How is costume jewelry made?
1. Manmade stones such as cubic zirconia, rhinestone, glass, or plastic are a primary component of most costume jewelry. The most popular of which is cubic zirconia because of its physical characteristics. It is used to create simulated versions of precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Its sparkly appeal and inexpensive price tag allow for much larger, more glitzy fashion pieces that instantly attract attention. Colored glass can also be used to simulate precious stones and faux pearls. Rhinestone jewelry is also popular because of its glitzy appeal and color choices. Epoxy and acrylic are plastics that is often used to make inexpensive bead jewelry.
Instead of manmade stones sometimes semiprecious stones such as pearls, topaz, black opal, amethyst, or peridot are used to provide a more fine jewelry appeal.
2. A base metal such as tin, copper, brass, nickel, aluminum or a combination of metals that has been altered to resemble more precious metals (e.g. gold). This is achieved by a variety of methods including:
tone: Have you ever heard of costume jewelry that is referred to as silver or gold tone? This means just what the name implies. Tone refers to the color of the metal only. Gold and silver tone jewelry are silver and gold in color but contain no actual gold or silver.
electroplating: This is probably the most common method. In this process an electric current is used to deposit a thin layer, as little as 2 mils (a mil is one millionth of an inch) onto the base alloy metal which is immersed in a salt bath solution of the precious metal that will be used to plate the object.
layering: This method also utilizes the process of electroplating. However, the plated object is immersed for a longer period of time allowing for a much thicker layer of precious metal to be deposited. Layered gold or silver may consist of approximately 20-50 mils of gold or silver. Although it doesn’t sound like much, this thicker layer results in a much more durable, longer lasting jewelry piece especially when coated with a protective material such as Tarniban which is an organic substance that provides a protective shield and adds to the hardness of the metal.
overlay: This method utilizes heat rather than electricity to combine the base metal with the precious metal to form a new alloy. This creates a permanent bond between the metals which creates jewelry that can be as durable and long lasting as the real thing with proper care. Gold overlay jewelry is also sometimes referred to as gold filled. It is generally safer for sensitive skin than costume jewelry made by other methods.
Technibond: This is considered to be one of the most desired methods of gold plating because it uses a full 40 mils of 14kt gold over .925 sterling silver. For gold and silver lovers it is the best of both worlds. However, as with any plated item, a protective coating should be added for best results.
vermeil: Vermeil is considered to be the absolute best in gold plating. This type of jewelry contains as much as 100 mils of gold over .925 sterling silver and as you can expect is also a bit pricier. It may be worth it for someone looking for something closer to the real thing without paying the exorbitant price for solid gold.
3. Costume jewelry may also consist of odd materials such as wood, stone, and shell which can be either natural or colored.
Caring for your costume jewelry
Although costume jewelry doesn’t require much of an investment, it is still important to get the most bang for your buck by taking proper care of your jewelry by following a few simple steps:
NEVER allow costume jewelry to come in contact with oils, soaps, perfumes, or any harsh chemicals which can fade or even ruin the item.
ALWAYS remove jewelry before sports, swimming, exercising, washing hands, showering, cleaning, doing laundry, or applying lotions or creams.
NEVER store jewelry wet. Always dry with a soft cloth before storing.
Store your jewelry items seperately in sealable bags to prevent scratching.
Store jewelry in a clean, dry, cool, not cold place away from heat and dust.
When cleaning, be gentle! Use a soft toothbrush and jewelry cleaner that specifically states that it is safe for costume jewelry. Make sure it does not contain acid, alcohol, or ammonia. Only use jewelry cleaner as directed. DO NOT over scrub.
Only use a cloth specially made for jewelry when buffing.
Regularly check for loose stones.
Why choose costume jewelry?
Costume jewelry, also referred to as fashion jewelry, is a fun and inexpensive way to express your own unique style. Its less costly composition means that it is easy to get your moneys worth of use out of it and allows for a much larger variety of bigger, bolder, attention grabbing colors and styles that can be mixed and matched according to your mood or wardrobe.