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    

Antique Art Deco Neiger Bros Enamel Czech Art Glass Rhinestone NecklaceStunning Antique Art Deco Czech Pink Blue Green Iridescent Art Glass NecklaceAntique Art Deco Czech Glass Enamel Pendant NecklaceAntique Art Deco Neiger Bros Carnelian Green Czech Glass Enamel Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Quartz Rock Crystal Dangle EarringsAntique Art Deco Gilt Sterling Silver Garnet Snake Coil BraceletVintage Art Deco Forstner Gold Filled Snake Coil BraceletVintage Art Deco Signed Coro Duette Brooch Baguette Paste Geometric Fur ClipsAntique Art Deco Coral Czech Glass Bead NecklaceUnusual Antique Art Deco Foiled Cobalt Blue Venetian Or Czech Glass NecklaceVintage Art Deco Jean Painleve France Gold Plate Bakelite Seahorse BraceletAntique Art Deco Mottled Green Czech Glass Enamel & Red Rhinestone BraceletAntique Art Deco Neiger Bros Czech Glass Rhinestone Dangle EarringsAntique Art Deco Robins Egg Blue Czech Glass Sautoir NecklaceAntique Art Deco Geometric Red & Black Czech Glass BraceletUnusual Antique Art Deco Austria Chrysoprase Green Art Glass BraceletAntique Art Deco Bezel Set Genuine Rock Crystals Quartz Sterling Silver NecklaceAntique Art Deco Egyptian Revival Neiger Bros Vaseline Glass Scarab NecklaceVintage Machine Age Art Deco Chrome Red Galalith Cherry Pendant NecklaceFabulous Vintage Highly Geometric Art Deco Platinon NecklaceVtg Unsigned Ciner Purple Marble Cabochon Deco Medallion Bracelet T193Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Snake Serpent Ebony Coiled Bangle BraceletAntique Germany Art Deco Sterling Silver Blue Jasper Marcasite Pendant NecklaceRare Antique Art Deco Fishel Nessler Sterling Silver Carved Rose Quartz NecklaceAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Marcasite Salmon Red Coral RingVintage Machine Age Art Deco Chrome Galalith Teapot BroochAntique Art Deco Dress Clip Duette Set Brooch Rhinestone Red Clear 2mssing T53Vintage Jewellery Lovely Enamel Art Deco Pierre Bex Style Swallow Bird BroochVintage Art Deco Venetian Glass Necklace Beads Foil Foiled Beads Roses EtcVinate Art Deco Marked Sterling Silver Open Back 8 Mm Glass Crystals NecklaceStunning Antique Art Deco Enamel Black & Red Czech Glass NecklaceVintage 1930's Art Deco Marbled Amber Early Plastic Celluloid Bead Long NecklaceAntique Art Deco Neiger Bros Egyptian Revival Red Glass Scarab Bead NecklaceFabulous Bohemian Max Neiger Art Deco Necklace Of Classic Heavy Filigree DesignVtg Juliana Topaz Grey Cluster Rhinestone Flower Deco Silver Tone Bracelet T184Antique Art Deco Signed Coro Duette Brooch Clip Set Ez Rhinestone Repair T54Antique Art Deco Red Glass Bead Flapper Tassel Pendant NecklaceVintage Machine Age Art Deco Chrome & Galalith BroochAntique Art Deco Peking Mourning Glass Necklace Lot Parts Needs Clasps T155Art Deco Carved Cherry Red Scalloped Daisy Bakelite Tested Bangle Bracelet Mint!Vintage Art Deco Real Marcasite Superb Floral Panel Bracelet20s Art Deco Knoll & Pregizer 935 Sterling Silver Ruby & Diamante Paste BraceletFabulous Art Deco Green Bakelite Necklace-geometric Machine Age ModernistVintage Art Deco Gorgeous Peking Glass Speckled Green Bead NecklaceArt Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Pendant Necklace (tested)Vtg Antique Art Deco Or Victorian Brooch Pin Blue Enamel Leaf Flower SwirlAntique Art Deco Signed Ne Enamel Purple Gree Flower Rhinestone Pot Metal T35Vintage Art Deco Era Carved Green Brown Yellow Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Lot 7Vintage Art Deco Czech Brass Filigree Dragon Purple Glass Enamel Floral NecklaceAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Black White Enamel Pink Art Glass BraceletAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Trifari Philippe Garnet Caduceus Brooch T204Vtg Art Deco Czech Purple Amethyst Crystal Bead Enamel Filigree Pendant NecklaceVintage Jewellery Art Deco Jewellery Stunning Oval Foil Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Jewellery Clear Rhinestone Starburst Sunburst Brooch Shawl PinVery Pretty Art Deco Silver Chain With Red Coral Drops Necklace-mint Condition..Antique Art Deco Bakelite Lot Necklace Pendant Bracelet Earring Brooch Pin T333Antique Art Deco Carnelian Glass Flower Openback Crystal Choker Necklace T187Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Iris Rainbow Crystal Glass Bead Drop NecklaceVintage Art Deco Clear Open Back Crystal Diamond Paste Riviere NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech Era Purple Glass & Clear Crystal Gold Tone Brooch