Then there’s ‘costume’: it’s flamboyant, it’s fantastical, but it uses clever alternatives to its precious counterparts (glass, crystal, brass, etc). And finally, ‘fashion’: the quick-fix jewellery on the high street.
Only now, there’s a new kid in town, and it’s one to take seriously – but not too seriously.Enter ‘demi-fine’, an emerging jewellery category that hits that sweet spot between fine and costume. How? Well, it all boils down to the price of gold. Gold is expensive, and 18ct gold – the preferred mix of pure gold and other metals used in all fine and high jewellery – is more so than lower carat weights (usually 14ct, 10ct, or 9ct). So when a jeweller uses one of the latter golds in a piece, it’s going to be less expensive for them to produce, and less expensive for us to buy.
But – and this is the important bit – demi-fine jewellery still has intrinsic value, incorporating precious and semi-precious gems alike, or simply by virtue of being made from a precious metal, not just coated in it (unlike vermeil or gold-plated pieces).
‘While I love the warmth of 18ct gold, 14ct gold is my favourite to design with,’ says Wing Yau, the designer behind New York demi-jewellery brand WWAKE. ‘It’s subtle, yet still holds true to the luxury of fine jewellery. Our customers are drawn to what we consider “understated statements”: little bits of luxury that can be worn every day, and then passed down for generations. Subtle design is key to making the jewellery feel personal, rather than ostentatious – these women are buying the jewellery to reward themselves, after all, not to impress anyone else.