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As for the names to know, there were two categories of jewelers during the Deco period: the bijoutiers-artistes and the bijoutiers-joailliers. The former category included jewelers like Després, Gérard Sandoz, Raymond Templier, René Boivin, Suzanne Belperron and Paul Brandt. The Bijoutiers-joailliers encompassed large jewelry houses such as Boucheron, Mauboussin, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Black, Starr & Frost.
While hints of Art Deco popped up in pre-World War I France, it became an international art movement around 1925. Initially known as Style Moderne, it was noted for its avant-garde and elegant aesthetic. It gained particular prominence and popularity during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, or The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which heavily featured this exciting new style.
There were many influences on Art Deco jewelry that actually began to take shape about a decade earlier. In 1909, Serge Diaghilev brought the Ballet Russes to Paris, and women went wild for the company’s exotic and vibrant costumes It’s no wonder, then, that jade, lapis, coral, turquoise and other bright gemstones became all the rage. There already existed a fascination with the East, particularly China and Japan, and motifs consisting of fans and masks started to show up in jewelry.
Mademoiselle Chanel can also be thanked for popularizing of long earrings. The French fashion designer favored the masculine look, referred to as la garçonne, and made boyish haircuts a fad. What better way to show off long earrings than with short hair?
Here, we present the ins-and-outs of the iconic movement, exploring the avant-garde art, exquisite architecture, and dazzling design that have boldly defined for nearly a century.
Calibre cut stones are such an important part of Art Deco jewelry design. Calibre cut stones are custom gemstones that are cut specifically to fit into a jewelry design. They are tightly spaced together against other stones or metal and have quite the impact on the overall design.
In addition to bracelets, women wore watches of all kinds, from wristwatches to long-chained pendant watches to lapel watches. The clock became a popular objet d’art, with some of the most astounding creations being made by Cartier.
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There are certain design elements that are consistent throughout period pieces, making it easy to identify cars, fashions and even buildings. But can you correctly identify a piece of Art…MORE Deco jewelry?
Art Deco jewelry is by and large “white jewelry.” White metals, primarily platinum, were favored over yellow gold. Platinum was first used in jewelry at the end of the 19th century, and with the advancement in technology that allowed platinum to be easily worked, it remained popular through the Edwardian period. However, it became fashionable again with the discovery of the world’s largest platinum deposit in the Merensky Reef in northeast South Africa in 1924. Platinum, which could be manipulated to create fine and durable settings that, unlike silver, did not tarnish.
Just like in architectural Art Deco, geometric shapes, bold lines, clean cuts and symmetrical ornaments are the main tell-tales here, always showing a desire to be modern and supersedes its formative influences like Art Nouveau and the Edwardian Era.
Calibré cut gemstones, where each stone is custom cut specifically to fit into the jewellery design to create a distinctive contrasting impact on the overall look and feel of it.The use of mill-grained white gold, platinum, Onyx inlays, filigree and hand-made vintage patterns on the edges of the metal.
The use of old European cut diamonds in conjunction with bold architectural shapes such as baguette, square and octagon gemstones.Usually custom made, rarely mass produced due to the intricacy and sophistication of the manufacturing process and carat weight loss in caliber designs.
However, the event that had the greatest influence on Deco was the excavation of the tomb of King Tut in 1922. When the world saw what was hidden in Tut’s burial chamber, it sent just about everyone into a frenzy. Pierre Cartier wrote in 1923 that “the discovery of the tomb will bring some sweeping changes in fashion jewelry.” And he couldn’t have been more right. “Egyptomania” left an indelible mark on all of the major jewelry houses, from Cartier to Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Georges Fouquet.
A lot of the jewelry produced during this time nodded to current fashion trends, and women often accessorized their accessories. The cloche hat was often accented with geometric diamond brooches or double-clip brooches. Backless evening dresses looked fabulous with sautoir necklaces, and long pearl necklaces that ended with tassels, popular during the Edwardian period, were favored by women everywhere, including Coco Chanel.
The name originates from ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’, which was an art exhibition held in Paris in 1925, where the style made its first debut.
These reproductions have a softer, more goopy look to them as opposed to the stark stamped edges of authentic filigree work. Another sign you are dealing with a reproduction? Most filigree jewelry from the Art Deco era was made with either 10k or 18k white gold. If your jewelry is 14k white gold and has a yellowish tint to it, chances are it is a more modern reproduction. The yellowish tint is because different alloys are used today than were used in the 1920’s, making the older gold more grey in its natural state.
You won’t see any modern round brilliant diamonds in authentic Art Deco jewelry unless it has been modified. You will find other incredible antique cut diamonds, most notably being the Old European Cut diamond.
