The Difference Between Fine, Semi-Fine & Fashion Jewelry

The difference between fine, semi-fine and fashion jewelry can be a thin line. On Local Eclectic, we sell all three. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the difference between the three categories. Hopefully this will help you determine if a solid gold diamond ring or a gold plated, more fashion forward ring is right for you.

Fine Jewelry

Fine Jewelry vs Costume Jewelry - Morphe Jewelry Ring

Fine jewelry is typically reserved for special occasions: engagements, graduations, birthdays, etc. But it’s also a great option for girls who like to wear their jewelry 24/7 and don’t want to worry about taking their jewels off when they sleep, shower or workout. Fine jewelry deserves this title when the band and setting are solid gold and the stones are genuine. Fine jewelry will never tarnish and can be worn day in and day out. Rings in the fine jewelry category can be re-sized and repaired easily by any skilled jeweler. These are your engagement rings and heirloom jewelry pieces but we also sell a variety of delicate and classic pieces such as simple gold bands with tiny diamonds that are fine jewelry but priced so that you don’t have to wait for someone to pop the question in order to put one of these babies on your finger.

Semi-Fine Jewelry

Semi Fine Jewelry vs Costume Jewelry Carrie Elizabeth Jewelry

Semi-fine jewelry is the category that bridges the gap between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. Semi-fine jewelry is typically characterized as being gold plated, gold vermeil (a thicker gold plating) or gold fill jewelry. This category of jewels is in many cases made with genuine stones such as aquamarine, opals, morganite, etc. but one thing that sets semi-fine jewelry apart from fashion jewelry is that the base metal used is typically sterling silver so even under the gold plated or vermeil layer is a high quality metal that will stand the test of time. You will also see a lot of semi-fine jewelry that is made with lab created or enhanced stones as these have similar visual properties to genuine stones but with a lower price tag. It’s important that semi-fine or gold plated jewelry not be worn in the shower, pool, to sleep or when working out. You should also take care when applying lotions because water and the oil in lotion can cause gold plating to wear down over time. Jewelry that falls into the semi-fine category should be reserved for pieces that are fashion forward but not expected to last a lifetime. This category of jewelry is one of our favorites as it allows us to offer a wide range of on trend jewelry at affordable prices.

Fashion Jewelry (also known as Costume Jewelry)Costume Jewelry on Local Eclectic

Fashion jewelry is typically made with non-precious stones and metals such as brass, bronze and copper. These are rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets made with Swarovski crystals, beads, leather or acrylic materials. So a leather choker or a beaded friendship bracelet would fall into this category. Fashion jewelry can also include some gold plated or gold vermeil jewelry but the base metal with fashion jewelry is typically brass or bronze. We also work with many fashion jewelry designers who work exclusively with brass or bronze, so you’ll find rings, necklaces, and bracelets in this material that has not been plated. One of the benefits of not plating these materials is that they can be polished using any standard polishing cloth. So if you purchase a brass bracelet and you find that it starts to look tarnished, grab a polishing cloth, give it a quick rub and it will be good as new in no time!


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