Is Costume Jewelry a Waste of Money?

Costume jewelry is fun, inexpensive and can be a vital piece to an outfit. You do not need a bunch of it to look fabulous as most costume jewelry has its own statement. Some may say that it is a waste of money due to its lack of quality and turn around if you try to resell it but what they don’t know is that costume jewelry can be worth a great deal of dough.

Yes, I said it and I am about to blow your mind with the facts about costume jewelry and reselling it. You can make some mad money reselling it (that is IF you don’t love it enough to part with it).

Bottom line is, if you think costume jewelry is a waste of money, you are doing it wrong. Let me explain.

Exactly What Costume Jewelry Is

There’s been some controversy between costume jewelry and fashion jewelry so let’s clear that up first.

Costume Jewelry – was created for one purpose, to replace expensive high-end jewelry with a more affordable option. Costume jewelry is typically made from a variety of metals or even plastics and coated in a thin layer of silver or gold. Thus making it inexpensive and easy to build what looks like a very costly collection.

Fashion Jewelrytypically follows trends and keeps up with current styles, a more modern trend of jewelry we might say. While still on the inexpensive end of the jewelry pricing spectrum, fashion jewelry is more expensive than costume because it is typically made with real silver (.925) and is crafted with a bit more quality in mind.

Costume jewelry allows you to be more flexible in your accessorizing, it leaves you with less anxiety and fear over losing or damaging a family heirloom or an expensive sentimental piece. Trust me when I say there is not much more heartbreaking than realizing you have broken or lost a valuable piece of jewelry.

The driver for most consumers to buy costume jewelry or fashion jewelry is the price point, it looks like it costs hundreds of dollars but was really only about ten maybe twenty bucks. So you look like you’re rolling with the high class, but you are not.

How to Gauge Authenticity

The very first thing you need to know about how costume jewelry can be valuable or not is it is dependent on if it is vintage and authentic. If a piece is new or not authentic then chances are it is NOT worth anything really. However, if it is vintage or even antique (real money value here) then it definitely could be worth a good chunk of change.

How do you know if your precious piece is valuable other than sentimental? Well, you have to get it appraised if you want the REAL value but first, you’ll want to do a little research so you don’t look like a goof or get your hopes up going in.

First, the definitions between vintage and antique, just because they are old does not mean they are equal:

Vintage jewelry must be at a minimum of twenty years old. Of course, older is better.

Antique Jewelry must be at least one hundred years old, the older the more valuable.

A Stunning Antique Necklace

Next, you will need to figure out where the jewelry came from. If it came from a flea market, antique shop or estate sale chances are you have yourself an antique piece of jewelry. On the flip side if you got it at a big box retailer then it is probably just your basic costume jewelry, while probably very pretty, it is not going to be worth much.

Once you’ve plundered on how the piece was acquired, if you were able to figure it out, you will need to review the look of it. Does it have a retro, art-deco or mid-20th century look and feel to it, maybe looks like something that Jackie from That 70s Show would wear (if you are not sure what these mean Google it), all of these are considered vintage styles of jewelry.

What to Look For

So if you have made it this far you are doing well, but you’re not in the clear to some dough just yet. Next, you need to examine your jewelry. When you examine it you will look very closely at the craftsmanship, materials, cut of gems (some are very specific for these eras), check the clasps, the type of clasps, look for anything that the designer may have left (like a trademark or logo, maybe just a signature) and lastly try to find some paperwork.

If a piece of costume jewelry is vintage then it was not mass-produced, it will have signs of being handmade. Though some manufactured costume jewelry is still worth some money, it isn’t as much as handmade. Another thing to keep in mind is to not only inspect the top of the piece but to fully inspect it inside, around and out.

Do not hesitate to be thorough with your inspecting, you want to as invasive as possible without damaging the piece. The more thorough you are now, the more confidence you will have going into it when/if you go to resell it.


Look for marks for silver and gold made items, if it is legit it will have a stamp of sorts telling you the grade or carat value or “hallmarks”. Depending on the material you could end up with thousands of dollars or just hundreds, gold, silver, platinum and anything with a ruby or an emerald and other stones are worth a whole lot more than rhinestones.

Some popular hallmarks to look out for are:

14k shows its real white gold
  • For gold lookout for 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585, 375
  • For platinum look for 950, PLATINUM, PLAT
  • for silver look for 925, Silver, 800, Sterling, TK316
TK316 is a hallmark for stainless steel

Having any other hallmark is not a bad thing by any means, you WANT to see one if it’s there chances are you’ve struck gold, or silver or whatever.

Gem Cut

Now, the cut of the gem is probably the most difficult to gauge and you might want to leave this to the professionals. If you want to give it a go then you will want to look for cuts that were specific to the era you think your piece is from. Old mine cut and European cuts are no longer produced.

The old European cut is basically the antique version of the modern round brilliant cut, which is the most popular cut of diamond today.

The old mine cut, however, is a bit more extensive in design. Being the oldest recognized cut type known in today’s modern world, it is one of the most detailed cuts around. Though it was most popular in the early 18th century, the cut had been around for a bit before then.

The name comes from how it came to light. Africa was not the diamond mining platform we know it as today until after Brazil and India had already discovered diamonds. But, once Africa realized they did, in fact, have some really large scale diamond deposits they took the world by storm and took over the diamond-producing industry.

