Demi Fine vs Fine Jewelry

Aug 8, 2022


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.

silver Catarina bracelet and earrings on a green backdrop

Fashion Jewelry

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. 

Fine Jewelry

a gold ring with a marquise cut emerald flanked by marquise cut diamonds
The most traditional of all jewelry types is fine jewelry. To classify as fine, the jewelry must contain a solid gold alloy (10K or higher), and use precious stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds among others. The fine jewelry industry has products in a wide range of price points- small diamond stud earrings can be as low as $400, but rare diamonds and gems can go to auction for tens of millions of dollars (the Raj pink diamond for example is available to purchase in the $30 million range). Fine jewelry also outlasts any other type of jewelry, so we still have historical pieces in circulation from kings and queens of days past. Cleaning with soap and water will not strip the piece of its color, though white gold may occasionally need to be re-plated with rhodium.
Don’t let price tags fool or shock you- just because it’s expensive doesn’t always mean its quality (and vice versa!). It is important to do your research and make the right decision for your lifestyle and budget.

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