Costume Jewellery

Costume Jewellery

by Shweta Dhanuka

Costume jewellery gained its existence way back in early 20th century. As the name “costume” specifies it was referred to the clothes, which now is also called as ‘outfit’. Therefore, jewellery that was worn in accordance with the clothes was known as Costume Jewellery. Other than the clothes related jewellery, costume jewellery was also referred to the jewellery worn for stage performance in theaters. Fashion jewellery, glass-beaded jewellery and fake jewellery are its additional names.

Costume jewellery gained its existence way back in early 20th century. As the name “costume” specifies it was referred to the clothes, which now is also called as ‘outfit’. Therefore, jewellery that was worn in accordance with the clothes was known as Costume Jewellery. Other than the clothes related jewellery, costume jewellery was also referred to the jewellery worn for stage performance in theaters. Fashion jewellery, glass-beaded jewellery and fake jewellery are its additional names.

It is created using less expensive material for example instead of valuable metals gold, silver and platinum etc gold/silver-plated brass or base metals are used. Apart from the metals, synthetic stone or stones made of glass or plastic are used for crafting this fashionable jewellery in place of precious stones like diamonds, ruby, emeralds and semi precious stones like amethyst, topaz, and aquamarine and so on. In spite of being made up of less costly material, these jewellery pieces are quite classy and often flamboyant. Therefore, it was preferred less in the royal families but now the trend has changed.

Costume Jewellery History

costume jewellery worn by east indian womenFamous designer Coco Chanel was the one who deeply admired this fascinating jewellery variant. In her years as jewellery designer, she used this trendy jewellery quite a lot and then after costume jewellery gained the upright identification in the fashion industry. Kenneth Jay Lane since 1960s has been known for creating exclusive three strand faux pearl necklace that was well-liked by many in the fashion cognizant part of the society.In this present century, these are gaining popularity everyday as more and more females are getting fashion conscious, who prefer style and alluring look for their personality. Costume jewellery is mostly purchased by people who wish to carry their attire and jewellery in accord to the prevailing trends in the fashion industry. These are certainly not collected for the keepsakes or investment purpose as that of gold ornaments rather it is ideal for stylish and funky look that keeps changing with time. This classy jewellery is not in fashion forever, it is preferred only when it is in fashion that is for few months or one or two years and after the trend in fashion changes the jewellery also changes. However, the jewelries from 40s to 70s are certainly collectibles as it gains the antique value and importance to it.

Costume Jewellery Types

The costume jewels includes necklace, earrings, bracelets, bangles and pendants. The price of all these jewelries is dependent on the material used for example brass metal jewelries are priced less than those which are made using 18 carat gold or silver plating. Similarly, beaded necklace and bracelets are very much affordable than those created using synthetic gemstones.


There are many different types of necklace created and are categorized on the basis of the design and components used such as Resin, Glass beaded and shell etc. Any necklace could be worn with any costume but the look of the jewel is enhanced when worn with the right outfit.Resin Necklace– This necklace is the one that could be worn with any outfit. As the name specifies, the main component for this is ‘Resin’ (resin is a synthetic substance used as the basis of plastics produced by some chemical reactions in the laboratory) which is a liquid chemical hardened, grinded, colored and polished to make fine quality beads. It could be ‘casted’ into different unique shapes and styles in multiple colours. The resin beads are usually large in size therefore resin necklace are created using one single strand. It does not fits in the neck rather is little long. It is usually between 18-20 inches long.

Glass Beaded Necklace – These necklace look dazzling as it is created using array of beads made up of glass, bone, metal, wood, ceramic, brass and terracotta. Colorful or single colour beads are strung in either metal chains having various shape loops or 4-strand terry cot/nylon thread. These are created in two styles- one is very long and other is choker style. The long glass beaded necklace as the name suggests are very like. Its length is more than 30 inches. These are very smart and are suited more for casual or western attire. The choker glass beaded necklace is apt for Indian traditional garments heavy zari saris or chaniya choil.

Bone Necklace– This is only for casual western outfits. This is created using beads made from bones and horns. It is available in natural colours that are all shades of whites, black and brown. However, with modern tools varied shapes are given in accordance to the design. The length varies from 18 to 20 inches.

