I have been lucky to meet some great ladies through this blog, and one (the lovely GG) brought up a topic which I myself have been thinking about lately, after seeing some gorgeous costume jewelry pieces on a recent window shopping trip through Barney’s. I thought GG’s question was quite interesting and wanted to hear reader’s thoughts on this topic (her question below, paraphrased/edited for length):
Do you think a $2,000 Chanel necklace (from it’s jewelry line) is worth the price for what’s basically fake pearls? The $2,000 price tag is negligible, it could be $5,000, it could be $500, it’s just the fact that you could get something in a similar price range for something that is not made of glass and wire and some pretty enamel/resin. Do you think that that money is better spent on some other jewelry (VCA, Cartier, etc) that’s “real”?
I have long admired Chanel costume jewelry, and have often toyed with the idea of adding one of these pearl necklaces/belts like that one above to my collection. I have mentioned in the past that I don’t particularly have a great “eye” for costume jewelry – I have a few pieces but they were all fairly inexpensive (under $100 or so) and even those don’t get the cost per wear that I would like.
For me personally, I find most designer/upscale costume jewelry to be quite expensive for the product, and that combined with my lack of confidence in selection has meant that I usually stay away from it. On the Chanel question in particular, I have always found Chanel costume jewelry to be particularly beautiful and every season there are a few breathtaking pieces. The prices though always are on the breathtaking side as well, especially since I have quite heard from quite a few friends that many pieces simply do not hold up well over moderate periods of time and use. I remember going to the Madison location with a good friend’s fiancée to shop for bridesmaid’s gifts, and when she picked up a brooch, a stone literally fell off from it. And the sales associate didn’t even bother to look surprised!
So, my personal verdict in light of my budget and second hand experiences are that designer costume jewelry are generally not worth the price…for me. I already have an ever expanding list of “fine” jewelry items that I’d like to add to my collection one day – with the high prices of costume jewelry, adding them to my shopping list would be disastrous for my budget!
Now that I covered the cons to buying luxury costume jewelry – I thought I might cover some of the pros as well. I also know quite a few people who own and collect costume jewelry (like Justin with his amazing collection, here), and who are extremely happy with their purchases. Some of these friends who are delighted with some of their designer costume pieces are the same ones I mentioned earlier, who also own Chanel pieces that have disappointed them. To me, the corresponding advice would be – when purchasing expensive costume jewelry items, test the pieces out! Make sure that the stones are secure, and that the quality is in line with the luxury price being charged.
Also, at the end of the day, just like with costume jewelry, most luxury goods out there aren’t made with particularly rare materials. Hermes bags are made out of leather, not gold dust (well at least not that I get shown). Louis Vuitton shawls are made out of silks, cottons, and cashmeres. Of course they might use a better grade of material and have fantastic craftsmanship – and when you are buying designer costume jewelry, hopefully both will be present!
Finally, while I generally not to purchase expensive costume jewelry at this point in my life, what really matters is how much you personally love an item, and the amount of utility you’ll get from a piece. If you buy a $5,000 Chanel runway piece that you a) wear all the time and/or b) receive enormous happiness from, then to me, you’ve satisfied the most important requirements! The one item that I own that might be considered a designer costume piece would be my Hermes Collier de Chien (CDC) bracelet, which I have received great wear and satisfaction from. To me, this purchase was definitely 100% worth it. And if I find more pieces like this in the future, then perhaps I will be changing my stance on costume jewelry!
All right, now that I’ve prattled on about my debating thoughts on this subject…I’d love to hear yours! How do you feel about expensive, luxury branded costume jewelry? Do you buy it, and why or why not?