traveling and meeting other cultures: ideas, destinations, reviews and tips
Costume and Fashion Jewelry
Throughout ages from ancient civilizations to modern times the gold has been preferred metal for making jewelry. Same can be said about gems - for example, in ancient Greece pearls, emeralds, amethysts and other gems were widely used for this purpose. But this does not make costume or fashion jewelry a second class citizen: colored stones, glass and enamel were used to create earrings, brooches, necklaces, and headpieces the same way as gold and gems. In fact, if we put aside the issue of costs of materials, various decorations and ornaments as clothing accessories had long ago become widespread both with aristocracy and commoners.
Look at this portrait (dated circa 1545) by unknown English artist depicting Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII of England and in particular her necklace. This very rich woman (even before she married the king) could certainly afford very expensive gems, but if you look at the design, you may notice that the necklace is an integral part of her outfit selected with great care and taste to wear with her dress. If you ignore the latest fashion trends, it would be easy to imagine something like this on a display of a jewelry section of the 21st century department store.
Nowadays, costume jewelry has a permanent place in fashion industry. It seems like it is the design and function (rather than the cost) that distinguish costume jewelry from any "estate" type of jewels. The function, of course, serves to enhance the garments and appearance by coordinating the jewelry design with clothing.
If the jewelry has been created with less expensive materials than diamonds and gold, it's certainly more affordable. However, the effort put into the design process as well as cost of materials even if it's not as high as the cost of precious metals and gems can still add up significantly. The size and type of jewelry affects the price as well - you will discover that prices for fashion jewelry can vary from hundreds of dollars to several thousands. But you will also discover that the designers' imagination and creativity can make your outfit look much better and attract attention to the best of what your body and dress already have.
One thing you will also notice is that costume jewelry follows the trends in fashion. Perhaps that explains why it's often called the fashion jewelry. Good news is that since it's usually more affordable, it costs less to follow the whims of vogue. Relatively low costs of materials and their variety in colors, textures and shapes present unlimited possibilities in creating real masterpieces where only the imagination and the sense of beauty is the limit.
There are many talented fashion jewelry designers offering all types of beautiful bijou to select from. We want to introduce one of them, Amy Kahn Russell, a brilliant designer with her works featured in in a number of fashion magazines. Her signature is on many stunning hand-made pieces - just search the Web or visit her site to see some of her creations.
The gorgeous necklace featured on this page is just one of many examples of her work, and it illustrates a number of elements sometimes found in Amy Kahn Russell's designs. One of them is the combination of natural materials used to create a piece - in this necklace you will find amazonite (pendant with a butterfly and a leaf), titanium druzy (central blue agate crystal with tiny quartz crystals inside - the color is produced by a special permanent titanium coating), celestial crystals and blue opals (used as beads to form the necklace itself). Sterling silver is used for a lock and other elements that help hold the piece together.
But just look at the selection of colors and variations of forms that complement each other and create an image of harmony and grace. It's remarkably feminine and, placed around the neck, accentuates the curves and natural beauty of the female body. The necklace does not have precious stones, but it is so intensely rich in its unique look that it almost guarantees turning heads to this alluring creation and its wearer.
At the same time the necklace is very practical. It retails for about $550, and the butterfly and leaf pendant are also a detachable brooch that can be worn separately. But from the practical standpoint perhaps the most important thing is that it matches many different colors and styles of garments. For example, it goes very well with more formal colors like white and black. But it also matches yellow, various reds, blues and greens. Same way, you can wear it with a v-neck t-shirt when you start your day, or a nice blouse and cocktail dress later in the day. Perhaps it will not be very appropriate for the formal diplomatic reception, but this necklace will certainly complement your romantic evening somewhere on French Riviera or Caribbean Islands.