The Art Deco era is reckoned roughly as the period between 1920 and 1935 which was also a high spirited era of flappers, gangsters and speakeasies. At the height of the twenties, the economy was experiencing a runaway boom and jazz was born and prohibition only helped in enhancing the urge to shed Victorian restraints.
Art Deco Jewellery is fun and stylish, and jewellery similar to other branches of fashion became a world unto itself where women felt more freedom to give expression to their individuality. Styles became sharper and bolder and even more masculine compared to previous period. We can get some tastes from bridal jewellery by Stephanie Browne. The filigree, lacy patterns from Edwardian jewellery and soft curves and pastels of the Art Nouveau jewellery were replaced by straighter lines and brighter colours.
Art Nouveau brooch
An exceptional characteristic of Art Deco Jewellery is the incorporation of futuristic motifs and geometric forms reflecting the free thinking and confident spirit of those times. The cubist paintings from Pablo Picasso and the Empire State Building are examples of the artistic sensibility of the era.
Pablo Picasso painting
the Empire State Building
The Art Deco era also brought advancements in techniques of cutting which saw the introduction of a modern-day round brilliant style of cutting allowing diamonds to be more scintillating and dazzling than before. Meantime, prosperity aided more and more people to afford diamond engagement rings and diamond jewellery.
Accessibility became easier with new techniques of casting and jewellers found more efficient methods to produce more detailed and intricate settings. Jewellers also started using white gold with platinum gaining in popularity. White gold was more affordable compared to yellow gold or platinum and the hue was nearly the same as platinum.
Carat expressed as ‘k’ denotes the gold content in the particular jewellery. 22 k is the most popular in India which incidentally consumes the highest volume of gold year after year. 22 k gold has 91.66 % of gold while the rest is made up of other metals, mostly copper. Similarly, 18 k denotes 75%gold. In Europe, if you see the number 916 engraved on the jewellery, it translates to 22 k.
Pure gold is commercially known as 24 k and has 99.9% gold which is as pure as you can get. But, this is soft as a cake and because of the brittleness or lack of strength, cannot be converted into ornaments or jewellery. When copper or other metal is added to gold, it enhances the workability, and for this reason, 18 k gold is considered best for making jewellery since it imparts greater strength and resistance to breakage. While 18 k gold is considered good for everyday jewellery, if you are investing, you should go for 22 k gold.
18k gold made bracelet
24k gold bar for investment
White gold and yellow gold have the same degree of purity, you can check for my other post to see the detail of the difference between yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
When you consider the purity of gold, 22 k white gold and 22 k yellow gold stand on the same pedestal and the singular difference is that palladium is added to pure gold to make white gold or it could be nickel in place of zinc/copper. The jewellery made of this alloy is coated with rhodium to lend the white hue. This type of jewellery may need replating at intervals of about 18 months. In terms of price, white gold jewellery is pricier compared to yellow gold jewellery due to the difference in price of alloy metals. Further, the rhodium coating is a labour intensive component.
Art Deco Jewellery has been witnessing a boom in recent times with investors and serious collectors showing keen interest. An underlying reason perhaps is that Art Deco jewellery was meant to be glamorous, beautiful and romantic. Though this new found interest started about half a century ago, the growth has been sustained and steady. Let us not forget that before this boom Art Deco jewellery had in fact fallen on bad times and was literally sold for trash price. But then, that was at least 50 years ago.
While several reasons can be attributed to the present boom, many believe that Art Deco Jewellery came about at a time when jewellery craftsmanship was considered to have reached its pinnacle. Therefore, many vouches that something like this may never be seen in the jewellery world ever again. Some diehard fans of Art Deco jewellery even believe that prices can go through the roof hitting the $100,000 plus mark and truly exceptional pieces can even command fancy prices. Asian collectors, in particular, are reported to be after every piece of jade jewellery they can get.
Art Deco bracelets were also designed with endless variations and were known by names like a flexible link, strap, box, plaque, straight-line or band.
Often, the straight-line variant featured new square cut diamonds that were developed in Paris and termed as “French-cut” diamonds. Frequently such bracelets were also accented with synthetic and natural sapphires and rubies. But, the “emerald” accents that one often sees in Art Deco jewellery were only green glass.
Women also saw the opportunity to celebrate post-war success and piling on jewellery they found to achieve that. Evening fashion on low belted, fluid, sleeveless tunics also presented the perfect opportunity to showcase multiple Art Deco bracelets. Diamonds and platinum too came into vogue again but Art Deco Jewellery was more linear and geometric than in the past.