Since the diamonds that were recognized to be from before the new era were said to be originated in the old mines, therefore gaining the name “old miners cut”. While where the diamond came from is pretty important, it is not as important nor makes it as valuable as how old it is. The older the cut of the gem the more valuable it is!

The reason this cut is worth more than any other cut is due to the fact that most diamonds and gems cut in the last 20 years or so have mostly been laser cut, a machine that cut diamond like butter, the old miners cut, however, was 100% cut by hand. Can you imagine the labor of love that would be? I mean, diamonds are the strongest gems out there. The benefit of this, each and every one is unique, none are the same.

Here is an example of an old miners cut


Next, we want to look at the clasps. There is a wide array of clasps out there but only certain ones were used in this era of jewelry making. The clasps are the fasteners in the jewelry world, they hold together two ends so that you can wrap it around your neck or wrist to wear it instead of trying to squeeze it over your head and hand.

Some of the clasps to be on the lookout for are, wide vintage box clasps, common spring clasps, sport ring clasps, foldover clasps, Monet patented sister clasp, Patented 1940s snap clasp, wide pin, unique hook, fish hook (not the earring), threaded posts (earrings), vintage screwback earring, and the Monet patented 1960s clip earring.


Lastly, you want to check the weight. This is possibly the easiest to determine. Real metals like gold and silver are quite heavy, so the heavier your precious piece is the more valuable it could be.

For metals like silver, gold, and platinum they will be easy to gauge weight, if it has weight to it then it is probably real. However, if it looks like gold and feels like gold but does not carry weight then it is probably plated in gold or silver and will not be worth much outside of the original price.

If you want to purchase a scale for your jewelry reselling or even just getting an idea of if it’s worth money or not, I recommend this Digital Pocket Scale from Amazon.

Vintage jewelry has been making a come back off and on for years, so there has been a ton of mass-produced vintage-looking jewelry made in the recent years, so you have to be cautious and really feel for the difference.


The prong setting can say a lot about a piece of jewelry, but the prong setting on a vintage or antique item says so much more. A piece of jewelry that has stones that look glued in the setting is not as valuable (if at all) as one that has well-crafted prongs holding the gem or stone in place.

Recapping earlier, antique and vintage jewelry SHOULD appear to be handmade, with fine details and craftsmanship.

Where to Buy Costume Jewelry

Where you can buy these beautifully crafted pieces is tough due to the vast amount of fraudulent sellers. So before I let you in on where I think it is best to purchase valuable costume antique or vintage jewelry I want to give you a warning. Always research the value you think it is worth.

If you are looking at an expensive piece please do some digging, there are so many methods of searching for stuff these days it is easy and can probably be done in 5ish minutes. So my advice is, spend the 5ish minutes to save yourself what could be thousands of dollars in the long run.

So where can you get the good stuff? Well, my friends, in all honesty, the BEST places to find valuable costume jewelry are…estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets. Yes, you have a better shot at finding the most valuable pieces in a place that someone else doesn’t want it.

Estate sales are the best for antique anything, elderly hold on to their stuff because THEY know it is valuable. However, when the family takes it over after their passing, they think its just junk and do not realize what they are selling or even giving away!

The same thing goes with flea markets and garage sales. I know you have heard the old saying “one’s trash is another’s treasure” right? Well, that definitely applies here. Most people are either not interested in the items or are too lazy to put in a little work to find out what was left behind so they sell it in order to make a little money when they could make a whole lotta money.


craft fair shopper

There might be a time that you will want or need to resell your precious pieces, and when that time comes you should be ready to sell with confidence and know that you are getting the real value of your pieces worth. There may also be some out there that just want to buy it to turn it over for some real cash, I have a few friends that do this with clothing!

To be an effective reseller you have to have confidence, otherwise, the buyer will smell the lack of it and take your items for way less than they are worth. So to be confident you want to do the research, get your valuables appraised and have the paperwork to prove it. No one can argue with paperwork from a licensed appraiser.

Personally, I absolutely love going to yard sales and thrift shops. You can find some really awesome treasures and sometimes even name brand or high-end stuff that you can turn around and resell for significantly more than you originally paid.

You can resell your valuables at local or online auctions, antique dealers or even some wholesalers. There are other methods such as going through a trade magazine or antique catalog that can connect buyers and sellers.

Tips and Tricks of Buying

  • If it feels fake, it’s fake. In other words, ask to hold the item so that you can gauge its weight.
  • If it looks new, it’s not antique or vintage, if it looks old AND has a hallmark, it is most likely antique or vintage. If it looks old but doesn’t have a hallmark it COULD be antique or vintage.
  • Google your items BEFORE you purchase it
  • Get it appraised, as soon as you realize it could be worth anything. Getting your piece appraised allows you to cover it under insurance and will make reselling significantly easier.
  • Do not try to sell to a pawn shop, they will seriously low ball you and take pride in doing so. which is seriously uncool.

I would stray away from purchasing your vintage or antique jewelry from eBay unless you are really good at researching a seller and the paperwork is there to support the goods.

Final Answer

Simply put, no, costume jewelry is not a waste of money, no matter which way you look at it. Whether you have costume jewelry, vintage or antique jewelry it is bound to be something valuable, either to you or someone else.

Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” to see!


Hi! I’m Cierra and I’m a craftaholic! I’ve been crafting for a few years now and it’s honestly become my zen. I love crafting, fitness, spending time with my family and friends doing whatever the day allows, peacocks (hence the logo), the beach and adrenaline - give me all the roller coasters and fast cars!

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