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    

Vintage Art Deco Camphor Glass Rhinestone Sterling Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Pools Of Light Rose Quartz NecklaceVintage Art Deco Coro Rhodium Plate Crystal Rhinestone BraceletWow Vtg Signed Hollycraft Heavy Deco Green Blue Parure Ez Rhinestone Repair A77Rare Vintage Art Deco Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Saphiret Glass Bead Rondelle Rhinestone NecklaceAntique Art Deco Dark Cherry Amber Bakelite Necklace.34.3 Grams.Huge Job Lot Vintage Art Deco Costume Jewellery In Box Coro / Sarah CoventryOriginal Max Neiger 1920s Art Deco Peking Glass Bracelet Dragons Parrot SnakeVintage Art Deco Jewellery Gorgeous Geometric Enamel Brooch Pin Pierre BexAntique Art Deco Lot Brooch Dress Clip Belt Buckle Rhinestone Steel Cut Wow! P21Vtg Signed Whiting Davis Watermelon Deco Givre Rainbow Necklace Bracelet Set A59Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Gorgeous Pierre Bex Geometric Enamel Brooch PinVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Guilloche Enamel Pendant Watch NecklaceAntique Art Deco Green Open Back Crystal Glass Choker Necklace Stunning! A116Art Deco Vintage Venetian Black & Mop Glass Necklace 23" Long Circa 1920Antique Deco All Gold Filled Locket Pendant Lot Picture Sweetheart Compass A159Rare Art Deco Trifari Ktf/tkf Tricolor Pastel Fruit Salad Dress Clip Pat# 105405Vintage Art Deco Red & Crystal Rhinestone Dress Clip PairVintage Jewellery Millefiori Venetian Italian Glass Art Deco Bead Long NecklaceVintage Art Deco Monet Chrome Plate BraceletVintage Gorgeous Deco 40's Whimsical Bakelite Turtle Bracelet Hinged BangleVintage Art Deco Signed Czech Glass Cherry Red Vauxhall NecklaceVintage Cherry Amber Silver Jewellery Lot Deco Old Rabbit Ring Bakelite Antique Rare Antique Art Deco Round Faceted Genuine Honey Cognac Amber Bead NecklaceAntique Art Deco Signed Nov-e-line Green Glass Flower Rhinestone Bracelet A102Stunning Vintage Victorian Art Deco Jewelry Findings Lot - 27 PcVtg Juliana Purple Rhinestone Cluster Teardrop Clamper Deco Bracelet Wow A121Antique Art Deco Mourning Glass Rhinestone Graduated Choker Necklace Wow A108Huge Wow Unsigned Schiaparelli Vtg Flower Cluster Rhinestone Brooch Pin Deco A40Antique Art Deco Gold Gilt Chrysoprase Green Czech Glass NecklaceAntique Art Deco Silver Pot Metal Emerald Rhinestone Pave Flower Bracelet A12446” Long Deco Neiger Bros Czech Glass Egyptian Revival Scarab Blue Bead NecklaceVtg Signed Weiss Red Ruby Rhinestone Multirow Crystal Deco Bracelet A98Antique Signed Italy Muran Glass Mirco Mosaic Flower Cameo Deco Brooch Pin A23Vintage Jewellery Antique Art Deco Venetian Peking Glass Crystal Bead NecklaceGlorious Vintage French Art Deco Fire Opal Foil Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Mid 20th Celluloid Snake Bangle Bracelet (art Deco????)Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Beautiful Guilloche Enamel And Crystal Lizard BroochArt Deco Citrine And Clear Paste Lariat Silver Dangling NecklaceVtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Paste Glass Emerald Green Bangle BracelAntique Art Deco Signed Marena Turquoise Glass Brooch Pin Earring Set Wow A65Vintage Antique Jewellery Art Deco Spider Blue Rhinestone Crystal Pin BroochLot Antique Victorian Art Deco Jewelry Studs Mourning Fob Charms Wear Reapair Vintage Gorgeous Deco Miriam Haskell Poured Glass Grape Bead Brooch PinVintage Jewellery Art Deco Enamel Violet Flower Brooch/pinVintage Art Deco 10k Gold Blue Spinel BroochVintage Art Deco Long Speckled Graduated Glass Bead NecklaceVtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Wide Blue Glass Paste Bangle BraceletVintage Art Deco Vaseline Uranium Glass Bead 30” NecklaceVintage Art Deco Jelly Belly Rhinestone Bracelet Red Cabochons Unsigned Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Stunning Iris Glass Crystal Band BraceletAntique Art Deco Signed Eisenberg Original Rhinestone Bracelet Wow A122Vintage French Art Deco 800 Fine Silver Marcasite Genuine Salmon Coral BroochVtg Juliana Rhinestone Cluster Lucite Bead Charm Bib Choker Necklace Deco A114Vintage Jewellery Beautiful Art Deco Pierre Bex Geometric Enamel BroochVintage Deco Czech Uranium Glass Jade Green Melon Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Vibrant Red Celluloid Cameo NecklaceArt Deco Czech Jadeith Glass Necklace 26” Mesh Chain With Exotic Bird MedallionVintage Art Deco Brass Tone Emerald Green Coloured Glass Crystal Axe Brooch