The history of imitation jewelry
From ancient civilizations to modern fashion
Jewelry has always helped people enhance their look with the use of precious metals and stones, like gold, silver, solitaires, etc. However, if owning jewelry was always restricted to the upper class and more respected people of society, how is it now more affordable for everyone, regardless of what class they belong to? Let’s explore together a quick history of imitation jewelry and see how it got the fame it receives in the modern days.
Imitation Jewelry: Much Before We Know It
Fashion jewelry traces its roots to a much ancient time than we discuss. Much before precious jewelry made from gemstones and expensive materials was worn, people adorned themselves in costume jewelry made from pebbles, rocks, and inexpensive materials. Burials from 30,000 BCE in Europe show that jewelry, at that time, was much more than just some pieces of ornaments that people wore to look impressive and fashionable. On the contrary, it was a sign of faith, prestige, social class, allegiance, and much more. In addition to that, in prehistoric times (and even today), it was also worn to attract luck in some cases. People wore special stones and metals that were thought to attract good luck in their lives. Different types of imitation jewelry pieces also marked special moments in a person’s life during the period, like motherhood, marital status, conversion into a new religion, etc.
So, much before we know it, imitation jewelry existed in different castes and clans, having its own significant purposes. But much later, the use of precious stones and materials made jewelry restricted to the aristocrats. It then showcased the money and power that the ruling class people of the society exercised. On the contrary, the bourgeois people of society could not afford precious metals.
Industrial Revolution: A Period of Rise for Imitation Jewelry
During the time of the Industrial Revolution, the middle-class population began to surge in numbers. Having the desire to own decorative pieces of jewelry but not having the monetary resources to buy them, there began a movement of imitation of precious jewelry. People started imitating the jewelry of high-class people with less precious materials and stones that gave the ornaments an equivalent fashionable look but at cheaper prices. For example, seed pearls, the inexpensive alternative to pearls, soon replaced the use of original pearls for crafting imitation jewelry.
As artificial jewelry was widely used and appreciated among people. In the 20th century, a well-known French designer whom we all know as Gabrielle Coco Chanel declared that only elegant women knew how to mix together real and fake jewelry and make it appropriate for the occasion. This further led to the fame of costume jewelry. People in the fashion industry started experimenting with a variety of colors, designs, and patterns to make jewelry a statement piece of one’s attire. The myriad of designs that non-precious jewelry explored, was not available in real jewelry, which substantially increased the love and acceptance of imitation jewelry among people.
Imitation Jewelry in the Modern Days
With the change in the environmental conditions, today, people have become more concerned about wearing fashion pieces that are sustainable and environment friendly. Consequently, various top brands and designers diligently produce imitation jewelry that is safe against incessant climate changes. Furthermore, in the present day, costume pieces are not restricted to easy affordability, but they have become a fashion statement among people. Fashion and jewelry lovers play with their accessories to speak through their own kind of fashion. It has become a sign of their individuality. In fact, people even collect imitation jewelry. While some collect them to style these pieces with different outfits, others do it to preserve them as a sign of the cultural history of fashion. In addition, artificial jewelry nowadays is not restricted to the middle class. People with power, fame, and money also do not hesitate to buy artificial jewelry.
Did you ever imagine that your imitation pieces had a long history involved with their use?