In the mid-1920s, the Art Nouveau movement gave way to Art Deco, which was popular throughout the 1930s. Like Art Nouveau, Art Deco had strong roots in France, and while the name is thought to have been taken from L’Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderne in Paris in 1925, the phrase was not commonly ascribed to the aesthetic until 1968, when English art historian Bevis Hillier wrote his definitive "Art Deco of the 20s and 30s."

Unlike Art Nouveau jewelry, which celebrated organic and flowing forms, Art Deco jewelry is marked by its geometry and symmetry. In this respect, Art Deco has more in common with the highly graphic and stylized designs of Arts and Crafts than Art Nouveau. In addition, Art Deco is a product of the machine age. Thus, Art Deco designs often adhere to grids, while other examples appear to be in motion, as if their lines had been pulled by the mechanical acceleration of the object itself.

Two of the most revered jewelry designers of the period were Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels, whose diamond-studded bracelets, ruby-flecked brooches, and sapphire earrings expressed the opulence and free-spending abandon of the 1920s. Black onyx and red coral were also popular materials, for the graphic properties if not their intrinsic value.

Of course, Art Deco jewelry did more than just reference geometry and machines. Many pieces were influenced by trends in fine art, particularly Cubism and Futurism. Indeed, in a later book called “Style of the Century,” Hillier describes Art Deco as “tamed Cubism.” In the 1930s, numerous artists contributed to the so-called "pseudo-barbaric" offshoot of Art Deco, among them Georges Braque, Jean Dubuffet, and Pablo Picasso.

