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The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary
Glossary › Fine Jewelry

Glossary: Fine Jewelry

What Is Fine Jewelry? Fine Jewelry vs. Fashion Jewelry

Beautiful, versatile, and valuable, fine jewelry is an intelligent investment that elevates any look. But how does it differ from ordinary fashion jewelry? Here are the key differences between these two very different types of jewelry, along with some tips for choosing a piece you can treasure year after year. 

What Is Considered Fine Jewelry?

Fine jewelry describes any jewelry made of precious metals, such as sterling silver, gold, or platinum. In the fine jewelry category, precious gemstones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires — and other specific types of semi-precious stones — are also often incorporated. 

One way to think about fine jewelry is to imagine special occasions where you might receive jewelry as a gift. For instance, it’s common for people to receive jewelry that includes gold, pearls, diamonds, and other gemstones for proposals, anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestone moments. 

Because fine jewelry is made from higher-quality materials, you can expect it to cost more. Still, this price point is generally justified by superior craftsmanship, material value, and overall durability. With proper storage, maintenance, and care, a piece of fine jewelry can last a lifetime. And if you ever have a broken piece that requires mending, a professional can help you repair it without much trouble.

Fine jewelry is generally appropriate for anyone seeking longevity and value because you can wear the pieces day in and day out. They also bring a sense of elegance and glamor to your look in a way fashion jewelry cannot. 

Fine Jewelry Examples

Fine jewelry is a broad umbrella term to describe an incredible array of pieces. From earrings and rings to bracelets and pendants, various options feature different materials and uniquely intriguing designs. 


Some classic examples include designer ringstennis bracelets, pearl jewelry, gemstone pendantsdiamond stud earrings, signet rings, gold chains, and much more. 

Whatever the case, to be considered fine jewelry, the piece must be made of a high percentage of precious metal and/or include rare or semi-rare gemstones. 

Fine Jewelry Price Range

In many ways, a fine jewelry piece is much like any other retail product. Whether it’s the food we eat or the clothing we wear, prices will vary based on rarity, quality, supply and demand. Fine jewelry tends to be more expensive because it's made from relatively scarce materials that hold greater monetary value. Many also come in artful designs that are hand-sketched and hand-made by master artisans, as you’ll find with John Atencio.

On the most fundamental level, there are specific factors that influence the price of fine jewelry: 

  • Materials (gemstones, diamonds, metal purity, etc.)
  • Labor (design, wax, CAD, setting, engraving, polishing, QC, etc.)
  • Special skills (experience, hand carving, education, time on task, etc.)
  • Overhead (tools, electricity, studio rent, office supplies, marketing, shipping, etc.)

Above all else, supply and demand are the primary factors influencing fine jewelry's price. For example, jewelry made with natural diamonds is typically more expensive than pieces made with lab-grown diamonds, which are in greater supply. At the same time, you can expect to pay more for unique fine jewelry pieces only available from specific jewelry designers

Certain ethical considerations can influence the price of fine jewelry. Because they are harder to procure, eco-friendly, conflict-free gemstones and metals can contribute to higher prices. Whatever the case, fine jewelry can range dramatically in price, with some pieces costing only a few hundred dollars and rarer pieces costing up to seven figures. 

What Metals Are Used in Making Fine Jewelry?

As previously mentioned, fine jewelry is crafted from rare precious metals, such as gold, sterling silver, or platinum. This gives the pieces exceptional durability that far exceeds most fashion jewelry. As a result, you can wear a fine jewelry piece every day without worrying about it breaking down. At the same time, a lot of fine jewelry includes precious and semi-precious gemstones, such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, opals, amethyst, aquamarine, peridot, topaz, and more.

Fine Jewelry History

Humans have worn jewelry made from bones, stone, and shells since prehistoric times. In many ways, this was the very first type of fashion jewelry. Between 3,000 and 400 BC, however, civilizations wore more sophisticated pieces made from gold, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. The ancient Egyptians wore amulets and talismans, while the ancient Greeks and Romans wore elegant rings, pendants, and bracelets to reflect socioeconomic and political status. 

During the medieval period, jewelry continued to grow in popularity, becoming an expression of artistic ability and a focal point of evolving fashion trends. Throughout the Renaissance and the Art Deco Periods, styles changed along with the times. Still, one thing has remained true for thousands of years: fine jewelry is made of rare and valuable materials that give it great value and impressive long-term durability.

What Is the Difference Between Fine Jewelry and Fashion Jewelry?

There are some major noteworthy differences between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. For one, fine jewelry is crafted to be timeless, allowing it to be passed from generation to generation. Fine jewelry pieces are also engraved with the purity of the gold, whether it's 10K, 14K, or 18K. If the jewelry contains gemstones, karat weight and overall quality can also be certified. Fine jewelry can also be recognized by a hallmark stamp on the inside. John Atencio adds an additional “JA stamp” to his pieces, and Signature designs include John’s signature on the inside.

Fashion jewelry can be trendy and stylish, but it generally doesn’t hold much (if any) long-term value. Less expensive materials are generally used in producing fashion jewelry pieces to help keep the price low. The quality of workmanship is also typically much lower, causing the pieces to be less durable and, in most instances, far less impressive. 

Fashion jewelry can also include materials that irritate the skin. These pieces also often include synthetic gemstones made of crystal, glass, or even plastic. Bear in mind that gold-plated jewelry, such as brass coated with gold, is not generally considered to be fine jewelry.

Pros of Fine Jewelry

There are many advantages to owning fine jewelry, including timeless quality and the ability to maintain value over time. Elegant and versatile, fine jewelry is beautifully suited for special occasions, such as weddings, engagements, graduations, galas, cocktail parties, and certain professional engagements. But modern pieces, such as tennis bracelets and diamond pendants, are also versatile enough for relatively casual settings, whether it's a date night or a day of shopping. 

Fine jewelry is also a good investment because it’s made from rare precious metals and gems. You can wear it every day for years without reducing its value and still pass it on to future generations.

With all that said, it’s important to be careful where you purchase fine jewelry to make sure you’re not wasting money on a sophisticated fake. Be sure the piece has a hallmark that specifies metal karats and documentation proving its authenticity. Always deal with a trusted jeweler like John Atencio to ensure your fine jewelry purchase is the real thing.

How to Care for Fine Jewelry

While it is made to last, fine jewelry will remain durable and beautiful much longer if you take good care of it using the following tips:

  • Store your pieces in a clean, dry space.
  • Use mild cleansers such as water-based dish soap.
  • Keep it free of potentially harsh chemicals, including hairspray, lotion, and perfume.
  • Schedule an annual professional cleaning at John Atencio to optimize your jewelry’s luster and check for potential weak spots. 
  • Remove your jewelry when swimming, exercising, and sleeping. 

The most beautiful fine jewelry pieces are uniquely crafted by a true artist with unrivaled creative talent. If you’re searching for distinctive, artfully designed fine jewelry, shop online or visit any nearby John Atencio location, where our knowledgeable experts can help you find a piece to match your style seamlessly.