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Difference among fine, semi fine and fashion jewelry

Do you know the differences among three different jewelry categories: fine, semi-fine and fashion?

The line among them is thin, but understanding the distinction can help you make the right selection.

Fine jewelry

Fine jewelry is made from precious metals such as gold, platinum, silver, or some combination of these metals. If this jewelry contains gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, or emeralds, you can be sure that those gems are real, not imitations.

Fine jewelry is designed to last through generations, and needs to meet much stricter standards than fashion jewelry.

Because it is built to last, and made from precious metals and gems, it will cost more.

Fine jewelry is always stamped with a mark that denotes the purity of the metal:

  • Silver – 925 or .925
  • Gold – K, with a number that marks the percentage of gold in the metal. This number will be between 10 and 24, with 24 being the highest: 99.9 percent pure.
  • Palladium – PALL or PD
  • Platinum – The word “platinum” next to a number that indicates purity. 950 would mean that the piece was 95 percent pure.
  • Semi-fine jewelry

    Think of this as the bridge between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. These pieces are typically gold-plated, or made with gold vermeil (a thicker version of gold plating) or gold fill. If there are gems included, they will be stones such as aquamarine, morganite or opal.

    They key difference between semi-fine and fashion jewelry is that semi-fine pieces are usually made from sterling silver, which is still a quality, durable metal.

    Still, this jewelry should never be worn in the pool, shower, or while sleeping or exercising, as water and oils can cause the gold plate to deteriorate.

    Fashion jeweler

    Fashion jewelry is essentially what people used to call “costume jewelry.” That is a term that comes to us from 1930's theater prop departments. Costume designers needed to give actors an elegant look without having to worry about expensive pieces being lost, stolen or damaged.

    Their solution: low-cost replicas, made from inexpensive base metals and imitation gems. Over time, women began to wear this kind of jewelry as a fashion statement, hence the more current term.

    Today’s fashion jewelry is made from copper, brass, aluminum and other base metals, and is often electroplated with a more precious metal.