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 Antique Venetian Art Deco Flower Garland Glass Bead Jewellery NecklaceGorgeous Vintage Art Deco Rainbow Foil And Amethyst Glass Necklace Some UraniumVintage Art Deco Jewellery Stunning Czech Neiger Style Peking Glass BuckleBreathtaking Vintage Art Deco Czech Egyptian Revival Dangle Necklace 1920s WowVintage Art Deco Jewellery Czech Stunning Rainbow Iris Glass Bead NecklaceAntique Vintage Sterling Silver 925 Art Deco Blue Stone Drop Necklace 16" LongAntique Art Deco Huge Bead Graduated Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead Necklace 61 .3 GVintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Iris Rainbow Venetian Glass Crystal Bead NecklaceVictorian Art Deco Nouveau Vintage Purple Amethyst Jewelry LotVintage Art Deco Czech Filigree Seed Pearl Rhinestone Bar & Dropper Brooch PinVictorian Deco Vtg Mixed Lot Wear/repair Sterling Butterfly Wing Cameo Vintage Art Deco Lady & Dog Plastic Costume Brooch Vintage Art Deco Czech Neiger Glass Filigree Metal Panel Drop NecklaceVintage Czech Art Deco Jewellery Max Neiger Style Cabochon BroochMcclelland Barclay Ruby Red And Diamante Deco Link BraceletArt Deco Czech Red Opaque Step Glass Ornate Brass Bead Lavalier Pendant NecklaceJob Lot 20+ Edwardian Art Deco Vintage Jewellery-necklace,earrings,brooch,pinVintage 1930's Signed Art Deco Geometrical Blue Glass Bangle Jewellery BraceletJob Lot 20+ Edwardian Art Deco Vintage Jewellery-brooch Pin-quartz,enamel,celticAntique Art Deco Venetian Royal Blue Wedding Cake Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Venetian Murano Millefiori Glass Bead Necklace 28" W EarringsVictorian Art Deco Repair/harvest Lot Watch Chain Coral Bead Necklace Sterling Mcclelland Barclay Deco Ruby Red & Diamante NecklaceVtg 1920-30's Sparkling Art Deco Open Backed Crystal Glass Sterling "y" NecklaceLong 1920's Deco Czech Yellow Art Glass Necklace Colored Enamels Stones NeigerAntique Vintage Art Deco Stone Set Drop Necklace 17" LongTruly Beautiful Vintage Art Deco Camphor Glass Filigree NecklaceAntique Paste Set Ornate Art Deco Drop Necklace 17" Long Vtg Antique Art Deco Nouveau Sterling Silver Paste Parrot PendantAntique Art Deco Czech Max Neiger Chinese Style Dragon Brooch PinVictorian Art Deco 18 Stick Pin Lot Gold Filled Sterling Cameo Moonstone PearlVintage Art Deco Ornate Camphor Glass Sterling Marcasite NecklaceOutstanding Vintage Art Deco Czech Egyptian Revival Blue Glass Necklace 1920sAntique Art Deco Lot 3 Bakelite Carved Bangle BraceletsOrnate Antique Art Deco Gold Tone Brass & Cut Goldstone Necklace Czech SlovaVintage Art Deco Jewellery Gorgeous Czech Filigree Citrine Rhinestone Brooch PinVintage Christian Dior Art Deco Ornate Emerald Glass Rhinestone Clip EarringsVintage Art Deco Matched Cane Millefiori Bead Necklace To Wear Rethread RepairAntique Art Deco Purple Stone Ornate Necklace 17" Long No Clasp Missing Stones Nr Antique Signed Czech Light Purple Glass Rhinestone & Enamel Necklace Art DecoVintage Art Deco Jewellery Sparkling Blue Sapphire & Topaz Rhinestone BraceletJob Lot 20+ Vintage Art Deco Retro Jewellery-collar,earrings,brooch,pin,braceletVintage Antique Art Deco Red Open Bezel Set Glass Crystal Bead Link NecklaceVintage Antique Flapper Old Art Deco 1930,s Decorative Black Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Amber Glass Crystal Bead Drop Jewellery Necklace105 Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Beads C1920. 230gVintage Art Deco Jewellery Gorgeous Czech Filigree Emerald Rhinestone Brooch PinAntique Vintage Art Deco Blue Stone Drop Necklace 16" Long Missing 1 Small StoneVintage 7.5" Bracelet Art Deco Style Mid Century Rhinestone Oval Statement I49Sign Czecho Antique Art Deco Frog Brooch Pin Green Red Rhinestone Brass Tn I172Gorgeous Vtg Czech Deco Fruit Salad Glass Brass Necklace! Je11Exquisite! Huge Vtg Signed Mazer Deco Diamante Glass Rhodium Brooch Set! Je11Vtg 1920-30's Art Deco Snake Motif Molded Mint Green Satin Glass Tassel NecklaceVintage Art Deco Jewelery Gorgeous Czech Filigree Enamel & Rhinestone Brooch PinBeautiful Lrg Vintage Art Deco Czech Filigree Blue Topaz Rhinestone Brooch PinVintage Art Deco Style Graduated Czech Peking Art Glass Bead Choker Necklace Beautiful Art Deco Butterfly Wing Dragonfly BroochPretty Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Blue Glass Crystal Bead Link Drop NecklaceHuge Vintage Art Deco 1930s Enamel Rhinestone Floral Flower Bouquet Pin Lot Lovely Vintage Art Deco Emerald Green Rhinestone Crystal Drop Jewellery Earrings