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    

Vtg 1930's Art Deco Blue Chalcedony Pink Rose Quartz Glass Modernist NecklaceGenuine Art Deco 35" Cherry Amber Bakelite Graduated Bead Necklace 83gr Vintage Vtg Art Deco Signed Czech Glass Aquamarine Peking Enamel Flower Leaf NecklaceVintage 1920s Art Deco Chrome Green Black Galalith Pendant Necklace Jakob BengelVintage Art Deco Czech Max Neiger Egyptian Revival Pink Scarab Beads NecklaceNice Vintage Flapper Length Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Necklace Beads 61gVintage Art Deco Bi Colour Foil Glass Bead Necklace - Fantastic Cube BeadsArt Deco / Nouveau Sterling Silver Enamel Marcasite Floral Bouquet Brooch PinVintage Art Deco Jewellery Graduating Paste Shooting Star Bar Brooch Fur PinRare Antique Art Deco Genuine Butterscotch Honey Amber Bead NecklaceArt Deco Czech 1930's Max Neiger Chinese Dragon Bat Enamel & Glass Brooch PinEgyptian-revival~art Deco Style "serpent" / "snake" Bracelet~(whiting Davis)~nrMax Neiger Art Deco Czeck Egyptian Necklace Green & Orange Glass NrGorgeous Large Art Deco Rhinestone Brooch Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Butterscotch Amber Bakelite Long Bead NecklaceFine Vintage French Art Deco Silver & Chrysoprase Gemstone BraceletGorgeous Vintage Art Deco Duette (pair) Dress Clips / Brooch - 'c.p. England'Jr Estate Vtg Victorian Deco Jewelry Lot Lockets Cameo Brooch Hair Ring Neckla EAntique Art Deco Gold Filled Round Faceted Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead NecklaceFabulous Art Deco Sterling & Blue Stone Antique Ornate Chain Estate NecklaceVintage Art Deco Clarice Cliff Elegant Couple Ballroom Dancing Enamel BroochAntique Art Deco Necklace With Green Peking Glass StonesVintage Jewellery Art Deco Unusual Mottled Glass Bead Necklace Murano Venetian ? Vintage Jewellery Pair Of Art Deco Dress Clips (duette) Signed Jewelcraft Antique-art Deco Camphor & Black Glass, Rhinestones, Sterling Silver NecklaceArt Deco Bakelite Red & Black Marbelized Half Circle BraceletVtg Art Deco Butterscotch Egg Yolk Bakelite Bead 72g 28" Necklace101 Vintage Czech Bohemian Filigree And Amethyst Crystal Earrings Art DecoRare Art Deco Neiger Bros Czech Blue Peking Glass & Filigree Necklace Original Art Deco 1920s Graduated Coral Necklace - 10.4g - Length 17.5" LongVintage 1930's Art Deco Czech Signed Amethyst Glass Gilt Filigree NecklaceSigned Japan Vintage Necklace Pendant Big Glass Rhinestone Wedding Deco Wow 6090Huge 1930s Art Deco Bakelite Amber Bead 58 GmsVintage Rhinestone Art Deco Duette Dress Scarf Fur Clips Brooch Signed Pat. #Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Rainbow Crystal Glass Bead Link Drop NecklaceVintage Art Deco Era Bangle Bracelet Celluloid & White/black Rhinestones*no Res A Vintage Art Deco Necklace In The Jakob Bengel StyleArt Deco Style Dainty Poppy ,vintage Enamel Fairy Flower Necklace Antique Art Deco Vintage Mix Lot Rhinestone Brooch Pin Fur Clip Duets Bead Se327Edwardian / Deco Real Coral Beads Necklace Old Antique Quite Long!Vintage Art Deco Venetian Fancy Feather Aventurine Trade Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Job Lot Jewellery Cameo Necklace Bracelet Chrome CelluloidVintage 1920-30's Art Deco Amethyst "bullet" Glass Gilded Filigree NecklaceLovely Vintage Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Necklace Beads 35gVintage Insect Brooch Bug Fly Spider Art DecoArt Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Peacock Feather Glass Crystal Bead Long NecklaceVintage Art Deco Tourmaline Green Gp Lever Back Drop EarringsAntique Art Deco Wachenheimer Sterling Silver Pin Brooch Vintage 1920s OrangeVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Turquoise Venetian Glass Large Bead NecklaceSigned 925 Ss Sterling Silver Vintage Ring Size 8 Smokey Spinel Deco Floral 1009Vtg Art Deco 50g Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Opalite Jade Green Graduated Glass Bead NecklaceGorgeous Vintage Art Deco Rhinestone Bracelet Art Deco Egyptian Revival Scarab Pharoh Glass Beads Neiger Brothers NecklaceSign Sterling Mb 2370 Art Deco Vintage Brooch Pin Marcel Boucher Rare 4012Fabulous Glass Flowers Art Deco Era Antique Vintage Old Estate NecklaceVtg Ps Co Art Deco Filligree Bracelet With Pink RhinestonePretty Art Deco 1930s Iris Glass Drop Necklace Vintage Cherry Red Amber Faceted 34" Bakelite Necklace 64 Grams Art Deco Sweet!