AskDefine | Define bijouterie

User Contributed Dictionary



bijou + -erie


fr-noun f

Extensive Definition

Costume jewelry (also called fashion jewelry, junk jewelry or fake jewelry) is jewelry that is made of less valuable materials including base metals, glass, plastic, and synthetic stones, in place of more valuable materials such as precious metals and gems. Costume jewelry is usually inexpensive, and often flashy. Its main use is in fashion, as opposed to "real" (fine) jewelry which may be regarded primarily as collectibles, keepsakes, or investments.


Originally, costume or fashion jewelry was made of inexpensive simulated gemstones, such as rhinestones or lucite, set in pewter,silver, nickel or brass. Modern costume jewelry incorporates a wide range of materials. High end crystals, CZs or cubic zirconia simulated diamonds, and some semi-precious stones are used in place of precious stones. Metals include gold- or silver-plated brass, and sometimes vermeil or sterling silver. Lower-priced jewelry may still use gold plating over pewter, nickel or other metals; items made in countries outside the United States may contain lead. Some pieces incorporate plastic, acrylic, leather, or wood.


The term costume jewelry dates back to the early 20th century. It may reflect the use of the word "costume" to refer to what is now called an "outfit"; for example, a "handsome street costume of maroon brown velvet". Thus the jewelry worn with everyday fashion (costumes) grew to be known as "costume jewelry." Another theory is that the term refers to the jewelry worn in theatrical productions.


Coco Chanel greatly popularized the use of faux jewelry in her years as a fashion designer, bringing costume jewelry to life with gold and faux pearls.
Kenneth Jay Lane has since the 1960s been known for creating unique pieces for Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland, and Audrey Hepburn. He is probably best-known for his three-strand faux pearl necklace worn by Barbara Bush to her husband's inaugural ball. Some say that the Duchess of Windsor is buried wearing Lane's jewelled belt.
In many instances, high-end fashion jewelry has achieved a "collectible" status, and increases in value over time. There is a substantial secondary market for vintage fashion jewelry.

See also

bijouterie in German: Modeschmuck
bijouterie in Italian: Bigiotteria
bijouterie in Russian: Бижутерия
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