Costume jewelry first came into existence in the 1930’s as a means of cheap and disposable accessory for common or middle class individuals that wanted some sort of gaudy or trendy ordainment to wear with a specific outfit. Though they were not crafted with the precision and expense as traditional jewelry, they still gained wide acclaim because they were purchased by the masses rather than a select few, as jewelry had been before this time. It was intended to remain fashionable for a short period of time, then, once the trend when out of style as they always do, the jewelry was disposable and new, trendier jewelry could be purchased.
The types of Costume jewelry are rather basic. They come in a variety of different materials and are crafted into whatever the trend of the day demands. The primary materials that are used are glass, base metals such as iron or steel, plastic, and some synthetic or manufactured stones that could be easily molded into a shape. These things were used in the place of precious metals such as gold, silver, and precious stones such as diamonds, rubies and pearls.
Glass can be blown and easily molded into the shape and look that closely resembles a diamond. Only the close observer or jewelry enthusiast could easily tell a difference. Glass can also be dyed and smoked to take the appearance and consistency of any other precious stone that was needed for the current trend. Once plastic because used commonly, it was able to do the same thing for less money. Though plastic jewels often scratched and broke more easily, they were cheaper and intended for short term use, perhaps several weeks, before discarding.
Synthetic stones were also used as a more long term mock or costume jewelry, though; these tend to be more expensive than glass or plastic depending on the make and quality of the jewelry piece. Through these means, the most popular jewelry of the time can easily be mimicked. This allows the fashions and trends of the upper class and celebrities to be available for the masses to enjoy as well instead of just for a small, select group of very rich elite. With the use of these different types of costume jewelry, anyone can look like a king or queen.