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 Art Deco Signed Czech Faux Chrysoprase Glass Bead NecklaceArt Deco Paste Rhinestone Dress Clip Pin LotAntique Large Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Graduated Necklace Beads 70.8 GramVintage Machine Age Art Deco Chrome Plate Black Green Enamel BraceletRare Vintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Neiger Bros Enamel Coral Glass Dress ClipVintage Art Deco Germany Enamel Molded Coral Art Glass Flower NecklaceAntique Art Deco Amber Czech Glass Rhinestone Flower NecklaceVintage Art Deco Gold Gilt Metal Faux Carnelian Glass Buckle BraceletArt Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Tested Beads 67g ~ Strong Colour ~ Great QualityVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Camphor Glass NecklaceVintage Art Deco Silver Gilt Filigree Rhinestone Art Glass Micro Mosaic NecklaceVintage Art Deco Green Paste Rhinestone Pot Metal Pendant Necklace Bracelet PartAntique Art Deco 29 Grams Real Natural Caramell Butterscotch Amber NecklaceAntique Art Deco Mix Lot Scatter Pin Rhinestone Brooch Shoe Clip Flower! Jr293Stunning Big Vtg Czech Deco Art Glass Egyptian Rev Flapper Necklace Hr685Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Rainbow Pastel Venetian Satin Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Mcclelland Barclay Art Deco Moderne Cuff Bangle Bracelet Beautiful!Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Red Jasper Carved Stone Graduated Bead NecklaceAntique Egyptian Revival Genuine Beautiful Scarab Beetle Bug Bracelet Art Deco Stunning Art Deco Vintage Austrian Gold Foiled Bead Necklace NrAntique Art Deco Victorian Mix Lot Some Repair Choker Rhinestone Brooch! Jr266Antique Early Art Deco Mediterranean Blue Glass Bead Festoon NecklaceArt Deco Millefiori Venetian Glass Beads Necklace Multicolour ~ Bargin To Grab ~Antique Early Art Deco Amethyst Glass Dangle EarringsPretty Art Deco Sterling Silver Green Faceted Drop Necklace Lawrence Vrba Massive (11.5" Drop) Art Deco Choker Necklace - Carved Resin Gorgeous Big Vtg Signed Czech Deco Carved Glass Brass Filigree Necklace!! Hr685Vtg 80s Givenchy Paris Art Deco Mogul Onyx Coral Pearl Sautoir Runway NecklaceVintage Art Deco 48" Cherry Amber Bakelite&egg Yolk Amber Bead Necklace!Vtg Antique Art Deco Nouveau Topaz Amber Czech Glass Enamel Painted NecklaceLovely Vintage Art Deco Necklace Bezel Set Open Back Czech Blue Glass CrystalsVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Aqua Feather Venetian Murano Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Faux Chrysoprase Czech Glass Bead BraceletVintage Art Deco Sterling Camphor Glass Pendant Necklace Vintage Art Deco Czech Neiger Cube Glass Bead NecklaceExquisite Big Vtg Czech Deco Nouveau Peking Glass Brass Filigree Necklace! Hr685Fabulous Early Vintage Deco Sterling Guilloche Enamel BraceletGorgeous Big Vtg Czech Deco Lipstick Red Glass Brass Filigree Bracelet!! Hr685Antique Art Deco Czech Enamel Butterfly BroochAntique Art Deco Vintage Necklace Yellow Rhinestone Fringe Silver Tone 3625Vintage Art Deco Czech Gilt Brass Green Glass Beaded Flower Dress ClipVintage 15" Silver Art Deco Or Nouveau Necklace W/blue StonesFrench Art Deco "panther" BroochAntique Art Deco Alfred Philippe Crown Trifari Vintage Brooch Fur Clip 3142Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Rainbow Agate Stone Graduated Bead NecklaceSigned The Dfb Co Antique Art Deco 10k Gold Tested Engraved Floral Nice 4266Stunning~vntg~steinbock Austria~24k Gold~enamel Art Deco Design~bangle BraceletStunning Huge Vtg Nouveau Deco Signed Gf Sterling Jade Cameo Jewelry Lot Hr685Art Deco Whiting & Davis Signed Mesh Antique Van Dyke Vintage Estate PurseAntique Art Deco Vintage Necklace Flower Pendant Clear Emerald Rhinestone 3095Vintage Victorian Art Deco Broken Junk Rhinestones Jewelry Brooch Bracelet Lot A550 Vintage Art Deco Bakelite Butterscotch Amber Bead Necklace 77 GramsVintage Art Deco Black Bakelite & Celluloid Mourning Prison Photo Ring Sz 10Vintage Costume Brooch Art Deco Era Butterfly Wings Style ~ Strong Blue Colour ~Vintage Art Deco Blue Glass Necklace BeautifulGorgeous! Antique Art Deco Edwardian Chromium Filigree Peridot Lavalier ~repairSigned American Queen Gold Plate Antique Art Deco Vintage Bracelet Flower 3040Vintage 30s Green Bakelite Carved Hinge Clamper Deco Geometric Swirl BraceletVintage Art Deco Orange Engraved Plastic Ring Box Art-deco Drgm Black Bakelite And White Rhinestone Bracelet