Brass Necklace– It is made of chains and small pieces in different shapes like round, ovals and squares etc. It also comprises of some figures or cross. This necklace variety is created in heavy as well as simple designs. Some people also refer it as Italian jewellery. At present, it is the most popular and fashionable jewellery. The length of this necklace is also between 18 to 20 inches.

Shell Necklace– This fashion necklace is heavy necklace with minimum 6-7 strands of beads twisted together to give a look of one. It is very colorful and attractive. It is very creatively designed as it involves many beads to be strung in varied knots and styles. The unique feature of this necklace is the colours used in it. The length of this necklace varies from 18 to 30 inches. It goes well with garments worn on festive occasions.


ethinic costume jewellerySimilar to necklace bracelets too are glass beaded that are created in startling colours and designs. Colorful beads are creatively paired with pearls or any other exceptional pieces to create enthralling bracelets that would suit the costume of the wearer. These are found in two varieties viz. the chain bracelets and bangle bracelet. The beads in all sizes and colours as per the design are strung in brass chains to make the bracelets. The length of these bracelets varies from 7 to 9 inches. At both ends of the chains adjustable clasp is attached so that wearer could adjust the bracelet as per her wrist. For bangle bracelets beads are strung in superior quality elastics for tensile strength and longevity. Apart from glass beads, beads made from bones and horns are also used for creating hip-hop bracelets that are adored by the teenagers.These days, wide bracelets of brass or wood are gaining popularity at a very rapid pace. Mostly the brass metal bracelets consist embossed detailing, adjustable size without any clasp are quite trendy. Many different coloured stones are also set in the center of the metal bracelet in some pattern. The thickness of this bracelet variant varies from 4-8 inches. It goes very well with all casual western attire. This style bracelet is referred as cuff.


Earrings are the most important jewellery items as it plays a vital role in defining one’s personality. It is crucial to select the right kind of earrings that suits the wearer. Earrings that form costume jewellery are mostly the chandelier earrings or hanging earrings. These would be seldom found in stud or drop earrings pattern. It mostly possesses large detailing in the design like small curves; lots of small pieces joined together which is further enhanced by the use of beads in it. These earrings are classified in two forms viz. ring and hanging in a line. Ring earrings looks good on females with broad face cut. It does not go well with a narrow face cut. These are created using all metals that is brass, gold plated etc. On the other hand hanging earrings could be worn by anyone, it is sure to look good.The components used for creating the exquisite jewellery pieces are same as in necklace and bracelets. Resins, beads made from bone and horns and so on. Beads in multiple colours are strung together to create lovely designs or in some metal mould the beads are added to complement the metal design. These earrings are more suitable for semi-formal outfit. An earring made from only brass metal, which is referred as Italian jewellery, is also very popular these days. Small round pieces of brass metal are joined together to make hanging earrings look stunning on almost every outfit. The length of these varies from 3to 6 inches. Apart from round shape triangle and other geometrical shapes are well liked by females in all the age group. These brass metal costume earrings look good on teenagers as well as middle aged females.


Costume jewellery consists of very innovative pendants made up from resin or brass metal. This centerpiece forms the necklace when attached with 4-5 beaded strands from both sides or else simple plain chain to make it a chain necklace. Resin pendants are created to suits one’s personality and linking in order to bring elegant look to the attire. It also uses different colours and shapes of beads in various styles such as glossy, matt, semi-matt, transparent, translucent and opaque. Another form of pendant is ‘Shell Pendant’. It is made up brass metal. It usually is between 20mm to 60 mm in size. Even it could be further reduces or increased as per the choice of the wearer. Round shape is the most common shape however; square, triangle, oval and other innovative shapes are also created. This shell pendant is laser engraved having numerous colour options.This amazing jewellery variation may not be possessing precious gemstones or metals but they are the ideal choice for any evening party, corporate meeting, and casual attire and so on. Gold or silver ornaments sometimes fail to give that most wanted charismatic look to the wearer that is sure to get by wearing fashion jewellery. Therefore, expensive ornaments may be the asset but not be always modish and chic as not so pricey costume jewellery. Experience the same yourself!!