What Makes Fine Jewellery "Fine?"
If you're new to buying jewellery, you likely wonder what makes some of it qualify as "fine" while the normal, or "costume," kind does not. In some cases, the only immediately obvious difference is the price. A "fine" gold necklace, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile, you can get one that looks nearly identical for about 10 dollars! Why do people get the fine option?
The biggest reason to get fine jewellery when there is an identical-looking knockoff is to ensure that the piece is high quality. That $10 gold necklace is going to be made using a super-thin coating of gold plating. This plating can be so ridiculously thin that it will literally wear off of the chain within two weeks, revealing an ugly, cheap substrate. At this time, the difference between it and its 100 percent gold fine counterpart is very obvious. Since the fine option is gold all the way through, it can actually last for centuries.
It is very common for fine gold jewellery to be paired with other high-end elements, as well. Diamonds, sapphires, and other costly gems look great paired with gold, so good jewellery makers often create combinations based on these materials. It is hard, if not impossible, to even get costume jewellery with such precious stones. While there are attempts at making lookalikes, cheaper options like rhinestone are often very obviously not the real things.
Workmanship is the other major difference between the best jewellery and the rest. It's often easy to find flaws in the finish of costume jewellery, especially at the lowest end. You may also find that the findings – the parts that hold stones in place, the clasps, and other such hardware – are weaker, causing the stones to fall out and be lost. With necklaces and bracelets, the entire piece may fall off and be lost due to faulty clasps. These problems are much rarer with fine jewellery.
Of course, even among the same price range, there are differences in workmanship. This is why there are sometimes stories of people going around on their hands and knees desperately searching for a lost diamond from a ring or pendant. That said, the chance of such faultiness is much rarer in high-end jewellery, and with proper care, a piece should stay intact long enough to be passed on as an heirloom.
With all of the benefits of fine jewellery, you may wonder why anyone would get inexpensive gold jewellery instead. There are many reasons: A person may not wear it often enough to wear it out, they may want to save their finery for special occasions, or they may simply want to save money. Each type has its place, and this is why both are typically available.