Egyptian Revival designs are also sometimes lumped into the sphere of Art Deco, thanks to their repeated and radiating patterns in colored enamels as well as precious metals and stones. And Art Deco jewelry was produced in gold, perhaps nowhere better than in Pforzheim, Germany, where goldsmiths such as Emil Lettre and Theodor Wende made pendants, brooches, and other forms in graphic, geometric designs, sometimes incorporating emeralds and pearls into their work.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Stunning Art Deco 18k Gold 3/4ct Diamond Cross Over Ring14k Solid W. Gold Top Quality Antique Art Deco .85ct Tw 7 Diamond Ring Sz 6.75Job Lot Antique Art Deco Vintage Silver & Costume Jewellery Czech Cameo CoinsFine Art Deco 18k Gold & Platinum Sapphire & Diamond RingVintage Deco 16.83 Ct Diamond Wide Platinum Link Bracelet 50.3 Grams NrStunning Pair Of Art Deco Design 18k Gold Cultured Pearl & Diamond Drop EarringsAntique Deco 14k Gold Emerald Cut 32.78 Ct Amethyst Festoon Lavaliere Necklace!Vintage Art Deco Silver Chinese Carved Jadeite Jade Flower Panel Link BraceletVintage Art Deco 9ct White Gold Aquamarine And Diamond Ring.Vintage Estate Art Deco Natural Old Cut Diamond 14k Solid Gold Ring Fine Art Deco Emerald Platinum Full Eternity RingArt Deco Old European Old Mine Cut Diamond Ring 18k Vintage Antique Fine JewelryStunning Art Deco Design 1.40 Carat Diamond & 1.2ct Ruby 18k Gold Heavy BraceletFine Art Deco Design 30 Point Diamond 18ct Gold RingFine Art Deco Five Stone 1/2 Carat Diamond Gold & Silver RingFine Art Deco 1/2 Carat Diamond 18ct Gold Crossover RingVtg Art Deco 18k White Gold Lapis Rock Crystal Slide Chain Pendant NecklaceStunning Art Deco Heavy 18k Gold 1 Carat Diamond Ring18ct Yellow Gold Art Deco 5 Stone 0.30 Carat Diamond Ring - Stunning Antique Deco 4.09ct European Cut Diamond Platinum Ribbon Brooch Pin 18 GramsAntique C. 1920 Art Deco 14k Yellow Gold Carved Blue Lapis Lazuli Earrings!20s French Art Deco Sterling Silver Sapphire & Diamante Paste Geometric BraceletAntique C. 1920 Deco 14k Gold Briolette Amethyst Festoon Lavaliere Necklace!Fine Art Deco Three Stone Diamond 18k Gold & Platinum RingAntique C. 1920 Deco 14k Yellow Gold Emerald Cut Blue 20.96 Ct Aquamarine Ring!Stunning Heavy Art Deco 18k Gold Large Ruby,emerald & Diamond Cluster RingAn Antique Art Deco Pear Shaped Turquoise And Old Cut Diamond Gold Cluster RingAntique 1917 Art Deco Diamonbar Sterling Silver/clear Rhinestone Bracelet #2 YqzFine Art Deco Long Cultured Pearl Necklace With A Garnet Gold ClaspVintage Art Deco Style Real Baltic Amber Bead Geometrical Drop NecklaceAntique Art Deco Solid 9ct Gold & Silver Emerald Paste Stone Cocktail RingAntique 1917 Art Deco Diamonbar Sterling Silver/clear Rhinestone Bracelet #1 YqzFine Art Deco Marcasite Enamel Silver Bird Bracelet A Stunning 3.1/4 Of A Carat Art Deco 18ct Gold Five Stone Diamond RingAntique C. 1920 Deco 14k White Gold Graduated Akoya Pearl Filigree Necklace!Antique 1920 Deco 14k Gold Carved Angelskin Coral Bead Chinese 3 Strand NecklaceFine Art Deco Guilloche Enamel Diamond 18ct Gold 'letter R' RingFine Art Deco Design Sapphire And Diamond 18ct Gold And Platinum 3 Stone RingAntique C. 1920 Deco 14k Gold Cabochon Cut Blue Sapphire Lavaliere Bug Necklace!Antique Art Deco Solid 10k Gold Diamond Seed Pearl Camphor Glass Pendant NrFine Art Deco Five Stone 1/4 Carat Diamond 18k Gold RingAntique C. 1920 Art Deco 14k Rose Gold Platinum .48 Ct Ruby Akoya Pearl Pendant!Superb Antique Art Deco Chinese Apple Green Jade Bead Necklace 9k ClaspStunning Art Deco Two Colored Gold 28 Point Diamond Cluster RingAntique C 1920 Art Deco 14k Yellow Gold .32 C Blue Sapphire Diamond English RingGenuine Antique Platinum 2.15ctw Old Mine Diamond Art Deco Heart Link BraceletArt Deco 9 Ct / 9k Yellow Gold Opal Tear Drop / Dangling EarringsStunning Art Deco 1.19 Carat Diamond Cluster Gold RingAntique C. 1920 Art Deco 14k Yellow Gold Elegant Gold Link 20" Necklace!Antique Art Deco Chinese 14kt Natural Apple Green Jadeite Carved Floral RingVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver, Marcasite & Enamel Angel Fish Brooch - 12.6gAntique C. 1920 Art Deco 14k Yellow Gold 6 Mm Black Tahitian Pearl Pendant!Antique C. 1940 Art Deco 10k Yellow Gold 8.69 Ct Madeira Citrine Foliage Ring!Vintage Art Deco Silver Filigree Chinese Carved Jadeite Jade Flower Ring Sz 5Fine Art Deco Design 1/2 Carat Diamond Gold Daisy/cluster RingAntique Art Deco Cherry Amber Bakelite Beads Necklace 78gAntique, Art Deco Diamond & Sapphire Filigree Pin / Pendant, Platinum & 14k $1nrExtremely Fine Quality Art Deco 18 Ct & Platinum Five Stone Diamond RingA Stunning Art Deco Design 14 Ct White Gold Onyx & Diamond RingFine Art Deco Diamond 18ct Gold And Platinum Solitaire Ring