Costume jewelry is jewelry that is made of materials like base metals, glass, plastic, and synthetic stones. It has no lasting value, and is used as a bauble, a fashion accessory that is to be used and thrown away.
This does not mean that this kind of jewelry has no followers or fans. In fact, costume jewelry is extremely popular among theatre artists who love to flaunt costume jewels and accessories. They find it easy to use, and carry. There is no fear of theft or robbery because the jewelry has no value as such.
The costume jewelry first became popular in 1930s. But it was in the 1950s and 1960s that it became a fashion statement. This was largely because of the Hollywood actresses falling in love with it. Suddenly, costume jewelry was no longer cheap; it was not imitation jewelry that the rich shunned but a very important part of party dress.
The artistes who made their name designing costume jewelry around this time were Pennino Brothers, Coco Chanel and Kenneth Jay Lane. Some of the costume jewel pieces designed by Kenneth Jay Lane were worn by celebrities like Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland, and Audrey Hepburn.
No one cared if the jewelry was made of imitation pearls or plastic beads. They did not mind if the metal used to make the jewelry was ordinary copper or gold plated aluminum. It was the in thing, and it made sense to sport it prominently.
Today, costume jewelry has lost the cult status that it once enjoyed. It is still, however, popular among stage artistes and youngsters who want to flaunt a new piece every second day. The middle class also uses costume jewelry freely, thanks to the improvement in its design and quality. And if one goes by trends we can be sure that costume jewelry is here to stay much longer.