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Is there a Difference between
Cheap, Fake, Junk and Reproduction Costume Jewellery?

Article by Lorraine Evans
Dated 25 October 2007

Yes most definitely. Every time I hear someone say that is fake, phoney, cheap Vintage Costume Jewellery it makes me cringe, I suspect you have heard this said often too. I have been compelled to write this article to put the record straight and try and explain the meaning behind the term Cheap, Fake, Junk and Reproduction Costume Jewellery, some people will answer "The meaning is the same is it not?" the short answer is No, it has completely different interpretations.

I'm sure after you have read this; many people will change their attitude on this subject and change their views and maybe you or they will start your own collection and discover the many designers of high quality antique and vintage costume jewellery. There are numerous designers to be researched and discovered from the 19th to 20th Century.

When my customers buy off me I hear them say many times and I quote "Lorraine this costume jewellery is outstanding, such magnificent quality a lot better than what is available today" or "much better than the TAT that is available today" I thought hang on maybe the term Fake is being misused and people are thinking Fake is the same as Cheap, there is a huge difference between Cheap and Fake.


Cheap Costume Jewellery literally means cheap jewellery. The reason it's around in today's market are the designs are mass produced, cheap materials are used, quality is not adhered, quality is not an issue, cheap materials, cheap labour to make cheap costume jewellery.

You can tell cheap jewellery also by weight, you will find this kind of jewellery at markets stalls, it's lightweight and flimsy, the stones are just pure glass no sparkle just glass, low quality plastic beads, more often than not wear it once and something goes missing, a stone or it will even break. Basically that is it, it's all around us even in well known big high street department stores are selling it, although you will find they sell high quality too, you will see it hanging loosely, on cards, etc. It's a quick fix to an outfit without much expense, nothing wrong in that, Ideal for jazzing up clothes for work or the pub etc, it's a great idea, why not, but cheap means literally cheap and that is it.


Reproduction Costume Jewellery - This is costume jewellery which has been copied from an original piece, even from a fake piece - fake is explained below, I bet you're surprised, I bet you thought fake and reproduction has the same meaning, the short answer is no it doesn't there is a difference.

Reproductions are copies of an original design often using low quality materials and mass produced, it's a shame these are around really as it's confusing the buyers the term reproduction is the same as fake. Reproductions can be made to look the same as the original pieces and that goes for fake pieces too. These people make copies of brand names which are so annoying to the original designers who spend so much time making a design and use high quality materials. The reproductions can look the same but I guarantee to an expert eye you can see the difference. And any one will tell you if you see a reproduction it is against the law on copyright infringement even if it has a slight difference to the original you can be sued by the designer also customs and excise do not take kindly to these reproductions flooding the market. It's an area with much debate, in this article I am only explaining the meaning of Reproduction. Do not fall for it, it's not worth it and is an insult to all the brilliant designers who want to bring us the originals.


Junk Costume Jewellery - Another term so often misused and wrongly referring to Vintage Costume Jewellery, an area which needs to be explained and give the Designers on Masterpieces of Vintage Jewellery their deserved recognition. Junk Jewellery literally means junk jewellery, it's costume jewellery which uses low quality materials and are mass produced to jazz up our everyday attire, often unsigned, and you will find pieces at car boots, flea markets and bazaars. There's nothing wrong with owning a piece of junk jewellery even an aged piece can bring in a good price. Just remember the quality of materials ie the metals, stones and gemstones are low in quality and mass produced.


Fake Jewellery means it's fake, yes but the term fake is mis-used again, I don't like this term used for Vintage Costume Jewellery as the Rich and Famous often had or still do have their own real diamonds, pearls and gemstones made into fake pieces to the same exact design as the real genuine piece, so when they went out anywhere special they often wore the fake piece to protect the real piece of jewellery safely locked up in the safe.

Even Elizabeth Taylor had a fake piece made back into real. She mentions this in her fabulous book My Love Affair with Jewellery, it was Richard Burton who decided to make the fake piece into real to surprise Elizabeth. Fake means an exact or similar design to real. Fake jewellery was made by Master Craftsman and sometimes had to imitate the great designs of Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Chanel and all the other famous top Jewellers the Créme de la Créme of Jeweller's. These are the Jeweller's the average person does not even get a look in.

The designers of fake costume jewellery often used high end quality gemstones, crystals or they can be called Rhinestone's and often gold plated their designs to imitate real gold, often the designs were set onto rhodium plate, vermeil, and Trifari even used their own gold plate named Trifanium so the design looks like real gold. The designs were often patented, some were tailored made to the customers specification.

