It has always interested me with antique jewelry that one can mention a period, and to different people a particular style or design comes to mind. Very often if I say Victorian Jewelry, the image that comes to most peoples mind is the heavier more ornate pieces of jewelry, whereas in point of fact with Queen Victoria being on the throne for over sixty years, there were many different styles and designs within that period.
That is also true when we come to Art Deco Jewelry, even though we are looking at a much shorter period, the 1920-1930-1940's. I know that some of you would not regard jewelry from the 1940's strictly as Art Deco jewelry, and would call it jewelry of the 'retro period', but for the purpose of this jewelry blog, I have included the very early part of the 1940's where the jewelry although having the Art Deco influence definitely had a style of its own.
Melissa Gabardi once said: 'If jewelry is a reflection of the tastes and tendencies of the society which created it, then it is also true that it cannot be dissociated from the period of its origins'.
Thus Art Dec Jewelry from the 1920's reflects the many contradictions of the post First World War decade. The Art Deco jewelry from this time period many historians have said corresponds to a general revolt in society against academicism. Art Deco period combined freedom and formality, which the movement in jewelry fully represents, and was fully understood and perfectly translated by the innovative artist jewelers of this time period.
In the hands of the Art Deco jewelry designers, traditional articles of jewelry from the Victorian era, underwent a fundamental change. It became transformed into more than just a piece of jewelry, it was also a mini work of art; jewelry became a completely new kind of ornament, an object more closely related to the machinist paintings of the period, or geometric forms. There appeared bracelets directly inspired by ball bearings or the big ends of motor car engines. Art Deco Jewelry was a time of transformation, it turned jewelry away from being a tangible expression of wealth, to jewelry that celebrated and symbolized a new age of technology. In parallel with these designs of the Art Deco artist-jewelers, they added a profusion of gemstones, expressing a luxurious magnificence to a period which we still refer to as the 'Roaring Twenties.'
F. Solar writing about the new designs of Art Deco Jewelry said: 'Talking of modern jewelry, it seems provocatively young. It is made for the modern woman of today, and is in harmony with the simple line of her dresses, the pure and unfettered curves of her body.
The first half of the 1930's more and more saw a movement in jewelry to geometric designs, and there was a decadence to the period. Art Deco jewelers' were now completely using platinum, as the found that diamonds shone so much more brightly, when they were in a white metal, rather than the yellow gold of the Victorian era; also another advantage of platinum was unlike silver, it did not tarnish or oxidize, and always stayed bright. If you are a lady who is a jewelry lover, this would have been an ideal time for you. Ladies were decked out in their jewelry. Now a lady would normally only wear, one diamond or gemstone bracelet, back in the Art Deco period ladies would stack their gemstone bracelets, wearing not just one, but three or four on each wrist.
Towards the end of the 1930's and the beginning of the 1940's, economic, political and social factors again had an huge influence on Art Deco jewelry. The economic and political crisis of the 1930's certainly saw a change back to gold. The Second World War accentuated a movement in Art Deco jewelry design to a more severe look. This is the source of development of the 1940's 'retro' style in jewelry, here gold was of primary importance. To compensate for the shortage of precious stones, jewelry became larger, and took on a resemblance of a form or sculpture.
Here at Beverley R Jewelry in Chicago, we can show you extensive examples of unique and fine quality Art Deco Jewelry from the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's; we look forward to your visit!
1) Retro Gold & Diamond pin by Cartier circa.1940
2) Stacked Art Deco bracelets circa 1930
3) Platinum, Ruby & diamond brooch Art Deco 1920
4) Platinum, Sapphire & Diamond rectangular geometric ring. Art Deco 1930