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What Is Fine Jewelry? | Fine vs. Fashion Jewelry

From last-minute, checkout line purchases to childhood dress-up adornments, we all have a history with fashion jewelry. The imitation pieces, also known as costume jewelry, are popular for their affordability, accessibility, and trendiness.

Despite these perks, it is important to understand that fashion jewelry will always pale in comparison to the value of fine jewelry. 

Here at Mark Henry Jewelry, we specialize in fine pieces. Our gems are mined from exclusive deposits, adding to their rarity. 

They are also processed with an incredible amount of care - and transparency! All jewelry consumers should be aware of the differences between fine and fashion jewelry so they can make the most educated purchase possible.

Is It Worth the Investment?

One of the biggest points of contention for fine jewelry is the price point. While expensive gems are more likely to be real, price tag alone does not define the value of a piece. This is why it is so important to be savvy when deciphering products on the market.

Transparency Is Tell-Tale

Have you ever bought a statement necklace just because you saw it on a coworker? Was it slightly outside of your personal style, but you wanted to fit in at the office?

This story is all too common, and nothing to be ashamed of. The only issue with the scenario arises when the purchase is evaluated more closely. 

Consider these questions for your latest fast-fashion jewelry piece: 

  • Did the deal seem too good to be true?
  • Is the company, business, or designer respected in the jewelry industry? Do they have a good set of reviews in their digital marketplace?
  • Did you speak to a specialist before you purchased the item to discuss its general wearability and durability?
  • Was the gem ethically sourced? Do you know where it was mined? 

If you couldn’t answer some or any of the prompts, it is likely that you need to do some more research into your addition. You may be harboring a fake or counterfeit gem.

Trendiness Can Come Back to Bite

As mentioned in the above scenario, it is not uncommon to follow jewelry trends as they ebb and flow over time. In fact, it would be impossible to keep up with every popular style of ring or bracelet unless you had an unlimited budget. 

The good news is that fine jewelry does not abide by a clock. It is rare because it is not easy to come across, it is worth an investment, and it holds up - stylistically and physically. 

Fashion jewelry typically breaks within a few months or weeks due to its poor assembly and cheap materials. Its commonality reflects its quality. 

If you are looking for a short-term piece, this might be a good option for you. But if you hope to pass along your favorite bracelet or ring for generations to come, you should look into fine and exotic gems. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding a future purchase:

  • What is your price limit? It may help to do a price-cost analysis of having to repurchase the fashion jewelry pieces numerous times due to wear and tear as opposed to a single purchase of a fine jewelry piece.
  • Do you care about the quality of the chain or band on your piece? Gold favors fine jewelry, but sterling silver can be more cost-effective if you are not ready to commit to a large investment quite yet. There are many styles of white and silver metal jewelry available at reasonable price points. 
  • Is the piece hard? What is it on the Mohs scale? Inquire a representative for further help in determining how the piece will hold up over multiple uses, how it can be cleaned, or if it is easily breakable. 

Exotic Stones As Fine Pieces

Mark Henry Jewelry offers the best of fine jewelry selections. Not only do we prefer to use rare gems, we specialize in the likes of Alexandrite and Paraíba Tourmaline. These two exotic gems are highly valuable and stunning in any design. We like to argue that exotic gemstones are even more valuable than diamonds due to their unique colors and versatility. 

Exotic stones are hallmarks of fine jewelry, if they can be verified as real. Our Paraíba is mined in Mozambique. They are custom cut and traditionally placed within diamonds or deep-blue sapphires with a choice of 18k white or yellow gold.

Our Electric Blue Collection is an exceptional example of our use of the gem, boasting a plethora of styles. 

We are dedicated to bringing Alexandrite to our loyal customers, revamping its presence in jewelry collections. A partnership with a southeastern Brazilian mine has supported our commitment to fair mining practices and our ability to be entirely transparent about the source of our gems. Alexandrite is famous for its color-changing properties which display a blueish-green hue in daylight and purple-reddish hue at night. Fashion jewelry is unable to portray such an effect naturally - and artificial color changes are simply not the same!

