Endless talk of all things sparkly.

Jewelry Time Periods: Art Deco Era


Photo courtesy of Lang Antiques

A favorite decorative period of mine is the Art Deco Era, which sprang from the end of WWI. Bouncing back from war efforts, where women desperately had to take over men’s jobs and jewelry production was put on hold, the Art Deco period is characterized by decadence. This period encompasses the 1920s-1930s, during which women gained the right to vote, 15 million new cars were registered and hit the roads (1920-1929), many stock market fortunes were made, all while people danced the Charleston. As you can tell, the jewelry reflected what was happening–especially fashion. The “flapper” style was all the rage. Women rebelled by wearing short dresses, red lipstick, and bobbed hair. Bracelets were piled on, both on the upper and lower arms. Earrings, particularly a dangle style, were popular because of the shorter hairstyles.

As the economy and stock market fourished, Americans continued to spend frivolously, while borrowing heavily. As a result, the stock market crashed. The Great Depression loomed, and the lavish living of the roaring twenties had come to a dramatic halt.

Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period:

  • geometric shapes- as influenced by Cubism
  • white-on-white: platinum with diamonds, this time adding emeralds, sapphires or rubies as well
  • coral + diamonds, turquoise + sapphires
  • black enamel to contrast bright gemstone colors
  • Egyptian motifs, scarab, sphinx & falcon, as influenced by King Tut’s tomb discovery in 1923
  • Eastern influences- carved gemstones and jade
  • automotive motifs- autos, planes, gazelles, arrows & panthers
  • dress clips
  • convertible sautoirs- long necklaces that could be taken apart forming a bracelet, choker & pendant
  • cocktail watches- diamond encrusted watches

Important People of the Time:

Important Jewelry Houses of the Time: