Jewelry has been cherished by humans for thousands of years. The demand for jewelry increased over the centuries, but not everyone could afford genuine gemstones. Costume jewelry was made to be an affordable counterpart to fine jewelry. Nowadays, some costume jewelry is made with the exact techniques as fine jewelry, making it an excellent and affordable way to accessorize.
Costume jewelry has always been a way for women to afford the fine jewelry they desire. In the 1700s, jewelers started using glass as a replacement for diamonds, and nowadays, colored glass is used in many types of costume jewelry as a diamond substitute. In some era, such as after World War II, sterling silver was a popular element in affordable jewelry.
The Art Deco period was revolutionary for costume jewelry. Designers like Coco Chanel advocated for an affordable counterpart to fine jewelry, so every woman could be able to add glamour to their outfits. During this era, adding jewelry to an ensemble was essential, and high fashion became widespread. Geometric designs, colored stones and symmetrical designs were popular. Every woman was able to keep up with these trends with the advent of costume jewelry.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, costume jewelry rose in popularity and makers like Miriam Haskell, Kenneth Lane, and Crown Trifari found fame. New ways to replace fine gemstones emerged. Common replacements for diamonds were not only glass, but cubic zirconia and crystals. Instead of 14 karat or 18 karat gold, jewelry was often gold plated or gold filled.
Nowadays, vintage costume jewelry is widely prized for collectors. Signed jewelry is the most popular, with designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Chanel cherished among jewelry aficionados. During the 1960s and 70s, colorful and bright pieces and Christmas jewelry were popular, and now make up much of the vintage costume jewelry market. Common replacements for gems today include cubic zirconia and moissanite.