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Fashion Jewelry: A Great Way to Complete Your Look

Fashion jewelry is an inexpensive way to add the finishing touch to an outfit. Whether business or casual, fashion-forward or traditional, fashion jewelry is a must-have for anyone who wants to look pulled-together and current. In this article, we'll discuss fashion jewelry and present some tips for choosing just the right pieces.

So, what is fashion jewelry anyway? Also known as costume jewelry, this type of jewelry is usually less expensive than fine jewelry made from precious metals like gold, silver and platinum. It often starts with base of sterling silver that's plated with gold. In many cases, the base metal can be something other than sterling, which makes the jewelry less expensive. Base metals include zinc, copper, pewter, brass, lead, tin and nickel. Although precious gems like ruby and sapphire usually are not used in fashion jewelry, you may find semi-precious stones like jade, turquoise, agate, opal and coral. More often, though the stones are faux and crystals or cubic zirconia. Wood, leather or plastic is sometimes used to change up the look of fashion jewelry.

Better fashion jewelry has many layers of gold plating, usually 14K (karat). Vermeil is another way to plate base metal and is made of sterling silver, gold and other precious metals. If a piece is advertised as vermeil, the plating has to be 1.5 micrometers thick and composed of at least 10K gold. A micrometer is one thousandth of a millimeter (an inch is 25.4 millimeters), so the plating is very thin! If you plan to wear a specific piece of inexpensive jewelry a lot, try to find one with the heaviest possible plating.

Most fashion jewelry uses synthetic precious gemstones. The process for creating synthetic gems has improved vastly in modern times, so it's almost impossible to distinguish synthetic rubies, emeralds and sapphires from their genuine counterparts. The better faux gems are cut and mounted just like real ones, in pronged settings. Beware of jewelry where the stones are glued or pressed in, since this makes it less durable. If you're a pearl girl, you should know that the best faux pearls are made from Milanese murano glass with layers and layers of mother of pearl applied. It's practically impossible to tell high-quality faux pearls made in this way from the real thing.

Having a collection of carefully chosen fashion jewelry will help you create a distinctive look. For example, if you enjoy wearing ethnic clothing like batik prints, accent it with some chunky wooden beads. For great looks in an office setting, faux gems set in quality vermeil are stylish and elegant. For dressy occasions like cocktail parties, keep your jewelry simple except for one standout piece. This can be a necklace or a brooch pinned strategically at shoulder or waist.

This type of jewelry makes multiple signature looks possible - feel free to choose a piece or two to compliment each of you favorite outfits without breaking the bank.

Since this type of jewelry has been around since the early 20th century, you might want to try collecting some truly vintage pieces. Even Coco Chanel designed spectacular fashion jewelry pieces for her prestigious clients. When she debuted her sportswear line, she realized she needed casual jewelry to go with it. So, she utilized inexpensive materials like glass "gemstones" to create a look that complimented her informal fashion designs. Always the innovator, Chanel featured the classic Maltese cross in her line, a design that survives in jewelry to this day. Take a look at some of Chanel's design and see if you can find similar classic pieces in modern fashion jewelry.

Another way to go with fashion jewelry is sterling silver. No longer just for southwestern jewelry, sterling is now a staple on the jewelry scene. There's plenty of beautiful and affordable sterling silver jewelry that combines beautiful opaque gemstones like malachite, lapis and carnelian with classic designs to create affordable jewelry that's unmistakably real. And since imitation is the sincerely form of flattery, you should be able to find plenty of fashion jewelry that copies designer looks like those from Gucci.

It's worth learning something about fashion jewelry since it's often fashion-forward, well made and inexpensive while looking great.

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