Costume jewellery is jewellery that is made of
less valuable materials, including base metals, glass, plastic, and synthetic
stones, in place of more valuable materials such as precious metals and gems.
Costume jewellery is usually inexpensive, and often flashy. Its main use is in
fashion, as opposed to fine jewellery which may be regarded primarily as
collectibles, keepsakes, or investments.
Originally, costume or fashion jewellery was made of inexpensive simulated
gemstones, such as rhinestones or lucite, set in pewter, nickel or brass. Modern
costume jewellery incorporates a wide range of materials. High end crystals, CZs
or cubic zirconia simulated diamonds, and some semi-precious stones are used in
place of precious stones. Metals include gold- or silver-plated brass, and
sometimes vermeil or sterling silver. Lower-priced jewellery may still use gold
plating over pewter, nickel or other metals; items made in countries outside the
United States may contain lead. Some pieces incorporate plastic, acrylic, or
The term costume jewellery dates back to the early 20th century. It may reflect
the use of the word "costume" to refer to what is now called an "outfit"; for
example, a "handsome street costume of maroon brown velvet". Thus the jewellery
worn with everyday fashion (costumes) grew to be known as "costume jewellery."
Another theory is that the term refers to the jewellery worn in theatrical