The term "costume jewelry" was first coined in the Art Deco era, which started in the 1920s and lasted until World War II. Also known as "streamline moderne," Art Deco embraced industrialization whereas Art Nouveau rejected it. Inspired by the Bauhaus and Cubist schools of art, as well as Mayan ruins and King Tut's tomb, Art Deco was all about rigid geometric symmetry, abstraction, and smooth, straight lines, as well as edgy new materials like chrome, steel, platinum, and plastics like Bakelite.

Deco style was a different sort of rebellion: The flapper, known as "la garçonne" in France, represented a new level of freedom for women—to be sexually adventurous and androgynous, wear their hair short, smoke openly, and show off their bare legs and arms. Coco Chanel, one of the biggest influencers of the flapper look, introduced a series of bold "statement" accessories shaped like large flowers and frogs, meant to be worn as art rather than symbols of wealth.

Around the same time, Hobé was making big, dramatic jewelry with rhinestones for the costumes of the "Ziegfeld Follies," which may have something to do with the name "costume jewelry." Elsa Schiaparelli quickly followed with a line of Dada-inspired jewelry using large, fake gemstones.

While celluloid had been used to imitate tortoiseshell, jade, coral, wood, and horn, the new plastic resin known as Bakelite—which came in bold colors like Apple Juice, Butterscotch, and Salmon—became the go-to material for long, beaded necklaces and large, chunky bangles that emphasized thin, tantalizing flapper arms. Chrome and steel were used in brooches, necklaces, and bracelets that mimicked the movements of machines and resembled nuts and bolts.

Following the lead of fine jewelers like Cartier, emerging costume jewelers like Trifari and Coro made rhinestone brooches, dress pins, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in abstract geometric Art Deco styles that sometimes took the shape of Mayan and Egyptian pyramids, skyscrapers, automobiles, or airplanes. Both of these costume jewelers introduced clever dress-pin sets, that could be worn separately, or together on a brooch, and these, too, came in angular Art Deco shapes. Flowers became more stylized, while jewels took on Arabic, Turkish, Aztec, and Chinese patterns.

Diamanté rhinestones were also forged in the bold new shapes mimicking fine-jewelry diamonds: baguettes, trapezoids, batons, and squares known as calibré. In the mid-1920s, black-and-white looks were particularly chic, so diamanté crystals were set with black glass or enamel, a.k.a fake onyx, in beaded necklaces and other pieces.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Art Deco 1910-1939

Art Deco 1910-1939

This Victoria and Albert Museum has a terrific collection of Art Deco objects. On the VAM's website, you can learn … [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Decopix

