Imagine how the average American must have felt after World War I when Art Deco jewelry emerged. Over the course of the war from 1914-1918, over 116,000 U.S. troops died. Almost 4.8 million American troops served during World War I, which was unlike anything the country had ever seen.
Times were intensely scarce, and the War officially brought the Art Nouveau era to an end. Long gone were the days of decadence and artistry that were so important during the late 19th and early 20th century. World War I put a strain on materials and the traditional working environment of the time.
With so many men off to war, women quickly filled the essential jobs left behind. This dramatically changed the amount of time and energy that was dedicated to fashion and jewelry trends. Women began to earn money for themselves and focus on the valuable skills needed to financially provide for their families.
Art Deco Era jewelry characteristics
Art Deco jewelry is centered on geometric and symmetrical design, which represented a new bold direction for women in America. Women gained the right to vote in 1920, which many believe had an influence on the bold statement designs of Art Deco jewelry.
The settings were geometric, and the featured stones followed suit. Diamonds cuts were primarily linear and straight. While diamonds were the most common featured stone, other materials like black onyx, coral, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds were also used at the time.
Metal and Styles
At the time, platinum was still the most common choice for fine jewelry. However, because the price of precious metals was so high during the 1920’s and 30’s, white gold became a very popular alternative.
Surprisingly, Egyptian jewelry played a massive role in the direction of Art Deco design. King Tutukhamen’s tomb was unearthed in 1922, which sent a ripple through the design world. The bold Egyptian designs worked extremely well within the framework of Art Deco.
Many of the large designers that popular today were also massively popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Some of the most important designs of the Art Deco era came from Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels, Tiffany, and Harry Winston.
The Art Deco era marked a dramatic shift in jewelry design for the 20th century, and laid the groundwork for what eventually became the Retro era in the mid 1930’s and the Modern Era in the 1950’s.
Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers has dealt in vintage jewelry for over 25 years. One of the early staples of our business revolved on identifying, buying, and selling vintage estate jewelry. If you are interested in Retro Era jewelry or would like us to evaluate pieces in your possession, call or send us an email to schedule an appointment. You can also view our eBay store to find some of our current inventory.