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.
In conclusion, we can confidently say that Art Deco jewellery has made a comeback this come back in a big way.