Art Deco (1920-1935)
Art Deco. Two words which have the power to describe an era, a movement and absolute luxury.
Following the First World War, design styles started to accommodate the 19th century industrialisation which had traditionally been opposed. Architects and designers began to implement geometric shapes and symmetry to produce over the top opulence. These rich designs could only be complimented with the most expensive and sought after materials. Diamonds led the way, following Marcel Tolkowsky’s calculations for the ideal proportions of the brilliant cut in 1919. Rubies, Emeralds and sapphires were not far behind and platinum became the metal of choice.
Figure 1 : Diamond and Platinum Art Deco Brooch, Daisy Exclusive Collections
Origins and Influences
The Russian Ballet visits to Paris in 1909 was one of the biggest kick-starters to the Art Deco movement. The sets and costume designs of Sergei Diaghilev’s production ‘ Scheherezade’ moved away from the muted and delicate colors of Art Nouveau to vivid combinations of Red and Black, and Blue and Green. The popularity of the Russian Ballet at the time could not be matched as they would use leading artists such as Matisse and Picasso to work on the sets and costumes.
Simultaneously, Picasso’s cubism would provide a basis for hard lines and geometric shapes. Designs were becoming bold and the association of machines and modern living became a commonplace. Art Deco was being used to design anything from sky rises to mass produced toasters.
Figure 2 : Diamond and Pearl Pendant, Daisy Exclusive Collections
Lastly, one cannot forget the newly emboldened female Post WW1 which was especially apparent in jewellery design. Art deco welcomed the lowered necklines, the short hair – the repressed Victorian female was a thing of the past. Bold colours and risqué dresses let the modern woman stand out.
Types of Jewellery
The change in dress would have a direct impact on the types of jewellery woman would wear. Short sleeves or sleeveless dresses would pave the way for an endless stacking of bangle bracelets. Wristwatches would also become increasingly popular and could be seen set in platinum with a multitude of diamonds around the face and bracelet or even displayed on a face cover.
Figure 3 : Ladies Diamond Watch, Daisy Exclusive Collections
The plunging necklines would make way for long necklaces and pendants usually bearing diamonds or pearls. With prohibition in full force, cocktail parties became all the rage and cocktail rings would cement their spots as a real conversation pieces. During this era of over the top riches, even accessories such as cigarettes holders, lighters and minaudières would sparkle from the gems layered upon them.
As the Roaring Twenties came to a halt and the Great Depression set in, the investment in the arts took a major hit. To this day, the Art Deco era is seen as one of, if not the most, innovative design period in Modern history. If you would like to learn more, there are countless resources across the web or simply drop by our store in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec.