Costume jewelry (also called fashion jewelry, junk jewelry, fake jewelry, or fallalery) is jewelry manufactured as ornamentation to complement a particular fashionable costume or garment. Costume jewelry came into being in the 1930s as a cheap, disposable accessory meant to be worn with a specific outfit. It was intended to be fashionable for a short period of time, outdate itself, and then be repurchased to fit with a new outfit or new fashion style. Its main use is in fashion, as opposed to "real" (fine) jewelry which may be regarded primarily as collectibles, keepsakes, or investments. Costume jewelry 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.
The term costume jewelry dates back to the early 20th century. It reflects 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". Costume jewelry is meant to complement a particular fashionable garment or "costume"; Hence the name, "costume jewelry".
Originally, costume or fashion jewelry was made of inexpensive simulated gemstones, such as rhinestones or lucite, set in pewter, silver, nickel or brass. During the depression years, rhinestones were even down-graded by some manufacturers to meet the cost of production. Modern costume jewelry incorporates a wide range of materials. High end crystals, 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 jewelry 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, leather or wood.
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