Costume jewelry is often created with non-precious metals, usually gold or silver plated, and with or without beads and stones. Costume jewelry has been extremely popular around the world for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians are known to have worn decorative beaded necklaces and Cleopatra is probably one of the original wearers of what we now call costume jewelry. In more recent times the people of the Germanic and Slovak regions became highly skilled at developing intricate patterns in glass beads. However, beadwork used in costume jewelry is not only limited to glass.
A large variety of materials are traditionally used to make beads such as jet, wood, amber, gemstones, pottery, ceramic, metals, horn, coral, ivory, tortoiseshell and pearls. Some modern materials such as plastics, nylon and even polycarbonate variants are also used to make beads. Costume jewelry can be antique, period, or contemporary and there are many collectors of every style of costume jewelry. Venetian glass pieces of costume jewelry are particularly collectable as well as being extremely popular for people to wear.
Cleaning costume jewelry is extremely simple but needs to be done on a regular basis to prevent tarnishing. Simply use a mild detergent mixed in water to keep your costume jewelry in good condition. It is important not to soak the jewelry and to make sure that you dry it thoroughly before storing it. You can buy anti-tarnish paper for wrapping your costume jewelry in before you put it away for long periods of time but regular cleaning is the best defense against tarnishing. The tarnishing of costume jewelry is typically caused by the metal reacting with the atmosphere and oxidizing.
Unfortunately, there are a large number of people who are unable to wear costume jewelry next to their skin. This is because of their sensitivity to the metals used. It is important to make sure that anyone that you are buying the jewelry for is not allergic to nickel or copper, especially with pierced earrings. Costume jewelry may look beautiful and, especially in the case of contemporary pieces, be reasonably priced but it is not suitable for everyone to wear. For many people a piece of costume jewelry may be the first jewelry that they have worn and it is important to look out for signs of a reaction, especially after extended periods of wear. Often people will not show a reaction if they wear the jewelry for a short amount of time and this can be an ideal way to avoid any possible discomfort. You can also buy a special coating that you apply to the back of the costume jewelry to protect the skin from having direct contact with the metal.