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    

Rare Ktf Trifari Art Deco €Outstanding Deco Diamond Filigree Platinum Ring Over 1/2 CtwVintage Art Deco Jade-green Glass/crystal Rhinestone NecklaceVintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Celluloid Rhinestone Lotus Flower BroochArt Deco Vintage Marquise & Round Cut Diamond 14k White Gold Bypass Style RingVtg Art Deco Czech Glass Enamel Pink Bracelet Earrings Brooch Pin Necklace SetVtg Art Deco Louis Rousselet Ruffle Art Glass Bead Green NecklaceVintage 1920's Art Deco "edwardian" Camphor Glass Silver/gold Filigree NecklaceVtg Art Deco 1920s 18k White Gold & Sapphire Belais Filigree Swiss Watch 15 JwlVintage Art Deco Czech Max Neiger Brass Enamel Jade Green Glass Necklace PendantVintage Art Deco Rare Neiger Egyptian Revival Book Piece BroochFabulous Art Deco Vintage Filigree & Clear Stone Estate BraceletFabulous Art Deco Vintage Blue Glass Drop NecklaceVintage 1940s Bakelite Bracelet Applejuice & Bright Red Beads Art Deco ModernVtg Art Deco Signed Czech Glass Open Back Bezel Set Crystal Necklace PinkVintage Art Deco Marbled Genuine Green & Yellow Bakelite Collar NecklaceWonderful Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Tested Necklace 133 Grams Faturan BeadsAntique Art Deco Enamel Jewelry Silver Necklace & Bracelet Set Maker's Mark YqzVtg Art Deco Venetian Glass Polka Dot Yellow Green Blue Bead 139g NecklaceVtg Art Deco Red Green Butterscotch Genuine Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Stack Of 5Vintage 1920's Art Deco Czech Glass Filagree Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Black & Yellow Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Stack Of FourVintage Art Deco Faceted Honey Amber Bakelite Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco Carved Bakelite Hand Pin Fur Dress Clip Crossed Fingers NailsPretty Art Deco 9ct & Sterling Silver Geometric Ring Vtg Art Deco Czech Lapis Glass Filigree Cap Bead NecklaceVtg. Antique Art Deco Pink Glass NecklaceGorgeous Vintage Art Deco Faceted Cherry Amber Graduated Bead Necklace 26"Vintage Art Deco Bow Motif Emerald Green Rhinestone Rhodium Bracelet 1920sOld Antique Vintage Edward Art Deco Faceted Rock Crystal? Glass Pendant NecklaceVintage 1930's Art Deco Czech Signed Golden Amber Stepped Glass Festoon NecklaceVintage Art Deco Murano Millefiori Venetian Glass Beads NecklaceWide Vintage Art Deco Glass & Brass Citrine Bracelet 1930s Art Deco Bakelite Cherry Amber Bead Necklace 54 GmsVintage Art Deco Jade & Marcasite Dangle Lavalier NecklaceVintage Art Deco Blue Glass Dangle Rhinestone Filigree Lavalier NecklaceVintage Art Deco Czech? Lapis Glass Filigree Pendant NecklaceVintage Kenneth Jay Lane Kjl Art Deco Jade & Swarovski Element Pin BroochLovely Art Deco C 20's Green Faceted Crystal Drop W/ Open Back Stones Necklace Stunning Vintage Used Art Deco Stone Set Combined Brooch/broach/sweater Clip Old Antique Vintage Art Deco Rainbow Crystal Glass Beads Rg Links Chain NecklaceVintage Art Deco Marbled Butterscotch & Cherry Red Genuine Bakelite Drum BroochArt Deco Bakelite Cherry Amber Bead Necklace 98 GramsAntique Lot Edwardian / Art Deco Banded / Bull's Eye Agate Flapper Necklace Vintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Scarab Enameled 800 Silver Brooch PinVintage Machine Age Art Deco Old Mexico Sterling Silver Collar NecklaceArt Deco Sterling Silver Pinkish Red Rhinestone BraceletSet Of Six 1930's Art Deco Gilt Metal Emerald Green Cabochon Buttons & ClipsArt Deco Brooch Lady Walking Borzoi Hound Dog Marcasite 925 Sterling SilverVintage Art Deco Silver Plate Equestrian Themed Horse Racing BraceletTortoise Shell Color Bakelite Plastic Chunky Bangle Art Deco Bracelet 8" VintageStunning Vintage Estate Cabochon Rhinestone /art Deco Wear/ Repair Lot!!! 5632t1930s Art Deco Lucite Rms Queen Mary Cigarette / Trinket Box Or Card Case ~nr~Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Scottish Rainbow Speckled Agate Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Art Deco = Retro Cameo Lot Of Jewelry - Necklaces, Pins, Rings, Etc...Breathtaking Vintage Estate C 1930's Art Deco Rhinestone Runway Necklace! S6019A Superb Art Deco Cherry Amber Faturan Bakelite Necklace Prayer Beads 48 GramVintage 1930's Art Deco Czech Signed Amethyst Glass Enamel Festoon Necklace9pc Lot 2 Wear Repair Vntg Art Deco Rhinestone Dress Scarf Fur Clip Jewelry LotAntique Art Deco Operculum Shell Flower Pendant Necklace