Around this time of the year, I usually find myself daydreaming of escaping Dubai’s insufferable heat. As temperatures start soaring up to 50℃, I try to distract myself by focusing on the season’s pros: Big fashion jewellery and bold colours, which I both happen to love.
After months of following work-related dress codes, we can finally let our style express our true personality and be exactly who we want to be. And what better way to celebrate your freedom of style than with big, bold jewellery in summery hues?
Enter fashion jewellery.
While still stunning and capable of making a statement, fashion jewellery, also known as costume or artificial jewellery, is a more attainable accessory for fashionistas and collectors alike. Some vintage imitation jewellery can be almost as valuable and even more effective than the “real” thing if styled correctly, creating drama and a timeless fashion focal point.
Starting a collection of vintage costume pieces allows you to bring your love of old styles into your life at a more affordable price point and showcase some of the world’s greatest jewellery designers.
HOW DID FASHION JEWELLERY EMERGE?
In the late 18th century, newly wealthy industrialists wanted to mimic the royals or nobles, but couldn’t always afford the high-end jewels that fashion dictated. So, in an era where style was more important than substance, fashion jewellery was born to satisfy the needs of the nouveau riche and help them achieve the upper-class look.
Jewellers copied the techniques, colours, and designs of authentic jewellery, using more readily available materials like pinchbeck, an alloy made from copper and iron, or gold and silver plating. Semi-precious gemstones, coloured glass, and beads added to the decadent look without relying on the costly diamonds, emeralds, and rubies of fine jewellery.
Clever bourgeoisie social climbers combined fine jewels and artificial jewellery to create a look that fooled their peers into thinking they had wealth that matched royalty. During the next couple of centuries, social and economic factors pushed the adoption of costume jewellery while innovative solutions favoured more risky and creative designs.
Some of the most respected jewellers would join the trend and help bring imitation jewellery to a higher level, making them acceptable in their own right. Fashion jewellery started to be created for the purposes of completing an outfit rather than serving as a status symbol.
VINTAGE FASHION JEWELLERY DESIGNERS
Haute Couture houses such as Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet started playing first with faux jewellery to accessorise their stunning dresses. But it was fashion guru Coco Chanel who truly helped break the taboo surrounding costume jewellery when she began mixing her fine jewels with fake pieces to create statement looks.
Throwing out the rulebook, Chanel led the way by combining exquisitely designed imitation jewellery with gold and expensive gems. The famous fashionista launched a range of bijoux designs in the 1920s, trendsetting costume jewellery as a must-have.
With the economic downturn after World War I came a drop in fine jewellery sales. Simply, most people couldn’t afford to purchase such luxury items. This fall in demand led many high-class jewellers to introduce more budget-conscious ranges, and costume jewellery truly came into its own.
The roaring twenties were famous for its layers of faux pearl strands, jangling bracelets, and art deco-inspired rings. Decadence on a budget became a way to try to brighten up the post-war years.
Fine jewellers such as Ciner and Monet branched out into creating more accessible jewellery, which often complemented their seasonal collections. Others like Trifari focused on producing beautiful artificial jewellery with high-end production values.
This new wave of fashion jewellery found a natural home amongst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, with many of the era’s biggest stars adorning faux jewels and costumes embellished with semi-precious stones, fake pearls, and beads. Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, and Greta Garbo are just a few fashion icons who embraced costume jewellery in their style over the years.
CONTEMPORARY COSTUME JEWELLERY DESIGNERS
With World War II behind them, fashion designers and jewellers were once more embracing a changed world. Christian Dior’s “New Look” was all the rage. He had to accessorise the modern style accordingly, which led to him introducing glass-poured jewellery to his collection. During the 1950s, Dior collaborated with costume jewellery designers to create iconic ready-to-wear collections, such as Mitchell Maer for Dior and Christian Dior by Kramer.
Another of this era’s greats was Mauboussin. His fine jewellery work with the elite of Hollywood led to another venture in mass-produced costume jewels, making screen-star-style accessories more available to a larger audience.
The 1960s saw the birth of one of the greatest fashion jewellery companies, Kenneth Jay Lane. With icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Liz Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn all adoring his “Fabulous Fakes”, Kenneth was a hit. Around the same time, fashion house Givenchy moved into the costume jewellery sector by launching its Couture Jewellery Collection, encompassing the company’s iconic 4-Gs’ logo.
A few years later, Fendi and Yves Saint Laurent also entered the faux bijoux markets. Fendi designed most of its costume jewellery to match its clothing, creating pieces using glass pouring and gold plating. YSL brought bold new fashion jewellery to the catwalk to complement its ready-to-wear clothing lines, bringing a colourful boho note to the fashion house.
WEAR YOUR FASHION JEWELLERY WITH PRIDE THIS SUMMER
Much high-end vintage fashion jewellery is made using the same craftsmanship and techniques as fine jewellery, making them robust and long-lasting. Usually made from gold plate, thick metals, and enamel, costume pieces are travel-friendly, hassle-free and ready to wear. The perfect holiday accessory! That said, remember that it’s still faux bijoux that’s aged in some capacity, so practising TLC is still a must.
Yaz’s pro-tip: When buying vintage costume, invest in earrings, brooches and necklaces. They are less likely to be overly exposed to motion, scents, and water, which may weaken or tarnish them. If you want to create a wearable collection that you can pass through the generations, remember that rings and bracelets are more prone to wear and tear.
STYLING YOUR ARTIFICIAL JEWELLERY
When it comes to styling your fashion jewellery, it all boils down to the existing contents of your trinket box. My advice is this: Don’t be afraid to mix fine and imitation jewellery. Combine a pair of faux ear clips with a bold gold cuff or layer costume gold chains with a diamond tennis necklace. It’s how you mix and match the pieces in your jewellery box that creates your personal style.
Finding stunning pieces of vintage costume jewellery is a hobby here at YazJewels, and we just love to do a Coco and combine them with our fine jewels to create a look that’s ours alone!
Yaz’s pro-tip: Pair our fab Fendi crown charm bracelet from above with the Contemporary Lapis Lazuli and Diamond Drop Earrings for an exciting touch of blue to your beach outfit. Or go for a more subtle, classic look by combining this Vintage Monet Omega Necklace with our Double San Marco Link Bracelet. The (summer) sky’s the limit when you mix & match fine and fashion jewellery to create your own unique look!
For more unique vintage statement pieces, check out my curated YJ Summer Edit and avail of the option to pay in four interest-free instalments, as well as enjoy free shipping within the UAE.
Most of all, have fun adding some quirky, unique finds to your vintage jewellery collection and let your personality shine through with some fabulous costume jewels.
Until next time, wishing you all a wonderful and fashionable summer season!