The term Art Deco earned its name from the Exposition international des Arts Dectoratifs held in Paris in 1925. The era truly started a decade earlier when Art Nouveau styles started to wane. Cubism and Futurism were leading the arts world, and there was a sense of renewal and modernism abounding. The resulting themes reached into many aspects of life, from architecture to fashion, fine arts to jewelry. Angles, geometric shapes, clean lines, and basic symmetry defined this era, and jewelry was no exception. There were two basic schools of thought when it came to Art Deco jewelry design. Bijoutiers Artistes focused on intrinsic value. Jewelry were sculptural and unique but simple. Gemstones were never the main focus of a piece and were very architectural in nature. Bijoutiers Joailliers had a different approach. Gems were cut to create the geometric lines and to create the shape of the piece. Rows of diamonds drew the eye in to make it appear like the piece had movement, not unlike the technology born in the machine age. It’s no wonder that Art Deco jewelry is some of the most sought after pieces in the game!
The 1920’s were a time of joy and celebration. Clinking of champagne glasses after women won the right to vote, the parties that went into the wee hours of the morning after the end of WWI, and a lust for life resounded through everyone’s lives. Women were reluctant to go back to the way they dressed before the war. Hemlines and sleeves were shorter, dresses were slinkier, and everything was a little bit more fitted. It was a time of fashionable elegance and abundance, and jewelry was just another luxury to divulge in. Earrings were long and feminine which really complimented the shorted flapper-esque hairstyles of the time. Long strands of beads or pearls were worn with drop waist dresses down the front or back sometimes with tassel pendants at the bottom. Bracelets were either big and wide, or lots of narrow straight line bracelets were stacked on each other. Rings with large step cut center stones or eternity bands with hinged half loops were piled onto fingers, and added to the glitz and the glam of Art Deco life. We love the energy Art Deco pieces remind us of, a nonstop party, good taste, sparkling jewels, and a new found freedom. What’s not to love?
There’s no better single word to describe Art Deco jewelry than just plain cool. Inspired by modern art and industry, pieces from 1925 to about 1935 are one of a kind. With geometric patterns and clean lines, it’s all about the angles with these beauties. Stones were cut into baguettes, emeralds, calibre, or triangles set into shiny platinum or white gold. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and onyx were often set in box settings, cluster rings, or into prongs. Millegrain edges added that touch of detail that just added to the modern industrial look. Recent excavations and archaeological digs in Egypt brought inspiration to the industry, and the sleek and abstract architecture popping up in big cities influenced it even more so. But what inspired the jewelry that women and men wore during this decades was the desire to live life to its fullest. With powerhouses like Cartier, Harry Winston, Mauboussin, and Tiffany reigned supreme in the Art Deco era. Not a bad roster.