In the jewelry world, the term diamante refers to glittering stones that mimic diamonds. These gems are usually made from glass or crystal.
The word diamante is also used to describe sequin or rhinestone embellishments added to clothing and accessories.
Diamante vs. Costume
Despite this jewelry not being manufactured with genuine gemstones, diamante does not indicate cheap or poorly made like the term costume jewelry might.
Stones are fabricated with high-quality lead glass and are often prong set just like their natural counterparts. Inexpensive costume jewelry is often set with stones made of acrylic or plastic that are glued into place.
Diamante Jewelry History
Diamante jewelry has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, early stones were brought to the market in the 1730's. Today, we refer to these stones as rhinestones, but back then in the Georgian era, diamante was also referred to as paste.
Paste jewelry from the Georgian Era can command prices greater than other natural gemstones and even rival some diamond jewelry. Later during the Victorian Era, paste stones continued to command a presence in the jewelry market. Though paste jewelry from the Georgian Era is scarce, similar jewelry from the Victorian era is abundant and often set in precious gold and silver.
But there is a slight distinction between paste stones and rhinestones.
Rhinestones were developed in the 1920's during the Art Deco era. These stones were crafted out of higher quality materials, often in Czechoslovakia and Austria, both known for their impeccable glass.
How to Care for Diamante
Most diamante stones are foil back, meaning that a thin layer of metal adheres to the bottom facets to enhance the stone's brilliance.
Because of this, it's critical not to submerge this jewelry in water. Take special care not to wash your hands, shower, swim or do the dishes. Any water that gets underneath the stone will compromise the stone's backing.
If you need to clean the piece, spritz a small amount of delicate cleaning solution onto a soft brush or lint-free cloth and gently buff the tops of the stone. Use a dry brush to remove any dust and debris from underneath the stones.
Is Diamante Valuable?
Though diamante jewelry isn't made with natural gemstones, it can still command high prices. Antique diamante pieces are sought for their rarity. Later, authentic diamante jewelry from the 1920's and onward can command a high price tag if the jewelry is signed. Many collectors seek out designer diamante pieces, particularly from names like Chanel, Trifari, Boucher and Weiss.
There are a few key things to look for in unsigned pieces: condition, presence of prongs, brilliance, amount of stones, and color. Each of these characteristics will set the jewelry apart from being inexpensive to being highly prized.
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