There is no era of jewellery innovation quite like the Art Deco era. Technological modernisations and design revolutions came together to create a whole new world of jewellery. Today, 100 years later, we can still see the far-reaching influence of the Art Deco period and its designers reflected in popular contemporary styles.
1. Art Deco Brooches
A common mistake people make about brooches is thinking they’ve gone out of fashion. Sometime in the mid-90s, brooches became something that was only worn by women over a certain age, and for much of the ‘00s brooches continued to be unpopular. As we entered the 2010s, however, brooches made a small comeback, and today they’re back on top where they belong.
Art Deco brooches are among the most popular styles today. The geometric lines and symmetry often found in Art Deco jewellery are highly popular in contemporary society, making the Art Deco brooch one of the most popular elements of antique jewellery in the 21st century. Shapes like overlapping rectangles and other interlocking geometric shapes are found in jewellery from the Art Deco period onwards, showing how timelessly popular it has been. The 1980s in particular saw a resurgence of the same shapes seen in Art Deco jewellery.
This example of an Art Deco brooch features stunning aquamarines; the history of the aquamarine gemstone shows us that aquamarines featured prominently in jewellery from this era.
Today, a trend from the Art Deco era that deserves love is tutti frutti jewellery. Innovated in the 1920s by brands like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels,tutti frutti jewellery features a variety of coloured gemstones that have been cut small and carved, resembling foliage and fruits. The jewels – typically rubies, sapphires, and emeralds – are then set almost like a mosaic, resembling something like small candies on the jewellery. This trend is found most often in brooches, and genuine Tutti Frutti brooches from the Art Deco period fetch a fair price today.
2. Art Deco Rings
Throughout most of human history, rings have been a popular piece of jewellery, and the Art Deco period was no different. What was different, however, was the overall design, styles, and sheer size of the rings from this time. Along with Prohibition parties and unprecedented financial independence, the Art Deco time period also saw extreme extravagance within its jewellery design.
Diamonds could not have been more present in this time period, with enormously-sized gemstones being used in rings, necklaces, watches, and a variety of other jewellery pieces. Engagement rings had become bigger and better, with higher quality diamonds being in greater supply than ever before, and new machine-operated diamond cutting methods leading to higher quality, cleaner diamond cuts. This applied to other gemstones, too, with sapphires and emerald being particularly popular.
The biggest innovation for rings found in the Art Deco era that continues to be popular today is the cocktail ring. In the early-20th-century, hordes of young women were financially independent for the first time in history. Making their own money, they were on the receiving end of heavy marketing from jewellery designers, and many of them bought luxury jewellery for themselves as a celebration of their success. Cocktail hour was an essential element of socialising, and oversized gemstone rings were – and are – the must-have accessory.
3. Art Deco Bracelets
One of the most popular bracelet styles today is the tennis bracelet – a simple strand of diamonds ready to adorn your wrist. The term ‘tennis bracelet’ was coined in the 1970s, but it definitely had influences stretching back far beyond then. The advent of diamond-encrusted jewellery can be found in the 1920s. Diamond bracelets from this time are still sought after today.
Those made at either side of the First World War are particularly valuable. The highest quality platinum was used often in luxury jewellery from this time period, with the war effort diverting it for military use during the First and Second World Wars. After the First World War, the popularity of Art Deco designs soared, with its angular symmetry providing order in a highly chaotic world. While there has – thankfully – not been a World War to face in recent times, the events of the last few years have been plenty chaotic, and so it’s understandable that Art Deco styles are returning.
Bracelets of the Art Deco period were surprisingly versatile. Although there was an emphasis on oversized jewellery generally – a decadent celebration of the prosperous state of the Western world in general – there were also more understated pieces that match up with the immense popularity of minimalism today. Typically, the most popular Art Deco bracelets today feature diamonds with white gold or platinum, creating what’s known as the ‘white on white’ effect. They have interlinking segments usually made from alternating geometric shapes, and many of them feature pavé-set diamonds, creating a dazzling shine.
There are some types of jewellery that will always be popular. The diamond solitaire ring will likely remain the norm for engagement rings for a long time to come, for example. Art Deco jewellery, with its unique design and game-changing beauty, is definitely among those in the ‘timeless’ category.