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]

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

An overview by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts of the design movements between 1880 and 1940 that comprised Moder… [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    

Unusual Vintage Art Deco Egg Yolk Butterscotch Amber Bakelite Bead NecklaceVtg 1920's Art Deco Openback Bezel Set Amethyst Glass Crystal NecklaceFine & Vintage Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite 43 Oval Beads Necklace 73,6 GStylish Genuine Art Deco Vintage Egyptian Revival Scarab Wings Enamel Brooch 20sArt Deco, Red Stripe, Pentagonal And Tube, Glass Bead Necklace - Czech 20's/30'sVintage 1930's Art Deco Pink Foiled Glass NecklaceVintage Art Deco Modernist Chrome Machine Age Fringe Necklace By Jacob Bengel?Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Art Deco Enamel Crown Badge 1870 1940 BroochVintage Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite 7 Barrel Beads Necklace Kombolai 57.1 GAntique Vintage Art Deco Jakob Bengel Chrome And Red Galalith Necklace Vtg 1930's Art Deco Czech Bright Red Glass Enamel Wide Leaf And Berry BraceletVintage Czech Lapis Glass Art Deco Pendant Brass NecklaceLong Vintage Art Deco Faux Ivory Ivoroid Celluloid Sautoir NecklaceAntique Art Nouveau Deco Blue Glass Pearl Sautoir NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Rhinestone BraceletIconic Art Deco Machine Age Chrome And Galalith Necklace By Jakob BengelVintage Art Deco Czech Clear Paste Glass & Pendant NecklaceFabulous Cherry Amber Bakelite Art Deco Era NecklaceVintage Art Deco Faux Tortoise Celluloid Chain Flower Leaf Bib NecklaceNo Reserve-vtg Signed Mcclelland Barclay Art Deco BroochVtg Antique Art Deco Old Czech Glass Emerald Sapphire Crystal Lavalier NecklaceAntique Vintage 1920 Art Deco Signed Czech Yellow Molded Glass Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco 17.5" Faceted Cherry Amber Bead Choker Necklace 23g Antique Vintage Victorian Art Deco Watch Chains Fobs LotAntique Art Deco Rhodium Plated Filigree Camphor Glass Necklace W Fancy ChainVintage Art Deco Necklace Blue Glass Drop Signed WbsVintage Deco Iris Glass Czech Necklace Silver ChainGorgeous Vintage Antique Art Deco Nouveau Czech Amber Glass Brass Necklace!Vintage Art Deco Czech Neiger Flower Filigree Bracelet CuffVintage Neiger Art Deco Czech Red Glass Filigree Enamel NecklaceVintage Deco Peking Glass Faux Jade Necklace Plus Bakelite? & Glass Earring LotVintage Deco Czech Necklace Green Glass Silver Tone Filagree Art Deco Egyptian Revival Black Glass Scarab NecklaceVtg 1930's Art Deco Chrysoprase Glass Leaf Silver Flower Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech Garnet Glass Rhinestone Enamel Filigree Butterfly BroochVintage Art Deco Engel Bros Sterling Bracelet & Earring SetVintage Art Deco Green Celluloid Flower Bangle BraceletVintage 30s Art Deco Czech Neiger Red Glass Pearl Brass Filigree NecklaceAntique Victorian Art Deco Vintage Big Gold Filled Sterling Silver Jewelry Lot Vtg 1930's Art Deco Egyptian Revival Mesh Snake NecklaceVintage Art Deco Max Neiger Rare Czech Bohemian Amethyst Glass Beads NecklaceVtg Art Deco Blue Crystal Teardrop Filigree Enamel Flower Chatelaine NecklaceGorgeous Vintage Art Deco Duette (pair) Dress Clips / Brooch - 'pat 2045385'Edwardian/deco Uranium Carnelian Glass Screw Back Earrings - Tested SilverVintage Art Deco Cufflinks 1930's Gilt Mother Of PearlVtg Huge Lot Costume & Fine Jewelry Haskell Sterling Trifari Art Deco Turquoise+Vintage Art Deco Necklace Open Backed Cranberry Glass Paste RiviereStunning! Vintage Czech Deco Sapphire Vauxhall Mirrored Glass Necklace! Xk300Vintage 1930's Art Deco Silver Filigree Pink Glass BraceletVintage Art Deco Czech Filigree Peking Glass Filigree Bracelet BangleVintage Art Deco Hand Painted Miniature Brooch Thomas L Mott/tlm Bluebell WoodVintage Art Deco Cufflinks 1930's Gilt Mother Of PearlVtg Art Deco Venetian Peacock Foil Art Glass Bead Necklace Earrings Set 3 StrandFabulous Early Vintage Art Deco Enamel & Faceted Stone Lavalier NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco Wedding Cake Disc Glass Bead Necklace ChokerAntique Art Deco Gold Filled Filigree Ruby Paste Rhinestone Bangle BraceletGorgeous Big Vintage Czech Art Deco Amber Glass Filigree Bracelet! Us241Antique Art Nouveau / Art Deco Yellow Glass Bead Enamel And Filigree NecklaceVintage Art Deco Open Back Set Pink Glass Rhinestone NecklaceOutstanding Deco Chalcedony & Sterling Ring