Costume jewels: vintage and vint-ish

We all have those family heirlooms that we love and cherish. You know, the ones that don’t really see the light of day or leave the protective cocoon that is your jewelry box. I’m talking the real expensive stuff; the old gold with the stones inset in such a way that would never strike you as being new and modern, rather, an old treasure with some significant personal meaning attached to the piece.

For me, my heirlooms don’t leave my left wrist, and consist of three 18k gold bangles that probably date back to Morocco in the 30’s. Others have their grandmothers’ jewelry that they seldom wear for a variation of reasons; my guess being the fact that they would be scared to lose these important pieces, or find these settings extremely outdated. The jewelry market, alternatively, thrives on the inspiration that throwback pieces can give to modern and less authentic trinkets.

The style of true vintage jewelry can be copied, but there are some key indicators as to whether a piece is authentic or not when it comes to comparing the details of old jewelry to modern counterparts. I find real vintage jewelry tends to focus on the details, such as the way stones are set in intricate metal detailing, while more modern jewelry is more angular, with straighter lines and brighter metal finish.

Today I went on a walk through the Glebe after spending the day downtown, and found an antique shop with endless amounts of costume and genuine jewelry.

I found these two pairs of earrings at $10 a pair, meaning they are purely costume jewelry, however, vintage nonetheless. These earrings are clip-on, lightweight, and put the maximum emphasis on the stones. The amber-colored pair, however, looks more antique than the green pair because of the ‘gold’ detailing around the border of the stones. The thin prongs holding the stone in place, in addition to the weaving metal on the earrings’ contour gives off a more antique vibe than the rounder green pair. Both pairs, however, would be eye-catching with a simple outfit and a ponytail to expose the ears.

I also found this beaded necklace which interlocks both clear-grey and black strands for a modern, yet still vintage look depending on the outfit paired with it.


Left: an older piece of costume jewelry owned by my grandmother. The pearly paint is coming off the beads used, but the setting stays true to a vintage-looking choker. The antique jewels are separate pieces, whereas new pieces would probably have the clear rhinestones and the pink stones on the same backing (we’ve gotten so lazy).

Right: a piece from Forever 21, which is antique-inspired due to the cameo-esque detail in the middle, but the material is newer, shinier, and the inset rhinestones look new. Chunky chains are also not very vintage-looking, even if gold tone is more rustic-looking.
Although the pieces below may look like they’re vintage, they each have specific traits that can distinguish that they are not. These pieces, however, are amazing alternatives to buying expensive vintage jewelry because they capture the essential look while keeping the price low.
Left: Cameo ring with vintage-looking detail, from Forever 21.
Middle: Black on gold vintage-looking ring with hammered gold tone detail, from asos. Right: Super vintage inspired cocktail ring with intricately detailed prongs and jewel setting, from Juicy Couture.
An heirloom from my great grandmother. Gold bracelet with antique gold detail, opal and pearl stones, and rubies.
True vintage artistry!

So what ever your price point may be, there is costume jewelry out there that can help you achieve a classic look while keeping your pocket full. Just be choosy and try to spot the stuff that is so obviously wannabe-vintage. Cuz that swag ain’t classy.

Keep your eyes on the details,


About ChelseaSwag

I have recently completed my Criminology degree with a concentration in law and a minor in psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa. The past three years that I have spent away from my home in Montreal have only reconfirmed my ever-longing desire to become involved in the fashion industry in some way. Although there are a lot of fashion blogs out there, I have to first say that my own style will really resonate with the girls who are always looking to stand out- more so on a student budget. Different relatives and family members involved in the fashion industry have surrounded and shaped my love for fashion throughout my lifetime, however, none are quite so edgy as myself. I hope to enlighten the ladies that are looking to add a little extra oomph to their appearance, while also reflecting their own personal taste. But remember, swag is not only what you wear- it's a lifestyle. CP
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