There were and still are top designers who made and make fake pieces, for example in 1930 Trifari hired French Designer Alfred Philippe, he used to work for Cartier and was a very respected designer, he made some absolutely stunning pieces of fake costume jewellery to look like the real genuine piece and more often than not was successful as you will see many of the pieces made by Alfred Philippe are the next best thing to real diamonds and gemstones. There's literally hunderd's of these magnificent craftsman who were around in the late 19th and early to mid 20th century.

If you have ever bought vintage costume jewellery you will know and see the difference in quality to low end junk jewellery, you will admire the fake piece's as the piece you have just bought could have been worn by famous Hollywood actresses or used by famous people.

I'm trying to explain, that Cheap, Junk, Fake and Reproduction has so often be referred to as the same meaning, it's not, trust me you have to buy a piece of high end fake vintage costume jewellery to actually see and feel the difference and appreciate what these fantastic designers gave us to the alternative real jewellery. These pieces of Designer Vintage Costume Jewellery are made to look and feel like genuine gold, diamonds and gemstones. When you buy a piece you will see exactly what I'm talking about.

Recently I seen an article on Gabrielle Coco Chanel and the author referred to her costume jewellery as Junk, I was shocked to see her beautiful, crafted fake Costume Jewellery referred to as Junk when in fact it should have been referred to as Fake Costume Jewellery. I am sure many others will agree with what I'm saying, it's not Junk it's Fake, yes there's a difference as we all know now. I think this is what compelled me the most to write this article to put the known terms of Fake, Cheap, Junk and Reproduction Costume Jewellery in a better and more understanding perspective.

In Short
This is all we need to remember
Cheap means exactly what it says Cheap
Reproduction means an exact copy of an original using low quality materials and mass produced
Junk/Tat means piece's of jewellery that has no significance, low quality made piece's of costume jewellery a bit like what we see today
Fake means an alternative to Real Gold or Silver, Diamonds and Gemstones and are often signed with the designer's signature mark, they are genuine pieces made by genuine designer's to the rich and famous, sometimes piece's were unsigned and they still have the same quality materials used.

Here's what the thesaurus refers to the meaning of Fake, Cheap, Junk and Reproduction

Lorraine says, "What do you think? After reading my article does this really give a true description for Vintage Costume Jewellery? In my opinion the thesaurus is not giving the wonderful Designer's of Vintage Costume Jewellery their true respected status."

Lorraine says, "Says it all really"

Lorraine says, "Imagine, this is what an author said in this article Chanel Jewelry he or she was referring to Chanels Costume Jewellery as Junk. I'm sure he or she did not mean it."

Lorraine says "Yes I agree this is a true definition"

Ok, so now what? you may ask, well I think we should have an alternative name to describe Fake Costume Jewellery, this is where I am approaching everyone to come up with a possible solution and I'm even having this as my alfred philippe for trifari fruit salad earrings Competition to win a lovely pair of Clip Earrings designed by Alfred Philippe for Trifari, known as Tutti Fruitti or Fruit Salad in design, they feature 3 gorgeous and delicate red flowers with a nice touch of clear rhinestones for the buds. This is for the person who comes up with the best suggestion, all names and entries will be listed and put on a final vote, we only supply first name and location to protect identity. Please visit here for entry Competition Details and Entry Form

I hope I've conveyed a more understanding on the different terms used for Costume Jewellery

I would love to hear your comments and views on this article, I think it's important to get this message across and give a more understanding and get the message out to everyone and clear up this mis-understood area in Costume jewellery today.

This article is legally copyrighted from the date 3 November 2007, Please do not use as your own material.

A lovely comment sent in by Diane in the USA. I enjoyed your article very much and agree wholeheartedly on every point. My only addition would be that reproduction has become a very confusing term in the jewelry community. To many, repro means a new piece passed off as old and only produced to fool the buyer, or a piece done by a manufacturer to copy another's work of current production. Reproduction can mean pieces that are up front about their age but not illegally produced.

There are many sterling companies that buy old molds and make pieces pretty much exactly the way they were made 100 years ago. And some companies reproduce their own pieces, i.e. put old styles back into production. I like to call these re-issues, as these companies can rightfully continue to produce pieces that they have done in the past, whether or not they ever stopped producing them or not. Anyway, just my take. Your article was excellent -

Lorraine reply, Thank you Diane for taking your valuable time to read the article. I'm so glad you agree the term reproduction is mis-represented in the jewelry community, I'm sure your comments will help everyone to have a more understanding on the term Reproduction. I totally agree the company has every right to reproduce their own pieces and agree with you also to use the term re-issue in this case.

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