Jewelry Periods Defined: The Art Deco Period

This period was named for an exposition of decorative arts that was held in Paris in 1925. For many people, it embodies the spirit of the Roaring 20s.

Art Deco (DEH-koe) designs tend to be bold and geometric, with straight clean lines, sharp angles, and sweeping curves.Frequent motifs include the chevron (or V-pattern), stylized fountains, and sunbursts. However, traditional themes were also adapted to the Deco style.

As in other periods, necklaces, brooches, and bracelets were among the top-selling jewelry forms for women. But many pieces were designed to be multi-functional – for example, necklaces that could be divided and worn as a pair of bracelets, or brooches that could be split into earrings.

In Deco jewelry, the tiara of the Edwardian period was replaced by a wide, flat headband known as the bandeau (BAN-doe). Long rope necklaces became a hallmark of 1920s “flapper” style. And the straight-line bracelet enjoyed one of its first waves of popularity.

Diamonds and platinum dominated Deco jewelry until the mid 20s. After that, there was a burst of color that started with the classics – emerald, ruby, and sapphire – then expanded to include materials like coral, jade, lapis lazuli, and turquoise, as well as synthetic gems and even plastics. (At the time, most people thought of synthetics and plastic as marvels of modern science, and jewelry designers used them side-by-side with more expensive natural gemstones.)

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