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The Difference Between Fashion Jewelry, Semi-Fine & Fine Jewelry

The Difference Between Fashion Jewelry, Semi-Fine & Fine Jewelry

You're looking at a pair of beautiful rings. One is $10, the other is $100. But on the surface, they look almost the same. What's the difference?

There's a lot more to the quality of jewelry than there might at first appear. There are essentially three classes of jewelry: fashion, semi-fine, and fine. And while at a glance sometimes they can look similar, they aren't going to look similar for very long. The classes of jewelry control not only how inherently valuable they are but also how long they're going to last.

Jewelry may seem to increase in price arbitrarily, but there's a lot to these prices. Let's take a deeper look.

Fashion Jewelry: Beautiful, Trendy, and Affordable

Fashion jewelry is, above all, not intended to last. It's beautiful and often trendy, but it's probably not going to last you more than a few years, let alone generations.

Fashion jewelry is made out of affordable materials. So, usually, they will look like gold or silver, but they won't be gold or silver. Fashion jewelry isn't even plated; its components may very well react with your skin or water and may eventually turn green. A lot of fashion jewelry is made with "paste" gems; they may be made out of metal or have synthetic gems such as CZ in them. They may just be made of glass.

But that doesn't mean that fashion jewelry isn't attractive. Fashion jewelry is ideal for everyday wear or for wear in areas where it might get damaged. The primary issue that keeps fashion jewelry cheap is that its components are cheap. They are usually made out of something like enamel or even plastic. So, it's cheap to produce and you don't expect to get a lot of wear out of it, even if it looks fantastic until it falls apart. Most jewelry that you find that isn't in an actual "jewelry store" is going to be fashion jewelry, such as displays that are on racks at clothing boutiques.

Semi-Fine Jewelry: Elegant and Cost-Effective

Semi-fine jewelry sort of falls between fashion jewelry and fine jewelry.

Usually, semi-fine jewelry has plated materials rather than being entirely one metal. So, it's gold-plated, but it isn't gold. That has some value, but it doesn't have a lot of inherent value. Semi-fine jewelry may have CZ stones or lower-grade stones such as quartz.

Semi-fine jewelry has a lot of the same advantages as fine jewelry. It's often very attractively designed. Because it's usually plated in gold or silver, it won't easily discolor (though silver may tarnish). 

However, it's going to be more fragile than fine jewelry. The plating will eventually wear off. Stones may break or become loose. It won't be designed with the same care as fine jewelry because it doesn't have the same inherent value.

Semi-fine jewelry can be "dangerous" because it's very easy to confuse it with fine jewelry. If you don't know exactly what you're looking at (if there isn't a mark, for instance, to indicate that it's plated), you might not be able to tell without damaging the material. You need to be cautious when purchasing fine jewelry for that reason. Always go with reputable vendors, as otherwise, you may not be getting exactly what you desired.

But other than the inherent value, there's nothing wrong with having semi-fine jewelry. Semi-fine jewelry is a great way to get a large array of jewelry options and jewelry styles without having to break the bank for heirloom pieces.

Fine Jewelry: The Best of the Best

Fine jewelry is made with components that have inherent value. That means that it will be all gold or all pure silver. It will have gemstones such as diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. If you melted the jewelry down to its most base elements, it would still be worth something — and often quite a lot.

The appeal of fine jewelry isn't just that it has value, but that it retains its value. Fine jewelry can be passed down from generation to generation. What makes "precious metal”, and "precious stone" isn't arbitrary; these stones and metals have longevity. 

A 24k gold piece, for instance, will be made out of soft metal. It has to be taken care of to remain in shape. But it doesn't have an outer coating that will "buff" off. It can be reshaped and resurfaced at any time because it's very close to pure gold. If it gets scratched, it can get fixed. If it loses material over time due to its softness, it can be refinished.  Unlike fashion jewelry, fine jewelry isn't going to tarnish. It's not going to change color. And with rare exceptions, it will not react to anyone's skin.

People collect fine jewelry because it is valuable, because it is long-lasting, and because it's made of materials that are already known for their exceptional beauty. If there weren't people who were so enamored with the gleam of diamonds, for instance, then the diamonds themselves would not be considered "fine" and "valuable." Moreover, the stones that are used in fine jewelry tend to be far harder and longer-lasting than the stones that are used in semi-fine jewelry. Emeralds (while softer than diamonds) are going to last longer than amethyst.

Choosing the Right Jewelry

Most people have a mix of fashion, semi-fine, and fine jewelry in their closet -- and that's perfect for most people. Everyday wear may be fashion or semi-fine, whereas special occasion jewelry may be fine. There's no "right" answer when it comes to choosing the jewelry that's right for you.

But understanding the differences is still important. You don't want to spend semi-fine prices on what's essentially fashion jewelry. And if you want something that's going to last a long time -- something that you can pass down to your children -- you will usually want to pay the premium for fine jewelry.

If you want to learn more about the differences between jewelry types, contact our experts at Occasions Fine Jewelry in Midland, Tx.

Use coupon code WELCOME10 for 10% off your first order.


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