Decopix

Randy Juster's survey of Art Deco imagery and reference on all things Deco. Includes pages on murals, houses, gov… [read review or visit site]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Vtg French Machine Age Art Deco Silver Plate Amethyst Purple Glass NecklaceVtg Antique Art Deco Sterling Silver Green White Enamel Chain NecklaceVintage Art Deco Miriam Haskell Gold Gilt Green Glass Bead Collar Bib NecklaceVtg Art Deco Openback Open Back Crystal Sterling Silver Bezel Set NecklaceArt Deco 1920's Edwardian Blue Glass Rhodium Filigree Pendant NecklaceRare Vintage Art Deco French Sterling Silver Onyx Marcasite Bird BroochVtg 1930's Art Deco Czech Glass Egyptian Revival Snake Peking Dangle NecklaceAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Guilloche Enamel Pomander Perfume PendantVtg Art Deco Czech Egyptian Revival Lapis Glass Bead Flapper NecklaceArt Deco Sterling Silver Aqua Glass Open Back Rim Claw Set Necklace,bracelet,earAntique Art Deco Egyptian Revival Silver Plate Art Glass Sautoir NecklaceBeautiful, Original Vintage Lea Stein Paris Head - Art Deco Lady BroochFine Art Deco Sterling Silver Chrysoprase Marcasite Lavalier Pendant NecklaceRare Vtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Purple Rhinestone Bangle BraceletVtg 1920's Sparkling Art Deco Open Backed Bezel Set Crystal & Sterling NecklaceAntique Art Deco Silver & 9ct Gold Paste & Ruby Eye Monkey Trapeze Brooch 1920'sVintage 1920's Art Deco "edwardian" Camphor Glass Silver/gold Filigree NecklaceArt Deco Solid Silver Mickey Mouse Lge Enamel Ch Charles Horner Brooch Pin 1930Vintage Stunning Bohemian Art Deco Opalescent Foil Glass Beads NecklaceVtg Czech Art Deco Amethyst Glass Silver Filigree Jewel Pendant Dangles NecklaceRare Vintage Art Deco Round Genuine Cognac Amber Bead NecklaceVintage 1920's Art Deco "edwardian" Camphor Glass Rhodium Filigree BraceletVtg Art Deco Czech Glass Carnelian Dot And Leaf Pink Enamel BraceletVintage 1920's Exceptional Art Deco Teal Glass Sterling Filigree BraceletRare Vtg Jakob Bengel Era Machine Age Art Deco Chrome Black Glass Bead NecklaceAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Crystal Paste Rhinestone Buckle Bracelet Art Deco Bakelite Sprung Bracelet Bangle Clamper - Deep Amber Marbled VintageVtg Art Deco Bakelite Era Wood Reverse Painted Glass Equestrian Horse BraceletVintage Art Deco Czech Cut Yellow Crystal Geometric Bead Link Dangle NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Marcasite Garnet BraceletVtg Art Deco Cherry Red Carved Butterscotch Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Stack Of 5Rare Czech Art Deco Nouveau Jade Glass Filigree Enamel Dragon Pendant NecklaceFabulous Art Deco Era Enamel & Blue Glass Compact On ChainVintage Art Deco Wide Floral & Leaf Carved Jet Black Bakelite Bracelet Size 8Vintage Jewllery Art Deco Czech Glass Flower NecklaceArt Deco Genuine Whitby Jet Earrings - Paste StonesOld Art Nouveau Deco Czech Lapis Glass Filigree Brass Sautoir Flapper NecklaceLg Vintage Lot Victorian Edwardian Art Deco Cufflinks Buttons Mens Jewelry 170+Amazing Antique Art Deco Lapis Lazuli Enamel Onyx Lavaliere Necklace-antique WowRare Art Deco Rainbow Tricolour Foil Beads Vintage Rolled Gold Wire NecklaceLot 20 Estate Victorian Deco Jewelry Lot Lockets Cameo Brooch Hair Ring NecklaceVintage Art Deco Burgundy Red Glass Brass Filigree Fringe Book Chain NecklaceAntique Art Deco Fur Coat Dress Pairs Clip Lot Clear Rhinestone Pot Metal Signed 1930s Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead Necklace 55 GmsOld Art Deco Citrine Yellow Glass Crystal Openback Gold Fill Gf Silver NecklaceFabulous Vintage Art Deco Eqyptian Lady Gold Filled Heart Locket Charm PendantVintage Art Deco Rhodium Camphor Glass Diamond Necklace Pendant Excellent Cond Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Opal Red Opalescent Venetian Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Gorgeous Art Deco Open Back Brilliant Clear & Peridot Crystals NecklaceFabulous Early 20thc Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead Necklace - 116 GramsVtg Art Deco Wedding Cake Venetian Glass Turquoise Blue Beaded Bead Necklace 38"Stunning Deco Red Vauxhall Glass Fan NecklaceVtg 1930s Art Deco Pink Green Chrysoprase Sugarloaf Glass Austria Pearl BraceletEstate Vtg~sterling Silver Amethyst Rhinestone Cameo Jade Gemstones Art Deco LotArt Deco Brooch Lady Walking Borzoi Hound Dog Marcasite 925 Sterling SilverBakelite Antique Art Deco Bracelet Hand Carved Butterscotch Bangle Nice! 3003Gorgeous Vintage Art Deco Rainbow Foil Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Jewellery Beautiful Art Deco Blue/clear Crystal Glass NecklaceVintage & Art Deco Clear Rhinestone Repair & Parts Jewelry Lot Pins Dress ClipsVintage Jewellery Art Deco Silver And Marcasite Crystal Lizard Brooch Pin