When it comes to jewelry, there are two main types: costume jewelry and fine jewelry. The main difference between the two is the price. Costume jewelry is generally cheaper, while fine jewelry is more expensive. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that costume jewelry is of poor quality, or that fine jewelry is always the best choice.

In this guide, readers will learn how to make the right choice when it comes to choosing between costume and fine jewelry. The guide will offer advice on how to find good-quality costume jewelry, as well as more affordable types of fine jewelry. By following the tips in this guide, readers can make informed decisions when purchasing jewelry, without breaking the bank.

Key Takeaways

  • There are two main types of jewelry: costume jewelry and fine jewelry.
  • The price is the main difference between the two types.
  • It is possible to find good-quality costume jewelry and more affordable types of fine jewelry.

Fine and Costume Buying Advice

When it comes to buying jewelry, it’s essential to understand the differences between costume and fine jewelry. Costume jewelry is made from inexpensive materials like plated metals and simulated stones, while fine jewelry is made of valuable materials like precious metals and gemstones.

If you’re looking for trendy accessories to wear for a short time, then costume jewelry might be the way to go. However, keep in mind that the craftsmanship for most costume jewelry pieces is lacking in many ways, and these pieces don’t last as long. This is the case because no rules govern the manufacturing processes for these pieces, which are mass-produced, and the materials and composition of the elements used may not be standardized.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for jewelry that will last a lifetime and hold value, then fine jewelry is the way to go. Fine jewelry is not only made to last a lifetime, but these pieces of jewelry also hold value for a lifetime. Precious metals used to make fine jewelry include 14k and 18k gold, platinum, and 925 sterling silver, and elegant precious stones adorn them. Thanks to these pieces’ elegance, value, and durability, they can be very expensive.

When shopping for jewelry, it’s important to keep in mind that the price is not always an indicator of quality. Some costume jewelry brands will use materials like plastic and acrylic, and for metallic jewelry, most of them are made of brass, zinc, or copper, mostly plated with an ultra-thin layer of gold that wears out soon after the first wear. Similarly, some fine jewelry pieces may be overpriced due to the brand name or the rarity of the materials used.

To ensure that you’re getting good-quality pieces of jewelry without going broke, consider the following buying advice:

  • Research the brand and read reviews before making a purchase.
  • Look for jewelry made from high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting.
  • Consider buying from independent jewelers who can offer unique and personalized pieces.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price, especially when buying from independent jewelers or at markets.

By following these tips, you can find the perfect pieces of jewelry that fit your style and budget while ensuring that you’re getting good value for your money.

Costume vs. Fine Jewelry

1. Materials Used

The materials used in creating jewelry play a significant role in determining the price, value, and durability of the jewelry. It’s essential to note that even on a small budget, one can still find good-quality pieces made of durable metals that are good for the skin. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about different metals used in jewelry making.

925 Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a common metal used in jewelry making, and it’s popular because it is inexpensive. It’s sometimes as cheap as lower-quality jewelry metals that make up the bulk of costume jewelry. Sterling silver jewelry will oxidize and develop a black or dark gray film after some time, but this layer of tarnish can be removed easily by cleaning the jewelry in warm water and a gentle detergent. Besides, sterling silver is one of the metals that is least likely to cause allergic reactions. It can be re-worked or resized relatively easily because it is made of 92.5% pure silver, a very malleable metal.


Gold is the go-to metal for most people, but it can be expensive, even for the simplest pieces of gold jewelry. One of the best alternatives for owning gold jewelry without breaking the bank is by shopping for second-hand gold jewelry from pawnshops and thrift stores. Gold-filled jewelry or vermeils are also great alternatives because they have much more gold than gold-plated jewelry. Gold-filled jewelry is perfect for pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and rings meant to be worn occasionally. On the other hand, bracelets and rings meant for daily wear shouldn’t be gold-filled because they take a lot of abuse and would wear out sooner. It’s essential to note that gold-plated jewelry should be skipped because they always end up being a waste of money as they wear out too soon, and the quality is often questionable.


The stones incorporated into earrings and necklaces don’t matter much, and you could have stud or drop earrings with real or faux diamonds. Rings, on the other hand, take a lot of abuse, and the stones incorporated into the rings shouldn’t be fragile unless you intend to wear the ring occasionally. Diamonds are the hardest substances on earth and also the strongest, but high-quality diamonds are unreasonably expensive. Moissanite rings have become increasingly popular because they are a stunning stone that is almost as strong as diamonds, has more fire than diamonds, and goes for a fraction of the cost of a diamond. Rubies or sapphires are also great alternatives, and the best part is that other than the red rubies and blue sapphires, you can find either stone in pretty much every color imaginable.

2. Choosing the Best Earrings

Whether one is buying the cheaper costume earrings or the finer pieces, the first thing to do is to make sure that the jewelry is 100% hypoallergenic and nickel-free. This is important because cheap costume jewelry is often to blame as the trigger for developing a nickel allergy, and one should avoid all earrings that may have nickel in them. Good metals that are hypoallergenic and always safe on the ear include niobium, titanium, Argentium silver, and nickel-free 14k solid gold or 18k solid gold earrings.

Weight is also essential when choosing earrings. Most costume earrings tend to be heavy, and one should be wary about such heavy pieces. Whenever one needs to wear such statement earrings, it may be wise to wear them for only a few hours at a time because, in addition to the posed risk of stretching the earlobe, the heavy earrings carry the risk of the cheese cutter effect in one’s piercings. Interestingly, fine, high-quality jewelry could also be quite heavy. Though elegant and valuable, gold and diamonds are heavy. If one is planning to buy such high-quality pieces, one should wear them infrequently and also for shorter periods. Wear the daintier pieces in between or may.

3. Making the Best Choice of Necklaces

When it comes to necklaces, one should consider the occasion and the outfit. For instance, a pearl necklace is suitable for formal events, and a simple chain is perfect for casual events. It’s essential to note that the length of the necklace matters too. For instance, a choker necklace is perfect for a strapless dress, and a long necklace is great for a turtleneck sweater.

4. Where to Buy the Best Quality, Affordable Jewelry

One can buy the best quality, affordable jewelry from pawnshops, thrift stores, or online stores. It’s essential to do some research before making a purchase to ensure that the jewelry is of good quality and hypoallergenic. One should also consider the return policy and the warranty of the jewelry before making a purchase.

5. The Vintage


When it comes to buying jewelry, there are many factors to consider. Your budget, style needs, skin sensitivity, and metal preferences are all important considerations. However, it is possible to find good-quality jewelry that will last long without irritating the skin, without breaking the bank.

One important tip is to look beyond big-name brands and explore small brands, designers, and artists who offer fine jewelry for much less. This can be a great way to find unique pieces that fit your style and budget.

Additionally, don’t overlook costume jewelry made of materials like sterling silver and brass. These pieces can be high-quality and affordable, making them a great option for those on a budget.

Finally, vintage costume jewelry can be a valuable and expensive option for those looking for unique and timeless pieces.

As a jewelry designer and writer, Stephanie has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to finding and selecting the right jewelry. By following these tips and considering your own needs and preferences, you can find the perfect pieces to add to your collection.