Jewelry exists in so many price points- anywhere from two dollars to two million dollars, so it’s hard to know exactly what you’re paying for with such a wide range. You can find a relatively inexpensive genuine diamond at a pawn shop, and some costume jewelry for thousands of dollars if you purchase from well-known fashion houses. What gives? What even are the differences between them all? And what the heck constitutes jewelry having the largest pricing range of any single class of products on the planet? To determine the difference, we'll have to define a few terms.
In order to understand why jewelry is priced the way it is, you’ve got to understand the different types- fashion, demi-fine (or “bridge”) and fine jewelry. Fashion (or “costume”) jewelry constitutes jewelry that is not made from solid gold. It is often made of brass or silver and can sometimes have a gold plating. It can also be made of plastic, lucite, resin, glass, wood, clay, or any other unique material. Generally speaking, fashion jewelry is the least expensive category but it can still be pricey depending on the unique qualities of each piece. For example, a mass produced plastic piece of jewelry from your Halloween costume is not going to warrant the same retail price as a pair of handmade clay earrings. Fashion jewelry is also averse to being cleaned in the same way you clean fine jewelry, which makes it harder to maintain over the years. Most platings will be stripped quickly if washed with soap and water. Lotions, perfumes and natural oils produced by the wearer’s body will also break down the color of most fashion jewelry pieces.
Demi Fine Jewelry
Demi fine jewelry also has a broad definition, but aligns itself a little closer to fine jewelry. It generally has a gold or sterling silver component and uses precious or semi-precious stones. It might have a gold plating or vermeil (a gold plating that is at least 2 microns thick over a precious metal like sterling silver). Demi-fine jewelry generally lasts longer than fashion jewelry because it’s a higher quality, but is less expensive than fine jewelry. Demi fine is the fastest growing segment of the jewelry industry because it allows customers to have some luxury in their jewelry boxes without ravaging their bank account. Chouette Designs jewelry is considered demi-fine because we use a sterling silver base metal and a 14K gold plating or vermeil.