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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jewelry Styles Defined

Jewelry is more than just an accessory -it is a statement of its wearers' individuality and style. With the boom of jewelry designers coming into the market, as a consumer who wants to make an informed purchase you should be able to identify jewelry types, as well as, ask relevant questions about the materials used. There are three (recognized) main types of jewelry: Fine, Bridge and Fashion. At times, you might find the terms Bridge jewelry and Artisan jewelry used interchangeably, as well as, Fashion jewelry and Costume jewelry.

How jewelry is classified is primarily based on: (1) materials used and; (2) the price of the finished product. Even though a jewelry designer states they use quality materials, but sells their product inexpensively, does not mean you are get a quality product. There are many facets to making a jewelry purchase and from experience, I know not to assume: (1) I can get a quality product for less and; (2) a higher price means that seller is just "over-priced". The reality is, the value of the piece is directly related to the artists' interpretation, skills used in designing the piece, everyday business expenses to get that product to you and much more. When evaluating a piece of jewelry for purchase, keep in mind the price you are paying is part for the artists' skill but also part of his/her everyday business expenses which allows that artist to stay in business and continue to design quality pieces you will enjoy. With that said, let's take a closer look the three different types:

Fine Jewelry - is high end jewelry primarily crafted from gold and platinum. If set with gemstones usually only precious gemstones are used such as diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds etc... Fine jewelry is dominated by stone settings and castings and can be found in jewelry stores or galleries. Fine jewelry commands the highest prices. When you think of fine jewelry you might think of Cartier.

Bridge (Artisan) Jewelry - is jewelry that is just that, a "bridge" between fine and fashion. Bridge jewelry is considered to be high quality accessories that can be worn every day. Primary materials used in crafting bridge jewelry include silver, copper, gold fill, vermeil, Swarovski crystal and semi-precious stones such as amethyst, citrine, freshwater pearls, garnet, jade, malachite, lapis, onyx, quartz, turquoise, topaz etc. Bridge jewelry is usually strung beadwork, castings and/or wire-wrapped. Bridge jewelry can be found at craft shows, galleries, art shows, high-end boutiques and the like. Bridge jewelry prices are in the mid-range between Fine and Fashion jewelry. When you think of bridge jewelry you might think of Crystal Allure Designs.

Fashion (Costume) Jewelry - is low end jewelry that is very inexpensive. Fashion jewelry is usually mass produced overseas and sold in franchise stores (but it can be artisan-made as well and sold at craft shows). Primary materials are base metals, rhinestones, plastics, acrylics etc. A lot of costume jewelry is cast and set with low quality materials or machine assembled. When you think of fashion jewelry you might think of jewelry you could purchase at Walmart.

Throughout any one of these types, jewelry can be mass-produced or artisan-made one-of-a-kind pieces or limited edition. As well, there is considerable overlap in styles and materials. When making your jewelry purchase, there are many points to consider. For some, one important point is whether their skin reacts to non-precious metal. If so, they might wish to consider investing in bridge or fine jewelry.

So how does one decide which type of jewelry to invest in? As a proponent of supporting artists and items Made in the USA, keep in mind, bridge jewelry is a unique and affordable option to your jewelry collection. Bridge jewelry provides you a good value because of the combination of quality materials; creativity and workmanship provided by the designers of these unique, one-of-a-kind and/or limited edition pieces.

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