For thousands of years costume jewelry has been very popular around the world. It is widely believed that the Egyptian Cleopatra was one of the original wearers of what we in modern times call costume jewelry.
Designing intricate patterns in glass beads in more recent times is a skill that was highly developed by the people of Germanic and Slovak regions.
Beadwork in costume jewelry is not limited to only glass. It is also often created with non-precious metals with or without stones or beads. This metal is silver or gold-plated to give it the fine jewelry look.
A very large variety of other materials are used. You can find costume jewelry that is entirely made of or has some components made from pottery, ceramic, horn, coral, ivory, tortoiseshell, pearls and the list goes on.
In more modern pieces you will find plastics, nylon, and polycarbonate variants used to make beads and stones.
Whether you like to collect antique, period, or contemporary costume jewelry cleaning your pieces regularly is important to protect your collection. Cleaning is a simple process and will prevent your costume jewelry pieces from tarnishing.
When cleaning your jewelry items you can use a mild detergent mixed in water. It is very important not to ever submerge or soak your jewelry. This is especially important with rhinestone jewelry. Some rhinestones have a foil back to make the glitter more. If moisture gets back there it can turn your rhinestones dark ruining the piece.
Personally, I prefer to use alcohol and cotton swabs to clean the pieces. Using cotton swabs that are not too wet simply go over the jewelry piece lightly. Alcohol dries quickly and the less exposure to moisture the better.
When storing your jewelry for a long period you can buy anti tarnish paper to wrap the pieces in. This will help protect your collection and thus your investment, but regular cleaning should still be practiced.
Since costume jewelry uses non-precious metals some people cannot wear it due to adverse reactions to their skin. People who are allergic to nickel or copper should generally avoid wearing this type of jewelry.
If you have never worn costume jewelry keep an eye out for allergic reactions and discomfort. Sometimes these reactions only appear when a piece of jewelry is worn for a long period. There is a special coating that you can buy and apply it to the piece that will protect your skin and prevent it from having direct contact with the metals.