Sunday, 20 May 2012

Art Deco Jewellery

Georges Fouquet, Dress Ornament, ca.1923
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
The Art Deco movement was a purely decorative style, that had a profound impact on interior design, fashion, jewellery, architecture, visual arts and film. The style began in Europe in the early 20th Century but its popularity soared after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, 1925. The movement had a modern, functional, futuristic and geometric aesthetic. Influences from Cubism, Neoclassicism, The Bauhaus, Ballet Russe and Ancient Egypt and Aztec patterns were all prevalent in the new style. The style that would define the decade. The movement was called Style Moderne, until Bevis Hillier coined the term 'Art Deco' in the late 60s. Art Deco focused on elaborate luxury in a thoroughly modern way, and a stark departure from the imposed austerity of World War One. 

Art Deco Rings
Authentic Art Deco Jewelry Designs by Franco Deboni
A recognisable exemplification of this style can be seen in jewellery from the period. Of course, architecture is a great reminder of the movement, such as The Chrysler and Empire State Buildings in New York. However, it's not as much of a treat as admiring some gorgeous jewels. Jewellery was the perfect canvas to show of the clean and modern lines as well as the geometry associated with Art Deco. They were architectural in nature and the gemstones were cut into bold shapes, including trapezoid, pentagon, emerald, oblong and triangles. A key design detail was the use of contrasting light and dark gemstones. This is reminiscent of the well known Art Deco interior of the Smoking Room, which was designed by Jean Dunand in 1925, at the exhibition. The walls of the room were covered in a glossy black lacquer and the use of black became very popular. For jewellery, black stones such as onyx were set next to diamonds and white metals such as platinum and palladium. 

Selection of Art Deco Jewellery from Joden World Resources

Jade and coral were also used and highlighted Asian influences, as can be seen in the Georges Fouquet piece above. Themes and motifs from the Far East as well as historic representations from Ancient Egypt, all hinted at the preference for theatricality and exoticism. Playful and whimsical pieces, especially brooches were designed in plastic and glass with frivolous motifs. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli were fans of costume jewellery, and were influenced by the movement, and incorporated it into their own signature designs. The use of bright stones and colours was also common in jewellery design. By looking at the designs from jewellery designers such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co, from that time, you can see the geometric patterns and elaborate stones evidenced. The following are pieces that are in upcoming auctions at Christie's
Ruby & Diamond Brooch, ca 1930
Cartier 'Tutti Frutti' Brooch
Sapphire, Diamond & Enamel Brooch
Unsurprisingly, jewellery from the 1920s in particular is very popular. Especially for engagement rings, with the use of large diamonds and clean lines, which also have a modern appeal but with a sense of historical uniqueness to them. Companies such as Berganza and The Antique Jewellery Company offer a range of Art Deco pieces. Also, look out for both costume and fine jewellery from this time at vintage fairs and on Ebay. The wonderful Gray's Antiques Market, also have many jewellery dealers, which are listed here and here

Diamond Ring, ca 1935 - Berganza £9,200

Onyx & Paste Silver Bracelet, ca 1925 - The Antique Jewellery Company £675

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