Art Deco Jewelry (~1910 to 1935)

By the mid-1920’s, the Art Deco movement in jewelry had taken over the curving, free-flowing, organic, and subdued colors of the Art Nouveau period. Art Deco design was more sculptural and dramatic by using bold colors and geometric shapes often with sharp angles.


In 1925, the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was held in Paris. The Exposition was dedicated to the display of modern decorative arts of that time and is where the term Art Deco was coined. Designs were influenced by the pure geometric forms found in Cubist movement artwork and by the shapes, structural characteristics, and highly polished surfaces of industrial machinery. Artisans drew inspiration from the esthetics of gears, cogs, wheels, and forms of modern transportation such as trains, planes, and automobiles. They interpreted these forms in streamlined and minimalist ways. Even the nature motifs of flowers, birds, and animals prevalent in Art Nouveau design took on a new stylized geometric appearance during the Art Deco period.

Several style elements began to emerge in jewelry design as a result. White metals of silver, white gold, and platinum replicated the metallic sheen of the industrial look. Bold black and white jewelry became popular and appealed to the modern, independent woman. Materials often used included black onyx, black enamel, pale chalcedony, rock crystals, and diamonds. New diamond cutting techniques introduced rectangles, baguettes, triangles, and half-rounds that worked well in geometric combination and could be used to add sparkle, dimension, and texture without adding color.


Art Deco designers, such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, borrowed stylistic elements found in eastern cultures and other exotic influences. The colorful costumes and stage backdrops from the Ballet Russes inspired bold color choices. Chinese and Egyptian motifs were often present. Therefore, a wider variety of less costly gemstones were valued and primarily chosen for their color, texture and translucency, often paired with precious stones in new, dramatic combinations. A greater use of colored jade, turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, and colored enamels was evident. Black enamel was particularly important.

The Art Deco period has remained a very distinct and popular style period. The prominent and influential jewelers include Jean Fouquet, Gérard Sandoz, Raymond Templier, Cartier, and Jean Després.

Browse our Collection of Art Deco Jewelry here >
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