Art Deco Jewellery

Art Deco, 1925-1940

At a time of post war joy, the outlook on life was one of enjoyment and creative freedom and expression, leaving behind the suffering of previous years. The status of women in society had changed during the war and this had a liberating impact on style and fashion with greater emphasis on practicality. Woman began to wear their hair short and trousers were an option for the first time. Revealing dresses cut to show the knees allowed women to dance the foxtrot at endless soirees.

One of the contributing factors for a change in design was the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris which dedicated much of the exhibition to the new Art Deco movement. The philosophy of Art Deco was a rejection of the elaborate, naturalistic Art Noveau and early 20th century period with inspiration being taken from Cubism and the more exotic African and Oriental civilisations. Geometrical design with striking lines and bright primary colours was preferred.

Jewellery was worn in abundance. Bracelets were often worn in pairs and low back dresses were adorned with suatoires and negligee necklaces hanging down the back. In the evening bandeaux became fashionable and were decorated with precious stones or worn as clips on black fabric. Jewellery was delicate and geometric in design, taking the form of circles, squares and rectangles. Pieces were worn in more than one way, with a necklace breaking down to form two bracelets, clips and brooches.

1922 saw the important discovery of the Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in Egypt. Excitement around this discovery was widespread and became a rich source of inspiration for jewellers around Europe. Amongst others Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels and Boucheron created jewellery to suit the new Egyptian trend. In addition to Egypt, India was also an integral part of the Art Deco movement. Their abundance of sapphire, ruby and emerald deposits were used extensively for jewellery design.

As time moved on, so did design. During the mid 1930's the lineal two dimensional geometric form evolved towards a three dimensional curved form.