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Getting Into Costume By Lauren Steventon

Costume jewellery designers who inspire, transform and enhance the way we wear jewellery….

Costume jewellery

Butler & Wilson

Camp, gothic, girly or bling, Butler & Wilson do it all. Famous for retro-styling and statement pieces, the latest collection includes some Alexander McQueen-esqe skulls sparkling with Swarovski crystals.

www.butlerandwilson.co.uk

Kenneth Jay Lane

The king of Costume Jewellery, Kenneth Jay Lane’s pieces have been worn by style-makers such as Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, and sell in high fashion outlets like Net-a-Porter. Always beautiful, colourful and sparkly, the pieces are real show-stoppers.

www.net-a-porter.com

Joan Rivers

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?! As well as being a world-famous comedienne, Joan Rivers is a jewellery designer, using long-forgotten techniques such as hand enameling and plique au jour to create lovely costume pieces with a vintage edge.

www.joanrivers.com

Nolan Miller

You’ll have seen Nolan Miller’s pieces without even realizing it. He worked on the glitziest and glam-est soap of them all: Dynasty. His popularity spans generations, and his famous fans include first ladies and film giants.

www.qvc.com

Real Vs Fake: The Costume Jewellery Debate By Lauren Steventon

Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? Or could costume jewellery actually be her closest companion?

Costumejewellery debate

Long before Lorelei Lee sang those immortal words in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, diamonds – indeed all precious stones – had exerted their sway over feminine fashion.

In the past few centuries in the West, gems have dominated the jewellery market, as a symbol of social status, wealth and family history. Cheaper jewellery made from glass or semi-precious metals, and “folk” or “tribal” jewellery had their fans, but they were by no means a fashion trend. However, in the 1930s, things started to change.

The war and economic turmoil affected a social structure that was breaking down and everyone wanted some sparkle in their life. Costume Jewellery made statement pieces more affordable – and more wearable for those who had the real thing, but wanted something that worked with a party outfit or fitted a fashion trend. Costume, or Fashion, Jewellery was born.

It wasn’t just middle and working-class women who loved the new pieces. Rhinestones, cubic zirconium, faux gold and less-precious metals were finding fans everywhere. Costume Jewellery is more fashion-led than “real” jewellery, designed to be purchased to match an outfit or a trend.

Because of this transient nature, Costume Jewellery was able to be more daring and more exciting. It appealed to fashion-forward women, such as Coco Chanel, who popularized the use of faux pearls and gold in her designs. Fans of costume included Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor or Jacqueline Onassis. Today, statement pieces by costume jewellers such as Kenneth Jay Lane are stocked in designer temples such as Barney’s New York or Net-A-Porter, while more and more fashion-forward folk turn to Costume Jewellery as a way of expressing themselves through fabulous pieces (Swarovski skull necklaces at Butler And Wilson, anyone?). Paste has definite pulling power.

“I don’t mean rhinestones!” sings Lorilee, “but diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Don’t speak to soon, Miss Lee, you might be missing out on a real gem!