Nowadays only a few people can appreciate genuine jewels and precious stones. The first designer who started propagating costume jewellery was Coco Chanel, whose famous pearl necklaces were fakes. With this trend women could instantly afford to wear pearls that are normally expensive for their rarity. Our age is overloaded with costume jewellery, one can buy sparkly tiaras, pearl necklaces, golden rings and much more without spending a whole fortune on this treat. Jewellery is really democratized now. A little detail such as an interesting pendant or string of fake pearls can instantly turn a not-so-interesting outfit into something more good looking.
This fall of the price of jewellery unfortunately lead to the present situation when we don´t appreciate the real thing. The real thing is nice, but why pay more than usual. One can afford various designs, colours, sizes and pay just a fraction of the price of the real thing. The real jewels can be a good investment and the wearer can feel special, maybe also a bit more insecure than usual, but one usually could not afford to have plenty of them. On the other hand, I doubt that the piles of costume jewellery will be inherited for generations. Some of them are a poor quality that won´t survive a few years (sometimes only days!) of intensive wearing. Many of the metals cannot handle the contact with human salty sweat and become black and leave green marks on one´s skin. (I have a little tip on this though: before wearing something that will probably leave green marks on your skin, paint it with a transparent nail polish first!)
There is also one pro of the real jewels. Every gem or semi-precious stone is an original, there are not two with the same structure, be it a flaw or something else, some may even have some dead insect captured in it (this is typical for amber). Jewellery is usually not mass produced (but it depends on the price and brand, of course), so when buying a piece, it will be more original than buying a piece of costume jewellery in a regular clothing chain that has hundreds of shops round the world and all the pieces are mass made by exploited poor people working in horrible conditions of sweat shops located somewhere in Asia.
Considering the morality of buying something from sweat shops, jewellery is not coming from this clean either, unfortunately. One would think that the expensive things would have a better background, right? But have you ever thought about the source of gold, diamonds or pearls, from which countries do they come from? Who are the people mining it? How do they live and what is their wages? And aren´t you accidentally financing a civil war when buying a diamond ring? (Remember the Naomi Campbell scandal with blood diamonds?)
There should be more of similar organizations, but it is very hard to convince the firms and the international community to do something, especially when it means that their money could be taken from them. This can be seen on the mentioned sweat shops. We know that it is wrong, but our Western firms are making money (and we, the customers, are usually saving money) on this loophole. Firms would never be able to open a sweat shop in Europe or the USA, but because of the benevolent legislative it is possible to do it in Asia.
So, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a pile of costume jewellery or are you saving up your money for something more precious (pearl earrings? ;) and permanent? How do you feel about sweat shops and have you ever heard of mentioned De Beers Diamonds or something similar? Let me know in the comments!