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    

Antique Art Deco Germany Sterling Silver Marcasite Hematite Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Emerald Glass Fruit Salad Crystal Rhinestone Dress Clip PairWide Antique Art Deco Fishel Nessler Crystal Paste Rhinestone BraceletUnusual Vintage Art Deco Invisibly Set Sapphire Rhinestone Bug Insect BroochVtg Art Deco Alexandrite Open Back Openback Crystal Glass NecklaceVintage Signed Art Deco Czech Glass Lapis Rose Quartz BraceletUnusual Antique Art Deco Egyptian Revival Carved Celluloid Galalith NecklaceGorgeous Vintage Antique Art Deco Peacock Foil Venetian Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech Vauxhall Glass Emerald Green NecklaceVtg Art Deco Signed Czech Glass Bezel Set Open Back Crystal 47” NecklaceAntique Art Deco Neiger Brothers Uranium Art Glass Bead NecklaceVtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Sapphire Glass Paste Bangle BraceletVintage Art Deco Venetian Moretti Millefiori Glass Bead NecklaceJob Lot Antique Victorian Art Deco & Later Curios Jewellery Silver Spares RepairVtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Channel Set Amethyst Glass Paste Bangle BraceletAntique Art Deco Silver Plate Blue Czech Glass BraceletFine Genuine Neiger Brothers Art Deco Czech Bohemian Brooch Chinese Jade Coral Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Czech Chinese Style Neiger Flying Bat Brooch/pin Vintage Art Deco Silver Filigree Enamel Flower Lapis Glass NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930s Iris Rainbow Venetian Glass Crystal Bead NecklaceBeautiful Iridescent Foil Bohemian Glass Bead Art Deco Necklace For RestringingVintage Art Deco Rhodium Plate Rhinestone Emerald Green Givre Art Glass NecklaceVintage Retro Jewellery Graduated String Of Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite BeadsRare Flawless Kenneth Lane Kjl Umbrella Crystal Deco Jewel Brooch Pin RhinestoneArt Deco Vintage Style ,murano Style Long Flapper Blue Foil Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco Millefiori Venetian Italian Glass Bead Long NecklaceAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Aquamarine Amethyst Paste Snake BraceletAntique Art Deco Sterling Silver Enamel Rhinestone Jade Art Glass Bird BroochVtg 1920-30's Art Deco "czech" Lapis Art Glass Enamel Gilded Filigree NecklaceVintage Retro Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Beads Necklace 28.8gAntique Art Deco Hand Set Bracelet Rhinestones & 66 Emerald Green Glass StonesVintage Art Deco Carved Apple Juice Bakelite Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech Egyptian Revival Neiger Scarab Flower Glass Bead NecklaceLovely Vtg Deco Ciner Sapphire Glass Fx Seed Pearl Fleur De Lis Brooch Pin Up44Vintage Deco ? Neiger Red Glass Cherries Leaves Filagree Hinged BraceletVtg 1920-30's Art Deco Czech Peridot Green Glass Enamel Gilded Filigree NecklaceAn Important Antique Vintage Signed Czechoslovakia Jeweled Deco BraceletVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Green Onyx Or Chrysoprase NecklaceAntique Art Deco Gilt Brass Red Enamel Czech Glass Dangle EarringsVery Rare French Art Deco Sterling Silver Emerald & Diamante Paste Bracelet ~nr~Antique Art Deco Sterling Silver Onyx & Chrysoprase Glass Cocktail RingVintage Art Deco Neiger Czech Egyptian Revival Glass NecklaceVintage Art Deco Enamel Crystal & Aqua Rhinestone Flower Pin Clip BroochAntique 1918 Delicate Filigree Art Deco Necklace Patent 1257158Vintage Jewellery Geometric Art Deco Sterling Silver And Marcasite Crystal RingArt Deco Hand Knotted Cherry Amber Bakelite Beaded Necklace 20.5"Vintage Art Deco French Bakelite & Chrome Signed Chunky BangleVintage Venetian Art Deco Matched Millefiori Aventurine Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Enamel Face Necklace Locket, Marked NrVtg Art Deco Rondelle Rhinestone Givre Art Glass Bead Pink Rose Quartz NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Marcasite Pendant EarringsVintage 20s 30s Inspired Art Deco Swallow Bird Brooch Pierre Bex Lk Art Deco 1930s Vintage Style Pools Of Light Quartz Crystal Bead NecklaceVictorian Deco Vintage Big Jewelry Lot Gf Lockets Rings Pins Ss Czech Fob 14k +Big Vintage Art Deco Enamel Rhinestone Pearl Morning Glory Flower BroochVintage Antique Art Deco Natural Carnelian Stone Bead Jewellery Choker NecklaceVintage Art Deco Venetian Murano Millefiori Art Glass Bead 30" NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech Glass Amber Topaz Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Coro Aqua & Crystal Rhinestone Belt BuckleVintage Czech Glass Lavalier Necklace Art Deco Czechoslovakia Drop Dangle