Here’s What You Didn’t Know About Art Deco Jewelry

Published: Mon, Jul 24, 2017
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Here’s What You Didn’t Know About Art Deco Jewelry

The current trend of tassel necklaces, long dangler earrings (shoulder brushers, shoulder danglers) and stackable bracelets in jewelry can be traced to a time between the 1920s and 1930s called Art Deco.

During the period between the two World Wars, an eclectic design style emerged that is now referred to as Art Deco. The name was derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, an exhibition of historical importance that was held in Paris which celebrated living in a modern and technology-driven world. Art Deco design is characterized by geometrical and elegant forms, often combined with vibrant colours and simple shapes that celebrate the rise of commerce and technology.

Art Deco had a huge influence on jewelry design. The period saw a dramatic change in women's fashion, where long and multi-layered dresses with corsets and long hair that was fashioned into elaborate styles became a thing of the past. The modern woman, in an attempt to break away from age-old barriers, switched to linear silhouttes, short skirts and a cropped haircut, which in turn affected the jewelry styles to complement the new look. The popular Hollywood movie The Great Gatsby, an adaption of a novel with the same name, gives an accurate glimpse of the life and times during the Art Deco era.

Jewelers like Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Lalique contributed to iconic Art Deco jewelry that is in vogue even today. Use of multi-colored stones like rubies, emeralds, sapphires and pearls to form a tutti frutti bracelet (Cartier) or a fruit basket brooch (Van Cleef and Arpels), fashioning jewelry from unusual materials like Bakelite, jade and wood, and stringing of beads into long line of graduating beads to form tassels were all influences of the Orient to the Occident. These influences were incorporated in European jewelry during the era, and it has become a template for jewelry worldwide ever since.

Long necklaces hanging down as far as or even below the waist complemented the famous flapper shape, thin and flat-chest look that women carried back in the time. Tassel pendants like the one shown in the adjoining image, where multi-colored stones are embedded on a mother of pearl ground and suspended by pearl, ruby and sapphire tassels are as fashionable today as they were when introduced a century ago.

Keeping short hair during the era meant that women could wear long dangler earrings some reaching as low as the shoulders or even below. Linear earrings complemented the no-frill look very well. We see a revival of this trend too, in form of linear shoulder brushers or tassel earrings that literally kiss the shoulder!

The fashion for sleeveless dresses encouraged women to wear multiple bracelets, stacking them one on top of the other, around the wrist or the upper arm.


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