Selling guides, Vintage lovers

How to identify different types of costume jewellery

antique and vintage costume jewellery
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Back in the 1930s and 1940s, costume jewellery was viewed as fashion jewellery, and not nearly as sought after as it is now. Currently, there are thousands of collectors around the globe, always on the lookout for hidden gems to add to their ever-growing collections.  

costume jewellery

What is costume jewellery?

Costume jewellery is jewellery that would, traditionally, only be worn for a short period before being discarded or overtaken by another fashion trend. Therefore, the stones are often fake, therefore were once viewed as disposable and replaceable. The jewellery today would be considered more novel and often packed with sentimental value. 

The history of costume jewellery plays a large role in its modern value and comes with much symbolism. Sweetheart jewellery dates back to World War II, these boldly coloured items were often bought by women to show their support for the soldiers abroad. Similarly, Queen Victoria, a huge fashion influence, wore certain items that were then popularised as costume pieces. 

Different Types of Costume Jewellery

There are so many different types of costume jewellery, it would be impossible to list all of them here, so we have compiled a few of our favourites.

Hippy Chic

women wearing hippy style jewellery

Hippy chic jewellery celebrates the philosophy of flower power. Expect to find pop-art graphic motifs, bright colours, daisies, bold patterns, peace signs, rhinestones and pearl rings. Ethnic, handmade pieces were also very popular in this era, including big statement necklaces and multi-strand bracelets. 

Fine Costume Jewellery

chanel jewellery

Imagine looking ravishing on the red carpet without the associated expense. The finer pieces of costume jewellery made it easy to mimic high-value items without anyone noticing. For example, jewellery designer Kenneth Jay Lane created stunning fine costume jewellery based on the style choices of the Duchess of Windsor. Look for pendant necklaces, cuff bracelets and sparkling long earrings, as these were particularly popular. 


woman wearing punk jewellery

Source: Vogue

In the early 1970s, costume jewellery took a turn into the punk era. Designs were mostly geometric, using industrial materials like metal and plastic. Punk items include oversized buckles, zippers, chunky wrist pieces, spikes, chains and armbands.

Nature Jewellery

Darwin Sea Glass Earrings drop Style Nature Lovers - Etsy UK 

Source: Esty

A rather unique type of costume jewellery is something called nature jewellery.  This is where items belonging to nature (shells, leaves, stones, flowers) are used as materials to make the jewellery pieces. These items remain popular today, with some crossover into hippy chic styles.

Materials Used in Costume Jewellery

Costume jewellery is usually made from lower-cost materials, so you won’t tend to find solid gold or diamonds in your collection. But this does not mean the collection doesn't have value. Quite the opposite in fact. Due to the novelty and sentiment attached to this type of jewellery, it can sell for an impressive amount. Some of the materials you can expect to find in your collection would be; rhinestones, aluminium, brass, stainless steel, zinc, tungsten, glass, plastic and a variety of different crystals. 

Declutter Your Costume Jewellery

Think you may have some pieces you are wanting to part with? At Vintage Cash Cow we offer a free and no-obligation service, where we will buy your unwanted items from you, hassle-free. All we ask is you package up your unwanted items and send them our way! We know jewellery can be very sentimental so we do recommend having a good look at your pieces before sending them off to us. If you would like to learn more about the service or order a free postal pack, please Click here.

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