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]

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]

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]

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]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [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    

Vintage Plastic Art Deco Revival Modernist NecklaceJob Lot Vintage Jewellery Diamante Necklace Brooches Marcasite Art Deco BroochesVtg Art Deco Machine Age Jakob Bengel Modernist Brick Link Necklace Bracelet SetVtg Art Deco Egyptian Revival Snake Peking Glass Celluloid Enamel Brooch Pin LotVery Rare Art Deco Ktf Trifari Tricolor Fruit Salad Shield-shaped Dress Clip ~nrVtg Art Deco Butterscotch Egg Yolk Cherry Amber Bakelite Huge Bead Necklace 203gVtg 1920's Victorian Gold Plated Flower Blue Zircon Paste Art Deco NecklaceVintage 1920-30's Art Deco "czech" Amethyst Glass Filigree Lavaliere NecklaceRare Antique Art Deco Genuine Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Bead NecklaceVtg Kenneth Jay Lane Kjl Art Deco Revival Faux Coral Onyx Rhinestone NecklaceVintage Art Deco Marius Hammer Norway 930 Silver Enamel Butterfly Pin BroochVintage Max Neiger Art Deco Gilt Brass Lipstick Red Czech Glass BraceletVery Rare Art Deco 1930s Coro Ruby & Diamante Paste Duette Dress Clips Brooch NrVtg 1930's Art Deco Czech Signed Sapphire Blue "stepped" Glass Collar NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Opal Opalescent Venetian Glass Bead Long NecklaceFabulous Vintage Bakelite Beaded Purse Art Deco Bangle Or Pin No Reserve!Lot Of Antique Art Deco Flapper Necklaces. Jade Glass. Chinese Style. Glass BeadVintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Geometrical Tigers Eye Stone Silver Link BraceletRare Neiger Bothers Czech Art Deco Chinese Brooch Peking Glass Phoenix Antique Vintage Art Deco Cherry Red Amber Bakelite Barrel Bead Necklace 58 GmsSpectacular Vintage Art Deco Czech Enamel Chinese Carnelian Necklace Amazing On1920s Art Deco Sterling Silver Ruby Sapphire & Diamante Paste Night & Day RingVintage Brooch Marcel Boucher 1950s Goldtone Art Deco Style Bridal JewelleryExquisite Elegant Art Deco 1930's Coral Evening NecklaceLong Vintage/antique Art Deco Graduated Cherry Red Amber Bakelite Bead NecklaceArt Deco Egyptian Revival Casket & Mummy Pendant / Charm / Fob C 1920s - 1930sVintage Art Deco Antique 1930's Pale Pink Glass Crystal Bead Graduated NecklaceVintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Snake Paste Glass NecklaceArt Deco Vintage Style Spring Garden Enamel And Crystal Fairy Flower Necklace Vintage Art Deco Antique 1920's Early Plastic Shell Lady Pin Brooch Bakelite?Vintage Art Deco Amber Graduated Round Bead Necklace Egg Yolk Butterscotch 41g Vintage Monet Art Deco Silver Clear Lucite Bakelite Era Brooch Pin Flower Mint!Job Lot Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Onward Excellent Condition.Vintage Art Deco Large Cherry Amber Bakelite 32 Inches Necklace 89 G TestedVtg 1920's Art Deco Chinese Carved Amethyst "chinoisorie" Enamel Dragon BraceletCamphor Glass Art Deco Necklace All Original See DescriptionExquisite Art Deco 1940's 'harlequin' Sculpted Glass Bead Necklace & Earring SetLot Of Antique Victorian, Deco Pins And Brooches. Mother Of Pearl CarvedVintage Sterling Silver Art Deco Rhinestone Diamonbar Hinged Cuff Bracelet Wow!!The Best 1920's Art Deco Vintage Pink Czech Glass & White Enamel Dangle EarringsArt Deco Pretty Brooch - Suffragette??French Art Deco Sterling Silver Emerald Fruit Salad & Diamante Paste Dress Clip1930s - Art Deco/vintage Camphor & Blue Glass Sterling Pendant W/ .925 ChainAntique Victorian Deco Butterscotch Amber Hair Slide Comb TlcSpectacular Vintage Large Topaz Glass Art Deco Czech 1920's Necklace Amazing OnBeautiful Original Rare Art Deco 1930's Jade & Silver Screwback Button Earrings Art Deco Style Suffragette Colours Pearl And Crystal Swing Pendant Necklace Vtg 1920's Art Deco German Signed Jade Molded Glass Marcasite Sterling BraceletVintage Jewellery Victorian / Deco French Jet + Whitby Jet Beads For Spare RepaiAntique Art Deco Gia Certified Real Amber Beads Necklace -25 Inches LongVintage Art Deco Venetian Murano Millefiori Cube Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Unique Art Deco Sterling Silver Camphor Glass PendantVintage Art Deco Or Nouveau Green Enamel & Glass Paper Clip Chain NecklaceExquisite Original Art Deco 1920's Chrome & Marcasite Dress Clips & BroochArt Deco Sterling Silver Lapis Lazuli Marcasite Drop Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Antique 1930's Pink Green Glass Crystal Bead Graduated NecklaceVintage Art Deco Pink Green Venetian Glass Beads Pearl Necklace For RestringingVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Rainbow Millefiori Venetian Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Silver Blue Glass Camphor Glass Filigree Link BraceletArt Nouveau Deco Leaf And Pearl Waterfall Vintage Antique Brooch Pin