Geometric designs, diverse colour combinations and abstract patterns characterize Art Deco jewellery. Art Deco jewellery designs were also inspired by Cubism, African, Persian/Islamic, Oriental, Jugendstill and Native American designs. The styles adopted by other European countries were largely derivative.
The colour of purest gold is distinctively yellow. But it is also very soft making it very brittle for use in making jewellery. Therefore, alloys need to be created by adding other metals. Depending on the metal added to make the alloy, the gold gets a different hue. The more popular colours of gold jewellery are yellow, rose, and rose though you may also find red, bronze or lime coloured jewellery.
The dollar value of gold can be the same if the percentage of pure gold used in making the alloy remains identical. That would make the colour merely a matter of personal preferences in taste and style that obviously varies from one individual to the other. With this knowledge, you can focus on the colour you love most. However, there can be instances where your focus could be on matching the diamond quality with the colour of gold. White gold can accentuate the imperfection in a yellow diamond while yellow gold can hide the imperfection.
24 karats is the purest form of gold which you can buy in the form of biscuits, coins, or bars. When it comes to jewellery, the gold should be malleable enough to give it the desired shape and size. Only when other metals are added, gold gets its strength to give it the desired malleability. Deft craftsmen can stretch a single ounce of gold to as much as 57 miles (91 km) and make some of those very intricately designed jewellery, particularly rings, earrings, and necklaces.
Copper, nickel, silver, zinc and palladium are the metals commonly mixed with gold to give it the desired malleability. The colour of the gold you buy can also be enhanced by applying a metal coating, commonly known as plating. Two or more different colours of gold can also be combined to make a unique colour and they are at times called as three-tone, two-tone, or multi-coloured gold. For those looking to buy a unique engagement ring without drilling a hole through their wallet, this could be an option worth exploring.
Before you make any decision, there is one more thing that you can do. The digital world is the place where you can examine hundreds of various collection of unique engagement rings from the comfort of your home and you won’t be pressurised by any over-enthusiastic salespersons.
Yellow gold is close to pure gold in appearance and typically softer compared to other alloys. Because of this, yellow gold also tends to suffer scratches more easily. While polishing at periodical intervals is a solution to retain the sheen of your jewellery, remember that a small percentage of the metal will be lost each time you get your jewellery polished. Thus, a ten-gram jewellery you purchased 5 years ago could reduce to about 8 grams or less, assuming, you got the jewellery polished some 5 times during this period.
Typically, white gold results from a combination gold with silver, nickel or palladium. Depending on the metal and proportion of the mix the properties can be dramatically different. For varying purposes, such alloys are deliberately made. For instance, by mixing nickel with pure gold, the alloy gets harder and is considered ideal for brooch pins and rings. Similarly, when pure gold is mixed with a soft metal like palladium, it gets soft for applications that require pliable gold such as in the case of gemstone settings.
However, the finished product would still retain a marginally yellowish tint. This is one reason why jewellers plate the white gold jewellery with rhodium. It is common to mistake colour or white gold with rhodium. Rhodium, in fact, is the metal which gives gold the desired colour. Apart from this rhodium also lends better durability to white cold since it covers the softer alloy of yellow gold with an additional protective layer.
White gold is great in its looks when new though the rhodium plating will wear off with usage. When that happens you can see the yellowish layer in white gold and this type of jewellery can be re-plated at a cost of about $35 though that is an additional cost you should take into account.
Rose gold covers every variant within the family of red, rose, and pink shades of gold. Copper mixed with pure gold to make the alloy lends the rose colour to rose gold making it appear red in colour. Generally, rose gold will comprise of 75% gold and 25% to make it 18 karat gold. Many men and women prefer rose gold, particularly when they are shopping for engagement/wedding rings. The pink hue of rose gold is deemed to be romantic and that could be one factor that attracts young men and women to rose gold in preference to the other variants.
Cost could also be another consideration since rose gold is relatively cheaper compared to 22 karat gold or 24 karat gold. Copper imparts higher strength to rose gold and complements nearly every skin tone. Rose gold is also more durable compared to other variants. However, rose gold may not be readily available in all markets and you would also need to spare a thought to potential skin issues.
In Australia, JAA, Jewellers Association of Australia, represents and protects the jewellery industry and its consumers with the definition of each kind of gold type.
Now that you have exhaustive information on rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold engagement rings, the next task cut out for you is to go shopping. While you are doing this, if you can get one or more members of your family, or perhaps your fiancé, that would be a huge help too.