Bridge Jewelry vs. Artisan Jewelry
High end fine jewelry has through history been made by highly skilled goldsmiths using precious metals and gems…specifically diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. These designs transcend what is currently in style and are made to be collectables, keepsakes and investments to pass on to future generations through many lifetimes.
At the other end of the spectrum, costume pieces are inexpensively mass produced of less valuable plated base metals, plastic and synthetic stones. They are meant to be trendy and disposable, yet highly fashionable and often imitate fine jewelry. Well know costume jewelry designers of the 20th century include Crown Trifari, Dior, Chanel, Monet, Napier, Corocraft and Coventry. As these designs have aged, they have also become highly collectible.
Two types of jewelry in the middle are well priced, well made and of high quality … bridge jewelry and artisan jewelry. Bridge jewelry is called that because it bridges the gap between low-end costume jewelry and high-end fashion jewelry. It is made of a precious metal, usually sterling silver, gold-fill or vermeil and semi-precious gemstones, Austrian crystals and pearls. It offers an excellent, long-lasting alternative to the pricier fine jewelry. Bridge jewelry is often mass produced by well know manufacturers and found in department stores and boutiques.
While many consider artisan jewelry to be a segment of the bridge jewelry category because of their similar pedigrees, there are some major differences that qualify it for a class of its own. Artisan jewelry is like bridge jewelry in that it is quality made, stylish accessories of precious metals, semi-precious gems and pearls. The difference is that each piece is a handmade one of a kind or limited edition design. Many designers also use glass lampwork beads created by themselves or other artists for a unique look that comes from using exclusive components. The artist will frequently fashion distinctive creations that do not appeal to the masses, but rather speak to a man or woman’s individual sense of style. Artisan jewelry is often found in galleries, craft and art shows as well as online shops and Etsy.
Having explained those categories, there are jewelry items that do not fit into any of those categories. For example, as some high quality gems are getting more difficult to source, designers are combining very clean semi-precious gems such as amethyst with karat gold. Jewelry can be different things to different people… a statement of style or a simple decoration; however you choose to classify it.
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