When does a jewel really belong to the top segment? The distinction between costume jewellery and high-quality jewellery, such as a diamond ring, has been under discussion in recent years. Since the last century, jewellery designers have interpreted the rules more freely, and as a result the lines between high-end and costume jewellery have blurred. BAUNAT explains the difference.

What is costume jewellery?

The term costume jewellery made its appearance during the 1920s, but the concept itself is actually timeless. The ancient Egyptians were already known for manufacturing part of their jewellery from less expensive or valuable materials. With bracelets and necklaces made of coloured gems such as lapis lazuli or turquoise, they protected themselves against evil spirits.

In the 1700s, glass jewels emerged for the first time. Initially they were mainly made for the rich, who were looking for a less expensive version of their high-quality jewellery that they could wear on a daily basis. In the centuries that followed, the demand for affordable jewellery also increased amongst the middle class. From the industrialisation in the 1920s onwards, jewellery designers really started experimenting. Fashion changed rapidly and jewellery was increasingly made with cheaper materials to keep track of the trends.

How does one define high-quality jewellery?

There are two ways to define high-quality jewellery, such as diamond rings, today. Unlike costume jewellery, high-end jewels are generally more expensive and they are made using materials of superior quality. Jewels belong to the top segment when they are made from 18K gold or 950 platinum and are set with precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Others are of the opinion that high-quality jewellery can only be made by hand, not using machinery.

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What about the categorisation of diamonds?

As far as your diamond ring is concerned, only one rule applies. All natural diamonds are considered high quality, regardless of their dimensions. Because they are so rare and retain their value, they are of the top segment. Synthetic or machine-made stones, like zirconia, are not considered high quality.

Jewellery designers continue to innovate and experiment, which means that other materials such as diamonds will also become part of the top segment. Over time, the boundaries between costume jewellery and high-quality jewellery may blur even further. Every generation has its own trends and hypes and today the focus lies on feeling and individuality. Yet a diamond ring remains a unique piece of jewellery, as it is a truly high-end jewel that retains its value. This timeless class is not out of place with more modern materials.

Are you looking for a high-quality diamond ring and would you like advice on your choice? Contact the BAUNAT experts!
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