What is Fine Jewelry definition ?

What is Fine Jewelry definition ?

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Decorating yourself with jewelry is a way to add a touch of elegance and originality to your look. The first jewels are accessible for few dollars while the most exceptional ones are sold for more than 1 million dollars.

Maisons such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co or Van Cleef & Arpels are internationally known. This sector of the luxury industry fascinates but remains misunderstood by a large majority of people.

In this article, we will discover :

  • History of Fine Jewelry
  • Characteristics of Fine Jewelry
  • Other Jewelry Type

We wish you a pleasant reading!

History of Fine jewelry

Origin of the Jewelry

Paris has been the fashion capital since the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The golden age of French jewelry began in the seventeenth century and influenced the world. But why do we speak of "golden age"?

The first reason is economic. The development of trade, particularly towards India, makes the acquisition of gems more accessible.

The second is technical. New techniques for cutting gemstones are appearing and shaking up the world of goldsmithing. Metalworking and the art of assembling gemstones were gradually dissociated to become two separate professions.

The third reason is cultural. At the beginning of the 17th century, King Henry IV created the “Jardin des Plantes” in Paris. The growing interest in botany is at the origin of new decorative themes: flowers and foliage. These decorations inspire creators and contribute to the development of this sector. It’s also true for important places of culture such as the “Louvre”, the “Place Vendôme” or the “Château de Versailles”.

Fine Jewelry in the 17th century

In contrast to previous eras, gemstones are becoming more and more important in jewelry to the detriment of working with precious metals, gold and silver, and other techniques such as enamel for example. Until the Renaissance, stones were mainly cut in cabochon and polished. They are now cut faceted.

In 1640, lapidaries developed a 32 facet cut for diamonds, called the "Mazarin" cut. (The name refers to the patronage of the future cardinal and minister of Louis XIII, Jules Mazarin, a great lover of works of art). Diamonds became one of the most fashionable materials in the 17th century along with precious stones, coral and pearl.

Its success was such that, few decades later, thanks to new research, Paris also became the most important center for the manufacture of fake diamonds, fake precious stones and fake pearls. Georges-Frédéric Strass (1700-1773) even invented an imitation diamond, the strass.

Fine Jewelry in the 18th century

If the 17th century saw the birth of French jewelry, especially with the increasingly widespread use of diamonds, the 18th century is that of precious stones. The "rococo" or "rocaille" style is imposed. The taste for polychromy, which had somewhat disappeared previously with the use of diamonds, resurfaced thanks to the use of precious stones: ruby, sapphire, emerald and fine pearls: turquoise, amethyst, opal. At the end of the century, diamond cutting was improved by multiplying the number of facets.

The jeweler's art blossomed completely at this time and focused primarily on creating increasingly invisible frames to enhance the value of the stones. The plant motifs, especially floral, are only a pretext to realize with virtuosity learned compositions of stones.

Modern Fine Jewelry

The XIXth and XXth centuries will perpetuate with happiness the tradition of the French jewelry. This segment was to move closer to the watchmaking segment with the appearance, after World War II, of the first watches with precious stones. Increasingly, the initial function of the watch was abandoned in favor of its aesthetic appeal. An increasing proportion of watch wearers are watching the time on their cell phones.

The characteristics of Fine Jewelry

High Jewelry Definition

> You may ask what is the difference between fine jewelry and high jewelry ?

The answer is none. Both represents the art of creating exceptional jewels. Jewelers use all types of materials to create jewelry that will be distributed in jewelry stores around the world. A piece of jewelry is rare and can be transmitted from generation to generation. Its quality is certified by iconic brand name as Maison Cartier's one.

> You may ask what does fine jewelry really mean ?

Fine Jewelry in 3 notions

The jeweler is a craftsman-artist

He is a craftsman who spends hours, weeks, even months shaping a piece of fine jewelry. The manufacture of jewelry in high jewelry is done exclusively by hand. He is an artist who adorns each structure with the gemstones of his choice.

Unique jewelry

Except in very exceptional cases, it will not reproduce a model, each jewel is a unique piece. If a piece is reproduced, the artisan jeweler will not use the old mold but will start from scratch. He does not skimp on details. Moreover, he currently has many materials that help him to make unique pieces. We will detail this part in the rest of the article.

Expensive jewelry

> You may ask is fine jewelry worth ?

The answer is yes. But talking about prices in high jewelry is a delicate thing. Most Maison do not wish to communicate them for the sake of their customers. In reality there is no real price limit. But in high jewelry everything is relative, a 200,000 euro cuff is "cheap" compared to a 1.5 million euro necklace.

Prices vary according to the rarity of the stones used, the uniqueness of the piece and the metals that make it up. Platinum being the most expensive metal, followed by white gold, and finally yellow and pink gold which are about the same price.

The clients of Haute Joaillerie are members of the government, cultural celebrities or very wealthy businessmen. Price is rarely an issue. They are looking for exceptional jewelry. 

Exceptional jewelry

Indeed, it is not really the value of the piece that makes it a piece of jewelry. It is rather its rarity and the know-how necessary to its realization which will make it a piece of fine jewelry.

The techniques of jewelry making

When an artisan jeweler creates a piece, he first draws the piece on a scale of 1:1. Then, he goes to his workshop where he uses molding. Each casting will be used to make only one piece. If there is a desire to reproduce this piece later, the craftsman will start the process all over again.

In the process of making a piece of jewelry, the artisan also deforms, folds, files and saws each piece of precious metal. For the assembly of the pieces, he may use laser for a more precise but above all quality finish. He will then use precious stones, gemstones or pearls to set the piece. It is important to know that the creation of a piece of jewelry can be based on a precious stone.

> Now that you understand what is fine jewelry, you may ask what is costume jewelry ?

Other Jewelry Type

Custome Jewelry Definition

Costume jewelry are made with base metals that are not expensive. That's why people also use the name fashion metal jewelry to design it. It can be simple metal or brass and copper. The latter are less durable and deteriorate over time. They can also contain pastic stones.

Their manufacturer uses the economy of scale made possible by the production of these jewels in large quantities. The manufacturing method is not necessarily ethical depending on the country in which it is made.

> You may ask what is the difference between fashion and fine jewelry ?

There are 4 main differences :

  • Industrial production VS artisanal production
  • Common materials VS rare material
  • Infinity number of products VS extreme rarety
  • Unbranded VS legendary brand name

Demi fine jewelry definition

In recent years, an intermediate category has emerged between fashion jewelry and fine jewelry. This is the semi-fine jewelry. It corresponds to jewelry made with metals and precious stones that are cheaper than those used in semi-fine jewelry. For example, morganite or opals are much more affordable than diamonds or sapphires. Chemically transformed stones also allow to create jewelry apartment to the semi-fine jewelry category.

> You may ask is sterling silver fine jewelry ?

The answer is mostly no. Generally, we can't consider jewelry made of silver as fine jewelry. Indeed, sterling silver is not an expansive material. It may be fashion jewelry or semi-fine jewelry. However, this latter category is mostly used by jewelers to better categorize their jewelry. However, it is not really recognized by experts who still equate it with fashion jewelry. 


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