Can you name the 5 categories of Jewelry?

Posted by Amanda Matthews on

     Let’s imagine you are in a department store, holding two rings with gemstones in your hands. As you inspect the semiprecious design, admiring each one as you twirl them to catch their sparkle in the light, you notice that on one it says FASHION JEWELRY and the other has a tag inscribed FINE JEWELRY. What does this mean? After all, how many categories does jewelry have? What is expected from each category?

     Curiosity gets the best of you. How do you know you are paying the right amount for the product you are receiving? Is the antique brooch worth its value? As you are buying ornamental jewelry, you need to keep in mind the certain types of jewelry. There are many ways to classify this, but here at Treasured Symphony, we classify them into 5 main categories. We will take a quick glance at each one, then talk about what our preference is at Treasured Symphony.


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     The first is a lesser known category, ART JEWELRY. As its name implies, art jewelry’s main objective is expresses art in the form of jewelry. Just like a painter uses a canvas, the goldsmith crafts adornments using precious metals and gemstones. As an artist, this same jeweler will create his design to interpret the deepest parts of his soul. The piece might be minute or extravagant, but it always portrays a feeling, an emotion, or even a story. Look for the reason behind each unique piece of jewelry. The question you need to ask in art jewelry is  “Why?”

       Like a musician, a metalsmith who specialized in art jewelry expresses his soul, but he does this with gold, silver, platinum, pearls, and diamonds to create his masterpiece. Interesting enough, the final product is not necessarily one that can be worn as jewelry, but is made to be admired. Often the crafted pieces are displayed in museums and specialized art galleries, while the customers who do acquire these pieces are usually collectors and curators.

     A wonderful example of art jewelry was published by Emily Settler in Town and Country Magazine, with the Title “Ten Museums to Visit is you Love Jewelry” and has pictures to explain a piece of jewelry at each museum. Well worth the read.  At Treasured Symphony, we do not work with Art Jewelry.


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     The second category is CRAFT JEWELRY. Craft jewelry is still very artistic in nature, but more practical in its purpose. This jewelry can (and should) be worn. Made from the creative minds of local artists, who use a variety of different materials that usually sway from the common metals and stone found in fine jewelry, craft jewelry reaches out of the box and creates the uncommon, the new, the unique, and the innovative.

     Materials are of the most varied: paper, clay, porcelain, wood, and glass. Contrast that to fine jewelry, for example, whose jewelers refer to platinum, palladium, rose gold, sterling silver, titanium, zirconium, stainless steel, and wolfram tungsten carbide. The idea is that this type of jewelry must express a feeling, but must also be marketable, bringing a return profit for the maker.

      Attracting crowds at local art fairs, this jewelry targets events, small shops, or ecommerce sites, like Etsy. Usually craft jewelry is designed by one specific designer, and if successful, a few employees, but not many.

      There has been much debate around what is art and what is craft, extending its margins to encompass not only jewelry, but also pottery, weaving, painting, and sculpture. In essence, art was defined as something that comes from innate passion, not being able to be easily reproduced or replicated. Photography and architecture also fit into the art category. An example would be Mona Lisa, created out of innate passion and deep love.

      Craft, on the other hand, comes from years of manual practice and learned techniques, manufacturing multiple products on a higher scale, yet marinating individuality and expression. The products of craft always have a utilitarian nature, producing items that have a useful purpose in day-to-day life.

    At Treasured Symphony, we do not produce Craft Jewelry. If you’d like to know more about this type of jewelry, an interesting article about the difference between art and craft, not only applied to jewelry, but to other areas, too, Surhbi S wrote an article with the title, “Difference Between Art and Craft.”

 accessories, pearl necklace, fashion, design, ring

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     The next category of Jewelry is FINE JEWELRY. This is what comes to mind when the traditional term “jewelry” is used and you immediately imagine a bride or an engagement ring. The materials (and price) are the main differences in this category; diamonds, gold, pearls and platinum are the main selections made by goldsmiths.

       Customers who purchase this type of jewelry are thinking in long term commitment, and are willing to offer a price that will withstand the test of time. Fine jewelry is usually past from one generation to another, and worn at weddings, funerals, and other formal events. Some high-named designers mix fine jewelry with art jewelry, but merchandising is still the main purpose. Big department stores are often the retailers for this type of customer.


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  This example was taken from a question in the forum and we’ll use it to explain a very important point: let’s say you have a hand-knotted freshwater pearl necklace. If the clasp is 14k gold, then it would be considered fine jewelry. But if this same necklace had a gold-plated brass clip, it would be considered fashion jewelry.

      Here’s another example: a jeweler picks up a genuine turquoise cabochon and makes a ring for it. If he uses 14k gold, it is fine jewelry. But if he uses gold-plated brass, it is fashion jewelry. Price isn’t the only indicator, because some fashion jewelry can be masqueraded into even more pricey items than fine jewelry – it’s all in the marketing. So don’t take price as your only indicator of fine jewelry.

      The fourth category is ACADEMIC JEWELRY. Ironically, there is not necessarily a product to be sold in this category. Anything and everything that involves studies around jewelry comes form this category. Trade schools, universities, workshops, and independent workmanship shops offer education on how to craft jewelry and make a living out of this. This category involves teachers, researchers, and other independent crafters who make their living with lectures, workshops, video classes, tutorials, and classes through private companies.


 wedding ring, bridal jewelry, engagement ring

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 The last category of jewelry is FASHION JEWELRY.  Fashion jewelry speaks to the heart of the moment and follows the seasonal, trendy momentum of modern-day accessories. This is by large the biggest category that there is, therefore, prices must be competitive. These pieces usually do not use precious metals in their designs, but excel in wearability and design. This is a major problem in today’s market of fashion jewelry.

     By using cheaper materials, the quality is hindered, and what you think you might have made an excellent purchase turns out to be a horrendous mistake. There is no point in purchasing a ring you will not be able to wear in three months because it has turned black or the color faded.

      As a consumer, you need to be aware and ask questions about the quality, materials, durability, and life-span of fashion jewelry. Good news: our team at Treasured Symphony has done the hard work for you. We inspect all our jewelry to search for high-quality materials and excellent manufacturing procedures. We look for correct protocol in the crafting stages, and offer on our website only jewelry that we believe in, while still maintaining an accessible price.

    Along with the 5 types of jewelry, it is good to know  a little about the difference in between types of metal used to craft jewelry: white gold, yellow gold, and others. This part was very well explained by Fire & Brilliance in their 5 minute video. 



 Can you find a ring or bracelet like ours for a cheaper price? Maybe you can, but our question is, “Did the company that manufactured it use the same quality materials as ours did?” Probably not. You need to ask, “Did the manufacturers take pride in their products and produce high-quality materials, or did they find a way to use cheaper materials, focusing strictly on profit, and in the long-term, offer you a defective product that will not withstand the test of time?” Again, their answer will come short.

      Here at Treasured Symphony, we have selected high-quality products that distance themselves from the cheaper manufacturers who only encompass profit as their main goal. We value your money, as we know that paying it isn’t easy to pay for a $ 5000 instrument, practice uncountable hours, just to get a $50 gig.  We hear you on so many levels. Our goal is to connect with other musicians and instrumentalist to offer products that will enhance your lifestyle, not offer a quick sale only for you to regret the purchase in the future.

      Now that you know the difference in the five categories, take a look at our collection of jewelry, knowing you are getting the best for your money in fashion jewelry. 😊







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