So, do you like Victorian, Art Nouveau or contemporary jewelry styles? If you don’t have a firm answer, that’s completely normal. After all, most people don’t grow up wearing fine jewelry, so if the first time you invest in a quality piece is your engagement and wedding ring, how would you know what influences there are and which one(s) you like? Creating custom jewelry is one of our favourite ways to make one-of-kind, personal pieces for our clients. However, we know it can be overwhelming to go into a jeweller knowing you want something unique, but not being familiar with the language, designs or time periods that can help articulate what will be best for you.
We’d love to empower you to get to know your personal taste better by going through a few major eras in jewelry history. With an overview, you can feel more confident that you chose the design details that you love most the next time you treat yourself to something special.
We will jump around the linear timeline, and will kick off with one of our favourite style periods: the Art Deco period of the 1920s. Not only are the designs from this era timeless, we also love that the jewelry worn during this decade celebrates the power of women; and that women were celebrating their own power. When women stepped into men’s roles during WW1, this brought a permanent shift to the perception and reality of what women could do (work outside the home, earn their own money, vote) and how they could look (shorter hair, shorter hemlines, looser clothes).
Jewelry styles in the 20s embody the post-war attitude of living life to its fullest: bold and rich gems were shown off in cocktail rings, large pendents, brooches, and bracelets. Here are 4 of the defining gems and styles of the Art Deco period:
Pearlsare one of the gems that best represent Art Deco style, and became more abundantly available because a new process was developed where mother-of-pearl beads could be embedded into oysters to produce quality pearls. Those ropes of long pearl necklaces rocked by flappers are thanks to this.
Diamonds are the other classic gem of Art Deco jewelry, and were often accented by other coloured gems like emeralds and rubies. New methods of jewelry cuts showed off more colour and brilliance in faceted gems than ever before. Geometric lines give a structural and classic appeal to ‘20s jewelry that continue in popularity today.
Long earrings and necklaces and large rings were iconic staples of the New Woman of the time. Dangling geometric earrings expressed movement and drew attention to shorter bobs and long bare necks. Multi-strand necklaces with a central geometric pendent was a favourite way to create a statement look. Women wore pearl necklaces in both daytime and nighttime, while long necklaces with diamonds and other precious gemstones were worn on either the front or down the back to accessorize the outfit of the evening.
Global influences were strong in the Art Deco period due to the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, which brought a resurgence of ancient Egyptian motifs. Van Cleef & Arpels were highly influenced by pharaoh themes. Other major jewellers of the time, like Cartier, were inspired by the jewelry styles of India, Persia, and China, and incorporated Eastern methods of carving gems and mixing fine gems with colourful lapis and turquoise.
There is so much more to the innovations and styles of 1920s jewelry, but we hope this gives you an informed idea of why Art Deco design continues to be a major influence on contemporary jewelry today. Which aspect of Art Deco jewelry style would you rock?