What Is The Difference Between Fashion and Fine Jewellery?

Understanding the difference between fashion and fine jewellery is not difficult. The difference is simple. It all depends on the materials that are used for that piece. The cost of jewellery also comes down to the materials that the jewellery consists of. 


It also depends on whether or not gemstones are used for that piece of jewellery. In this article, we will be discussing the difference between both fashion and fine jewellery. Including their official definitions from the experts. Whether it is for you or someone you love, you will soon be an expert in jewellery after this. 

Fashion Jewellery

Fashion jewellery is commonly known as costume jewellery. Additionally, it consists of materials that are much cheaper compared to those that are used for fine jewellery. The usual materials you will find with fashion jewellery are; brass, copper, and aluminium, which can mould easily. Furthermore, these materials will often tarnish and damage a lot easier compared to fine jewellery. 

Fashion jewellery isn’t just made of cheap and weak materials. It can also be designed out of textiles, beads or leather. Furthermore, these fashion jewellery pieces can also be coated in metals such as silver and gold. It is also common for fashion jewellery pieces to consist of false stones such as fake gemstones, cubic zirconia and Swarovski crystals. 

Some jewellery experts will suggest that there should be a category between the two. It will traditionally be jewellery that consists of gold vermeil, gold-plated or filled with gold that they believe should have a different category. If you are not sure what either of those is, here are two short definitions of both of them.

Gold Vermeil

Although gold vermeil is very similar to gold plated, there are slight differences. The only difference between gold plated and gold vermeil is that gold vermeil is required to be a certain thickness, which is a gold layer on top of silver of 2.5 microns. This will usually bump up the price of the jewellery and be more expensive compared to gold plated jewellery. 

Gold Plated 

Gold Plated jewellery is a thin layer that is laid over jewellery that is made of another metal. That material could be copper, aluminium, brass or other cheap metals. Gold plated jewellery is made by putting that metal in a chemical solution and then applying an electrical current to that piece. 

Gold-Filled Jewellery

This is similar to gold plated jewellery although the quality of the two can be quite the opposite. Gold is layered on top and the bottom of the other metal. Furthermore, gold-plated jewellery will usually wear off another metal. However, gold-filled jewellery would not, making it much better quality than gold plated. 

Many jewellery enthusiasts will often refer to this type of jewellery as being semi-fine. Additionally, this type of jewellery can also consist of gemstones, that are on the more affordable side such as morganite and opals. These will often be altered in a laboratory with heat or a chemical reaction to make the gemstone clearer, change the colour or make it look flawless. 

Jewellers will usually categorise these pieces of jewellery so they can give a more accurate description of the piece. A typical customer who may not know a lot about metals may not know the differences between fine and fashion jewellery. They may only see the price difference. That is why jewellers will describe any jewellery pieces that are gold vermeil or gold-filled as semi-fine jewellery. 

Fine Jewellery

Fine jewellery is a much higher quality of jewellery, being more durable and expensive. The traditional materials that are used for these are gold, silver, platinum and other strong materials. Another thing to mention, fine jewellery can consist of high-quality gemstones such as rubies, garnets, diamonds and many others.

The prices will generally be a lot higher compared to fashion jewellery for two reasons. It is either down to the quality of the jewellery or, it is down to the brand name of that jewellery. The reason being is so that they can raise the price of poor quality materials. 

Fine jewellery won’t tarnish like fashion jewellery and, if it is broken, it can be fixed. As mentioned before, fine jewellery can get mixed with designer jewellery. You don't need to worry about the price being ramped up too much by designer brands. More often than not, the quality of these jewellery pieces will still be durable. 

If you want to make sure that you are not spending a lot more than you should on designer jewellery, read the hallmarks. Here is a breakdown of some of the jewellery hallmarks.

Gold Jewellery

916 or 917 - 22K

583 or 585 - 14K

416 or 417 - 10K

999 - 24K 

750 - 18K

500 - 12K

375 - 9K

333 - 8K

Pure gold jewellery is the highest quality and that will be 24 karats and, is will be stamped as 999. Once you move down the scale of hallmark, the karat of gold will lower. 

Platinum Jewellery

Similar to gold, platinum is measured in purity, however, the purity is not measured in karats. It would be measured in a percentage. The hallmark numbers and purity for platinum are seen below. The numbers are the hallmark of the jewellery and the percentage is the purity of the platinum.


999 - 99.90%

950 - 95%

900 - 90%

850 - 85%


If you are looking to spend big on fine jewellery but, the price tag is a bit out of your range, we suggest you buy vintage/ antique jewellery instead. That way you are saving money on the original price tag and, you are reusing someone's luxurious jewellery piece that they no longer need. You can even spend money on vintage engagement rings if you wish to save money there. This is becoming very common for newly engaged couples. 


If you want to spend too much on a jewellery piece that is just to complement your outfit, we suggest that you buy fashion jewellery. However, if you're going to be wearing this every day, we suggest that you buy fine jewellery. Although for special occasions you may also want to spend more. That way, it will last you a long time, look good, and be of high quality.