Finally, with the wrists, necks and ears covered, the only spot that needed to be dressed up were the fingers. Prohibition didn’t really stop anyone from drinking in the 1920s, and whether they were entertaining at home or drinking in a speakeasy, women went gaga for cocktail rings. In addition, cigarette holders, cigarette cases (even cigarette lighters with watches) and minaudières — those small jewel-like evening bags — all served as canvases for jewelers.
Authentic jewelry from this period was made between 1920 and 1935 and has at least one and sometimes all of the following traits listed below. The jewelry styles remained popular through the late 1930’s and has since reemerged as one of the most popular antique jewelry styles.
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Art Deco sapphire, diamond and platinum cuff bracelet, ca. 1930
Around this time, the technology for diamond cutting also improved, so jewelers were able to achieve various geometric cuts. This was an opportune moment to create beautiful jewelry that was inspired by Cubism, Futurism and the Machine Aesthetic. Art Deco is known for its clean lines, and simple shapes were juxtaposed to create beautiful compositions. Pavé settings also became popular during this time. (The term refers to diamonds that are set so closely together that they create an illusion of a “paved” surface where the setting becomes invisible.)
The Roaring Twenties were loud. The decade was defined by advances in technology, economic prosperity, artistic rebellion and of course, the flapper. Sporting a bob haircut, a cylindrical black dress and plenty of jewelry, she held a fan in one hand and a cigarette holder in another, dancing the night away at a jazz club. The party, of course, came to to a screeching halt when the stock market crashed in 1929. Yet the Art Deco period, encompassing the 1920s and ’30s, ushered in a very distinct look in jewelry design.
While a lot of jewelry from this period was black and white — the black coming from the use of onyx or black enamel and the white from rock crystal and diamonds — there is plenty color in Art Deco jewelry. A perfect accent to diamonds in platinum settings were blue sapphires, emeralds and rubies, and these stones were also used in combination with each other.
Jean Després Art Deco turquoise, silver and gold ring, 1930s
Designers also incorporated machine parts, such as ball bearings, into their designs. For them, jewelry was more than adornment; it was part of the art world. In his 1931 book, Jewelry and Gold, Fouquet fils wrote that “jewelry and gold pieces must be works of art while also responding to the same needs as industrial objects.” (Philip Johnson’s 1934 exhibition, called “Machine Art,” at the Museum of Modern Art, featured ball bearings).
Expert Tip: Be wary of jewelry with the description “Art Deco style.” If there is no indication that this item was specifically made in the early 20th century, you are likely looking at a reproduction.
The Art Deco style in jewelry lasted through the 1930s, and it was only in the 1940s that there was a major shift in design. However, the Art Deco style witnessed a revival in the late 1960s, and even today jewelry designers continue to be inspired by the period. Fascination with the Jazz Age is endless.
Fouquet was well known in the world of jewelry, and many of his designs were inspired by African art, another major influence on the Art Deco period.
Like many 20th century movements, Art Deco is celebrated for its undeniable impact on the Modern Art movement. Unlike many other styles of art, however, Art Deco conveys an eclectic range of inspiration, from age-old antiquities to contemporaneous genres. Ironically, by combining such an array influences, artists working in this style crafted a one-of-a-kind movement that appeared to be entirely original.
Shortly after the groundbreaking exposition, the snazzy style made its way to America, where it was embraced by artists and architects alike—particularly, in buzzing New York City. While it remained popular in both Europe and America throughout the 1930s, the style abandoned its Arts and Crafts roots for a sleeker look during the Great Depression.
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Many designers employed coral, jade and lapis lazuli, too. In fact, some of the most important avant-garde jewelers of the period, like Jean Després and Jean Fouquet (son of Georges Fouquet), would combine white gold with ebony and malachite for a jolt of color.
Art Deco is a modernist movement that emerged in 1920s Europe. While many different aesthetics compose the movement—including different color palettes and a range of materials, from ebony and ivory to wood and plastic—it is most frequently characterized by streamlined, geometric forms contrasted by rich ornamentation and linear decoration.
Art Deco diamond, sapphire and platinum plaque ring, ca. 1925
Filigree work is defined by small intricate cut outs and was never done quite so well as it was during the Art Deco era. Filigree in jewelry was perfected in the late 1920’s through the use of die-cast machines, and it was readily available by the early 1930’s. These designs incorporate a lot of synthetic stones as well as diamonds, platinum, and white gold. It is nearly impossible to replicate the crisp, refined filigree work from the 1920’s today because most rings are made through…MORE the use of wax molds.
Art Deco is a style that emerged in 1925, a result of exhibits at the World’s Fair held in Paris, France. The term Art Deco is a shortened form of the event’s name: Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts).
Dresses with short sleeves required bangles and flexible diamond-lined bracelets, and while some women opted for single-strand diamonds on platinum, the most emblematic bracelets of the period are the heavy, wide types with a multitude of diamond cuts that created intricate patterns.
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