Revisiting the Style Moderne of the Roaring ‘20s
The Roaring ‘20s were a time of dynamic social, artistic and cultural change driven by economic prosperity and carefree living. With the war behind them, the US and Europe developed a new lust for life and a penchant for innovative Art Deco jewellery.
What is Art Deco?
The term “Art Deco” emerged from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes – a design exhibition held in Paris in 1925 to highlight architecture, interior decoration, furniture, glass, fine jewellery and other decorative arts from Europe and abroad that represented “Style Moderne”: the prevailing decorative and architectural style from 1925-1940.
More than 16 million people from across the globe visited the world fair to catch sight of this captivating "Style Moderne”, now recognised as Art Deco.
What is Art Deco jewellery?
Art Deco Buckle, Paris 1925
Art Deco jewellery designers aimed to differentiate their work from the fluid lines and natural influences of earlier Art Nouveau jewellery (1890-1915) by focusing on the dramatic lines and geometric designs represented in the architectural trends of the increasingly mechanised and industrialised 1920s.
Art Deco Diamond Bracelet
Authentic Art Deco jewellery is further characterised by minimal free space, bold contrasting colours, symmetry and small accent diamonds - the gemstone of choice during the 1920s and 1930s - with the introduction of curvilinear features as the Art Deco style progressed.
The Egyptian Influence on Art Deco Jewellery
When news of King Tutankhamun’s tomb discovery in 1922 reached the US and Europe, Art Deco jewellery began to feature Ancient Egyptian motifs like lotus blossoms, scarabs, pyramids, the Eye of Horus and lavish gemstone designs akin to the extravagant collection of coloured gems discovered in King Tut’s tomb.
Art Deco Jewellery Settings
In 1936, the “mystery setting” or “invisible setting” was invented, which allowed gemstones to be set so tightly together that the metal framework below the surface was invisible, similar to a pavé-set ring.
Art Deco Jewellery Metals
Most Art Deco jewellery was fashioned in either white gold or platinum. The strength of platinum made it ideal for filigree: a form of intricate ornamental metalwork widely used in Art Deco rings. With the exception of Egyptian jewellery revival pieces, yellow gold was rarely seen.
Art Deco Diamond Cuts & Shapes
Gem cutters developed new ways to cut and shape gems in the 1920s, which resulted in the lavish mosaic-style designs of the time. Unique diamond shapes like trapeze, half-moon and triangle cuts were also introduced.
The popularity of emerald-cut diamonds soared during the 1920s, along with baguette cuts, cushion cuts, pear cuts and marquise cuts.
Other features prevalent in Art Deco inspired jewellery designs include sweeping curves, sunburst motifs, shields, stepped forms and unvaried repetition, all commonly found in furniture, buildings and fine art of that era.
Art Deco Ring Embellishments
Art Deco Earrings & Pearl Necklaces
Short bobbed hairstyles were punctuated by long dangling earrings, some of which were designed to double as brooches. Simple layered strands of pearls were also the height of fashion amongst Flappers during the 1920s, owing to the perfect geometry of a round pearl.
More than just jewellery trends, they were a flirtatious form of communication; one expert believes a naked hand tickling the neck or tapping an earring was considered a not-so-subtle expression of interest
Art Deco Bangles & Bracelets
Sleeves were out and skin was in during the 1920s. Bracelets and bangles were stacked, loaded and layered up the arm, jingling along to the jazz music of the underground nightclubs in the prohibition era. Actress and flapper style icon, Louise Brooks, showcased this decadent trend with heavily layered diamond bracelets.
Glamour, glitz and hedonism were hallmarks of life in the 1920s, and Art Deco jewellery was no exception. Explore the SH range of vintage-inspired jewellery, earrings, dress rings and engagement rings to create your own Art Deco-themed collection and enjoy free delivery for all online orders with 30-day exchange.
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