History of Art Deco Jewellery

Art Deco was the age of jazz, prohibition and the Charleston. Queen Victoria was no longer on the throne, but countless ideals and influences from her age still remained. It was the 1920’s, and the world was about to see a profound new style that would change history forever. the style would be known as Art Deco. It was bold, lavish and elegant and was to radically change the art world, leaving a lasting impression that can still be seen today.

After the Universal Exposition of 1900, a group of French artists created a formal collective which was known as ‘La Societe des Artistes Decoratures’ (The Society of the Decorator Artists) of Paris. Not entirely of their making, the Art Deco ‘movement’ began more as in amalgamation of numerous different styles and movements of the early 1900’s. Art Deco affected architecture, painting, film, both interiors and industrial design and, most importantly, fashion. Jewellery that came out of the Art Deco movement was forward thinking and extremely bold. Its ‘in your face’ style represented the fast modernisation of the world around it.

Art Deco made vast use of triangular, angular and geometric shapes, employing symmetry and repetition. The movement attempted to combine mass production with high quality art and designs. Tiaras, cameos and lavalieres from the Victorian era were now unpopular, and gave way to fashionable cocktail rings, long pendants and bangle bracelets.

Accessories became popular again; elaborately detailed cigarette cases and ladies compacts were all ornately jewelled and became just as important as earrings, necklaces and bangles. Inexpensive stones such as Coral and Crystal were used with platinum and gold. It has been suggested that this opulent and lavish style was a reaction to the hard times and rationing of WW1.

The fundamental difference that made the Art Deco period so extraordinary was that the same design ideas put into jewellery were also being used in buildings, ships and even household appliances.

Diamonds began to be cut in new and exciting shapes never seen before. Many of these, such as pear cut, emerald cut and marquise cut were extremely similar to the cuts we see today. These new-found gem cuts blended in with the symmetrical and geometrical nature of the jewellery itself.

Colour played an important part of the Art Deco movement: everything became bold, vibrant and vivid. The way colour was applied was often dramatic, reacting to the light, neutral colours used during the previous Art Nouveau period. Gemstones such as Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Coral became popular for this reason.

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