Alexandrite needs chromium in its rock formation prior to heat and pressure for the green to red brilliance, otherwise it is simply chrysoberyl crystals. This occurrence, while natural, is incredibly rare

With most Alexandrite already mined, new sources are unlikely to be found, adding to its value. It is a great investment if you are on the fence about ditching a breakable piece, resting at a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale. 

The Difference Is Clear - If You Look!

Of course some fashion jewelry needs not be examined for authenticity. If it was bought at a local flea market or at a department store, testing is unlikely to yield surprising results. However, if you are skeptical about a vintage piece or unaware if you can trust the source you purchased an expensive-but-lightweight gem from, there are ways to figure it out. 

The Hallmark Test

The most obvious sign of true, fine jewelry is called a hallmark. A small marking on the inside of a metal ring or bracelet, clasp of necklace, or post of an earring can indicate many of the characteristics of your piece.

Decoding Your Hallmark:

  • Gold, platinum, and silver will be indicated. Gold values will be marked as 18k, 14k, 10k, 750, 585, or 375. Platinum is written as 950, PLATINUM, or PLAT. Silver will say 925, Silver, 800, or Sterling. 
  • If your piece says Sarah Conventry, AVON, or Trifari it is likely fashion or costume jewelry and of poor quality, 
  • Unless the piece is over 100 years old or severely overused, these markings will be clear and descriptive. Otherwise, the piece is fashion jewelry.

Weighing the Options

Fine jewelry is typically made of high-quality gold and silver which are naturally quite heavy. Fashion jewelry is commonly composed of pewter or brass, producing a lighter weight. 

Thickness of a gold or silver chain means very little if it feels hollow on the inside, a good indication you are handling a costume piece.

Gold plating is a staple in fashion jewelry. It is clear on a piece that varies in color throughout or exposes some silver specks. The same goes for white gold plating, which has a short lifespan and allows for silver to poke through. 

Craftsmanship Is Key

If your piece appears to be thrown together or falling apart after minimal wear, it is likely fashion jewelry. Fine jewelry commonly uses prongs to hold gems in place, while fashion jewelry relies heavily on glue to keep everything together. 

This naturally wears down over time, making the investment in fine jewelry all the more worth it.

Fashionably Fraudulent

While fashion jewelry is mostly harmless to own, it can come with some big consequences if purchased incorrectly. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Cincinnati, Ohio found $3.19 million worth of counterfeit pieces in two separate Chinese shipments this past year. 

If the jewelry had reached its destination, 734 fake pieces would be in circulation. Among the seized items were bracelets, rings, and earrings marked with fraudulent logos of Cartier and Hermes. 

This is concerning due to the popularity of online purchases for jewelry, which breeds increased deception. If a customer is able to see and feel their product before investing, they are more likely to understand its value from hardness, durability, clarity, and color. It was reported that 20% of International Counterfeit Sales this past year were from Americans. 

A positive way to combat this problem is by utilizing reputable companies for all jewelry needs and properly investigating your piece of choice in person. 

Pieces To Love

Fashion jewelry can be a decent quick fix to a necessary last-minute touch on an outfit, but nothing will beat the lifetime of satisfaction that comes with a fine jewelry purchase. You deserve a piece that will grow with you. 

Our on-site Alexandrite gemologist is here to help you with any concerns that may arise as you browse through our exotic stone selections. Questions regarding other gems can be addressed to the rest of our team, who are all trained experts in fine jewelry and available for contact. We are here to help, and look forward to assisting you!

 

Sources: 

How to Tell If Your Jewelry is Valuable in Three Steps | The Spruce

When a Look Is Worth the Investment: When to Buy Fine Jewelry | Jewelry Wise

Fake Jewelry Worth Nearly $3.2 Million Seized by Cincinnati CBP

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