Art Deco Costume Jewelry Guide

Art Deco Costume Jewelry Guide


Art Deco jewelry embodies an iconic style emblematic of the years 1920 to 1935 and reflects a distinctive era in design. It's a time marked by the fusion of preceding and succeeding influences, creating a transition between epochs.


Influences of Art Deco Design

The Art Deco period was influenced by various factors, including the Art Nouveau era, Bauhaus, Cubism, Fauvism, Vienna Secession, and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Practitioners drew inspiration from diverse sources such as cultures worldwide, early Classical art, and nature. Exotic art forms from places like China, Japan, India, Persia, ancient Egypt, and the Maya civilization enriched the movement's aesthetic. Additionally, Art Deco incorporated themes from Egyptian and African cultures alongside technological advancements of the Machine Age. The Jazz Age and Hollywood added glamour, while exhibitions like the Paris Exposition fueled innovation. This blend of influences contributed to the distinctive allure and lasting legacy of Art Deco.


 Costume Jewelry in the Art Deco Era

Art Deco Cleopatra Buckle Half

Costume jewelry from this era boasts a rich array of characteristics, including geometric shapes, bold angles, and vivid color contrasts. Materials such as Czech glass, sterling silver, and marcasites were common and contributed to the appeal. Notable motifs included butterfly wings, speed-related themes, and the ever-popular "fruit salad" jewelry adorned with an assortment of real and synthetic gems.


Art Deco jewelry manifested in various forms, each capturing the spirit of the era:


Necklaces: From long flapper beads to Czech designs featuring angular stones, necklaces were a statement of elegance. Faux pearls, Venetian and Czech beads, seed beads, and delicate chain link and pendant necklaces, adorned necklines with sophistication. Often crafted from affordable materials like Bakelite, celluloid, sterling silver, brass, or chrome, they mimic the opulence of fine jewelry with intricate metalwork and faux gemstones. Symmetrical patterns and streamlined shapes prevail, reflecting the movement's modernist influence.

Geometric pendants, often adorned with enamel or rhinestones, are common features. Choker necklaces, and long strands with or without tassel embellishments are popular styles, providing versatility in accessorizing. Despite their affordable nature, Art Deco costume jewelry necklaces exude elegance and sophistication, making them enduring symbols of the era.

Earrings: Art Deco earrings are characterized by geometric shapes and vibrant colors, crafted from materials like Bakelite, chrome, brass, or silver to emulate fine jewelry at a more accessible price point. Symmetrical patterns and streamlined designs reflect the modernist aesthetic, often featuring intricate metalwork and faux or real gemstones for added opulence. Long dangles were favored, complementing bobbed hairstyles. Screw-back findings were common for wear by those without pierced ears. Geometric studs and drop earrings with enamel or rhinestones were also prevalent. 


Bracelets:  Art Deco costume jewelry bracelets epitomize the era's glamour with geometric designs and bold colors. Worn in multiples on wrists, bracelets were symbols of both fashion and status. Classic bangle bracelets with geometric motifs, tennis (or line) bracelets, and flexible link designs offered versatility. Crafted from materials like Bakelite, celluloid, brass, silver or chrome, they mimic the sophistication of fine jewelry at an affordable price. Symmetrical patterns and streamlined shapes dominate, reflecting the modernist aesthetic. Bracelets often feature intricate metalwork and faux gemstones, adding to their opulence.  


Brooches and Pins: Art Deco costume jewelry brooches were not confined to mere geometric forms; circular, oval, and thematic shapes added a distinctive flair to lapels and attire. These brooches transcended mere ornamentation; they narrated tales of elegance and charm. With motifs ranging from the vibrant essence of Florida to the graceful charm of gazelles, each piece became a canvas of storytelling. These articles are  a favorite among collectors due to their whimsey and charm.




Rings: Art Deco rings are highly sought after, and for good reason! These exquisite pieces, reflective of the opulence of the 1920s, display meticulously designed motifs. Sterling silver, esteemed for its durability and luminous quality, serves as the ideal medium for intricate geometric patterns and delicate filigree and milgrain detailing. indicative of the era's modernist influences. With notable features such as large stones, channel setting, and intricate filigree, these rings encapsulate Art Deco grandeur, offering insight into the era's penchant for sophistication and artistic innovation.


Dress Clips: These exquisite and versatile accessories, popularized during the Art Deco era, boast a diverse array of designs and materials. Dress clips often feature geometric shapes, bold colors, monochromatic clear crystal motifs, and intricate details. From sturdy pot metal, to chrome, rhodium plated silver, and lustrous Bakelite, these clips utilize a variety of materials to achieve their captivating appeal. Beyond their decorative appeal, dress clips offer versatility in styling, capable of adorning collars, pockets, belts, shoes, or even hats with effortless elegance.


In summary, Art Deco jewelry is more than adornment—it's a tangible connection to a bygone era. As you explore its diversity, let each piece unlock a chapter of history and celebrate the enduring allure of Art Deco craftsmanship.

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