The history of costume jewelry

Costume jewelry are designs that use non-precious materials as a cheaper alternative to fine jewelry. These less-expensive trend-driven pieces have an interesting history of their own. We explore the history of costume jewelry from its 18th century European origins to its boom in popularity thanks to Coco Chanel.

Early Costume Jewelry of the 18th and 19th Century
Although costume jewelry as we recognize it today did not come about until the early 20th century, the concept of costume jewelry can be traced back to the 18th century.

Europeans’ ever growing appetite for fine jewelry with precious stones (namely diamonds) created a need for a most cost-effective alternative. Enter French jeweler Georges Fréderic Strass, who in 1724, introduced a special leaded glass that, when cut with metal powder, emulated the magnificent twinkle and shimmer of genuine diamonds. Strass’s inexpensive glass diamante jewelry was immediately popular with Parisian’s fashion set.

I

Costume jewelry are designs that use non-precious materials as a cheaper alternative to fine jewelry. These less-expensive trend-driven pieces have an interesting history of their own. We explore the history of costume jewelry from its 18th century European origins to its boom in popularity thanks to Coco Chanel.

Early Costume Jewelry of the 18th and 19th Century
Although costume jewelry as we recognize it today did not come about until the early 20th century, the concept of costume jewelry can be traced back to the 18th century.

Europeans’ ever growing appetite for fine jewelry with precious stones (namely diamonds) created a need for a most cost-effective alternative. Enter French jeweler Georges Fréderic Strass, who in 1724, introduced a special leaded glass that, when cut with metal powder, emulated the magnificent twinkle and shimmer of genuine diamonds. Strass’s inexpensive glass diamante jewelry was immediately popular with Parisian’s fashion set.

92, Austria 18n jeweler Daniel Swarovski developed his own rhinestones that could perfectlIny resemble the shimmer and shine of colorful gemstones like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires by using high-lead-content glass with a foil backing. Swarovski also employed a revolutionary glass-cutting machine that could quickly and decisively facet glass with more brilliance than any expert artisan hands historically could. In turn, Swarovski could mass produce inexpensive “Swarovski Crystals.”