At the turn of the 20th century, most jewelry that was not made of precious stones was made to mimic the real thing. In 1920, Coco Chanel did something revolutionary: she started selling jewelry that was intended to match the Chanel clothing line. She pioneered the notion that non-precious jewelry should not replicate real jewels—but that the jewelry should be made to match fashion. This new type of jewelry, called fashion or costume jewelry, created a booming market worldwide. Women clamored to buy fashion jewelry even if they could afford precious gems.
Today, fashion jewelry is usually made from an amalgam of plastics, glasses, lead crystal, and wood. Marketed, branded, and distributed through the right channels, fashion jewelry can cost as much or even more than that made with precious metals or gems. However– just as fine jewelry was given a run for its money with the introduction of fashion jewelry — fine jewelry and costume jewelry are losing large shares of consumers’ discretionary incomes to technology gadgets.
The jewelry industry has recognized this trend and is looking for innovations to recapture the interest of newer generations. For example, design firm Juicy Couture has created fun and whimsical online web presence selling jewelry pieces exclusive to their clothing line. Swarovski has created a new synthetic gem unit called Enlightened with online web competitions for designers to create online designs with virtual gems. Personalization, digitization, design, expression, and creativity are trends in the jewelry industry.