compare to the excitement when receiving a gift in a little blue box with a Tiffany & Co bow, Fine jewellery from brands such as Tiffany & Co has a reputation, expectation and relevance within our society, people recognise and appreciate the significance of receiving and owning a piece of jewellery that is not only sentimental but is almost guaranteed to last a lifetime. Fashion Jewellery is just that ‘fashion,’ it is made to one day become ‘unfashionable,’ following the ever changing and evolving fashion industry. Fashion jewellery designers look to the catwalks of Paris, New York, London and Milan every year to gain inspiration and to see where fashion will take us next. Fashion jewellery is influenced and created solely for the purpose of fashion.